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Red Sea Coast

Red Sea Coast

Egypt's Red Sea coast runs from the Gulf of Suez to the Sudanese border. Its mineral-rich red mountain ranges inspired the mariners of antiquity to name the sea Mare Rostrum, or the Red Sea.


Egypt’s Red Sea Coast is the Caribbean of Africa. Turquoise waters. Colorful corals. Tropical sea creatures. This stretch of seashore, more than 800 km from the Gulf of Suez to Egypt’s border with Sudan, offers one marvel after another. And they aren’t all underwater. Egypt’s Eastern Desert - the mountainous fringe that meets the deep - boasts monasteries, ancient rock art sites and even a national park. What’s more, the Red Sea Coast has many kid friendly hotels. It’s no wonder families – from budget conscious to luxury travelers - are flocking here in the thousands.

Hermits seeking seclusion founded early Christian monasteries here, sharing the wilderness with camel-trading Bedouin tribes. Today, the crags and limestone wadis of the Eastern Desert remain relatively unexplored, home to herds of ibex and gazelle with coral reefs, fringed by ancient ports, teeming with underwater life, has a rich maritime history which stretches back to Pharaonic times.

Ships have sailed, and sunk, in the Red Sea since it was the main route to the Indies for Phoenician and Ancient Egyptian traders. In those times, ship loaded with copper, cooking pots and clothing departed from Al-Quseir and Berenice and returned bearing elephants, ebony, gems and spices. For centuries, the Red Sea remained a scene of shipwreck and adventure for smugglers, merchants, pirates and pilgrims. After the opening of the Suez Canal, in 1869, it continued its role as an international trade route and "Passage to India" for European travelers.

"The magical dance of the reef continues ... each night, with unchanging rhythms, in the silence of a thousand noises in the ocean deep." David Doubilet, The Red Sea. The thermal winds that once sped clippers to the East still bring thousands of migrating birds to the shores of the Red Sea, making it a paradise for bird-watchers. Today, the ancient ports are better known as some of the best diving and fishing resorts in the world. Sunbathers relax on white sand beaches, or find shade in the mangrove lagoons that line the coast while snorkellers explore the reefs. And the underwater wonder of the Red Sea remains: a living tapestry of vibrant corals and exotic fish, waiting for you to discover its secrets.

The thermal winds that once sped clippers to the East still bring thousands of migrating birds to the shores of the Red Sea, making it a paradise for bird-watchers. Today, the ancient ports are better known as some of the best diving and fishing resorts in the world. Here, you will find over 800 fish species, including the deadly stone-fish, the equally dangerous butterfly-fish, as well as surgeon fish, jellyfish such as the cassiopei, crabs that sometimes overrun the shore in the evening and some species of shark. Sunbathers relax on white sand beaches, or find shade in the mangrove lagoons that line the coast, while snorkellers explore the reefs.

Sadly, the once-idyllic Red Sea Coast is being spoiled by unattractive construction projects, particularly around the soulless city of Hurghada. The village of Al-Quseir has so far escaped mass development but not for long, we suspect. For world-class diving in the area, contact Shagara Eco-Lodge (in Cairo 02-337 1833; www.redsea-divingsafari.com; Marsa Shagra; d with full board in tents/huts/chalets US$88/100/125).

Last Updated on Monday 29th November 2010