rcontentsP.6-7-8-9 WELCOME TO RED SEA AND SINAIP.10-11 RED SEA COASTP.12-13 ISMAILIA, AIN SUKHNA & ZA’FARANAP.14-15 EL GOUNA & HURGHADAP.16-17 AROUND HURGHADAP.18-19 SAFAGAP.20-21 AL QUSEIRP.22-23 PORT GHALIBP.24-25 MARSA ALAMP.26-27 WADI GEMAL, BERENICE & BIR SHALATEINP.28 SINAIP.29 RAS SIDRP.30-31 RAS MOHAMMED NATIONAL PARKP.32-35 SHARM EL-SHEIKH & NA’AMA BAYP.36-37 DAHAB & NABQP.38-39 ABU GALLUM NATIONAL PARKP.40-41 NUWEIBAP.42-43 TABA & TABA HEIGHTSP.44-45 ST CATHERINE’S MONASTERY & MOUNT SINAIP.46-47 PRACTICAL INFORMATIONP.48-51 ACCOMMODATIONP.52-53 ALTERNATIVE PRODUCTSP.54 DO’S & DON’TSP.55 EGYPT GENERAL MAP 5
Red Sea&SinaiEGYPT G UIDE Welcome to Red Egypt is a unique blend of timeless fascination and modern approaches to holidaymaking which give it a very special place in the world of tourism. Broadly speaking, tourist areas of Egypt can be divided into the Nile Valley, the Deserts and Oases, and the Red Sea and Sinai region. Travelling between these areas is very easy, and it’s quite simple to book a holiday which combines very different experiences in one trip. It’s no surprise that the Red Sea and Sinai is now one of the most popular and fastest growing tourism destinations in the world. As well as the peaceful sun and sand holiday, there’s a huge range of ac- tivities on hand including world-famous diving, desert trips, climbing, golf, and national parks – to name a few! It has something for everyone – and the friendly atmosphere and wide range of activities means that it has become particularly popular with families. GEOGRAPHY It’s an easy trip, only a few hours flight from the south. It is, effectively, the east coast of Europe, and is a genuine year-round desti- mainland Egypt looking across the sea to nation with guaranteed sunshine. Sinai. The area has stunning scenery and is a re- The crags and dry limestone valleys of the gion which is perfectly suited to exploring, Eastern Desert remain relatively unexplored, relaxation, and activities on, and under, the but the Red Sea itself, dotted with coral reefs, water. has a rich maritime history which stretches Sinai Peninsula consists of an area of some back to the times of the Pharaohs. 61,000 square kilometres. The natural barri- In the Red Sea and Sinai areas, sun seekers ers are the Gulf of Suez to the west, separat- love the gentle refreshing breezes which are ing the African continent from Asia, and the welcome in a hot summer. Gulf of Aqaba to the east. Take a look at the map of the Red Sea and The north east boundary, a 200 km stretch Sinai region of Egypt and you will see how of Mediterranean coastline. the water laps around its shores over many Isolated and protected by the surrounding hundreds of miles. majestic mountains, the monastery of St. Above all, the Red Sea is a dream destina- Catherine is a major attraction for tourists tion which suits so many travellers, whether visiting the area. they are seeking relaxation, exploration, or Egypt’s Red Sea coast runs from the Gulf of an ideal family break. Suez in the north to the Sudanese border in A DESTINATION “à LA CARTE” The great thing about the region is that the taste one of the aquatic sports at Hurgha- possibilities are endless – you can make da, to explore the peaceful diving sites of your holiday exactly what you want it to be. Marsa Alam or to chill out in the luxury resort Among the most varied activities offered by of Porto Ghalib, or even to enjoy the sun the main destinations of the region, you can in Taba or relax in Nuweiba, not to forget take the chance to pamper at El Gouna, or Sharm el-Sheikh famous for its nightlife and
Sea & SinaiDahab for its tranquillity. There are many chances to enjoy the wide WELCOME TO RED SEA & SINAIFor some visitors, simply soaking up the sun open spaces of Sinai, whether a trip to goand relaxing is a key part of the trip – and this camping under the stars, or a day trip to en-is just the place for that! joy camel trekking, mountain biking, or a jeepAs you’ll see in this guide, though, the beau- trip through sand dunes and mountains.tiful crystal clear waters are waiting to tempt Try to enjoy the desert for its glorious silenceyou. and you’ve never really seen the night skyIf it’s relaxation you’re looking for, it’s hard to properly until you’ve seen it over Sinai –beat sitting on a jetty with your feet in the completely without the bright lights of homeRed Sea while you watch legions of brightly which hide the glory of the heavens.coloured fish coming to say hello. Egypt is a land of variety & endless choices,Even if you’ve never done it before, have and the distinctive attractions of the Reda taste of snorkelling and enjoy a different Sea and Sinai make you feel as if you are aworld where you can feel part of the life of completely different country to the Nile Val-the sea. ley and Desert regions – but they are closeOf course, the Red Sea and Sinai is one of by, with the same friendly welcome and topthe most popular destinations in the world value. When the sun goes down, the shopsfor experienced divers too. For snorkelers become particularly busy – and you’ll findand scuba divers, this place is like heaven. some great souvenirs to take home, espe-The sheer range of things to do in this region cially in cotton, leather, and local crafts. Andis one of many pleasant surprises for first you’ll still have time to enjoy the wide rangetime visitors. of nightlife which has a magic all of its own.For an increasing number of holidaymakers, Value for money is very much in evidencesport and the open air is a vital part of their in this region. And the choice is yours – withtime away from boring routine. everything from simple accommodation forAs well as fun on, or under, the water, you’ll the backpacker up to the very best in bou-find superb facilities for golf and climbing tique and luxury.activities.For many golfers, planning a day’s golf andknowing, not hoping, that the sun will shineis one of the biggest pleasures. Egypt hastaken to golf in a big way and resorts likeAin Sukhna, El Gouna, Hurghada, Sharm el-Sheikh, Taba and have fabulous courses toenjoy.For most visitors to the region, the toweringmountains are there to admire – espe-cially when you can relax with a drink andwatch their changing colours at sunrise andsunset.One of the many theories on the origin of theRed Sea’s name is built around the beautifulred hues bouncing off the mountains andwater as the sun rises and sets.For more adventurous people, these mag-nificent mountains are not just for admiring– they are for climbing too. If you’d like totry it, whether as a beginner or expert, thereare many tours and teachers to show youthe way. 7
COMBINATION OF PRODUCTSAnother beauty of the ease of travel in There’s more later in the guide on the greatEgypt is that you can combine your beach monasteries of Sinai which reflect the region’sholiday with a short trip to the Pyramids or links with many great world religions.the Valley of the Kings. Many visitors to Red Sea and Sinai findMany operators offer short trips by air which that their short side trips give them a longmean that you can be back relaxing by the shopping list of ideas for future returnpool a very short time after a taste of histori- visits. One trip to Egypt is never enough!cal Egypt and its treasures. RHYTHM OF LIFEThe rhythm of life in the sunshine means Long before the air conditioning and icedthat you’ll soon find yourself adapting to the drinks which are part of the modern holidayEgyptian way of doing things. experience here, people chose to wait until the sun set before venturing out to shop or dine. That pattern is still the way to do things, and another great feature of the Red Sea and Sinai region is that, unlike some countries, there’s lots to do after dark – and in com- plete safety too. Whether it’s a modern shopping mall or a traditional souk (market), they take on a very special atmosphere as they, and the shop- keepers, seem to twinkle after dark. When you booked your holiday, you will already have noticed that Egypt is tremen- dous value – and prices in the shops will confirm your good luck.
