Egypt Tours, Red Sea & Travel

   

The Red Sea as a Destination

Not many places in the world can capture your imagination in as many ways as the Red Sea. It derives its name from the explosive growth of blue algae, Trichodesmium erythraeum that notwithstanding its name, every so many years, dyes the normally blue-green water of the Red Sea an orange-red. And, legendary among many divers experts agree, Red Sea diving is unequal to most other destinations. It's red mountain ranges inspired the mariners of antiquity to name the sea Mare Rostrum, or the Red Sea.

 

The Red Sea stretches from the Gulf of Aquaba to the Sudanese borders, linking the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean. It is a very deep sea reaching 3,000 meters in the central areas and 600 to 800 meters in many walls and reefs. It forms the northern extension of the great rift valley, a massive geological fault that runs the whole length of the African continent. The rift's spectacular topography of mountains and valleys are mirrored underwater with deep trenches and isolated sea mounts with drop offs and walls over 300 meters in places. This leads to an abundant variety of dive sites and marine life. Being almost land lock (90%), the tidal range is very low. This means the reef tops are usually within 1 meter of the surface producing excellent snorkeling conditions and colorful diving in shallow depths surrounding the reefs.

 

The climate in the Red Sea region is equatorial with air temperatures ranging from 18° Celsius to 26° Celsius in the winter and from 27° Celsius to 40° + Celsius in the summer. Water temperatures range from 18° Celsius to 21° Celsius in the winter and 21° Celsius to 30° Celsius in the summer. Near zero rainfall means little fresh water runs off from the surrounding deserts and consequently good visibility all year round. Most coral species present are photosynthetic and therefore more colorful than other tropical areas. The Red Sea boasts the most diverse coral and marine life of any sea. On and around the reefs you'll find over 2000 species of fish and coral.

 

Underwater visibility is typically more than 30 meters and diving is possible beyond 45 meters. The average diving depth ranges between 12 and 25 meters. Snorkelers can also enjoy a truly unique experience in the Red Sea - many reefs are within 1 meter of the surface; full of interesting marine life and colorful coral.
 
Most any type of diving can be done in the Red Sea. The recent reopening of the famous "Brothers Islands" extends southern diving opportunities to some of the most beautiful dive sites known anywhere!

 

Surrounded by awe inspiring desert scenery home to some of humans' most ancient and remarkable civilizations, the Red Sea with its unique underwater treasures exists thanks to a geological miracle. Only 40 million years ago, the African and the Arabian continental plates began to break and move apart. This movement, which is still going on today at a rate of half an inch per year, created the Syrian-African Rift with its many unique and impressive geographical features, namely, the high mountains of Syria and Sinai, the depression of the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley, the Sinai Peninsula with the relatively shallow (approx. 100m) Gulf of Suez along its west side, and the much deeper (approx. 2000m) Gulf of Aquaba along its east side, then to the south, the partly very deep (approx. 2500m) main body of the Red Sea down to its shallow and narrow exit to the Indian Ocean, at the Bab El Mandab (130m deep and 29km wide), and finally the inland Rift Valley leading southward to Tropical Africa.

 

Despite the harsh desert climate with its lack of water and with its strong winds, humans have joined many plants and animals in their effort to make a living along the shores of the Red Sea. Ever since Antiquity, local costal communities rely mainly on fishing, while Bedouins live from herding and from the management of the scarce water sources inland. Already in Pharaonic times, the Red Sea coast and even the island of Zabargad were well known for their copper or precious stone mines. Even the colorful reef fish must have impressed the Ancients already, as quite some of them can be easily recognized on the relief’s of ancient monuments, as for example on the walls of the Temple of Hatshepsut in Luxor. The Red Sea was also situated at the most important commercial cross-road between north and south, east and west, and ancient traders coming by sea from as far as India and China traveled through it on their way to the Nile, to Sinai, and to the Mediterranean. Romans, Christian Monks, Crusaders and Ottomans left their traces along its shores, and many Muslim pilgrims have crossed it to get to Holy Mecca, and still do. From the 14th century onwards explorers and scientists have traveled and studied its shores and waters.

 

For the last three decades another type of traveler has, first slowly and lately very fast, discovered the coast of the Red Sea, the tourist. The countries around the Red Sea not only offer remarkable historical, cultural and naturalist interests, but also unique diving, optimal winds for windsurfers, and sandy beaches with palm trees under an ever blue sky for sun seekers. Especially the last ten years have seen a very rapid development of tourism infrastructure all along the coasts of Sinai and the Egyptian mainland, while Saudi Arabia is slowly opening to tourism and the Sudanese reefs are visited by a yearly increasing number of liveaboards. While the tourism industry has the obvious economic advantage of generating a considerable income for the countries involved, it also has the serious disadvantage of environmental deterioration through development that is non-environmentally sustainable, thus threatening exactly those resources that generate the income.

