Heading to COP27? Make the Most Out Of Your Sharm El Sheikh Visit With This Nature Packed Guide
Sharm El Sheikh is a resort town home to ceaseless white deserts, cascading mountain ranges and waters brimming with rich sea life. It is no wonder that it attracts divers, nature enthusiasts and ecotourists from all over the world. Now, the town is also pushing for a green transformation having already made big strides in promoting sustainable accommodation and touristic practices.
This is what made Sharm the perfect host for the 27th edition of the United Nations Climate Change Conference set to run from November 6th to the 18th. If you are attending this prominent event and want to try out all that Sharm has to offer when it comes to a nature-fueled, eco-friendly adventure and experience, we have curated a guide, with the help of some experts in the field of rock climbing and free diving, to help you explore this special town and its surrounding nature.
Climbing enthusiasts rejoice as Sinai is becoming a hub for ascending the region’s highest peaks. Today, climbers would usually head to Wadi Gnai or St Catherine to partake in this adrenaline-fueled activity. Out of the two locations, most visitors would flock to Wadi Gnai, a deep canyon oasis that is located 100 km South of Dahab, as it is known for sport climbing.
While speaking with Khaled Mousa, a professional climber and instructor who has been in the climbing scene for a decade now, he said that sport climbing is one of the easier versions of this sport. Whatever route the climbers would take, there would be anchors already in place for them to clip their ropes on. That is why St Catherine’s climb at Mt. Sinai, 209 km North-West of Sharm, which offers trad or traditional climbing is considered harder because the climbers themselves have to attach the anchors as they climb and remove them on the way down.
To try out the sport, Mousa recommended that climbers go on a trip or excursion to either of the two locations. The entire excursion would begin at 6 or 7 am and end during sunset. Depending on the level of each climber, there is a range of routes that can be taken that vary in terms of difficulty. The easiest is level 3A while the hardest is 7B where climbers would have to scale up vertical surfaces and slopes. After completing the climb, with Wadi Gnai, climbers have the option of an overnight stay at Mousa’s camp. Food and camping tools would be available as per request.
For a special private free diving course, you can also contact Khaled Mousa using this number: 00201008580011
For the true adventure junkie, Sharm is also a great spot for free diving; a type of diving that relies on one’s ability to hold their breath for long durations of time underwater. We spoke with Khaled El Gammal, a free diving coach and athlete to learn more about the sport. He explained that because most of Sharm’s coastline is populated with large reefs and corals, free divers can literally head out onto any pier or jetty and perform their free dive from there, reaching depths of 20 meters.
For a deeper dive, freedivers can use a platform further up the water to dive depths reaching up to 100 meters. For safety reasons, each diver should have a buddy accompany them. This only applies to individuals who have received the required training.
When it comes to first-timers, Sharm houses several schools specialized in freediving training including the Only One Apnea Center. Considered the first freediving center in Sharm, Only One Apnea Center opened its doors in 2007. At the school, divers would have access to introductory, intermediate and advanced courses yet to be able to free dive, students have to take a 3-dive course that would span three days. Once they have completed their training, they can either dive with the center or head to any of Sharm’s coastlines and perform their dive from there.
To try out your first free dive, you can contact Khaled El Gammal using this number: 00201011817770 or head to the center at Sharm.
One of the main reasons why travelers flock to Sharm El Sheikh is its endless reefs teeming with bright-colored corals and kaleidoscopic collections of fish. Its waters are uniquely calm and still, allowing for better, clearer vision underwater. It’s because of these conditions that Sharm has become an ideal diving spot for beginners, wreck divers, and the like especially as it boasts diverse diving opportunities ranging from wrecks and shore dives to day boats and liveaboards. For that reason, we have curated a mini guide on some cool diving spots to check out depending on your skill level.