EGYPTIAN CUISINETalking of value, eating out in Egypt comes One thing’s for sure – one or two weeksat superb prices – and with great variety. won’t give you enough time to try every-Whatever your taste in international food in thing you’ll find in the pages which follow.your home country, there’s a good chance But look on the bright side – you can spendyou’ll find it here too – Italian, Chinese, Thai, your time on the short plane trip homeIndian – you name it and it’s here. making a wish list for your next trip – andDon’t miss the chance to try Egyptian food many more to come.too – often gently spicy with brilliant use of Keep smiling – Egypt’s Red Sea and Sinaifresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. region always has a warm welcome forPerhaps the best recommendation for a you. WELCOME TO RED SEA & SINAIholiday in Red Sea and Sinai comes fromholidaymakers themselves.Many people will tell you that, Egypt is abreath of fresh air , It has many guarantees– sunshine, a warm welcome, an infinitevariety of ways to enjoy life – and supremevalue.Perhaps you are about to make your firsttrip to Red Sea and Sinai after hearing aglowing report from a friend.Or perhaps as a returning visitor you takegreat pleasure in passing on the goodnews to friends yourself.We hope you find this guide really useful inmaking the very best of your time in one ofthe world’s great destinations. 9
theRed Sea Coast warm waters, a moderate climate and a wide range of places to explore…The eastern Red Sea coast of Egypt iscaressed by the warm waters of the Gulf The sheer variety of ways to spend timeof Suez, which leads to the Suez Canal, on the Red Sea coast is unparalleledEgypt’s gateway to Europe. The area anywhere. Diving and snorkellingstretches from the Suez Canal and south among a rich and varied underseaalong the Gulf of Suez coast, along 1500 world of sea life and breathtaking coralkm, where recent international tourist reefs are a must, and the resorts heredevelopments have sprung up around have purpose-built dive centres, run byareas already popular with Egyptians. professionally qualified, knowledgeableWarm waters, a moderate climate and and experienced diving instructors whoa wide range of places to explore make are able to instruct absolute beginners, orthis an ideal starting point for first time further the training on intermediate divers.visitors to Egypt, particularly those who Standards of safety and attention to carewould like to blend history and culture for the natural environment are paramountwith fun and relaxation on the beach. here, and visitors will be delighted to find so many unspoiled dive sites to explore.Known as the premier destination forscuba diving enthusiasts for some years, The natural world provides dives suitable forthe Red Sea area is fast becoming a all levels of diving proficiency, from sandyhaven for tourists looking for beach shallows for snorkellers, to deep coralholidays, as well as vibrant and walls and towering pillars for experiencedactivity-rich holidays in guaranteed scuba divers. There are wrecks to explore,sunshine, and on some of the purest, and underwater photography producesmost unspoilt beaches in the world. terrific results with the water being so clear.Many former fishing villages and ports Sea life in this area is plentiful, andhave been developed extensively and visitors here may find themselvesenthusiastically to create new paradises diving and snorkelling among rarefor tourists and this area is unique and fascinating fish one day, and withbecause of its proximity to the Eastern playful dolphins the next. There are alsoDesert, which stretches almost all of turtles, tuna, groupers, clownfish, andthe way to the coast. Transport links also many more wonderful creatures to find.exist to the major cities of Cairo andLuxor, where ancient wonders await On the beach and in the hotels, the Redtravellers who wish to take in as much Sea Riviera offers every kind of seashoreof the Egyptian experience as they can. fun imaginable, with jetskiing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, fishing and parasailingAirports have been built along the Red only a taste of what is waiting to be enjoyed.Sea Riviera, allowing convenient and easyflights to and from the area to anywhere The resorts here take guest comfort andin the world, making this one of the service very seriously, and consistentlyworld’s most exciting and fastest-growing offer great luxury and a range ofdestinations. Where some years ago only services, from the sumptuous airEgypt residents visited these resorts, the conditioned rooms to the spas wheresecret is now out, and tourists from all over guests can be pampered.the world are discovering what this livelyand animated part of the world can offer.
RED SEA COAST Red SeaWithin each resort is a variety of choices feel of the region, it is possible to do all ofof accommodation, with three, four, this either in a four-wheel drive jeep, or takefive, and even six star luxury on offer, on the desert yourself aboard a quad bike.and each resort has its own uniqueappeal. Ismailia offers lakeside walks Many other desert excursions are easilyand historical attractions while, further accessible and can be arranged withsouth, El Gouna, a complete luxury your hotel. Roman ruins from the days ofcomplex where everything is there to fit the Roman Empire stand near examplesanybody needs, Hurghada is the area’s of both earlier and later cultures, from themost well-known established resort, Pharaohs to 19th Century colonists, andbringing scuba enthusiasts from all over there are many unexpected treasuresthe world. Marsa Alam is unspoiled to be found by exploring the area.nature with rich possibilities for fun andleisure activities. Port Ghalib is a marina Many visitors to the area are realizingwith shops, restaurants and cafes, where that it’s possible to get the best ofluxury yachts sail in and out along with both worlds – with very differentthe diving vessels. Others, like Safaga, holiday experiences on the same trip.have waters with therapeutic effects. Both sea and culture can be enjoyedSome resorts offer different emphases, by combining your time on the Redsometimes on sailing or fishing, and Sea Riviera with visits to key sites in thesometimes on luxury and high class south of Egypt like Luxor, Aswan andshopping, but always with the beaches Abu Simbel. Local flights are available,and clear turquoise water leading to and road trips offer stunning scenerythe coral reefs and wonders beyond. with, for example, Luxor only about 4.5 hours from Hurghada by car.Of course, no visit to Egypt would becomplete without witnessing the splendor Whether you are looking for a relaxingand awe-inspiring majesty of the Eastern time on the beach, a non-stopDesert, with landscapes of sand, rocks, activity holiday with endless choices,and oasis areas loomed over by the or something in between, The Redtowering mountains, where tourists can Sea Riviera coast is waiting forvisit ancient ruins, and meet nomadic you, and it’s closer than you think.Bedouin tribes and learn their traditions. Inkeeping with the energetic and exciting 11
