Scuba Diving in Egypt
Diving in the Red sea started when Greek and Italian workers came to Egypt in the 1950s. In 1992 diving became a tourism attraction. The Red sea is famous for its teeming life under the surface. No wonder the reefs in Sinai are known as one of the best and most beautiful in the world.
Egypt is a good place to spend a vacation all year around. There is no rain period and the temperature varies from 20-25 C in the winter and 30-35 C in the summer. Even though the climate is warm all year in Egypt, The sun sets early and when the sun is down, the temperature descend fast. Bring a sweater when going out at night. The temperature can come down to just a 0 C at its lowest (in the winter).
Ras Mohammed National Park is one of the most famous diving places in the world. It is also Egypts oldest National Park. It is situated between the desert of Sinai and the corals of the Red sea. Ras Mohammed is 480 km big, whereof 345 km is over water. Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef are popular areas of coral reef in the park for divers. Other coral reef sites include South Bereika, Marsa Ghozlani, Old Quay, and Shark Observatory. As a result of earthquakes, Ras Mohammed National Park has plenty of underwater caves to explore. The park has a big marine life. Over 1000 species of fish, 40 species of star fish, 25 species of sea urchins, 100 species of mollusc, and 150 species of crustaceans live here. Sea turtles are also a common sight. If you go further out offshore you might see Grampus griseus, the biggest dolphin species in the world. Ras Mohammed is an ideal destination for underwater photography. At sunset you must leave the park, it is not allowed to be in the park at night.
Sharm El Sheikh is mentioned among the best vacation destinations in the world. There a lot of things to do in Sharm El Sheikh besides diving. Sharm El sheikh is home to the best spas in Egypt. If you´d rather go shopping or clubbing, that is possible too. In Old Town, the shopping is great, and here you should buy your souvenirs. Sharm El Shekih has a great nightlife, with plenty of bars and discos. Many of the big resorts and hotels arrange discos in their courtyards with light shows and trendy music. Other hotels have more family friendly parties with shows and themes to educate about the Egyptian history and culture. If you want peace, you should go to Hadaba, here you´ll find calm hotels and resorts. If you´d want a break from the water it is easy to book a safari trip from Sharm El Sheikh to the Sinai desert.
Diving in Sharm El Sheikh has it all, hard and soft coral, turtles, dolphins, mantas and moray eels, napoleons and tuna, hammerheads, barracudas, reef and pelagic sharks, and much more. When in Sharm El Sheikh don´t miss out on the legendary WW2 wreck of the SS Thistelgorm. The old steam ship that got hit by a German bomber. It was forgotten, remembered and forgotten again. In 1992 when the diving became a tourist attraction, the ship was remembered once more and now it´s one of the most famous diving sites in Egypt. From Sharm El Shiekh you can reach the beautiful Ras Mohammed National Park.
The Egyptians are keen to protect their reefs from damage. All centers operate under environmental-friendly procedures. Since you´ll be diving in a protected area there´s a small fee to pay. The money is used to keep Ras Mohammad National Park alive.
The Island of Tiran is situated one hour outside Sharm El Sheikh. The water is clear and the sand white, a paradise. The island is in the Aqaba gulf and it is 1800 meters deep. It is common to spot barracudas, manta rays and sharks here. The Jackson reef in the strait of Tiran is the most Northern one. The currents are strong and makes it hard for unexperienced divers. You´re likely to see barracudas, jacks, hammerheads and tiger sharks swim by.
Hurghada is known as the capital of the Red sea Riviera. Hurghada is divided in three parts, the luxurious Sigala, with resorts hotels and restaurants. The old El Dahar, with a generous bazaar. If you want modern, El Memsha (the village road) is the place to go. Sometimes it is possible to go to the famous Ras Mohammed National Park by boat.
The abu nuhas wrecks also called the ship graveyard of abu nuhas are four different wrecks. The wrecks are very different from each other, so it´ll never be boring. In the graveyard you can visit one of the oldest wrecks in the Red sea. It wrecked in 1869 on its way to India. Diving in the ship is a cool experience, sweepers, glassfish, nudibranchs and batfish will join you! Careless reef is a popular destination in Hurghada. Here there´s something for both the experienced and the less experienced diver. Caves for the experienced, and reefs with a wide range of fishes for the less experienced. For the experienced diver the Rosalie Moller wreck might be a challenge. The wreck lie at a depth of 39-50 meters, and the
currents can be strong. Just like the SS Thistelgorm this ship got hit by a German bomber. The Rosalie Moller was shipping cole to Alexandria when it was hit in October 1941.
