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Red Sea/Ras Mohammed National Park just south of Sharm el Sheikh

Red Sea/Ras Mohammed National Park just south of Sharm el Sheikh

Egypt has seriously taken on Eco-Tourism. Today, there are 21 national parks designated as Protected Areas in Egypt are devoted to eco tourism, the most famous of which is Ras Mohamed Protected Area in the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula (which separates the two outstretched arms of the upper Red Sea). The area is around the St. Katherine’s monastery in Sinai, the Zaranik area on the eastern shores of Lake Bardawil abutting the Mediterranean Sea, and where bird watchers can enjoy the sight of different types of birds on their migratory routes and the petrified forest with its uniquely shaped dunes.


Ras Mohamed is an underwater national park situated off the coast of Naama Bay. You may take a day trip there on a boat, stopping at three different sites to go snorkeling. The snorkeling is incredible; everybody was amazed at how much it was possible to see without the hassle of learning to scuba dive.

Ras Mohamed National Park, the extreme tip of the Sinai, has every right to be considered one of the finest dives of the world. Because of its geographic position, the Ras Mohammed peninsula is a privilege area. Mainly because of the powerful streams and currents that bring large quantities of planktons and other food that give rise to an extraordinary growth of stony and soft corals and attract large schools of both reef and pelagic marine fauna.

Given the great abundance of food, barracuda, jackfish, tuna and sharks swarm in these waters, offering divers the chance to make extremely interesting and exciting dives.

Coral reef ecosystems found in the National Park are recognized internationally as among the world's best. This recognition is based primarily on the diversity of flora and fauna , clear, warm water devoid of pollutants, their proximity to shorelines and their spectacular vertical profile. The reef exists as an explosion of color and life in stark contrast to seemingly barren desert adjacent to it. In reality the desert is rich in fauna, mainly nocturnal. These ecosystems are intrinsically linked and managed as a single unit.

The dry and slender Ras Mohamed peninsula is situated at the very southernmost tip of Sinai. Declared a park in 1983, it immediately struck us how the dry land area of the park seemed to belong to the marine world. Red Sea holiday resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Taba, Marsa alam, and Hurghada which are of course famous for water sports and superb scuba diving in the world famous Ras Mohammed national park off the Sinai peninsula and Sharm El Sheikh offers an astonishing variety of fossils embedded in the surrounding limestone that is essentially nothing else than a fossilized coral reef.

Ras Mohammed National Park just south of Sharm el Sheikh has 1,000 species of fish in its reefs. What bliss to slide into the warm water and wonder at the sights beneath the waves. The colours and shapes of the fish are amazing. You will see long, skinny cornet fish swimming in the coral, square yellow-and-black butterfly fish, which look like hot-water bottles, and bright-red coral groupers. Touching coral or fish is strictly forbidden, for ecological reasons. In some areas the water is so shallow that its coral could easily be damaged by enthusiastic swimmers.
Ras Mohammed national park in the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula
With some of the best diving conditions in the world, Sharm El-Sheikh is still a diver’s paradise. So, if you want to live the life aquatic, bring the kids and they can learn to dive in the warm waters just off the coast. But if you are looking to escape the glitzy resorts, head for the Ras Mohammed National Park, which offers incredible diving and is within easy reach of Sharm.

THE RAS MOHAMMED NATIONAL PARK DIVING

Some of the best dives in the Red Sea are to be found at Ras Mohammed, famous for the Thistlegorm wreck which Jacques Cousteau discovered in the 1950s. The sheer walls plunge down to depths of over 800m, and here you can mingle with the multicoloured alcyonarians and rich, pelagic fauna which live in harmony amongst the giant red gorgonians.

DIVING ABILITY
LEVEL 1

MARINE LIFE
Possibility of seeing eagle and manta rays, whitetip sharks, hammerhead sharks, leopard sharks, whale sharks, large shoals of batfish, surgeonfish, blue runners and red snappers.

UNMISSABLE DIVES

  • Yolanda Reef
  • Anemone City
  • Shark Reef

More Details: Ras Mohamed Dive Sites

Ras Mohamed or the red sea is one of the very best places to snorkel. The renowned Ras Mohamed National Park boasts of having over half a dozen species of sharks, more than thousands of species of rare fish. There are three shipwrecks here and thus prove to be the ideal places to snorkel for all those people who have a taste for adventure.