Suez GulfIsmailia,Ain Sukhna & Za’farana ISMAILIA, THE CITY OF GARDENS AND FLOWERSIsmailia, capital of the Suez Canal area, sits on the Westbank of the Suez Canal. Only around 120km from Cairo,Ismailia, known as the City of Gardens and Flowers, grewaround the construction of the Suez Canal. As a result, thecity centre has a distinctive 19th Century colonial feel, withmany British and French-style houses from that era.Today, as well as its connection with the famous canaland its fascinating history, Ismailia is a popular tourist resortamong Egyptians, particularly wealthy Cairo residents,many of whom have second homes here.The surreal sight of huge cargo vessels sailing along thecanal is not to be missed, but Ismailia is a city of contrasts,with romantic walks along the Sweet Water Canal, 19thCentury history at Suez Canal founder Ferdinand DeLesseps’ house, and the bustling Market Area, a perfectplace to immerse yourself in real Egyptian life. Ismailia Timsah Lake, Ismailia
INFO POINT AIN SUKHNA AND ZA’FARANA Suez Canal ISMAILIA, AIN SUKHNA & ZA’FARANA taThe Ain Sukhna (“hot spring”) region extends for Ismailia el Dsome 60km along the Gulf of Suez coast, and le Lake Timsah Nias the closest beach resort area to Cairo, is an- Theother leisure destination popular with Egyptiansfrom the capital. Cairo To Taba SuezPerfectly situated for those looking for explora- Nile River Sinaition of Egypt, the region is a short drive fromCairo, making this the perfect place from Ain Sukhnawhich to enjoy both the Pyramids of Cairo andthe glorious beaches. The To St Catherine’s Monastery Za’farana St Anthony’s St Paul’s Monastery Monastery To Hurghada EASY TRAVEL The beaches on the shore of Lake Timsah can be reached by taking a taxi or walking 1 km out along Talatini Ain Sukhna Street. Dine outdoors near picturesqueAnother attractive option is Porto El Sukhna, fishing boats, or visit the manicureda major new resort with fine golf and spas – lawns and beaches of the smart resortand increasingly popular location for holiday clubs and hotels (which may includehomes. snacks and drinks or even a barbecue), some of which offer waterskiing ,With crystal clear waters and pristine beaches, windsurfing and tennis facilities.Ain Sukhna is known as a centre for deep-seafishing, while Za’farana is among the world’spremier diving locations and famous for itswind and kite surfing too. Both are ideal basesfor seeking out history, with the EasternDesert Monasteries, including the ancientSt Paul’s Monastery, and St Anthony’sMonastery, which is the oldest functioningmonastery in the world, just a short trip fromthe beachfront resorts. At the monasteries,tourists can not only wonder at the frescos dec-orating the ancient buildings, but enjoy toursand some fantastic views.As an up-and-coming tourist region, Ain Sukhnais considerably less expensive than some ofthe more established destinations, and thosechoosing this area will be delighted with just howmuch they can see and do in a short time. Turtle, Red Sea DID YOU KNOW? Originally a quiet village, Za’farana is becoming known as a diving hot spot, and visitors from all over the world are enjoying not just the tennis courts, spas, restaurants and swimming pools, but the dive school, dive shop and dive safaris run from the resort. With three virgin reefs, Za’farana is an exciting new place to explore, and its clear turquoise waters are home to a vast array of marine life, including dolphins, turtles, barracuda and many varieties of sponges and coral. Newer resorts mean that any of the wreck dives scattered along the coast near Za’farana, now available as day trips, were previously only accessible from stay aboard dive cruises. St Paul’s Monastery, Eastern Desert 13
El Gouna resortEl Gouna & Hurghada EL GOUNA, “ THE VENICE OF THE RED SEA”El Gouna is a modern resort about 25kmnorth of Hurghada, ingeniously using anetwork of lagoons and canals to createnot just one strip of beachfront, but a wholecity of beautiful beaches linked by bridgesacross clear turquoise water. It is for this rea-son that El Gouna is considered to be the“Venice of the Red Sea”. Simultaneouslyrefined and informal, it is a resort wherevisitors enjoy superb facilities and an end-less list of opportunities for adventure andfun, all in a relaxed and accommodating Marina at El Gounaatmosphere.It has also built a very strong reputation as a “green” resort and is a leading example of tourismbeing run in an environmentally responsible way.There are two main beaches at El Gouna. Exciting Mangroovy Beach, with its sports, outdoorparties and barbecues, and Zeytuna Beach, which is located on its own island, and has a600-metre long jetty reaching out into the sea over the coral reef.Diving and snorkelling are popular in El Gouna, with interesting dive sites in an area which isfairly inaccessible to mass tourism.Local codes of practice have kept the sites unspoiled, and you will feel as though you areamong the first to discover the amazing submarine views. At these special places, it is pos-sible to swim with dolphins and turtles, or explore the coral reefs for the many unusual fishand coral-dwelling creatures which cannot be found elsewhere.The clear waters and incredibly rich variety of marine life in the area means that El Gouna’sdive sites are perfect for underwater photography, and you are sure to come away with your best pictures as well as wonderful memories of a diving ex- perience unlike any other. There are ideal conditions for kite DON’T surfing here too, and the experts will tell you that this is one of the world’s best centres for the sport. MISS As well as seeking out Nightlife in El Gouna is rich and varied, with large discos and the undersea world vibrant bars, as well as smaller, more intimate venues and yourself, you could visit restaurants with a huge variety of entertainment, and cuisine the aquarium at Kafr El from around the world, including Indian, Thai, French, Bel- gian, Chinese, German, Italian, and British. A lively evening Gouna, which is full of in- of music and dancing, or a quiet romantic evening of dinner teresting aquatic life, from and cocktails are both waiting in El Gouna. colourful local fish to baby The two main areas of Kafr el Gouna and Abu Tig Marina crocodiles, and makes offer the trendiest bars and cosiest pubs, along with billiard an excellent day out for bars, beach bars, karaoke cafes, and the Palladium open- families. Golfers will love air disco. Places at the heart of the social scene include the El Gouna Golf Club, Studio 52, the marina promenade, and Mangroovy Beach, which often organise live concerts and events, including where it is high season all beach barbecue parties. year round on the 18-hole You can also take advantage of the “dine around” system course. here too, which means that you can add variety to your stay and try an excellent range of restaurants and dishes.
