All posts by xpatdiveguide

Scuba Diving and Surface Intervals in the Red Sea

Dahab Goes Home


Winter Showers, May Flowers

Insight into the Bedouin community in the Sinai

Bedouin History Desert Safari

Click the link below to read our latest article in Egypt Today:

Winter Showers, May Flowers

“Desert guru Eid al Atrash provides an oral history of the spring pasturing traditions of the Bedouin of Sinai”

By Krista Masonis and Eid al Atrash

Photography by Eid Al Atrash

Heavy rains fell on the parched high mountain plateaus of South Sinai this winter, leaving a bountiful crop in their wake. As small green sprouts push through the cracked earth offering promise of nourishment and health, this spring the Bedouin nomads…”

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The other side of Petra, Jordan.

Petra is a day trip from Sharm el Sheikh

middle east revised

I think there is no need to describe what Petra is, where it is, why it is special, etc.

It’s one of the top tourist destinations, and I think I’ve never met a person who doesn’t know about it.

Nonetheless, that doesn’t make it less impressive. When I was there, I was pretty much silent all day long. It was like the words were unworthy, unnecessary. I already mentioned in one post how I often associate music with places/buildings. For Petra I couldn’t get Cortez the killer out of my head.

Hate was just a legend
And war was never known
The people worked together
And they lifted many stones.

They carried them
To the flatlands
And they died along the way
But they built up
With their bare hands
What we still can’t do today.

Here are some of my photos. There’s no Treasury and Monastery on them. Not…

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23 Vintage Photos of Egypt’s Golden Years

Egypt in a different light and time…

Egyptian Streets

A woman reading a magazine in the 1950s A woman reading a magazine in the 1950s

By Mohamed Khairat, Founder,

Egypt in the 1900s was a different place. Egyptian cinema was the third largest in the world, Cairo was a city that foreigners dreamt of spending their holidays exploring, Egyptian music flourished and shook the world, Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together as neighbours, and women had freedoms that were unheard of in many other countries.

Egypt was a place of liberal spirits, unhampered by sectarian and ethnic prejudices. The rights of men, women and children were championed.

Yet, all that has changed, and often may Egyptians forget the Egypt that used to be. Here are 23 photographs of vintage advertisements and other images that will teleport you to Egypt’s ‘golden years’ and show you an Egypt you may have forgotten ever existed.

(These photographs are available thanks to ‘Vintage Egypt. Click here for more)

1. “The Japanese do…

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International Women’s Day: Where is Egypt now?

Egyptian Streets

Egyptian women mark International Women's Day in 2013 by taking to the streets. Credit: AFP Egyptian women mark International Women’s Day in 2013 by taking to the streets. Credit: AFP

By Farida Ezzat, Contributor, (editing by Mohamed Khairat)

Since its start in the socialist movement, International Women’s Day has been a day where female activists all over the world come together under the certainty that women’s equality is not only a sign of societal development, but a human right that cannot be overlooked.

It is a day where thousands of women defy society’s restrictive and discriminating views of women and march for hours chanting their rights of equal pay, voting rights and overall equality.

A day to celebrate women’s freedom and courage, International Women’s Day stands as a reminder of how far we have come and how long we have to go.

With political instabilities and economical downfalls, women have continued to brave discrimination and sexual abuse in order to fight for…

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Introducing Sharm el Sheikh

Sharm el Sheikh is located at the tip of the Sinai Peninsula along the Red Sea Coast.  Once a sleepy fishing village, Sharm el Sheikh is now a cosmopolitan resort town boasting some of the best scuba diving in the world.  A dry, temperate climate, clear waters, and an abundance of coral and marine life make scuba diving and snorkeling a year-round activity.

Air temperatures average around 30° C (86 F) with summer months (June-Sept) 33° C-37° C (93° F – 97° F)  and winter (Dec-Mar) averages around 22° C (72° F).  Water temperatures range from  22° C (72° F) in winter to a balmy 28° C (82° F) in summer.

Naama Bay Promenade
Enjoy the evening along one of Naama Bay’s pedestrian streets

Naama Bay is the main downtown area with it’s restaurants, clubs, and hotels.  Stroll the pedestrian streets in Naama Bay past international chains and numerous local cafes and restaurants featuring traditional Egyptian cuisine and entertainment.  Naama Bay comes to life at night when people gather to eat, shop and relax after a day on the beach or snorkeling & diving in the Red Sea.

Dramatic scenery coupled with strict environmental laws have made Sharm a prime spot for water sports like diving, snorkeling, parasailing, and windsurfing.  In fact, Sharm was voted the Traveller’s Choice 2012 Destination Winner on TripAdvisor.

