About Egypt and South Sinai
Egypt is famous for its ancient civilization and numerous architectural marvels thousands of years old, but there is so much more to be explored and experienced in this fascinating country. Covering an area of more than 1,000 000 km², it’s divided into 27 governorates, each one providing a different landscape, culture, architecture and vibe.
What makes Egypt even more unique is the fact that it’s 1 country on 2 continents – Africa and Asia! The Sinai Peninsula is officially part of Asia, and South Sinai is where my heart lies. I fell so madly in love with this place that I actually decided to move here, explore and share with the world the beauty of this magical place.
The gorgeous desert mountains rise up high, while the beautiful beaches get immersed into the crystal blue waters of the Red Sea. The landscape on the surface gives an extraterrestrial, almost Martian feeling, while below the sea level it’s, well… Heaven!
What About Safety?
People often ask me if the region is safe, but what does safe mean anyway? Most major European cities are considered safe, but at the same time have very high levels of crime and security threats, while The USA is infamous for it’s frequent mass shootings.
South Sinai has a strong military presence and numerous check points, but it is probably the safest area in the whole region. Still, the feeling of safety and security can be very individual, so do I feel safe? -Yes, absolutely. At least much safer compared to the 2 years I lived in Barcelona.
Ras Mohamed National Park
Ras Mo (in local lingo) is an absolute gem and definitely one of my favourite places in South Sinai! It’s part of the main city in the region – Sharm el Sheikh (with an international airport), which makes it easily accessible.
The park is just as gorgeous by land as it is under water, and the only way to experience it fully, is to explore both sides. On land, it offers wonderful sceneries, secluded beaches for picnic, beautiful mangroves, earthquake cracks, salt lake and so much more. You can also enjoy a Bedouin style lunch right on the beach in the beautiful Bedawi Eco Camp or even stay overnight (I love this place and will go for some glamping soon!).
To enjoy the incredible underwater world, all you need is a snorkelling mask and a pair of fins. However, I’d suggest you take things a step further and go scuba diving. Ras Mo is a home of some of the most beautiful dive sites in the world, offering an incredible abundance of marine life and an out of this world beauty – 220 species of coral, 1000 species of fish, 40 species of star fish, 25 species of sea urchins, more than a 100 species of mollusc, 150 species of crustaceans and also some turtles cruising around. Looks as fantastic as it sounds!
From the beach you can go snorkelling or diving at Shark Observatory, Marsa Bareika (right in front of Bedawi Eco Camp) or Eel Garden (tidal dependant).
Here’s a little video of showing a bit of the beauty of Ras Mohamed above and below sea level:
How to Organize A Day at Ras Mohamed?
There are plenty of tour agencies that offer day trips to the National Park, but they can be a bit rushed, and I personally prefer to explore and enjoy the day at own pace. Private tours are also an option, but it will definitely cost you much more, so my recommendation is to rent a car.
Distances in Egypt are huge and if you want to explore and move around freely, that’s your best option. It’s an easy and inexpensive process (depending on the car it can be as low as 400le day, around $23) and it will save you a lot of hassle and money on taxis and transfers.
Note: International driver’s licence is required for foreigners in Egypt.
By having a car you can go and leave at any time between 9 and 5pm (opening hours can vary a bit), visit any place you like and even organize your own little beach picnic.
You’ll need to pay the park entrance fee – 40le per person and 60le for the car, making it less that $8 for 2 people with a car. A tour agent charges between $6 and $8 per person for the entry fee only. Rumour has it that prices at the gate will increase soon, but surely the difference won’t be massive.
Tip: Don’t forget your snorkelling gear as you can’t rent one in the park.
How To Arrange Scuba Diving?
To go for shore diving at Ras Mo you have 2 options – use a a dive centre or hire a private dive guide.
Numerous dive boats leave the Sharm jetties daily, but just a few dive centres can organise shore diving at the national park. I’ve used Anthias Divers in Sharm el Sheikh, which is also the only 100% AWARE Partner in the area (for those of you who don’t know what that means, I’ll explain in a bit).
Tip: Don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest dive centres as what you pay’ll is what you’ll get. Always look for professional 5 Star PADI centres as they don’t make compromise with safety and standards (something that doesn’t apply for all dive centres in Egypt unfortunately…)
If you want to have a stellar experience and dive alone or only with your friends, then go for option two – hire a highly qualified and experienced private dive guide.
It is more costly compared to the regular packages, but this exclusive service will provide you with a wonderful personalised experience away from the large dive groups. If you’re interested, just get in touch with AmckDiver. He’s very professional and will organize everything for you based on your personal preferences. (I’m not sponsored for this, but maybe just a little bit biased ;))
Be A Mindful Eco Traveller
Tourism inevitably has an impact on the environment, but being aware of the Dos and Dont’s can make a tremendous difference. There are a few simple guidelines we can all follow in order to enjoy nature’s beauty without causing any damage:
1.Corals Are Animals – Don’t Step On Them.
They may look like plants, but they are actually living organisms, which grow just a few centimetres per year and are very fragile. I’ve seen too many tourist walking on the coral reefs, unaware that by doing this they kill an animal which took decades, or even centuries to grow. This little video that was made for children explains it very well:
An even less known fact is that sunscreen, deodorants, perfumes and any sort of chemical we take with us into the sea is harmful, especially for the baby coral. I personally use coconut oil, which has an endless list of incredible properties and uses, one of which is – natural sun blocker. It’s my most favourite gift from Mother Nature and I wrote loads about it here:
2. Don’t Feed or Touch Any Sea Life
When I saw tourists feeding the fish in the reef so that they can getter better pictures with their cameras, the water around me started boiling. Feeding any animal in the wild may harm it or change its feeding patterns, which in turn has an affect on the entire eco system. Be aware of businesses who use bad practices (whale shark feeding, elephant riding, tiger kingdom, etc.) and don’t support them by simply not using them.
The inhabitants of the ocean don’t like to be chased and touched. Some of them have powerful defence mechanisms (often venomous), and if they feel threatened, they’ll use it. Others are very fragile and by picking hem up you risk breaking, infecting or killing them. Not cool.
3. Be AWARE
Picking up the trash after yourself sounds like common sense, right?
Wrong! Sadly, even the protected national parks suffer from plastic pollution and people’s irresponsible behaviour. Good news is that we can all make a difference by simply making more conscious lifestyle choices, adopt the new ‘Don’t pick up shells, pick up plastic’ approach, join beach cleanups, clean-up dives or one of Project AWARE’s many initiatives.
To get an idea how bad the plastic pollution affects the environment, check out this video with official data:
Project AWARE is a non-profit organisation, which is dedicated to cleaning the ocean from debris, stopping the plastic pollution and protecting the endangered marine life. You can join and support their efforts on their official website, where you can also make a donation:
On their website you can also pledge to follow the 10 Tips for Divers to Protect the Ocean Planet:
What is more, we are supporting the project each time we choose to dive with a 100% AWARE Partner. Those centres donate $10 to the foundation for each course they complete, and as mentioned earlier, Anthias Divers is currently the only one in South Sinai that is committed.
Take only photos, leave only bubbles!
If you have explored Ras Mohamed National Park, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below! I’ll also be happy to answer any questions, so don’t be shy to ask 🙂
Happy travels and many happy bubbles!