Just a few kilometers south of Na’ama Bay is the Ras Um Sid beach, an easy car or bus ride away from any of Sharm’s hotels. Along the fringes of the beach is a narrow coral reef, by merely snorkeling along its waters, you will be able to see clownfish, angelfish as well as butterflyfish. To get a more immersive experience, Ras Umm Sid reef is also known to be a great diving spot, especially for first-timers. Local diving instructors would pick Ras Um Sid specifically to teach people how to dive. So if it’s your first time trying out scuba diving, heading to Ras Um Sid beach can be a great first experience.
In the diving community, it is known that there is one wreck that most would say is a must-visit. Along the Strait of Gubal, the passage of water that connects the Suez to the Red Sea, a cargo ship by the name of SS Thistlegorm that was stocked with supplies for British troops during WWII, sunk during the tumultuous war. Its wreckage can now be found 30 meters below the water’s surface. Divers around the world visit this particular wreck because of the substantial amount of cargo that they can see and explore. Everything from motorcycles, boats to rifles, engine exhaust rings, and cylinders are found in that ship.
To explore the infamous cargo ship, divers can take an overnight tour on a liveaboard, a boat built for scuba diving that spends more than one night at sea. They should be accompanied by an expert. To get the most out of the trip, visitors need to perform at least two dives to truly appreciate the wreck.
Divers with a thirst for adrenaline usually like to head to Sharm’s Blue Hole, a 120 meter sink hole lined with a vertical reef wall that is said to have taken the lives of several divers who attempted to traverse it. Its reputation is on the extreme side as it can be safe for divers as long as they attempt the dive under sensible limits. The Blue Hole is home to a very unique collection of sea life. Divers have been said to have spotted barracudas, napoleon wrasses, and parrotfish along its vertical reef.
With it being located 100 kilometers north of Sharm El Sheikh, the easiest way to visit this infamous diving spot is through an organized day trip as taking a car alone can be difficult. You can head to any of the trip offices available at your hotel or certain centers at Sharm to book your tour.
Located 209 kilometers northwest of Sharm is Mt. Sinai, a 2,285-metre mountain where several religious events have been said to have taken place. The most significant is that of Moses receiving the Ten Commandments along the foot of the mountain.
To climb this mountain, you have to have a tour guide. This is required by the local authorities for safety reasons. That is why the easiest way to hike Mt. Sinai would be by joining a group tour that will head off from Sharm El Sheikh. As it can be extremely hot to hike during the day, most tours are known to travel overnight at 9 or 10 pm. That way hikers will reach the start of the trail in the early morning hours and by the time they reach the top of Mt Sinai, they will be able to watch the sunrise over the towering peaks.
The hike itself will involve two options. Either going up the Camel Trail, known to be a switchback path, meaning that it follows a zig-zag pattern up the terrain. That path is considered the safest option when it comes to hiking. For a more difficult yet more scenic route, you can ask the tour guide to take you through the Steps of Repentance where you will have to climb up a set of stone-cut staircases to reach the peak of Mt. Sinai.
During your trip, you should also make sure to visit the St. Catherine Monastery, considered one of the oldest functioning monasteries in the world and is said to house the infamous “Burning Bush.” It also has a museum filled with ancient manuscripts and religious icons that are said to be extremely rare. This will be a great stop for any history buffs joining the hike.
If you want to try out the trip without an organized group or tour, you can contact a specialized driver through this number: 00201003157546 to give you a ride instead.
With Sharm’s endless desert landscape, camping can be an ideal activity for all visitors. One great spot to experience the ultimate camping trip would be at Ras Mohammed National Park. Through several platforms including TripAdvisor, you can find some great nature-based lodgings. One example is SinaCamp in the heart of Ras Mohammed National Park. It boasts a collection of tents nestled atop the white sands of the lapping desert. The camp is known to offer its guests the ultimate experience of tranquility and relaxation.
With its prime location near the lapping shores of the Red Sea, guests can take a dip under the stars or lay on the sand by the water to soak up the sun’s satisfying heat. At night, lodgers would huddle together around an open fire, sing and enjoy freshly brewed cups of tea. We recommend wrapping up your trip to Sharm by heading to this camp as you will get to relax and unwind before taking a flight back home.
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