INFO POINT HURGHADA - INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR AQUATIC SPORTS EL GOUNA & HURGHADAHurghada was once a quiet fishing village, but Saint Saint Paul’s Anthony’s Monasteryover the last twenty years, it has become the Monasteryleading seashore resort on the Red Sea. Holiday Guvillages and hotels provide aquatic sport Sinai lf offacilities for sailboarders, yachtsmen, scuba ue Sdivers and snorkellers, as well as 36km of pure z Eastebeaches on which to relax before adventuring Sharmbeneath the Red Sea to seek out underwater el-Sheikh rntreasures. De El Gouna Golf Club Re rt d se EL GOUNA Se a HURGHADA Marsa Alam EASY TRAVEL Hurghada Tourist Office : Phone : 065 3463220 - Fax : 065 3463220 beautiful hotels, where guests can enjoy spa facilities, massages and beautiful beaches from which sailing, windsurfing, deep Night life at Hurghada sea fishing, kitesurfing, pedal boats andToday’s active lifestyles demand that tourists waterskiing are available. For those whocan find exciting and challenging activities to would rather view the undersea beauty with-enjoy on holiday, and Hurghada provides a out getting wet, glass-bottomed boat tripsperfect blend of engaging daytime pursuits are a great way to see the sights.and vibrant nightlife. By night, Hurghada shifts up a gear and reveals its famous nightlife, includ-Hurghada has become an international ing the Ministry of Sound Beach Club,centre for aquatic sports such as as well as the discos and entertain-windsurfing, sailing, deep-sea fishing, ment on offer at most of the city’s hotels.swimming, but above all for some of Restaurants range from those servingthe most spectacular diving and snorkelling traditional Arabic food to chains familiar toin the whole world. The underwater gardens western visitors, including Hard Rock Café.are amazing with a wide range of rare fish andcoral reefs. If you are a diving enthusiast, orsomeone who would love to see what divinghas to offer, Hurghada has simply the finest div-ing you will find.Whether you are an experienced diver lookingfor the ultimate locations, a novice keen to trydiving for the first time, or somewhere in be-tween and looking to learn more, Hurghadahas exactly what you need. With PADI(Professional Association of Diving Instructors)qualified instructors at a host of diving centres,you will find a diving experience to cater foryour needs. Windsurfing at HurghadaFor those wishing to enjoy the sights beneaththe Red Sea without learning to scuba dive,snorkelling is also popular in Hurghada, and ispossible with a less demanding learning curve,although safety and orientation courses aregiven, and allows for underwater viewing upclose in shallow water.Owing to its central location, the city providesa gateway to diving sites throughout the RedSea, and is also known for providing access tomany uninhabited offshore reefs and islands.It really is paradise for anyone with an appre-ciation of the underwater world.As well as the newer parts of Hurghada, don’tmiss the chance to spend time appreciatingthe charm and character of the older partsof the city like Sakkala and Ad Dahhar.Back on dry land, Hurghada is well-served by Little boy ready for snorkelling 15
Sunset at HurghadaAround Hurghada AROUND HURGHADA All of the excitement and beauty of Hurghada itself is reason enough for a long stay in the area, but the sur- rounding desert and coastline offers such a wealth of sights and experiences that you will want to return time and again to discover new and unex- pected encounters with the splendour of Egypt. Beach MAjESTIC DESERTSAs well as being known for itsamazing beaches along thecoast, Egypt is also famousfor its majestic deserts, andtaking a trip inland from theHurghada area can open upnew possibilities for adventureand new experiences.To the west, the inlanddesert mountains rise up todominate the landscape,making for breathtakingsunsets, and an unparalleled Hillscape at Hurghada opportunity to explore. Quad bike desert tours are among many activities you will find around Hurghada, and make a wonderful story to tell upon your return home. The Eastern Desert is a fascinating and vast landscape of sand, rocks, oases and mountains, and is the home of the Bedouin people. Operators arrange tours in which, after safety tests and orientation, they lead you on a mid afternoon ride over the desert sands to a Bedouin village, where you will learn about Bedouin life, heritage and traditions, before riding a camel in the desert, and then taking in the amazing sunset view with a barbecue dinner, entertained by traditional Bedouin music, before you ride back to your hotel under the desert stars. These visits to Bedouin villages can also be taken in four-wheel-drive vehicles for those who would prefer someone else to do the driving. 4x4 adventure
INFO POINT ISLANDS Ras Mohammed Nat. Pk, AROUND HURGHADA El Gouna Sharm el-SheikhLooking away from the desert and out fromthe coastline, you will find islands, reachable The Cascadeson short boat trips, and each with their own Golf Resortindividual appeal. Many of the islands are HURGHADApopular dive sites, with a vast variety of Giftundives suitable for all skill levels, from absolute Island Monsbeginner to seasoned expert. With coral walls, Ea Porphyrites Makadi Baysandy shallows, and both shallow and deeper ste Redareas to explore, there is certain to be no rnshortage of diving and snorkeling choices, Se Sahl Hasheesh Dese aand the huge number of different sealife tobe seen makes this whole area one that no Mons rt Claudianiusdiver should miss.Giftun Island is among the main diving sites towhich day-boats take diving parties. The island SAFAGAis a beautiful sand reef, and is surrounded by Somaa garden of corals and exotic marine life. BayOn a trip to the island, you can soak up theglorious sunshine on the sandy beach or swimin the crystal clear waters - the reef is home to vibrant corals, a seemingly infinite numberof bright and colourful tropical fish, and you may even see rays, turtles and dolphins. Manyoperators will provide equipment for snorkelling in order for guests to explore the views underthe sea, and it is also possible to sail to other nearby coral islands.Mahmya Beach is on the southern shores of the Giftun Island National Park off the coastof Hurghada. Mahmya in Arabic means “Protected Area”, and it is a testament to thecareful management of this idyllic island that it is able to welcome tourists and yet remainso wonderfully unspoilt.Day trips to Mahmya are operated by many tour operators. Visitors board one of two27-seater Mahmya boats, and sail for around one hour to the island. To protect the coralreef and its marine inhabitants, the boats moor at buoys off the pristine bay, and visitors aretaken to the shore by smaller boats. Once they have landed on the island, guests are freeto snorkel on the impressive coral heads scattered in the clear lagoon, have a walk alongthe sandy beach, take on other guests at beach volleyball, try scuba diving with the divingcentre, or just relax on the pure white beach. Lunch can be enjoyed at the restaurant, withseafood and Italian specialties, and later in the day guests can enjoy drinks at the bar.Despite being on an uninhabited desert island, first aid, security and trained lifeguards arepresent at all times, so tourists can relax in the knowledge that they are in safe hands. SINBAD, THE SUBMARINE With diving and snorkelling so popular, it is interesting to find yet new ways to enjoy the undersea views. How about two hours discovering the wonderful marine life of the Red Sea by submarine? Hurghada is home to Sinbad, a submarine which carries 44 passengers and has a crew of two pilots, who take their guests for a wonderful reefs and colourful Underwater adventure fish can be found. at Hurghada HISTORICAL INTEREST & EXCELLENT DIVING SITESIt is well-known that Egypt is a country full of historicalinterest, and just to the south of Hurghada is Mons Claudianus,an ancient Roman penal colony from the days when Egyptwas within the Roman Empire, and where prisoners minedgranite as a building material for the Roman Empire (tour-ists will be pleased to hear that they will not be expected towork in the quarries during their visit!) This stone was used in fa-mous buildings such as the Pantheon and Temple of Venus inRome, Hadrian’s Villa in Tivoli, and also in the defending wallsand defence towers around Mons Claudianus itself. Hot springs,which were used for underground heating systems in Romantimes, still exist today along with ruined granite artifacts, andthe Roman camp, dwellings, workshops and stables. The gran-ite mine itself is still there, and is the largest and best-preservedRoman site in the Eastern Desert. You will also find Mons Clown fishPorphyrites (about 40km from Hurgada).The Hurghada area is a real state-of-the-art resort with a huge range of leisure activities,entertainment and spa facilities.It is also an ideal base from which to explore the nearby resorts at Safaga, ElGouna,Makadi Bay and Sahl Hasheesh, all of which offer beautiful beaches, ex-cellent diving sites,and their own ranges of activities and sights. With HurghadaInternational airport so close by, it is even possible to fly out to Cairo and take in thefamous ancient sights such as the Pyramids, or to Luxor with its many ancient temples.The high level of top quality investment in top class new facilities highlights the excellentnearby resorts of Sahl Hasheesh, Soma Bay and Makadi Bay.They have a multitude of fine facilities including golf, spa and wellness resorts. They arealso becoming very popular locations for holiday homes. 17