 

The road of environmental protection is long, winding and never-ending, but especially Jordan and Egypt have been making serious efforts to preserve their natural resources and to remedy damages that have already been done in the past. In Egypt the creation of governmental institutions like Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) and of NGO like Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) and the Red Sea Association for Diving & Water sports are important milestones in this process. Most of the Egyptian Red Sea coast and all of the off shore islands are now either a National Park, a Nature Reserve, or a Red Sea Protectorate with strict rules of environmental behavior for visitors. We hope you adhere to them and help us to preserve this most amazing of all seas.

 

Hermits seeking seclusion founded early Christian monasteries here, sharing the wilderness with camel-trading Bedouin tribes. Today, the crags and limestone wadis of the Eastern Desert remain relatively unexplored, home to ibex and gazelle. But the Red Sea itself, dotted with coral reefs, fringed by ancient ports, teeming with underwater life, has a rich maritime history which stretches back to Pharaonic times.

 

The thermal winds that once sped clippers to the East still bring thousands of migrating birds to the shores of the Red Sea, making it a paradise for bird-watchers. Today, the ancient ports are better known as some of the best diving and fishing resorts in the world. Here, you'll find over 800 fish species, including the deadly stonefish, the equally dangerous butterfly fish, as well as surgeonfish, jellyfish such as the Cassiopeia, crabs that sometimes overrun the shore in the evening and some species of shark. Sunbathers relax on white sand beaches, or find shade in the mangrove lagoons that line the coast, while snorkelers explore the reefs. And the underwater wonder of the Red Sea remains a living tapestry of vibrant corals and exotic fish, waiting for you to discover its secrets.

 

Hurghada

Hurghada was founded in the early 20th century, and until a few years ago, remained a small fishing village. Lying on the eastern border of the Egyptian desert, Hurghada provides a gateway to the prime diving sites throughout the Red Sea. It's central location provides favorable access to popular diving sites in the north or south equally. Hurghada, is now known as an international diving destination frequented by many divers. Compared to other places in the Red Sea, Hurghada is unique for having access to so many uninhabited off shore reefs and islands. There is a greater concentration of local dive sites and the reefs are some of the healthiest in the northern part of the Red Sea.

 

But today, Hurghada has gone on to become the foremost tourist resort of the Red Sea coast and an international center for aquatic sports. If it takes place in or on the water you can do it here: windsurfing, sailing, deep-sea fishing, swimming, but, above all, snorkeling and diving. The unique underwater gardens offshore are some of the finest in the world, justifiably famous amongst divers. The warm waters here are ideal for many varieties of rare fish and coral reefs, which may also be observed through glass bottom boats. This area has many fine accommodations, usually offering warm and efficient service. Restaurants are mostly along the main road. While in Hurghada, don't miss the museum and aquarium, with their complete collections of flora and fauna of the Red Sea. 

 

Today, Hurghada is known as a party town, particularly among Europeans.  Locals and others will tell you that life begins at night in Hurghada, with the many, many clubs. The young, but certainly many others of all ages particularly frequent them. One may often find a rousing party centered on the visitors from a tour group taking over the action of a particular bar.  They are easy to find along the main street, along with loads of inexpensive and expensive hotels. 

 

Hurghada is also a beach resort, where thousands of older Europeans and others come with their families to enjoy the sun and fun of private resort beaches, some all-inclusive.  Many of these hotels offer so many activities and facilities that one may never need to leave the resort.  Often, the larger resorts have zoos, playgrounds, discos, bars, a number of pools and even small theaters.

 

Hurghada is also a city under development.  Many new hotels and construction are taking place, and we can expect to see some great new hotels, restaurants and other facilities in the near future.  Actually this is a busy section of the Red Sea in general.  Safaga is just south of Hurghada, and Soma Bay with its beautiful Sheraton is even closer to the South.  To the North is El Gouna, a highly organized resort community.  Together, these communities and resort areas offer just about everything a visitor might wish for, from raucous parties to isolated scuba diving, with golf, bowling and fishing in between.

 

Islands near Hurghada offer all kinds of fun and excitement. Take a day trip to Giftun Island for snorkeling and a fish barbecue, or view the Red Sea from a submarine! When you're not in the sea you can shop in the boutiques, relax in the luxury holiday villages or visit the Roman Mons Porphyries (mountain of porphyry) remains at nearby Gebel Abu Dukhan (Father of Smoke). Day-trips or safaris to explore the Red Sea Mountains by camel or jeep are also available. Other nearby islands and destinations include the Shedwan Island (Diving, snorkeling, fishing but no swimming), Shaab Abu Shiban (Diving, snorkeling and swimming), Shaab el-Erg (Diving, fishing and snorkeling), Umm Gammar Island (Diving and snorkeling), Shaab Saghir Umm Gammar (Diving), Careless Reef (Diving), Abu Ramada Island (Diving), Shaab Abu Ramada (Fishing), Dishet el-Dhaba (Beaches and swimming), Shaab Abu Hashish (Beaches, diving, snorkeling, swimming and fishing), Sharm el-Arab (Diving, swimming and fishing and Abu Minqar Island (Beaches and swimming).