Our 14-hour bus trip turned into a 20-hour marathon that had our foursome quite agitated and uncomfortable. The bus seats barely reclined and were very tight with little leg room, we had flashbacks of Nepal.
Lucky for us we had our happy pills to help the time pass.
On the plus side, we traveled through some of the most spectacular rocky desert landscapes we've ever seen. Although Egypt is a heavily tracked tourist destination, there is still unrest and recent bombings in Sharm el-Sheik and Dahab a few years back has the country on high alert. The never-ending journey had us pass through countless security check points and we had to present our passports on numerous occasions.
We arrived in Dahab about mid-day and checked into the Seven Heaven hotel. Our first order of business - cold beer, green apple shisha, fried calamari and a waterfront lounge with soft, giant pillows.
Little did we know this would become a daily ritual for the following eleven days.
Dahab, and the entire Sinai Peninsula for that matter, is renowned for its world class diving and snorkeling. We signed up for a refresher dive and were instantly greeted by a mid-sized red octopus, a first-time rare sighting for both us. It was a great introduction to the Red Sea underworld.
We were thrilled to have finally arrived in paradise!
When we eliminated the Maldives from our itinerary a few months back we instantly added another five days to our original five-day plan for Dahab. We figured this would be sufficient compensation. It definitely was!
The snorkeling was some of the best we've ever encountered and had us in the water multiple times every day. We couldn't get enough. The reef is indescribable and the variety of colorful fish and reef formations had us snapping underwater photos like it was going out of style.
We contemplated more fun dives, but at $30 per dive and epic snorkeling conditions within walking distance, we found ourselves quite content to stick with the snorkeling. We've posted a few videos and a photo album to share these awesome moments.
Dahab is a small tourist town popular with European and Russian vacationers. It's not known for its white sandy beaches, in fact finding quality beach space it hard to find. Instead, its shoreline is littered with chilled out lounges that are appropriately situated within inches of the Red Sea. Relaxing on a pile of pillows with a shisha in one hand and a cold Stella in the other is the typical pastime.
Dahab doesn't have the tropical feel that Thailand or the Philippines has. Rather, the dramatic and rugged sandstone mountains unite with the warm turquoise water making it an ideal place to lose track of time. The uniqueness of the environment was amplified by meandering camels and daily Muslim call to prayer; it's a place unlike any other that we've had the good fortune to visit.
Our hostel was yet another great place in Egypt to socialize and meet other foreign travelers. We even met two Canadians that are firefighters in Brampton of all places! Our Spanish companions (Javi and Elena) enrolled in the Open Water and Advanced Dive Certification courses so we saw very little of them for the first few days. Shortly afterwards, our friends from Holland (Carlo and Rose) arrived on the same '14-hour bus trip that took 20-hours' - we believe this 'miscommunication' is deliberate as many travelers would likely elect to fly had they known it would take so long!
There's not much more to say about our time in Dahab without feeling somewhat guilty about our excessive leisure time. We indulged in freshly caught seafood that reminded us of our time in Boracay, Philippines. We snorkeled in warm aqua-blue waters that resembled Grand Cayman Island and we relaxed on waterfront lounges at sunset, similar to our stay on Koh Chang, Thailand. It was the best of many worlds!
Aside from its impressive underwater playground and exceptional scenery, the Sinai Peninsula is also known for its biblical significance. Mount Sinai is the summit where Moses is said to have received the Ten Commandments from the big guy upstairs and it's a pilgrimage that brings in a myriad of enthusiastic followers and curious tourists.
We figured, we're already here… why not give it a go?
October 26th, 2009