Diving spot in the Red seaSafaga SAFAGA, RENOWNED FOR ITS UNPOLLUTED ATMOSPHERE, BLACK SAND DUNES AND MINERAL SPRINGS (WELLNESS & SPA)53 kilometres south of Hurghada stands Safaga,an ancient marine port well-known for its unpollutedatmosphere, black sand dunes and mineral springs.The town has built a great reputation as a wellness andspa resort and visitors have a wide choice of very highquality facilities. A favourite watersports destination forwindsurfers, kitesurfers and scuba divers, Safaga is a re-laxed and laid-back destination more suited for those wholove to take part in diving and other sports during the day,and prefer beach parties to large nightclubs by night. Windsurfer ? It also makes a perfect base for sightseeing, with the DID YOU desert to the west holding as many treasures on dry land as the Red Sea holds beneath its surface to the east. KNOW? The highly saline sea Safaga itself is a sizeable Egyptian town which built up water at Safaga makes around its port, built because of Safaga’s proximity to the ancient gateway through the Red Sea Hills to the Nile, the town unique, and the used as far back as during the time of the Roman Empire. water is believed to have a Having retained much of its local colour and feel, visitors therapeutic and beneficial will find local shops and markets selling souvenirs as well effect on the skin. The as more traditional goods such as spices, local food and combination of sunshine, crafts. clean air, and the water is believed to be very effec- In and around Safaga there are a number of resorts, offering essential Red Sea activities such as windsurfing, tive against skin conditions kitesurfing, snorkelling, swimming, sunbathing, and of like psoriasis and you can course scuba diving. Clear waters and beautiful sandy find Spa & wellness high beaches meet at the shoreline to make Safaga a perfect possibilities according to spot for a relaxed holiday off the beaten track, but with International standards. the facilities and activities one would expect of a much larger and busier resort. PEACEFUL DIVES SITES Diving from Safaga is varied and interesting, the dive sites are peaceful and the coral is unspoilt. A key feature for groups travelling to Safaga is that there are sites for all levels of diver here, with shore dives on the house reefs for beginners and some deeper drift dives offshore for the more experienced. Dive schools operate here, and guests can combine the relaxation of a holiday by the beach with an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience as a diver in some of the best dive spots in the world. The coral reefs are characterized by pinnacles, slopes, grottos and overhangs and all are well populated with a startling array of marine life. Ray
INFO POINT ADVENTUROUS DAY TRIPS Ras Mohamed Sharm SAFAGA National Park el-SheikhDay trips away from the sea can take adventuroustypes out into the desert, where it is possible to El Gounatravel by four-wheel drive or to ride your own quad Rebike out into the landscape, taking in spectacular d Eas Sevistas of sand, rocks, oases and mountains, before a tervisiting a Bedouin village and riding in the Egyptian Hurghada ndesert on a camel, sure to become a lifelong Makadi Bay se Dememory and a tale to tell when you return home. rt SahlThe visit culminates with guests enjoying a barbe- Ras Abu Soma Hasheeshcue dinner whilst being entertained by traditional Mons & Tobia Island Claudianus SAFAGA Soma BayBedouin music, before setting off back by quadbike or jeep to Safaga. These tours can be half Reday or full day trips. d Se The a Nile River Qena El Quseir Luxor Luxor For those who would rather take on some of the best diving in the area, the dive boats also travel to some locations where a single trip can let you experience many different types of dive, from sandy shallows to towering coral pillars. RAS ABU SOMA Ras Abu Soma is located off Soma Bay, close to Safaga. There is a large lagoon here, and this site is easily accessible from the shore, where in recent years a 300 me- tre jetty has been built. Giant moray eels Quad adventure frequent the area, as well as cuttlefish,It is also possible to explore unexpected clown fish and octopuses. This spot offershistorical treasures from the time of the varying degrees of adventure, with a long,Roman Empire (like the Mons Claudianus an old sandy slope before the wall drops away intoRoman granite fortress complex lying just 40km the depths. As you head to the north thefrom Safaga), or even take a trip to the south sandy slope becomes thinner, until it even-and Luxor, with its incredible ancient temples and tually joins the main reef wall. Shortly beforeother historic sites. this is a small cave or overhang which goes a short distance into the coral reef. HeadingIn all hotels in Safaga, you will find watersport back to the south you can finish your diveand diving centres hiring snorkelling over the sand plateau where blue spot-equipment, and organising guided and ted rays and even the occasional eaglenon-guided snorkelling trips to the best places in ray may pay you a visit. With ever-presentthe area. They also cater well for children, with clown-fish in their anemones and all theprofessional guides teaching youngsters how colourful marine life this site has to offer, thisto use a snorkel, mask and fins, which will teach is a very pleasant dive suitable for all levelsthem the skills needed for an experience they will of diver.always remember. With diving like this, trips to the desert, and TOBIA ISLAND a relaxed atmosphere away from the hus- tle and bustle of the larger resorts, SafagaTobia Island, a small sand bank island in the makes an ideal getaway for busy peoplemiddle of the bay of Safaga, is a popular who would like to experience some fun andexcursion from Safaga’s hotels and resorts. adventure whilst slowly winding down fromThe island is an ideal spot to spend a day at the stresses of everyday life.sea aboard one of the many day excursiondive boats. Hotels, diving and aqua centres inSafaga offer half day or full day excursions to the island, which is a wonderful site for snorkelling and observing the out- standing coral heads in shallow water, which make snorkelling easy, fun, and great for children. A full day excursion generally includes lunch on board the boat, and the use of snorkelling equipment. Anemone Sea Clown fish 19
White-tipped sharks, Red SeaAl QuseirAL QUSEIR, BEFORE A TRADE PORT AND BASE FOR EXPLORATION… Al Quseir is 85km south of Safaga, and has been used as both a trade port and base for exploration by many different civilizations for over four thousand years. One of Egypt’s earliest places of importance, the city stands at the end of the shortest route between the Nile and the Red Sea, which made it a vital link between Egypt and the wider world in the days before the Suez Canal.Diver and corals, Red Sea Anthias, Red Sea ? Visitors seeking ancient history and a taste of eras gone DID YOU by will have much to see and explore here. The remains of the Roman port settlement, Myos Hormos, are only KNOW? 8 km from present-day Al Quseir. There, visitors can stillWhen the Roman Empire see the ancient portbuildings, and scattered around theruled Egypt in the distant past, area are many Roman vases and artifacts, making this a rare historical location where tourists and locals alike haveAl Quseir (then known as Myos respected the significance of the site, leaving it preservedHormos) was an important for new visitors to find as though they were the first.and busy port, and in 20AD, around 120 ships were It is possible to travel even further back into time here,setting sail for India each year though, with as many as 200 hieroglyphic tabletsto carry exports of Egyptian adorning the cliffs at Wadi Hammamat, which joins Alwine, fine pottery, glass and Quseir to Qift on the River Nile. Many of these tablets areprecious metals, to trade 4,000 years old, and depict traditional reed boats travel-with India for its silk, spices, ling to the Nile. In later years, the Romans built watch-medicines and pearls. towers along this wadi, and many of them are still there today.