Outside Marsa Alam you find Shaab Sataya, also known as the Dolphin reef. The beautiful dolphins are regularly there and therefore its name. The dolphin reef is also a good place for snorkeling. Whitetips, fusiliers, Spanish dancers and parrotfish is what you´ll see diving at Dolphin reef.
20 km outside Marsa Alam is the Elphinstone reef, perfect for those who likes wall diving. The depth is more than a hundred meters and the reef is over 300 meters long. If you´re interested in drift diving, this is a great place due to the strong currents. This is only advised to experienced divers. Elphinstone reef is covered with soft corals. You´ll meet angel fish, barracudas, groupers, morays and many more.
Dahab is the place to be for those who wants a vacation with beaches, windsurfing, shopping and good local food. Not far from the city Dahab is the famous Blue Hole. It´s a mesmerizing sight. This circular, 165 m drop off looks exactly like its name. Here flourish corals, eels, fans and whole lot other. Don´t let the Blue Hole´s dark beauty lure you down too deep. More than a few people have gone in and never come back due to nitrogen narcosis.
Tourist Information in Egypt
Egypt is in general a safe country to travel in. The Egyptian people are friendly and helpful. There has been terrorist attacks where groups have been shooting at tourists. But the truth is that travelling in Egypt is probably no more dangerous than visiting most Western capitals. Egypt relies on tourism for its national income. Both Egyptians and their government are extremely keen to prevent any occurrence that might create a bad impression and keep tourists away.
A visa is required in Egypt. Most foreign travelers get it at the airport or port at arrival. The visa is valid 30 days from arrival. Some has to apply for it in advance. Talk to the Egyptian Embassy in your home country, they´ll tell you if you need to apply in advance. Your passport must be valid and have at least six months validity remaining. The currency in Egypt is Egyptian pounds, EGP or LE. In Arabic they´re called Geneeh. If you want to pay with card, ask first, don´t assume. To exchange currency is easy. You can do it in exchange bureaus, banks and hotels. The best rates you´ll get in the banks. Most currencies are accepted.
The Customs in Egypt say You´re not allowed bringing more than200 cigarettes, and 2 liters of alcohol in to the country. It is illegal to import drugs, firearms, and cotton. These things are also illegal to bring out of the country. As a tourist you´re allowed to bring a small amount of gold and silver out of the Egypt, if it is for personal use. If you´d like to bring antiques that are more than 100 years old with you, you´ll need a license to do this. There´s no limit on the amount of money You´re allowed to bring in to Egypt, but you´re requested to declare amounts over 500 EGP or equivalent.
Make sure you have insurance, medical treatment in Egypt is very expensive. Always carry some kind of identification document. Egypt uses two-pin socket with 220 volt power supply.
Taxi Make sure you´ve booked transfer to your hotel beforehand, the taxi prices from Sharm el shiekh airport is extremely high, and they´ll try to fool you to pay even more. The taxi cars in Egypt vary in shape. A good way to reason is that the poorer the car looks, the cheaper the fare will be.
The locals in Egypt use minibuses to get around. It is the cheapest way to travel. To catch one, just stand by the road and wave as it approaches. Then pick your place and send your money forward to the driver.
If you´ve decided to rent a car in Egypt, an international drivers license is required. When driving around, always keep your license and passport with you. You might be asked to show them at police checkpoints. The traffic is usually dense, especially in Cairo.
Going by bus between the cities in Egypt is an affordable alternative. The buses are comfortable with AC, refreshments and movies onboard. To be sure you get a seat you have to book at least one day in advance. To go by bus is time consuming, they stop frequently. If you want to travel effectively train or domestic flights might be a better option. Egyptair operates in all of Egypt. They fly to eleven different airports.
Public Holidays in Egypt
|New Year's Day||Januari 1|
|Chrismtas (Old Calendarists)||January 7|
|Egyptian Revolution Day, (National day)||January 25|
|Sportsmen's Day||March 3|
|Mother's Day||March 21|
|Sinai Liberation Day||April 25|
|Labour Day||May 1|
|Evacuation Day (Eid el-Galaa)||June 18|
|Revolution Day||July 23|
|Flooding of the Nile (Wafaa Elnil)||August 15|
|Armed Forced Day||October 6|
|Egyptian Naval Day||October 21|
|Suez Day / Popular Resistance DAy||October 24|
|Victory Day||December 23|
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Have in mind that Egyptians practice Islam. The Muslim holidays are not mentioned above due to the fact that they change date every year.