Starting with cooking experiences in Cairo and cave tours, Shouf’s range grew to include mountain biking in El Gouna, bird watching in Fayoum, and sailing in Marsa Alam.
In Tolkein’s terms, Shouf is the One Travel App to Book Them All. Specifically, the endless range of activities and adventures in Egypt - the ones people always tell you about after you leave the country. You mean I had the chance to go to a giant fossil museum and then camp under the stars and I missed it? Not this time. With Shouf, you’ll be able to follow through on the claim ‘Egypt has it all’.
“People who are passionate about what they do, eventually turn it into a business,” Mohamed Hanbal, founder of Shouf, tells SceneTraveller. After spending eight years working in oil and gas in the Arabian Gulf, the pandemic made Hanbal pause and explore his passions; wake surfing and camping. “I would do these activities with friends who offer them as a service and people would ask about them so I would simply connect. Six months into it I started getting questions from tourists and expats.” And with that came the lightbulb moment that brought Shouf into existence.
In December 2021, Hanbal launched the app to let travellers book experiences that are hosted by locals. Starting with cooking experiences in Cairo and cave tours, Shouf’s range grew to include mountain biking in El Gouna, bird watching in Fayoum, and sailing in Marsa Alam.
“We focused on passionate locals because they usually didn’t market themselves and were mostly offline,” Hanbal explains. After picking out your destination, and the sort of activity you’d like to experience, you get to read about your guide, chat with them and even view a sample video that gives you a taste of what it’ll look like. Hanbal spent plenty of time building the app, and would go to each destination himself to survey and meet these guides, and - if they met the standards - onboard them.
“There’s a lack of trust in the tourism ecosystem, so we made sure that the content is clearly framed and written,” Hanbal says. “We only accept reviews from those who’ve actually experienced the adventures.”
Upcoming destinations include Luxor and Aswan - their temples can’t be avoided - and Hurghada is being launched mid-June so quite literally a couple of taps on your screen and next thing you know you’re chasing dolphins on speedboats, or horse riding by the Red Sea.
“Tourism in Egypt is multifaceted, there’s cultural, gastronomy, agricultural and spiritual, and we try to present these different themes,” Hanbal says. “We’re not the first people to create an activities marketplace, yet we believe that authenticity is what will make us stand out.” In other words, it’s not really about getting the first slice of the cake, it’s about getting the best. If you want to be part of this travelling service, send them a direct message at @shouf.egypt on Instagram.