INFO POINT A STRONG ARCHITECTURAL INFLUENCE Soma Bay, AL QUSEIRAnother major influence on the look of the Makadi Bay, Safaga Sahl Hasheesh,city is theOttoman era, and the Ottoman Hurghada,fortress of Sultan Selim, ruler of Egypt during the El Gouna16th century. The fortress was a military strong- Redhold to protect the port from invaders and to Sekeep pilgrims to Mecca, many of whom set aoff from Al Quseir, safe from harm. It is for this Eareason that many buildings in the town have st rn ea strong architectural Islamic influence. The De serrecently restored fort has an interesting Visitors’ t Ottoman FortressCentre with displays of local history, archaeol- of Sultan Selimogy and culture. Wadi AL QUSEIRFollowing the Ottomans, Napoleon and later Hammamatthe British Empire occupied the port, which nowhas varied architecture from both of these influ- Luxorences, with many British and French style 19thCentury buildings juxtaposed with the Islamic-influenced buildings and the ancient structuresfrom Roman times and beyond. The local government is keen to preserve these historic build-ings, as well as the area’s natural environment, to keep Al Quseir as beautiful for the future as itis today.This is truly an area of amazing history, and it is remarkable how well the remains of past cultureshave stood through so much time and a changing world. All of this exists alongside modern AlQuseir, which has narrow streets perfectly suited for the colourful bazaars, as well as cafes andrestaurants serving delicious seafood, and of course glorious beach areas which have morerecently become home to luxurious hotel resorts.Despite being so rich and varied, the area’s history is only one of the reasons to visit the wonderfulcity of Al Quseir. Today, scuba diving is a huge attraction here. The city’s coastal hotels, includingthe Movenpick, the Flamenco Beach Resort and the Utopia Beach Club, the Mangrove BayResort and the Fanadir, all have their own diving centres, where both beginners and more expe-rienced divers can enjoy sandy slopes and beautiful coral reefsbeneath the turquoise waters. PRESERVED ENVIRONMENTAl Quseir is a beautiful place, with both the natural and man-made environments vital toits atmosphere and appeal. For this reason, the local government takes the preservationof the area seriously, to the extent where the hotel resort staff receives special training onthinking environmentally. It is perhaps for this reason that the city and its beaches haveremained so beautiful. Diving parties are limited in size to preserve the reefs, so you willfind your underwater experience to be tranquil and peaceful, and of course you will beable to experience a sub aquatic world kept undamaged with responsible use. IMPRESSIVE MARINE LIFEThe coral reefs at Al Quseir are extremely diverse with scattered pinnacles, tunnels,chimneys, outcrops and caves waiting to be explored, and the sheer variety of coralgrowth is astonishing. The marine life is just as impressive, with Napoleon wrasse, morayeels, lionfish, goatfish, rock cod, trumpetfish and groupers inhabiting the reef areas,and gobies, shrimp and squid on the sand and shallow waters. Further variety can befound on the outer reaches, including tuna, fusiliers, mackerels, jacks and snappers.It’s clear that this is one of the best diving locations in the Red Sea, if not the world. MORE ADVENTURES TO BE ENjOYEDAway from the sea, and to the west of the city, more adventures are waiting to be enjoyed.Desert safaris, either by four-wheel drive jeep or riding a quad bike, take guests out intothe desert across vast expanses of sand, and past rocks and oases, towards the mountainsuntil they reach a Bedouin village. These nomadic peopleoffer a warm welcome to visitors, who will get to ride a des-ert camel and enjoy Bedouin hospitality and entertainmentbefore heading back across the desert to the city and itsbeautiful resorts and beaches.Further afield, those wishing to take in as much of Egyptas possible can easily reach Luxor and even Cairo, bothwell-known throughout the world as centres of ancienthistory. A little nearer to Al Quseir are more Roman and an-cient Egyptian remains waiting to be discovered.With the opportunity to see deserts, mountains, beachesand the full glory of the undersea world in a single day,it is as apparent as the clear waters of the Red Sea thatAl Quseir is quite simply one of the most exquisite destina- Diving in the Red Seations one could ever visit. 21
Ghalib HarbourPort Ghalib PORT GHALIB, THE FINEST NEW RESORTClose to Marsa Alam Interna-tional Airport, and so very easilyreachable straight from theplane, is Port Ghalib, a beautifulport with its own legend,and now a thriving marinaand tourist town.Port Ghalib is located fiveminutes from Marsa AlamInternational Airport and 2.5hours, by road, from the Val-ley of the Kings. It unfurls alongone of the finest marina andsweeps on the Red Sea. ? Ghalib Harbour DID YOU Today, there are no ghost ships to be seen, but the area KNOW? has grown into a luxurious marina and tourist resort, with excellent hotels by the beach serving as a haven for The legend of Port Ghalib sunseekers and diving enthusiasts, spa and wellness lov- says that at the turn of the ers as well as those who would like to explore the won- first millennium, a young ders of Egypt. man named Ghalib found- ed the port after a rival for The marina itself is the nucleus of Port Ghalib. A modern the hand of his true love and fully serviced port of entry into Egypt, the marina arranged for his trade ships can accommodate up to a thousand large yachts. to be barred from entering Acting as both a fully-functional marina and a leisure the port of Aidhab. After the and tourism destination, there will always be plenty of port was established, or so activity in Port Ghalib, and in the crystal waters around the legend says, the rival its shores. tried to destroy it by sen- ding a fleet of warships to The Port Ghalib tourist resort stretches along some attack the port, but a fleet 3.8 km of beachy shoreline, and has a lively town centre, of ancient ghost ships ap- with busy promenades with shops, boutiques, restaurants, bistros, and cafes. peared and frightened the attackers away, leaving Port The Corniche Peninsula looks out over the marina, and Ghalib free to become a is a half mile stretch of high class shops, restaurants, thriving port for trade, and bars and cafes, along with recognizable chain brands, Ghalib himself free to marry behind which is a traditional Egyptian bazaar called The the woman he loved. Khan, where visitors will enjoy haggling with sellers for semi-precious gems, ceramics and perfumes, all part of the Egyptian bazaar’s traditional character and charm.
