Egypt is the home of Nefertiti, Cleopatra, Moses. It is a place of myth and history. But no matter how much you read about the country, nothing can prepare you for the first time you see the Pyramids…Luxor and the Temple of Karnak…the Nile. I first went to Egypt in the early seventies, but on this trip I also saw the Red Sea, Mount Sinai, and the oasis in the Western Desert. From the beautiful underwater life and coastal cities like Sharm al-Sheikh, Al-Ghurdaqah, and El Gouna to the arid and expansive desert dunes—the natural beauty was beyond my expectations.
Sharm-al Sheikh, just north of Ras Mohammed, Egypt’s first marine national park, is the place for diving. Known for its colorful and beautiful coral reefs, it is the perfect spot for any level of diver or snorkeler. From Sharm you can also drive to the Colored Canyon, a gorge filled with the most amazing colors you have seen in nature—pinks, yellows, and greens. The trick to seeing Egypt is finding the right tour guide: Ours, Diaa Shawki Mikhail, specializes in dives and deserts. 20-10/570-2619; firstname.lastname@example.org
A Day Trip
Our expedition to Al Kharijah was my first experience visiting the deserts of Egypt. We hiked the dunes of Abu Minqar. And witnessed the Kharga Oasis—in the middle of the desert, trees suddenly rise out of the sand. The Qasr Labekha Roman fortress is also there. It was built on the slave road from Sudan to the Nile to feed and shelter the slaves going to work on the Nile. Nearby, I visited Al Bagawat Cemetery, one of the oldest, most preserved Coptic cemeteries in the world.
St. Catherine’s, thought to be the oldest monastery in the world, sits at the foot of Mount Sinai. Some believe it is the spot where Moses saw the burning bush. You can hike up “Mount Moses”—by foot or on camel!
My favorite dive was in the Brothers Islands in the Red Sea. Spectacular fish, and even a shipwreck.