Sharm el Sheikh boasts long stretches of sandy beach and fringing coral reefs. Perfect for snorkeling or swimming right from your hotel.
Sharm el Sheikh boasts long stretches of sandy beach and fringing coral reefs. Perfect for snorkeling or swimming right from your hotel.

Sharm el Sheikh is about 30 km long spanning the Red Sea coast from Hadaba to Nabq Bay.  Where ever you decide to holiday in Sharm, you will find stunning mountain views, warm waters and friendly locals who desire to make your holiday the best it can be.  We want you to enjoy your stay, tell your friends, and come back to Egypt!

Diving is one of the premiere activities in Sharm.  Even if you have never dived before you can jump in and experience the Red Sea when you take a Discover Scuba Dive.

Certified Divers can enjoy the sheer variety of diving that Sharm offers.  From Ras Mohamed National Park to the Strait of Tiran to the World War II wreck Thistlegorm divers will always find a new and exciting underwater landscape that boasts over 1200 species of coral reef, fish, and marine mammals.

Ras Mohamed
Ras Mohamed National Park encompasses 480 km², including 135 km² of surface land area and 345 km² area over water.

Long regarded as one of the best dive sites in the world,  Shark & Yolanda Reef  is the most popular dive site in Ras Mohamed National Park.   The Park can also be enjoyed by land and offers hiking, swimming, snorkeling and diving from pristine beaches overlooking some of the most stunning coral reefs in the Red Sea.

Divers can also explore the magnificent Straits of Tiran in the Gulf of Aqaba.  The Straits are home to five main reefs with dozens of dive sites:  Laguna, Jackson, Woodhouse, Thomas, and Gordon all of which offer exciting and varied diving.

napolean wrasse
The Napolean Humphead Wrasse is a common site on Red Sea Reefs. They can grow to over 2 meters!

Did you know?  The Red Sea hosts one of the largest mooring projects in the world.  Moorings are permanently affixed to dead coral rock in the sea allowing boats to tie up to a dive site without ever dropping an anchor.  This protects the reef and preserves the underwater environment for generations to come.

There is a no touch, no take, no break rule when diving the Red Sea.  Don’t touch any coral or marine life, do not take anything out of the sea and watch your buoyancy and fin tips so that you do not break any of the coral!

dive map of thistlegorm
The Thistlegorm is the most popular wreck in the world. Sunk in WWII she was loaded with cargo that can still be found at the dive site.

Take a step back into history when you dive the Thistlegorm. Since Jacques Cousteau first dived the wreck in the early 1950’s, thousands of visitors have explored the amazing wreckage loaded with Bedford trucks, motorcycles, wellington boots, and other cargo meant for the allied forces in North Africa.  The ship was sunk about 40 km from Sharm in the Gulf of Suez.  Take a trip to the Thistlegorm and feel the power of history as you swim through the cargo holds and explore the nooks and crannies of this bucket list dive!

camel safari
Take a Camel Safari through the spectacular scenery in the Sinai

Surface Intervals are as varied as the diving itself.  If you can’t get enough of the sea, there’s swimming,snorkeling, kitesurfing, parasailing and boating.

Desert trips are a popular way to see the rest that Sharm has to offer.  Spend an evening at a Bedouin Camp and learn how they navigate through the desert using the stars and constellations.

Take a camel or jeep safari and check out the spectacular mountain ranges, hidden valleys, and colored canyons of the South Sinai.  Visit the oldest working monastery in the world and summit the highest point in Egypt, Mount Sinai.

hiker on mt sinai
Hikers start the trip to the top of Mount Sinai at night so they reach the summit for the sunrise.

Mount Sinai is said to be the place where Moses received the 10 Commandments.  At the base of the peak is the oldest monastery in the world, St. Catherine’s.  You can tour the monastery and see the burning bush and other icons.  The monastery can be coupled with a hike to the summit or toured on its own.

St. Catherine's Monastery
St. Catherine’s Monastery is set in valley between soaring peaks.

There are many other spectacular sites to visit in the Sinai, but if you’ve never been to Cairo or Luxor you may consider a day trip to see the sights in these ancient cities.  Your tour representative can easily arrange these tours for you at very reasonable prices.  Cairo and Luxor are best experienced with a well organized tour operator to make the most of your vacation time.  These tours leave early in the morning and have you back at your hotel in Sharm for a late dinner.

The Sphinx at the Great Pyramids of Giza in Cairo

No matter what you’d like to do on your holiday, Sharm can star as a fantastic water sport and desert exploring destination and serve as a convenient and relaxing base to explore the ancient wonders of Egypt.  We look forward to seeing you soon!

