I was awoken at 5am on Christmas day by the local Muezzin, giving Allah his dues. The last time I was up at 5am on Christmas day I was six years old and had peed myself with excitement.
This time I stayed dry and instead of rushing to the Christmas tree I headed to Cairo Gateway bus station to get a bus to Dahab in the Sinai.
I arrived shaken & stirred many hours later and headed to Dive-Urge where I had organised a room at last minute. The greeting was warm and I was given some Bedouin tea (with sage) and told that there would be a Christmas dinner on the beach in a couple of hours.
I skedaddled to the local bottle shop (imaginatively titled “Drinks”) and purchased some Stella [sans Artois]. Safely back on the beach, the food was slowly served up and honestly [sorry mom] it was the best Christmas meal ever. It was like the Egyptian chef had taken a Christmas dinner cooking course. Succulent turkey, red cabbage, stuffing, crunchalicious roast potatos, bread sauce… The works.
Spent a week in Dahab, which is as relaxed as it gets. Diving, sleeping, eating, sleeping, diving, repeat until done. Dive Urge is a fantastic place, highly recommended. But after this it was time to get on the road again.
Source: Visiting Egypt
To anyone standing on its shore and gazing out across its heavenly waters, the Red Sea may seem to be a mislabeling. Its blueness is eternal and anything less red cannot be fantasized. The Red Sea, where the desert meets the ocean, is truly one of the planet’s most exotic and fascinating natural seascape environments. The Red Sea is located between Asia and Africa. At its most northerly point forms the Sinai Peninsula and stretches over 1000 miles south to join the Indian Ocean, between Ethiopia and Yemen. In the north and west are desert plains, while in the south a mountainous region (2642 meters high), which is part of the mountain range stretching from deep in Saudi Arabia, across the Sinai and then into Nubia of the African continent. The Red Sea holds beneath its crystal blue surface an oasis of living creatures, reefs, and coral formation. Its use as a highway between East and West has attracted man since the beginning of time.
The Red Sea was created by the movement of plates in the Earth’s surface about 30 million years ago. In that time, the Arab peninsula started to part from Africa along a thin break line which was filled by the ocean’s water. However, “Mother Nature” did not stop there. Twenty million years ago another geological movement started. The Arab peninsula which parted from Africa, started to move to the north. That movement struck resistance in Turkey and swung to the east, and another break line was formed. This one stretching all the way from the northern part of Israel, through the Jordan valley to the Dead Sea, and finally through the Gulf of Eilat to Ras Mohamad at the southern point of the Sinai. The young age of the Gulf of Eilat is what makes it so deep, 100 meters in Dahab and 1800 meters north of the Straits of Tiran. On the other hand, the old Gulf of Suez is relatively shallow, with a 85 meters maximum depth. The Red Sea is still widening at about one-half inch per year, the rift is the youngest region of continental breakup on the planet, allowing geologists to learn about processes that occurred in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans hundreds of millions of years earlier.
Water temperatures in the Red Sea remain unusually constant year round, averaging 22^ C in the summer. Low pressure systems develop in the Sahara Desert and draw hot dry east winds from Asia which cause the temperature to rise frequently along with sand storms. At the same time, lows develop over the Red Sea, bringing moist cold air from the south and creating clouds, haze, and more often rain. The northern land mass is the primary influence over temperature in the gulf, but this decreases to the south the closer you get to open sea. The open sea’s cooling effect creates an interesting temperature pattern: maximum summer temperatures are lower in the south while minimum temperatures are higher in the north with the opposite occurring during the winter. In any case, the coldest moth of the year is January and the warmest months are July and August. The Red Sea is notorious among seafarers for its high speed surface winds and aggressively short irregular motion. It may be calm on the inward shore, but journeys to exposed sites like The Brothers islands, a remote off-shore site east of El Quseir, can be perilous and boats have been seen literally to fall apart under the force of the journey.
posted by Gulliver on Daily Scuba Diving
Crystal clear water and red hot desert sun enriches each dive with beautiful play of colors, and perfect as precious stones coral walls and reefs running from the shore are breathtaking. Discover for yourself hundreds of varieties of corals, mysterious ship wrecks and some of the most beautiful reef walls in the world.
Sharm El Sheikh
Sharm El Sheikh has quick become an ultra-modern diving site for a short period of several years. 65 km long reefs are among the richest and most famous in the world. Mile after mile hard and soft varieties of coral reefs and fish abound in the dazzling display. There is no place in the area, which is not hide a small miracle, but, due to inaccessibility and inconvenience, diving is usually limited to a few sites. Here you can read more about Sharm-El Sheikh dive sites
Straits of Tiran
Little straits of Tiran Island are like closing the Gulf of Aqaba from the 12 miles to the north-east of the port of Sharm El Sheikh. These straits are formed in the east of the island of Tiran and the Sinai coastline to the west. Deep water, the continental plateau and a narrow corridor create a kind of bottle neck through which a strong, dense flow of plankton is literally thrown out on the coral reefs. Circulation of food chain of the plankton brings coral organisms and reef fish together with predatory sharks, which find here easy prey. Of course, this is the place where you can still encounter the shark actually during each dive.