INFO POINT ENERGETIC & FUN PORT GHALIB BrotherPort Ghalib has been created with an en- Islandsergetic and fun loving visitor in mind, witha long list of watersports, including kaya-king, windsurfing, parasailing, wakeboarding,sailing boats and catamarans, jet boats and El Quseirjetskiing, waterskiing, scuba diving, under- Redwater photography, snorkelling, and dolphinsafaris, as well as deep sea fishing, and fun Se a boat-drawn banana and donut rides. Tak- Port Ghalib ing part in such activi- ties on the clear blue waters of the Red Sea is like a dream of Luxor, paradise. Valley of Other active pursuits the Kings Marsa Alam Daedalus out of the wa- Reef ter are also avail- able including horse and camel-riding, motocross and quad bikes, go-carting, paint- balling, rock climbing, and abseiling. Tennis, swimming, kiting, cycling and archery are also available from the resort hotels. CHILDREN’S CLUB For the youngsters, Port Ghalib has an exciting children’s club. Lulee Kids Camp offers supervised activity programmes for chil- dren (ages 4-12 in low season, 2-12 in high season), and oper- ates every day of the year offering a range of activities to keep kids interested, involved and stimulated while adults get to en- joy the freedom of Port Ghalib. Kids can expect to find treasure hunts, jungle gyms, mini golf, trampolines, bumper boats, ten-pin bowling, a games arcade, bubble diving, inflatables, and much more. If you have ever wondered how to keep the children oc- cupied on holiday, Port Ghalib has more answers than you would believe. DAY TRIPS INTO THE DESERTDay trips away from the sea can take adventurous types out into the desert, where it ispossible to travel by four-wheel drive or to ride your own quad bike out into the East-ern Desert and its spectacular landscape of sand, rocks, oases and mountains. After athrilling and awe-inspiring journey, the safari visits a Bedouin village where guests will bewelcomed with traditional hospitality, and be offered the chance to ride in the desert ona camel, sure to make an interesting story to tell when you return home. Guests enjoy abarbecue dinner as the sun sets over the mountains, and traditional Bedouin music andentertainment captures their hearts, before setting off back by quad bike or jeep to theresort. These tours can be half day or full day trips.Of course, in between all of this activity, guests will wish to find time to relax, and PortGhalib has that covered, too. With spas and steam baths for both men and women to bepampered in, and sunset and moonlight cruises, Port Ghalib can offer a romantic andrelaxing experience, as well as a vibrant and energetic one. TWO BEACH AREASPort Ghalib has two beach areas each with their own unique appeal. The southern beachis ideal for swimming andgeneral beach fun, while the eastern beach offers jetty accessto the reefs that surround the resort, which makes it perfect for snorkellers. Alternatively,guests may choose to visit other nearby dive sites by visiting one of the resort’s dive cen-tres, which are operated by professional, fully trained instructors.Three of the top ten dive sites in the world, The Brothers Islands, Daedalus Reef andRocky Island, are within easy reach of Port Ghalib. The area also boasts some of bestdolphin observing waters anywhere on the planet.Being towards the south of the Red Sea Riviera means that Port Ghalib is withineasy reach of Luxor, with its ancient temples and other famous sights and expe-riences. With the airport close by, it is also possible to take flights to destina-tions elsewhere in Egypt, such as Cairo, very easily, and still return to Port Ghalib tosoak up the luxurious and affluent atmosphere of one of Egypt’s finest new resorts.There’s a very good chance that you will want to return to Port Ghalib again and again,knowing that there is so much excitement and adventure available. 23
Marsa Alam swimming poolMarsa Alam MARSA ALAM, THE FASTEST GROWING HOLIDAY RESORT About 220 km south of Hurghada, Marsa Alam is among the fastest growing holiday resorts on the Red Sea Riviera, and is popular with wind surfers, scuba divers, snorkellers and beach lov- ing sunseekers lucky enough to have already discovered Marsa Alam’s tranquility and beauty. Fringed with palm trees and mangroves, this is a real life tropical paradise, and an ideal base for further exploration. Divers in Marsa AlamLike some other resorts on the Riviera, Marsa Alam wasonce a small fishing village, and the addition of MarsaAlam International Airport to the area allowed the town toenter into the realm of tourism, and since then the areahas become one of Egypt’s secret treasures, especiallyamong divers and snorkelers looking for a new desti-nation off the beaten track.For diving enthusiasts, The Red Sea is a glorious treasurewaiting to be discovered, boasting kilometres of beau-tiful coral reefs and an abundance of magnificentlycoloured sea life. Emperor fish UNCROWDED DIVE SITESWhile Egypt has become a popular destination for divers eager to experience the magicof the Red Sea at first hand, the spectacular dive sites of Marsa Alam still remain relative-ly uncrowded, allowing holiday makers to discover the area’s ship wrecks, coral walls andunderwater gardens in peace.Marsa Alam’s top diving spots are popular for their unspoilt beauty. Elphinstone, situated6.5 nautical miles from the Marsa Alam coast, is teeming with life including sea turtles andreef fish, as well as larger pelagics. With a shallow northern plateau for snorkeling, and a fardeeper southern plateau, this area is suitable for sea users of all skill levels, from snorkelers toexperienced divers.Shaab Samadai, or Dolphin House, a curved reef off of the southern Marsa Alam coast, isso named because of a the pod of 60 or so spinner dolphins who are often seen here. Inaddition to the dolphins, this shallow, turquoise lagoon is also populated by schools of reef fishincluding leopard groupers, lionfish and masked butterfly fish.
INFO POINT Elphinstone MARSA ALAM El Quseir, Hurghada Porto Ghalib Re Luxor, MARSA ALAM d Valley of Se the Kings Shaab Samadai a Wadi Nuqrus Gebel Zabara Wadi Sikeit Wadi El Gemal National Park Cleopatra Wadi Mines El Gimal Fury Shoal st (Dolphin House) Ea er nD ese rt Berenice Diving spotAdventurous undersea explorers will love the EASY TRAVELidea of diving to the underwater caves andpinnacles to the south. Many visitors to the Red Sea Riviera likeFury Shoal is a diverse coral garden which to combine a relaxing holiday by themakes a wondrous diving location. A network Red Sea with the sights of Ancient Egyptof hard coral formations make up a complex and sights from the era of the pharaohs.reef inhabited by a variety of pelagic fish and Excursions to Luxor from Marsa Alamdolphins, and even contains the wrecks of a are available by bus, with a relatively short trip (around 4 hours drive). Thetugboat and a sailing ship for your exploration. most popular excursion to Luxor is onOn dry land, Marsa Alam is the home of an in- a full day basis, with an early morningcreasing number of luxurious hotels, from three departure, but guests also have theto five star. opportunity to spend a night in Luxor, allowing more time to see the ancient ADVENTURE IN THE DESERT temples and other artifacts over two days. The airport’s proximity also means that no-For those seeking adventure in the desert, there where in Egypt is out of reach for guestsare tours and attractions aplenty near to Marsa in Marsa Alam, and flights to Cairo areAlam. Quad bike or jeep safaris into the des- inexpensive and easy to arrange for theert, including a visit to a genuine Bedouin vil- complete Egyptian experience.lage, can be taken from the resort, and areavailable as full or half day excursions, whichinclude a barbecue and entertainment atthe Bedouin village, and the chance to ride acamel in the Egyptian desert.It is believed that the ancient EgyptianPharaohs mined brilliant green emeralds inthe mountainous areas of the Eastern Desertsouthwest of Marsa Alam. The CleopatraMines or Mons Smaragdus (Emerald Moun-tains) became the most famous mining com-plex in the ancient world, and at various timesthe mines at Wadi Gemal, Wadi Sikeit, WadiNuqrus and Gebel Zabara were in use duringthe Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Today theruins of the Zabara and Sikeit mining settle-ments are still evident near Marsa Alam, as wellas the remains of temples and ancient caves.Visitors looking for history will do well to visit themines, which, like so many sites of natural re-sources in Egypt, bear evidence of several dif-ferent civilizations who have made use of theprecious stones over thousands of years. CamelsAlso not far from Marsa Alam are the remains of the Roman port settlement, Myos Hormos,where visitors can see remarkably well-preserved Roman artefacts, and as many as 200hierogylphic tablets adorning the cliffs at Wadi Hammamat. Many of these tablets are 4,000years old, and depict traditional reed boats traveling to the Nile. Hammamat is also famousfor Bekheny stone, a beautiful green ornamental rock which was considered sacred in an-cient times. The stone was actively quarried until Roman times, and used to make bowls,statues and even sarcophagi. Many items made from Bekheny stone have been found in thePyramid tombs of the Pharoahs. In later years, the Romans built watchtowers along the wadi,many of which can still be found still there today. 25
