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Where is Sharm el Sheikh

Sharm el Sheikh is situated in front of one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world surrounded by desert and is a well known location in the Egyptian Red Sea. Positioned on the southern point of the Sinai peninsula, the city faces the golf of Aqaba at about 600 km from Cairo and about 300 km from Taba, the border to Israel. In comparison to Hurghada, Sharm el Sheikh is fortunately protected from the prevailing winds in the area. The marine activities are guaranteed throughout the whole year. The whole zone comprises about 40 km along the coast starting from the protected area of Nabq in the North up to the old area of Sharm el Sheikh, a small village in the south on the coast almost at the border to the National Park of Ras Mohammed. The centre of highest tourist interest, due to its concentration of hotels and night life, is Naama Bay situated half way between Sharm and the airport.


How to get here

Numerous charter flights connect Sharm el Sheikh with almost all big cities of West and East Europe and Russia. Most of the scheduled flights, however, have a stop-over in Cairo, especially if the departure is not from central Europe. The direct flights from central and south Europe and Russia take between 3 and 4 hours to reach Sharm.
You can also reach Sharm by land through the Israeli border between Taba and Eilat where a visa only for the Sinai sector is released excluding the area of Ras Mohammed.


History and facts of Sharm

The history of Sharm el Sheikh is relatively short. In the last centuries the bay was little known amongst sailors. Sharm el Sheikh means in Arabic 'The harbour of the Sheikh' and started its fortune actually with the Israeli domination. In the 80´s, the first scuba divers in contact with the western world started to explore the underwater world. When Sharm was given back to Egypt, the United Nations were in charge for its military safety and the whole area was divided in zones. (This is the reason why visas are needed for Ras Mohammed). Dramatic development took place in Sharm between 1990 and 2000, creating the bustling city we see today...

Visa and vacinations

No vaccinations are necessary. Regarding visas, the majority of European citizens have the right to obtain a 30-day visa given at the border or at the airport.

Hygenic Situation

In Egypt the same hygienic precautions apply as in every hot country. Due to the lack of natural water sources, epidemic diseases like cholera are not found, nonetheless it is recommended to only use bottled water and ice cubes made from bottled water. Uncooked vegetables should be avoided. Failing to follow these guidelines can occasionally lead to dysentery or stomach disorders.
Sharm el Sheikh has a general hospital, a private clinic, two hyperbaric chambers, and 24 hours a rescue team for diving accidents.
These services are not free and therefore it is wise to be covered by an appropriate insurance especially in case of necessary hyperbaric treatments (one hour costs around 700 dollars). Doctor Adel Taher who runs the hyperbaric centre "Hypermed" is one of the leading experts in diving medicine and president of DAN Egypt.
DAN (Divers Alert Network) offers policies for diving related accidents at reasonable prices, and what´s more, this foundation reinvests all its contributions into the diving medical research.

 

Interesting sites

Everything in Sharm el Sheikh revolves around the sea. In Ras Mohammed, Tiran and along the coast we find some of the most beautiful diving and snorkeling sites in the world. The crystal clear waters and comfortable temperatures of air and water year round allow a consistent influx of tourists. The true beauty of this underwater world can only be fully appreciated by taking to the water by either scuba diving or snorkeling.

The coral reef has developed over a broad plateau stretching out along the coast. Almost everywhere you can find fringing coral reefs that - depending on the tides - come up to within 3 feet of the surface. On the reef edge are drop offs, sometimes very steep descending to depths of between 10 feet (in some location along the coast) and 2500 feet of vertical walls as in Ras Mohammed. As in the case for most tropical seas, the marine life is most abundant within the first 30 feet where we can find all year round manta rays, dolphins, schools of pelagic fish, giant groupers, turtles and with luck even sharks including the magnificent whale shark.The true spectacle of Sharm is represented by the corals with their intense colours and the marine life with its vitality that the constant currents feed well. If Nature donated the Maldives a richness of big pelagic fish, in Sharm it has added the details, the transparency of soft corals, the colourful small fish and breathtaking walls.

Other than the underwater world, among the most interesting sites around are the National Park of Ras Mohammed in the South and the National Park of Nabq and Dahab in the North. Easy to reach from Sharm el Sheikh are the monastery of St. Katherine, Mount Sinai and the Coloured Canyon in the Sinai desert. The National Park of Ras Mohammed offers breathtaking desert landscapes surrounded by one of the most interesting seas in the world for its beauty and marine biodiversity. In Nabq, around 40 km north from Sharm, you can admire a mangrove lagoon where wadis (antique dry river in the desert with subterranean water spirces ) flow into the sea. Dahab, 90 km in the north of Sharm, is a small bussling, a little "hippy" village situated between the beach and the mountains and as yet not influenced by mass tourism.


Outskirts

There are daily flights from Sharm to Cairo and at least weekly flights to Luxor-Asswan. Cairo is also reachable by bus which leave from the main bus station in el Nur, close to the hospital on the main street between Naama Bay and Sharm el Sheikh (see map).

Along the main road (Peace Road) between the airport, Naama Bay, el Nur and Sharm el Sheikh circulate as well the so called taf-taf minibus with 10 seats. The taxi service is available 24 hours in all tourist zones and hotels.

Close to the tourist centres and main hotels it is possible to hire scooters, cars and 4x4 vehicles, however, the street system and signposting are randomly confusing in the whole area. Detailed maps are very difficult to get except those covering the tourist locations along the coast. The main roads to Cairo, Taba and St. Katherine are tarmac, whereas the streets in the interior are unmade, dusty roads and accessible only by 4x4. You should never make an excursion on your own into the desert as there are still mine fields in some bordering areas and mountain passes and you have to be equipped with detailed maps in order not to run into them or to get lost. Do not. Under any circumstances, go into the desert if you do not have the right maps and good desert experience.

 

Habits customs and religion

Sharm el Sheikh was originally a village with Bedouin fishermen, desert nomads who did not leave any trace of construction or habitation. Unfortunately, the traditions and craftsmanship of the Bedouin have largely been lost. There are recent attempts to retrace their presence with a museum: The Sinai and Diving Heritage Cultural Centre, in Naama Bay. These days, the population of Sharm is cosmopolitan and the Egyptian residents come from all over the country for work purposes.

The dominant religion is Muslim, but there is also a Coptic-orthodox church in El Hadaba and a new one under construction in el Nur.

The Egyptians in Sharm el Sheikh are very tolerant with regards to different habits of western tourists, however, we advise you to show respect and not to be 'offensive' or 'provocative' when choosing your clothing or addressing people of the other sex.

Alcoholic drinks are served in most restaurants and hotels.
There is also the possibility to purchase liquor at reasonable prices at the 'Duty-Free' in Naama Bay, in Sharm el Sheikh and at the airport but you must do this within 24 hours of your arrival.

Drugs of any kind are illegal. Strict punishments apply for possessing or dealing drugs.

 

Language - Currency

The local language is Egyptian, but you will find the following languages spoken widely: English, French and Italian. The local currency is the Egyptian Pound or ´Guinea´ in the local language, subdivided into 'Piaster' or cents, called 'Ersch'. It is impossible to change Egyptian pounds back into other currencies. For this reason, you should not exchange large sums of money.

Communication

Communication by phone is not expensive, even if the hotels apply a supplement for national as well as international calls. The mobile phones are connected to the GSM net.
There are 'Internet Cafés' and most of the hotels offer an internet service in the rooms with diverse extra charges. Avoid posting mail if safety and quickness is needed.