Along the shore, many small creeks hidden from one another appeared and we only had to decide which one seemed convenient to host you for a few days. Camping on the reserve at Ras Mohamed is an excellent option. If you are comfortable camping in the great outdoors, pack sleeping bags and a tent and head to Ras Mohamed for a few nights of starry skies and beautiful Red Sea side mornings. Entrance and camping will cost you approximately LE10 per person.

On the other hand, Safaris in the desert are activities that many visitors to Egypt enjoy. Either by jeep, on a quad bike or on the back of a camel, these one-day or overnight trips are a delight. This kind of activity is very famous in the west of the Nile River and around the Oases area, and in the Sinai Peninsula, especially around Wadi Feiran Area.

Ras Mohamed maybe Egypt's most famous national park, but it is not the only one. A few kilometres outside Sharm, the Saint Catherine Protected Area, a national park established in 1996 that includes Egypt's highest peaks of St Catherine Mountain at 2,624 metres. This protectorate offers a great chance for birdwatchers and trekking lovers, but also for history, culture and religion-related tourism. But both St Catherine and Ras Mohamed demand at least an entire day trip in order to be fully enjoyed. If you are on a short trip or simply want to take pleasure in nature without having to give up other parts of your tight-packed agenda, Sharm is still the place to go.

About 35 kilometres north of Sharm-El-Sheikh, the Nabq Protectorate, a marine reserve established in 1992, has embraced the challenge of integrating resident Bedouins into the different aspects of the area's management strategies. Nabq is home to several species of small mammals and birds since its area of almost 600 square kilometres is home to various ecosystems. It also houses a great number of botanical specimens, including what appear to be the Middle East's largest single-stands of Arak Bushes, from which siwak or miswak brushes are made.

As the largest coastal protected area in the Gulf of Aqaba, Nabq still offers corners of breathtaking beauty to enjoy in private, if you are able to avoid other visitors. The Rawsia Mangrove located in the midst of Wadi Kid is one of these spots. Although there are signs leading the way, there is no real threat of not getting there should you make the wrong turn. The alternative road leads to some of the Bedouin settlements and shrimp farms, and they will most probably point you in the right direction.

The mangrove itself may not be too impressive, especially if you have seen the ones in Latin America, East Asia or Australia. It is composed of white or grey mangrove trees (Avicennia marina) that gradually increase in height as they move towards the sea, creating a soft transition from the smallest shoots to the grown trees. It may not be the forest of twisted rooted trees you imagined, but even so, the landscape as a whole is spectacular.
astonishingly clear waters of Ras Mohamed national park.
The sandy ground stretches between the Sinai Mountain skylines -- ghostly tinted in different shades of purple in the afternoon sun -- to the cobalt sea horizon of the mangrove. A Bedouin woman makes an almost magical apparition as she emerges from the stone sheds to sell her small tokens, and discreetly disappears moments later.

Silently presiding over the scene is the wreck of the Maria Schroeder, its presence dramatically hovering over the place, igniting the imagination with a romantic gothic flame. The Maria Schroeder is but one of the several ship-wrecks to be seen along the coasts of Sinai. It can be easily reached, and presents an impressive sight as most of its body is exposed above the water. It also provides a good spot for diving as its underwater portion (up to 24 metres deep) has been colonised by many reef fish and corals.

Hiring wet suits is a good idea, especially for the kids, because it's quite fresh when you jump off the end of the boat. A couple of fishermen's boats lay stranded on the beach. With their faded colours, they strike a note of desolate beauty. Although in good condition and probably still in use, in mid-afternoon they appear slightly nostalgic against the sand and bushes, as if dreaming of glory days gone by.

Terrestial areas in the National Park are stark contrast to the exuberance of colour and life seen on the coral reef. Seemingly devoid of visible life, they are in fact homes to the desert fox, Nubian Ibex(in the mountain areas), numerous small mammal species, reptiles and insects. Most of this fauna is difficult to see given their nocturnal habits. Fox are often seen in the viscinity of the Main and Yolanda Beaches. They are harmless if approached with care, they should not be fed but can be provided with water. Fox cubes can be seen at sunset during late spring. All other wildlife should not be approached.

You may prefer going there by land, preferably a group of 4WDs, especially if you're not a diver yet. The beaches are really nice, good for exploring, and snorkeling is amazing, you get to see the diving sites from above, and it could be an excellent motivator to complete your license. Once you become a diver, going by boat is easier, as boat dives are a lot easier than shore dives.

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Last Updated on Sunday 16th January 2011