This is a 70 meter canyon cut from an edge of a plateau at a depth of 15-20 m. Sharks and big fishes are around here; dangerous currents. Wrecks of Lara ship.
Lies between the reefs Gordon and Jackson, is a long, narrow reef running from the north-east to south-west. Its shallow peak drops sharply on all sides by a sharp angle.
Sharply cut reef is composed of several sections, the plateau and a very deep canyon, stretching from the south reef. This is the smallest of the 4 reefs, and because of its location in the chain, the most exposed to the strong currents.
This reef is a 10-20 m wall extending down to 70 m. Sharks and other fishes around here. Strong flows and wrecks of Loullia ship.
Sand Canyon is next to a sandy plateau, and then goes down to the abyss. Barrier reef and coral slopes.
A small canyon, extending to a depth of 10 – 15 meters. Entrance is from a sandy beach.
Enjoy this short video introducing you to the amazing destination that is Sharm el Sheikh. Diving, clubbing, shopping, kite-surfing, snorkeling, safaris, horse rides, desert quad bikes, casinos, restaurants… the list of things to do is endless. Come to Sharm, soak up the sun, enjoy the sea and have the best vacation ever!
Imagine yourself in one of the most beautiful and famous deep-sea diving paradises in the world. Your dreams of crystal clear water, magnificent corals, exotic under water flora and rare tropical fish all come true when you visit Sharm El Sheikh on the Southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula.
Let your eyes be tantalized by the white sandy beaches and endless desert landscape, which contrast with the crystal clear blue water of the Sinai peninsula. Sharm El Sheikh has been heralded as “The City of Peace”
It is also noted for its sulphur springs, which are considered cures for those suffering from rheumatic and skin diseases. The morphology of Sharm El Sheikh‘s coastline is unique. It is the cosmopolitan capital of the peninsula of Sinai for its small, intimate hotels with modern designs, as well as larger hotel complexes belonging to International chains.
Plus about all the amenities one could expect of a tourist center, including casinos, discos and nightclubs, golf courses and health facilities. In fact, with diving and snorkeling, windsurfing and other water sports, horses and camel riding, desert safaris, and great nearby antiquities attractions, it is almost impossible for a visitor to ever suffer from boredom.
Kiteboarding Sharm El Sheik is full sensory destination! Sharm El Sheik – Naama Bay on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula is known as the ‘Vegas of Egypt’. It’s the bright lights and bustling streets which give it the atmosphere. The Sharm-Naama area is packed with exotic restaurants and expensive hotels which own the beaches in this protected bay. But its the amazing coral and wreck diving that has drawn people to this town on the Red Sea for many years.
2 areas a short distance Northeast of Sharm are where the kiting is.
The main area is Nabq, which is about 20-25 minutes from Sharm and a cheaper option for hotels.
Nabq has a large lagoon area created by a coral reef about 500m out. Its perfect because you can stand just about anywhere. So its great for beginners learning, or advanced riders pulling crazy moves with the option of easy self rescue if needed. The wind is a cross to cross-on depending where you are on the lagoon.
The north end of this lagoon on the outer side of the reef has a beach which gets mellow waves when its blowing 20knots +. Its quite an upwinder to get there, but worth the trek.
The access areas to launching on the lagoon are a little difficult unless you are staying at a hotel along the lagoon. The easiest access is down the road at the public Zouara beach.
The second kiting location is Montaza Bay. This about a 15 minute trip in the same direction before Nabq. Its also just about the only beach that you don’t have to pay for, or break through hotel barriers to get to. This has a similar set up to Nabq though the beach is totally uncrowded and you should have free reign without hotels around – but not a lot of help if you need assistance.
To get Montaza Bay, travel out of Sharm El Sheik on the Peace Road – take the turn off to the Baron and Jazz Belvedere Hotels. Passing the Jazz Belvedere on your right take the next road right – pass Gardenia beach turning. At the end of the road go right at the T junction to the beach.
The area for kiteboarding Sharm El Sheik works on morning thermals and are best between October and March. The wind is apparently still good April to September but less consistent. So avoid the ‘nightlife of Sharm El Sheik’ and stick to ‘kiteboarding Sharm El Sheik’ or you will be skunked!
