Sharm El Sheikh: Blast From The Past

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”

Lesley Poles Hartley

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At the beginning of 2011, few months before we set off for our journey around the world for $25 a day, we have tried our first and only all-inclusive holiday. We’ve heard so many good things about such holidays that we just had to try! We chose Sharm El Sheikh as our destination.

Most of the people going on such holidays, go there to eat and drink as much as they can, and above all – do nothing at the side of a swimming pool. We thought we might enjoy that too. We didn’t. As soon as we arrived, we started looking for excursions and had all our time occupied. In today’s post, we’ll show you a few things you can do there to stay active:

Diving / snorkeling

Sharm El Sheikh is a coastal city and it’s famous for its clear blue waters. Snorkeling and diving there provides unforgettable sights, it’s full of colourful fish, exotic animals and it’s busy with life reefs.

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Although sometimes the area is closed for diving because of sharks, most of the year you’ll be allowed to go in the water. Snorkeling spots are always open, because they are too shallow for sharks, which are usually more scared of you than you of them.

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Even if you’ve never done diving before (like us), it doesn’t mean you can’t try. Professional divers are available on every tourist boat. They will instruct you on what to do and accompany you underwater. You can even get a training and an internationally-recognized diving licence.

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Camel riding

Streets of Sharm El Sheikh are full of camels, and it would be a shame not to try riding one while there. You can get excursions to go into a dessert and ride them for a while. Normally you will be guided by someone, sometimes by a kid, so be prepared to leave a tip.

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Important: if you are offered on the street to sit on a camel for free to take a photo, refuse! It is a common scam. Once the camel stands up, it is usually to high for you to jump off, and the owner will ask for a lot of money in return for asking the camel to sit down again.

Quad riding

A great way to see a bit more of a surrounding dessert, at a decent speed, is to get on a quad. It’s easy to ride and maneuver, and very enjoyable. Being one of the most affordable excursions in the area, we strongly recommend a ride!

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It is advised that you buy sunglasses and a scarf before you go. It is needed and you’ll quickly learn why (unless you really like to eat the dust.

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Star watching

In the dessert, far from any city lights, the sky at night looks differently than the sky we normally see in the cities. That’s where you really see the size and scope of the Milky Way. It may be depressing to see how small we are in the universe, but the experiece is one that you won’t forget quickly.

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Drinking tea with Bedouins

Tea is crucial for survival in the dessert tribes’ culture. It’s a must when welcoming strangers to their tents, but it also helps hydrate them in the hot days. Unbelievable as it may be, drinking hot tea helps them keep their body temperatures down.

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Drinking tea with Bedouins is also a great moment to learn more from them about their lives and daily routines, as well as to make friends and have fun together.

Scallop hunting

The sea is full of life, and very often when that life ends, something stays behind – scallops. They come at different sizes and colours, and make for beautiful photos in the sand. Taking them away with you from Egypt is prohibited, so don’t take them with you to the airport (you may have to return them and pay fines).

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We loved the whole trip and hope we’ll have a chnce to go there again in the future (but this time we won’t stay in hotels, but with locals).

Have you been to Sharm El Sheikh? What did you do?

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30 Comments

  • That’s so funny that you posted this today! I’m volunteering at my in-law’s family church for Vacation Bible Study this week and the kids were shocked to hear that I went scuba diving in the Red Sea that Moses parted. :-) Bryan and I went diving in Egypt but I’d love to return someday to dive near Sudan! We loved our time in this region, despite the obstacles Americans have entering Sudan.

    Safe, Happy Travels, E-Trampers! :-)

  • It’s tough being a blonde in the Middle East, huh, Agness!? It’s crazy how much attention I got in Egypt, Sudan and the rest of that region despite having my husband and male friends with me, and covering everything besides my face and hands. Of course, we were in Cairo during the protests so that made things more tense. I hope to return to Egypt someday soon!!! :-)

  • Sadly, I am one of the victims of camel scam. And it was in Beijing rather than the deserts! My dad set me on the camel for free, and had to pay 20 RMB to get me down. The camel was going round and round while my dad negotiated with the evil perpetrator! This is one of the few things I remember about the trip as I was 7 back then.
    I think this is the first time I’ve seen Cez’s new writings since I start dropping by a couple months back. Keep posting! :D

  • Hey, how awesome to have a post written by you, Cez! It’s been quite a while if I remember correctly. That camel scam is horrible and thank you for the heads up. Now, ATV’ing through the country side is right up my alley! I’ve ridden quads for years so yes, yes, yes on that! :) I would love to go scallop hunting but only if I can cook them and eat them afterwards. It’s so wonderful to hear from you, our friend!! :)

  • I’m not an all inclusive person either. When travelling to Morocco in June, we booked a hotel with a pool for the last two days to relax after power-travelling for 2 weeks beforehand. I soon noticed that I’m bored really fast when only laying in the sun. It’s nice for a day, but that’s more than enough. I’d love to go diving in Egypt. And the desert activities are pretty similar to the ones in Morocco. The stars are the best :)

  • Such an adventure-filled trip! Tea with the Bedouins is a great idea. That kind of place where I would like to visit during a gap year. That camel scam is so notorious. I have seen it happening in Rajasthan, India, though didn’t really face it myself. Thank goodness, for that.

  • I think you are just like me! Once I went to a resort in Turkey, the all-inclusive kind of holiday. I was still young so I enjoyed swimming every day for two weeks and reading a book when I was too tired of swimming. But we didn’t see anything of the country and looking back now I really regret that. Now I can’t imagine that I would go on a holiday like that. Going to another country means wandering around cities, visiting museums and famous sights and trying the local foods. And maybe a tiny bit of relaxing at the pool ;)

  • I wish I had seen this before I went to Egypt all those years ago – I skipped Sharm el-Sheikh because I thought it would be a tourist trap without anything really interesting to do. Next time I guess!

  • We spent a week in Sharm-El-Sheikh in 2010 and absolutely loved it. Didn’t go diving but we did go to the coloured canyons – they were really cool :)

  • Hello! So nice I found your blog – polish people traveling around the world! I am from Poland too :) Your stories sound amazing! I did a little bit of traveling myself and just started my own blog, but I have a feeling I can do it cheaper and more often, so I am grateful for your blog! Let see what 2015 brings!

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