Sinai 5

Sinai – 2 visits, strong sensations

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Sinai – History, desert and sea

​Maybe the most interesting area in Egypt far from Nile, Sinai is very well prepared to help tourists to overcome the desert limitations and have very good holidays. At least as long as order prevails…

Snorkel and diving

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P1040473

Will it be possible visiting Sinai without snorkelling? I don’t believe! All discussions try to find the best location – Ras Mohammed, the national park is the top destination, but we heard (and verified) that Tiran Island is fabulous, and the Blue Hole… magnetic.

Fishes may be seen everywhere, but the “carpet” in Blue Hole is impossible to forget. A little bit far, that’s the problem, but you may link it to another program – desert, canyons, Dahab.​

I made snorkel in several places, from Brazil to Thailand, but nowhere I found such a rich and diverse variety of coral and fish. Along the coast several points dispute the privilege of being the best, in a competition hard to decide. My “best” was, probably Blue Hole, but during a full week, living amidst the fishes was a very nice experience

Tiran Island

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P8210230 resize

The island is… nothing, just a volume of sand in the middle of the sea, narrowing even more the straight with the same name. A few shipwrecks happened in the area, and the fish take advantage of it.

Not too explored, the coast of the island is a good spot to snorkel with clear bottom and several coral formations.

The trip is pleasant with lunch included, but the return is early.

It was supposed to snorkel in three places, and we did, but the last one, by the destroyed ship, only last a few minutes.

Blue Hole

Sinai
Visiting Sinai – Blue hole

Blue hole was a terrific surprise. The place is remote, the touristic structures are rudimentar, but swimming in the place was a dazzle. In most of the reefs we find ourselves facing a vertical or almost wall, in which the color fades with depth, and the visibility covers only a small area. Here, we feel like standing above a large and  animated carpet, with a profusion of colors of the most varied corals, and the movement of thousands of fishes. Then, moving to the edge of this carpet, an abyss of magnetic blue opens beneath us enhancing the pleasure of floating in a terrifying well with no visible bottom. The dazzling comfort of returning to the reef is an unforgettable experience. There was little time for the place, but it was certainly the most impressive vacation experience.

Sharm-el-Sheikh

Naama bay 4
Naama bay 4

The common entrance place of the peninsula, Sharm-el-Sheikh concentrates almost everything in touristy structures and opportunities, acting as the launching point to the several programs locally available. Of course, it deserves a specific page, and I wrote it.

For most of us, visiting Sinai is travelling around Sharm-el-Sheikh.

Na’ama bay

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P8181396

Nightlife! Beach! Nightlife! Desert rides! Nightlife! Shopping! Nightlife! Snorkeling! Nightlife! Restaurants… Na’ama bay is the place where everything happens. No matter how far you will stay, an efficient and reliable public or private transport will be provided to take you there. Impossible to skip!

St. Katherine

Sinai
Visiting Sinai – St. Katherine

Twice I’ve been in Sinai… twice I went to St. Katherine. It is a miracle of survival, not only for the religious people permanently living there, but also for the place itself. Nowhere in the world is possible to see two different religions sharing places and structures so closely as in this monastery.
Some visitors stay overnight nearby to climb mount Sinai at dawn, but most of them only make a short visit.
There are serious rules about clothes, and in our first visit we had to cover our pants with their long costumes, locally provided by a small amount.
Everybody comes out with a common thought:
Why the religious fights and killings, if this example shows that respect and fraternity are possible?

Colored canyons

Sinai
Visiting Sinai – Colored canyons

If it was the objective of our trip, I would classify it as a tourist trap. Being a complement, it was… fun.
The canyon is tiny, and colors… well, with imagination and good will…

It is not a thing to see – it is a radical experience. Going up and down the rocks was a challenge, easy to most of us, almost a nightmare for some other, everything with laughter and shouting. For about one hour, following a prepared path, the guide and his assistants were putting us in face of several kinds of difficulties, suggesting the solution and helping the more frightened. A good experience to feel the other side of desert.
​The canyons are small, almost colourless, but the short walk along them is a funny experience, climbing and sliding in the polished rocks, in a sequence of narrow and steep passages demanding good physical condition and decision to take risks, though the risks are minimized by the guides assistance.
Choose carefully the package (it is normally included in a larger trip) offered in all beaches, and… bargain.

Desert safari

Sinai
Visiting Sinai – Desert safari

Desert safari is a widely sold program on Sharm-el-Sheikh beaches of reduced interest.

Some tourists are introduced to all-terrain vehicles, and taken to wander in the desert, with the inevitable jab of the jeep stuck in the sand, and the need of a “skilful” maneuver of the driver and guide, which will hardly fool anyone.

Perhaps because of this, this program seems always to be combined with one or more of the options available in Sinai, with that becoming really interesting.

One of the options is the visit of the monastery of Santa Catarina, not to be missed, another an adventure in the colored canyons, acceptable, the last one a trip to Dahab and the Blue Hole, less frequent but truly attractive if we are prepared to swim.
​We did it by combining all these supplements, which represented a wonderful long day, with lunch at six in the afternoon and return late in the night, but really satisfied.

Quad bike

Sinai
Sinai

The most affordable alternative for those who want to get away from the magnificent marine world, is this quad bike ride.

Giving the illusion of penetrating deep into the desert, in reality the short drive only goes behind a hill, covering the view of the urban area, and conducting to a camp where you can sit in a tent for a tea, and change the bike for a camel, for a walk of some tens of meters.

A lot of dust, a lot of excitement, more dust, absolute safety, and finally a lot of dust to wash after the quick return to the city.

Dahab

I passed by Dahab, in my first visit to Sinai, while returning from St Katherine. I only retained the idea of a touristic street with restaurants lining a bad beach, where we had a reasonable lunch. I went there again to discover its actual main attraction – diving in Blue Hole.

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F1000002 resize

We arrived later, only with time to the great experience in the reef, and to the usual parfum performance in a shop exiting town. However, less touristy than Sharm-el-Sheikh, the city gave me the idea of more authenticity, maybe deserving a longer visit.

Doubtful impression Eating in Blue Hole – a nameless restaurant

Sharm-el-Sheikh
Blue Hole

Blue Hole is a perfect place to snorkel, only a few quilometres from Dahab, in a place missing support for tourists. A few wooden structures try to solve the problem but in very bad conditions.

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P8201566

For instance, the “nameless restaurant” where we were taken had no toilet. The ladies were invited to go nearby to a place that I couldn’t classify, but they returned stating that… there was no water.

Washing hands was only possible after a serious protest of the guide – someone brought a jerry can with water, pouring some over our hands.

The food was not bad, but I think that at 6 PM all lunches are good.

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