It is sometimes windy through the day – on the occasions when it blows 25kn or more. It seems the harder it blows the longer it stays. Generally it blows from before sunrise to early afternoon. At which time go diving, snorkeling or just chill on the beach. Overall we were pleasantly surprised at what a smooth, smooth 15+ knot wind kiteboarding Sharm El Sheik offers.
Taxis will take you easily with your gear or rent a car – there are options available. A small car will go for about $40 a day.
This shows the 2 lagoon areas north of Sharm El Sheik/Naama Bay on the Sinai Peninsula – the first one being the undeveloped area of Montaza Bay and the one further north being Nabq (Nebk).
Prevailing wind coming from the North-east (cross onshore).
By Valentina Cattane,
Al Masry Al Yawm, May 21 2011
The protection of the environment is usually considered one of the least important concerns for traditional mass tourism. But “eco-tourism” gives an eco-responsible answer to the increase of tourists flow while preserving the natural and historical heritage of a country. Egypt, with its population of over 80 million crammed on a mere 5 percent of the territory, has great potential for eco-tourism.
The destinations for eco-tourism in Egypt are concentrated mainly in the three deserts: the Eastern desert, which is defined by an incredible mixture of biodiversity, the protected area of Western desert, and the Sinai desert.
One of the main attractions in these areas is represented by the Oases, among which the most famous are the Fayoum, Siwa, and Bahariya oases, the last of which is a depression located about 360 km west of Cairo and close to the Black and White deserts. In the Dakhla oasis, tourists can find Neolithic rock paintings and the Farafra and Kharga Oases.
Currently, Egypt contains 28 protected areas. According to Mahmoud al-Kalsouny, environmental advisor to the tourism minister, that number will have grown to 44 by the end of 2017 and encompass 24 percent of the Egyptian land.
“Thanks to eco-tourism we can use around 94 percent of Egyptian land, while before we could only use 15 percent of it,” Kalsouny pointed out.
Since 2002, the year when eco-tourism was internationally promoted by the UN, Egypt has made a lot of effort in order to make use of its three deserts, which are filled with a rich biodiversity and history.
The travel and tourism competitiveness 2011 report, published by the World Economic forum in early 2011 before the beginning of the political unrest, suggests that a number of long-term issues should be addressed in order to boost eco-tourism in Egypt. Tourism and transport infrastructures should improve, while the extraordinary cultural heritage the country is endowed with should be increasingly praised with its seven World Heritage cultural sites, and the low-cost hotels and fuel prices that make Egypt a perfect destination for the new generation of eco-tourists.
As the Ministry of Tourism reports revealed, the last international financial crisis did not have a strong impact on Egyptian tourism, which still attracted 12 million tourists in 2009.
“Eco-tourism was growing incredibly before the revolution broke out,” Kalsouny assured. “The January revolution had a negative effect on tourism with activities revolving around desert and sea shore, which dropped off 80 percent. Currently the peak of tourists, mainly Russians, reaches 20 percent,” Kalsouny stated, attributing “the decrease to the lack of security in such isolated areas.”
Hisham Zaazou, senior assistant to Egypt’s Minister of Tourism, explained that a direct consequence of the unrest was the temporary suspension of the “green initiative for Sharm el-Sheikh,” which aims to adapt the city on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula to sustainable standards by 2020. The project includes four targets, namely emission control, water supply, waste management and the protection of biodiversity.
As Zaazou told Al-Masry Al-Youm in a previous interview last December, the initiative was approved by the prime minister in July 2010, and was supposed to be launched in January 2011. In light of Egypt’s recent uprising, the project was postponed. However, Zaazou is confident that the Tourism and Environment ministries along with the Egypt’s South Sinai Governorate will reach an understanding about beginning the project in the coming six months.
The green star “Hotel Initiative” is the first of its kind in the Middle East to develop a national pilot for an eco-certification scheme for hotels and resorts. The certification would apply to destinations throughout the Red Sea and elsewhere. The project, which is funded by the German government, aims at transforming 40 hotels in eco-friendly structures; it has been delayed due to the unstable political situation, but it should kick off soon, as Zaazou told Al-Masry Al-Youm.
According to the environmental advisor to the tourism minister, 2010 registered 3 million divers. The eco-tourists who choose to go to the desert, either for safari trips or visits, reached about 100,000.
If the current political uncertainty and the lack of security are seen as a deterrent to tourists, long term issues should also be overcome in order to improve eco-tourism in Egypt. Most sites lack visiting centers and facilities, and, as Kalsouny stated, are not equipped for eco-tourism. Only four are well-served: the National valley of whales (Wadi al-Hitan) in Fayoum, Saint Catherine, and the Eastern and the White deserts.