BereniceWadi Gemal,Berenice & Bir Shalatein WADI GEMAL It is a protected National Park in the Eastern Desert, and a perfect way to discover the famous Egyptian desert, and to meet the original tribes who have roamed the vast desert for centuries. Around 40km from Marsa Alam, the park covers nearly 100km of the coast with palm groves, mangrove bays, and pristine beaches with pure white sand, as well as the Wadi itself, a huge, deep, dried riverbed, the site of many interesting geologi- cal and natural wonders to ex- plore, and the third largest wadi in the Eastern Desert.Diver and coral, Red sea ? DID YOU KNOW?In ancient times, thisarea was part of themajor trade routesbetween the Nileand the Red Sea andthe world beyond,when there was nochoice other than totransport goods southon the Nile and thenoverland to the RedSea coast. It is for thisreason that there aremany archeologi-cal discoveries to bemade here, includingthe remains of Romanguard towers placedalong the route toprotect trade convoysfrom attack. Gorgonian coral, Red Sea
INFO POINT BERENICE Marsa Port Ghalib, WADI GEMAL, BERENICE & BIR SHALATEIN Alam El Quseir Wadi El Gemal National Park Re dS Easte ea Berenice Ras Banas nD r es t er Aswan Zabargad Island Bir Shalatein Lahami bay hamataThe ancient city of Berenice, named by Ptolemy II Philadelphos after his mother, becamea trading port in 275 BC. A ruined Temple of Semiramis built by Trajan and Tiberius is nearthe modern town and, inland, there are the remains of the emerald mines of Wadi Sakait,which were worked from Pharaonic to Roman times. On the outer walls of the temple arerepresentations of Emperor Tiberius before the god Min, and another depicts offerings to thedeity of the Green Mines. The coast is lined with mangrove swamps and unspoiled bays andcoves. Offshore, visit the tectonic island of Zabargad, a geological phenomenon whichis also famous as the source of the semi-precious gem olivine, mined here from 1500 BCuntil the mid-20th century. From Peridot hill there are breathtaking views of the surroundingblue lagoons, rich in marine life and home to many dolphins. While Berenice is famous for itsfishing, it also has some of Egypt’s best health spas. BIR SHALATEINBir Shalatein is a small village located on the Egyptian border with Sudan.Once a major sea port, the area is now known for its proximity to some spectaculardiving sites. Many resorts further north on the Red Sea coast travel to this area, such is thestandard of natural beauty found beneath the sea here.These are all areas where the bustling world of international tourism is yet to shake up thenatural order of life, and as they are further south than the large tourist resorts, visitors can findsome of the Red Sea’s best diving sites. Red Sea 27 31
SinaiSINAI If a team of holiday experts was asked to design a perfect holiday destination, it would probably be just like Sinai region. It has everything – a superb climate, and tranquillity of the desert (or a stunning views, friendly people, bit of both!), there’s the very best and excellent value for money. here for you. You can add to that the historical and For many people, it’s the diving in this cultural qualities of the region which area which first springs to mind – and mean that it is held in high esteem for good reason. by the major religions of the world. Many experts will tell you that it’s simply It is a huge area, stretching from Sharm the best in the world – but also an el-Sheikh in the south to El Arish at its ideal place to learn as a beginner too. northern tip on the Mediterranean. Many of the experiences you can Sinai has a fabulous diversity in discover here will stay with you long landscapes and activities for the after your return home. visitor to enjoy. In a comparatively short distance, it’s possible to see a The dullest day in everyday routine will huge range from beautiful coastline be brightened by memories of quad to stunning desert and mountain biking in the canyons, coming face landscapes. The wildlife is abundant to face with beautiful fish, or seeing too – from warm sea teeming with some of the most beautiful sunrises brightly-coloured fish to the animals and sunsets this world has to offer. who make their homes in the interior. There’s an amazing choice in activities too – as well as diving of course, you can try, quad biking, horse and camel riding, and windsurfing, to name a few. Whatever kind of accommodation you are seeking, you will find it in Sinai – from simple budget accommodation to luxurious 5 star hotels, with everything in between. As you’ll see in the following pages, Sinai Region has something for everyone, whatever you are seeking on your visit. Whether it’s the vibrant night-life of Sharm el-Sheikh or the peace Sinai28
RAS SIDR Red Sea RAS SIDR, A MAjOR INTERNATIONAL BEACH RESORTRas Sidr is a destination on the Gulf of natural assets not found in other regions,Suez coast, popular with Cairo with areas of desert, mountains (includingresidents, but rapidly growing into Pharaoh, at-Teeh and Om-Kathira),a major international beach resort. valleys with beautiful plant life, andThe area extends some 95km along untouched beaches. It is also well knownSinai Coast. for therapeutic natural springs, including the Springs of Moses. The area isThe area is divided into North Ras Sidr, particularly rich in desert plants andwith its tourist centres at Ras Masalla, herbs, and it is also the habitat ofSouth Oyoun Moussa and Ras Dehaisah, many rare fish.and South Ras Sidr, including RasMatarma, an-Nakhila and Ras Mal’ab. Ras Sidr makes an excellent base for exploring, with attractions such as theRas Sidr as a resort began life as a quiet 800-year-old Qalat El Guindi fortress.coastal town, known locally for windsurfing.Today, new year-round tourist facilities,as well as shopping and private villa ?developments, have been added. Mostof the newer tourist development is in the DID YOUSouth Ras Sidr area. One can still windsurf, KNOW?or now kitesurf, but also enjoy a wealth Nearby are Hammamat Phara’oun, orof other activities associated with beach “Pharaoh’s Bath”, a sulfuric spring withholidays, as well as taking in the flavour of waters said to have healing properties,Egypt through visits to nearby attractions. and Ein Abu Morir, a picturesque spring surrounded by palm trees.This unique area enjoys a number of varied 29
Salted lake near Ras Mohammed National ParkRas MohammedNational ParkThe 480km2 of Ras Mohammed sits on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, about 20km from Sharmel-Sheikh.It has stunning views across the Red Sea which gave the area huge strategic importancethroughout history. Today, it is a beautiful National Park, set up to protect marine and landwildlife and maintain the natural beauty of the area. Not far south of the resort town ofSharm el –Sheikh, this protected area is a must-see for visitors interested in the vast array ofnatural beauty found in and around the Red Sea. With building of any kind prohibited, RasMohammed remains a timeless and pristine environment in which nature flourishes.For divers and snorkellers, the area is a paradise. Over 220 species of coral exist in RasMohammed National Park, as well as 1000 species of fish, 40 species of starfish, 25 species ofsea urchins, more than a 100 species of molluscs and 150 species of crustaceans. In additionto these natural wonders, many wrecks are scattered around the sea bed here from the dayswhen strong naval presences patrolled the area, considered to be strategically importantbecause of its proximity to the Suez Canal. KEY PLACESDiving is of course a big attraction to Ras Mohammed, not least because of the uniquenature of this peninsula. For those keen to concentrate on exploring the underwater world, divecruises are ideal, and will take you to the best spots in Ras Mohammed and the surroundingarea.The principal Ras Mohammed dives are Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef, two twin coral reefs ex-tending for hundreds of metres below the water’s surface. These are advanced dive sites, andrecommended for experienced divers, who will be rewarded for the challenge with a simplyamazing range of discoveries.Shark Reef, as the name suggests, is home to hammerheads, grey tipped and white tippedsharks, and many other open sea fish, including barracudas and huge tuna. There are alsoareas densely populated with anemones, along with the clownfish who dwell amongst them.Yolanda Reef was named after the shipwreck of freighter The Yolanda, part of which is stilldivable to this day. Scattered containers from the vessel have deposited interesting diving dis-coveries. DON’T MISS Dive sites at excitingly named places such as Anemone City, Shark Observatory, Eel Garden, Jackfish Alley, and The Alternatives. Some areas are suitable for snorkelling and novice divers, with others being better suited for intermediate or experienced divers. Diving schools and cruise operators will advise visitors on the most suitable dives for their level of experience. On land, exploration of the desert is possible, and can include visits to traditional Bedouin settlements to whom the area is an ancestral homeland.