An Egyptian Gazelle spotted in Gebel Elba national park in 2015 - Mos'ad Sultan
CAIRO - 11 February 2018: Egypt is back on the international travellers’ top places to visit in 2018. For those of us already living here, check out these must-see spots you won’t find on your everyday tourist hotspot list.
Hit Gebel Elba national park, located in the far southeast of Egypt, between December and March and you will see green mountains that resemble those in Indonesia. The area is inhabited by the Beja people; the Besharin, the Ababda and the Rashaida tribes. Besides Arabic, they speak their own Beja, also known as Bedawiya, an Afroasiatic language that has no written form.
A view of the route to Gebel Elba national park in 2015 -
The park is home to rare wildlife, such as gazelles, Egyptian vultures, Nubian wild asses, Barbary sheep, foxes, many reptiles, as well as incredible plant diversity. On its Red Sea coast, stunning coral reefs flourish and magnificent sea creatures dwell, including several types of turtles. It is said that a tiger was killed in the area in 2014, and it is believed to be the last remaining of its species therein.
Visitors are advised to go with organized trip groups who can the negotiate tricky permits from Border Guards and the Military Intelligence required to visit the area. Amaken, Geo Travel and The Hiking Club can help you plan the unforgettable journey.
Nuweiba’s hidden gem is only a few kilometers away from Ras Shitan camp. A natural rainwater pool that is full year round, yet even deeper during the winter, lies between high red granite mountains, with marvelous magma dike formations all around. A car ride off road will take you to Wadi el-Weshwashi (the valley of whispers), but it feels much better when you hike in and out.
A man jumps from a cliff into a rainwater pool in Wadi el-Weshwashi, Nuweiba in a 2014 trip organized by -
A shallow pool takes you to a deeper stretch of water, and after an easy climb between two walls of granite you’ll find yourself in an open-air pool surrounded by high red mountains. Low-height cliff jumping will give you the adrenalin rush you may be looking for, but there is also a rope ladder.
Wadi el-Natrun and Religion Complex
As of this coming May, Egypt will be included as an official Roman Catholic Church Pilgrimage destination, with eight locations believed to have hosted the Holy Family’s flight into the country.
Ancient wooden doors at el-Surian Monastery in Wadi el-Natrun in October 2017 – Ahmed Hindy
The Religion Complex in Cairo and its famous Virgin Mary Church is among those locations, but Wadi el-Natrun on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital is receiving due attention from the government to host thousands of tourists. It is in Wadi el-Natrun where monasticism was first founded worldwide, back in the fourth century. It hosts four beautiful friaries; the fourth-century monasteries of Saint Pishoy, Paromeos, and Saint Macarius and the sixth-century Surian Monastery.
Bab el-Dunya Mountain
The route to Bab el-Dunya Mountain and the view from the top is one of the best in South Sinai. In clear weather, the Gulf of Suez is visible on the horizon, and the peaks of other mountains are recognizable. Oganize your trip through a travel agent who can arrange for qualified guides to accompany you, especially since weather here can be harsh.
A view from Bab el-Dunya Mountain in a trip organized by the Hiking Club in January 2015 –
Hiking in St. Catherine is tolerable in the summer because the city lies at an elevation of 1,5000 meters. However, it is best to hike Bab el-Dunya between September and May. The hiking difficulty level is moderate, and the 35km route—which includes beautiful springs and ancient mulberry trees— takes about 17 hours to hike. Usually, hikers camp for two nights until they reach the summit of Bab el-Dunya, around 2,170 meters above sea level.
Siwa has it all. High, smooth sand dunes that make spectacular sand boarding experiences, the Amun Oracle where Alexander the Great was declared a son of Amun and where a spring and fall equinox alignments and double window alignments are witnessed yearly, healing salt lakes, year-long warm sulfuric springs, plenty of sea shell fossils, as well as dates and olives, and more dates and olives.
A safari trip organized by in Siwa in April 2017 -
There are also the ruins of Shaly, a fortress built of salt, mud-bricks and palm logs, and friendly, generous locals who speak Amazigh besides Arabic. Abu Shrouf, Cleopatra and Beir 1 springs are highly recommended for warm and lukewarm dips, while breathtaking sunsets can be appreciated at Fitnas Island.
After a successful first edition of El-Gouna Film Festival in September 2017, El-Gouna Red Sea resort is expected to be fully booked around the same time this year.
El-Gouna resort in Hurghada, Egypt in September 2017 -
The self-sufficient town is only a short ride from Hurghada International Airport, and has beautiful nature, beaches and yachts, as well as many watersports going on. The resort also boasts several man-made islands that make for great view from nearly all hotels.
This article has been amended to note that a tiger, believed to be the last of its kind in Gebel Elba, was killed in 2014, and that the rare Nubian wild asses and Egyptian vultures exist there.