Straits of Tiran: A Day on the Boat

Great day out in The Straits of Tiran this week with a combo of divers and snorkelers on the boat, it was comfortable with plenty of room on the dive deck and there were plenty of people to talk to and share some experiences with.  Our guides were Kareem and Ayman leading the divers, Seif was leading the snorkelers, Osman was taking photos and working his magic underwater, while Speed was there to help out and make sure that everything ran smoothly.   We were cruising on Maka with one of my favorite crews led by Captain Ibrahim.   There was a bit of wind as we left Shark’s Bay Marina but the sun promised to warm things up.

Rafah on El Medina

Cruising out of Shark’s Bay, Rafea waves to us from the bow of El Medina in Shark’s Bay, the sister ship to our boat Maka.  He was also heading out to Tiran to guide a group of snorkelers and introduction divers. 

After we boarded the boat we slipped off our footwear as is the custom on all Egyptian boats.  There is nothing like spending the day barefoot and lounging in the sun on the Red Sea.

We gathered on the upper sundeck to relax and meet our fellow passengers.  We met our instructors for the day along with the captain and crew.  The instructors gave us a boat briefing which included our dive and snorkel plan for the day, safety features and rules for the boat.

wreck of the Louilla
The iconic wreck marks Gordon Reef in the Straits of Tiran

Making our way out to the Strait of Tiran, it only took about 15 minutes before we encountered the southern most reef: Gordon Reef.  You can easily recognize Gordon Reef because of the shipwreck Loullia that run aground in 1981.  The ship was then hit with another vessel in 2000 which separated the bow from the rest of the Loullia.  Gordon Reef is a fabulous dive site but on this day we were headed a little further north to Woodhouse Reef.

Woodhouse Reef, Straits of Tiran, Sharm el Sheikh
Woodhouse Reef, Straits of Tiran, Sharm el Sheikh

Woodhouse Reef is a long and narrow reef with neither a sheltered lagoon or moorings so divers must make a drift dive.  One of the most interesting part of the reef is a canyon that opens out at a depth of about 30 meters.  The marine life is beautiful on Woodhouse with an abundance of corals and one of the best sites for observing sharks and turtles.

After Woodhouse, we headed to Jackson Reef.

Jackson Reef is the northern most reef in Tiran.  The wreck of the Lara, a merchant ship, sank here in 1981.  The remains of the Lara sit above the surface on the northern side of the reef.  Diving takes place on the southern side of the reef where the shallows are cut with sandy splits.  Corals and marine life here are exceptional making Jackson a favorite dive in the Strait of Tiran.

sandy splits
The sandy splits at Jackson Reef

Depending on currents and conditions, the dive can be made as a drift dive to the east or a moored dive to the west where divers make their way along the reef and then turn around and come back to the boat.  There is a splendid large Turbinaria commonly called a Salad or Lettuce Coral in the shallows near the moorings on Jackson.  On this dive we made our way to the west and returned to the boat.

The winds settled down while we moored up on Jackson and the seas were very calm.  We emerged from the dive with lunch waiting for us.  The crew cooked up a huge buffet of rice, fried fish, beef, vegetables, assorted salads, and their famous pasta.  We ate and relaxed while the captain gently moved us to the next and final dive & snorkeling site.  Ras Ghamila is a local dive site meaning it is situated close to the shore.  Situated almost directly opposite Gordon Reef, the reef separates a vast lagoon from the sea.

Ras Ghamila map
Ras Ghamila map

We did the classic drift dive and were rewarded with a Hawksbill Sea Turtle, a huge Moray Eel, and one of our eagle eye divers spotted a Stone fish camouflaged on a coral outcrop.  What a great way to finish off the day!

We headed back to Shark’s Bay, said goodbye to instructors and crew and hopped into our transports waiting to take us back to our residence.  Can’t wait to get back out on the boat!

Get Ready for your Next Adventure: Discover Scuba Diving

What is a Discover Scuba Dive?

divers in school of snapperWhat better place than in the splendid Red Sea to Discover Scuba Diving!  The under water world is like no other and the experience of weightlessness can only be described as floating in outer space.  No wonder astronauts are train as scuba divers before going into space!

 You can choose to do the dive in two ways:

Shore based:  We pick you up in the morning from your hotel, take you to our diving center where you will register and meet your instructor.  You’ll watch a video and take a quick quiz, confined water training, and then a dive in the Red Sea.

On the Boat:  Jump right in and experience scuba diving in the Red Sea!  Get picked up at your hotel in the morning, to the marina and out on the boat to a world class dive site suitable for beginners.  Your instructors are there to guide you every step of the way, from briefings to gear fittings to splashing into the sea!  They’ll teach you a few skills and then take you on a mission to Find Nemo!

It’s easy to fit a Discover Scuba Dive into your holiday just use the contact form below and we’ll start the adventure!