East coast north of Dahab

As the Gulf of Aqaba narrows, sprawling coastal resorts are replaced by intimate camps and the mountains of Saudi Arabia loom ever closer across the tranquil sea. Nuweiba, from where ferries leave for Jordan, has plenty of mellow places that provide a real escape from humanity while still having all amenities to hand. Venturing further north, civilization peters out and simple Bedouin getaways mingle with the occasional tourist village along a dazzling stretch of coast. The road leads to the border town of Taba, in Egyptian hands since 1989, and chiefly of interest as an entry point to Israel.

Ras Abu Gallum

In addition to pristine marine gardens Ras Abu Gallum, another protectorate area designated in 1992, the coast between Dahab and Nuweiba holds some of the most striking above-ground scenery in Sinai. High mountains and long winding valleys run right down to the sea. From the Blue Hole you can hire a camel, or better still, walk the magical 7 km to a nearby village only accessible on foot (you are strongly recommended not to leave the marked trails). Although the Protectorate is valued mainly for its rare plant life, the diving here is also superb. It should be noted, however, that access to the underwater cave network at Ras Mamlah is strictly forbidden. Many divers have died here and their bodies remain unrecovered.

There are huts on the beach and a couple of restaurants. There is also a solar-powered information centre, sometimes open, that offers maps and information about the local wildlife and people. Bright-eyed Bedouin children will ask you to buy their jewellery along with a million other questions and no doubt demand gifts. Ras Abu Galum was once a majestic tranquil spot with a welcoming Bedouin community and silky white-sand beaches unspoiled by the stomping of tourism. Sadly now it endures camel trains of tourists trudging through and you have to go further north to find peace and magic.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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