Sun, Sea, Sand, Scuba – Sinai! In Association with HolidayGems
South Sinai is like nowhere else in Egypt: a stark landscape of desert and mountains, lapped by the clear blue waters of the Red Sea.
The Sinai is the place where Moses supposedly received the Ten Commandments, home of the Bedouin since time immemorial – and a world away from the chaos of Cairo and the border regions.
At barely five hours flying time from the UK, the Sinai is one of the best escapes from the British winter. And, for the lazy Brit in search of a sneaky week somewhere sunny, HolidayGems – an accomodation and flight aggregator – has Sharm el Sheikh holidays for as little as £250pp.
It’s perfectly possible to spend a week in Sharm doing nothing but lying on the beach, or by the pool, and chowing down on international food – for maximum sloth factor, just opt for an all-inclusive deal. But there’s a lot more to the Sinai than sun, sea, sand and camels.
WORLD CLASS DIVING
With excellent visibility, typically very light current, and warm waters full of coral and marine life, the Red Sea is one of the best places in the world to learn to dive. Whether you’re headed to Dahab and the iconic Blue Hole, or sticking to Sharm sites like Na’ama Bay, Ras Mohammad National Park and Thistlegorm, the diving’s cheap, plentiful and wonderful. Finding Nemo? Guaranteed.
Ever wanted to board down a sand dune? Climb a coloured canyon? Spend a night sleeping out under the desert stars, watching the moon rise over the desert? Or hunt for fossils on an ancient seabed? Sinai’s an amazing place to do it. And – if the mood takes you – you can do part or all of your desert trip on camelback, for a fraction of the price of an equivalent trip in Wadi Rum.
The Bedouin have never built to last, but that doesn’t mean the Sinai has no history. Mount Sinai is supposedly the mountain on which Moses received the Ten Commandments, and a trip up to watch the dramatic sunrise or sunset is unforgettable – as is St. Catherine’s Monastery below.
The calm waters of the Red Sea make it a great spot for the classic watersports. Windsurfing and kitesurfing are firmly established – along with everything from jet skis and banana boats to parasailing and kayaking.
From shrimp to calamari, from grouper to lobster, fish fresh from the waters of the Red Sea are one of the great joys of any Sinai trip – whether simply grilled, cooked “Bedouin style” in foil with fresh herbs and veggies, or served as sashimi.
If you’ve never spent a lazy afternoon lounging on low cushions by the sea, watching the sunset shading the Saudi mountains to pink and turning the waters opalescent, then, frankly, you haven’t lived. Throw in kittens, backgammon, sheesha, seafood and – on cooler nights – firepits, and Dahab is a spot that could have fallen from heaven. And it’s barely an hour’s drive from Sharm.