Ras Mohammed National Park

Image - Ras Mohammed National Park

Declared in 1983 and subjected to a comprehensive development program initiated in 1989, the Ras Mohammed National Park has since become an essential feature to the economic development on South Sinai. Ras Mohamed National Park is the only National Park of Egypt with unique marine life. Perhaps the most famous nature site in Sinai, the Ras Mohammed National Park has become one of the greatest tourist attractions in Egypt.

Today the National Park extends to an area of 480 km2 and includes both marine and terrestrial areas of Tiran Island and the coastlines from the main Sharm El Sheikh harbor to the southern boarder of the Nabq Managed Resource Protected Area. The boundaries of the National Park extend from a point opposite the Qad Ibn Haddan lighthouse on the Gulf of Suez to the southern boundary of the Nabq Protectorate on the Gulf of Suez. The area includes the island of Tiran and all shorelines fronting the Sharm el Sheikh tourism development area.

Ras Mohammad encompasses two islands, Tiran and Sanafir. Tiran Island is located approximately 6 km offshore from the Sinai Peninsula. Underwater caves formed as the result of earthquakes are located in Ras Mohammad.

About two hectares of mangrove forest cover a 1.1 km shallow channel at the southernmost end of Ras Mohammad peninsula. Near the mangrove and approximately 150 m inland, there are open cracks in the land, caused by earthquakes. One of the cracks is approximately 40 m length and 0.20−1.5 m in width. Within the cracks, there are pools of water, some with a depth of over 14 m.

The inland area includes a diversity of desert habitats such as mountains and wadis, gravel and coastal mud plains and sand dunes. The area also plays a role in bird migration, serving as a place of rest and nourishment.

The National Park is administered by the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency.

The park is home to a variety of stunning geological features both underwater and on land including uplifted coral reefs, alluvial plains, wadis, granite and sandstone mountains and soft sand dunes. The park is home to many forms terrestrial life including: foxes, gazelles, lizards, and ibexes. The park holds one of the most northerly located Mangrove tree outcropping, which is a valuable breeding area and habitat for both migrating and resident birds such as the white stork or raptor.

Flora and Fauna

The area is home to more than 1000 species of fish, 40 species of star fish, 25 species of sea urchins, more than a 100 species of mollusc and 150 species of crustaceans. Among others, sea turtles, such as the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) appear regularly in Ras Mohammad.

On the Ras Mohammad peninsula, there are acacia trees and dum palms (Hyphaene thebaica) around the wadi mouths. Ephermal herbs and grasses also exist in Ras Muhammad.

Other Attractions

You might have to share the beach with some birds, as the Park is home to several types of Heron, Seagulls, Terns, and Osprey (a bird of prey). If you are lucky enough to come in late summer, you will see thousands of migrating white Storks stopping off on their way from Europe to East Africa, where they spend the winter.

Another animal you might see is the Desert Fox or the Red Fox. You should take care and do not feed them. However, you can leave fresh water and see if they approach. If you visit the Park in late spring you may spot a few fox cubs at sunset.

One of the Park's most beautiful features, the mangrove swamps, are amazing inland lakes, which are growing directly beside the sea and are great for pictures and exploring.

Ras Mohammed, as part of the Sinai Peninsula, favours the diver all year round, with warmest water in summer (June to August). Colder waters are prevalent in and around February time. Diving the Sinai Peninsula is mainly by day-trip boat and so a resort stay will therefore be your best option.

As one of the most beautiful locales both on land and under the water, Ras Mohammed National Park, one of the gems of Egypt, should be the first one of the first on you list of things to do in the Red Sea!

One of the Park's most beautiful features, the mangrove swamps, are amazing inland lakes, which are growing directly beside the sea and are great for pictures and exploring.

Best time to Visit

You can visit the National Park any day from sunrise to sunset, providing you have a full Egyptian visa and not just a Sinai-only one (they check) .The US$5 entry charge is usually included in the cost of excursions from Sharm el-Sheikh or Na’ama Bay (see under both resorts for details). As the number of dive boats allowed each day is limited, you can’t be certain of a place at short notice. Alternatively, you could rent a taxi (about £E100) or car for the day. You really need wheels to reach the park and get around unless, of course, you’re taken to the reefs by boat There are two perimeter gates on the road between El- Tor and Sharm el-Sheikh, leading to a main entrance whence it’s 24km to the nearest reefs.

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Last Updated on Sunday 16th January 2011