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Scuba Diving in Dahab

Posted by Scuba Herald on Nov 14th, 2007 and filed under Scuba Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

A land of magnificent World Heritage sites and a thousand tourist clichés, Egypt was enticing visitors for millennia before Thomas Cook first steamed up the Nile. It was in Egypt that the Holy Family sheltered and Mark Antony flirted. Napoleon stopped long enough to pilfer a few obelisks, and the British stayed around to get the train system running and furnish every spare nook of the British Museum. And all this was long, long after Menes united the two states of Upper and Lower Egypt and set the stage for the greatest civilization the world has ever known.

Today’s visitors to Egypt can have timeless experiences. Sipping a calming glass of shai (tea) and taking long, drawn-out puffs of apple-scented tobacco from a sheesha (water pipe) at Cairo’s Khan al-Khalili market are as popular now as back when 19th-century tourists started to arrive en masse.

Generations of visitors have admired Egypt’s treasures: the perfection of the pyramids, expeditions through spectacular desert landscapes, the graceful minarets of Cairo and majestic tombs and temples of Luxor, and jaunts up and down the Nile.

However, Egypt’s most storied sights are just scratching the surface of what this millennia-old country can offer the intrepid traveler, especially after leaving behind the African continent and crossing into Asia Minor’s southeastern corner, namely the Sinai Peninsula.

Beach bars and hippie vibes

With its golden beaches, rugged mountain backdrop and smooth fusion of hippie mellowness and resort chic, Dahab has become one of Sinai’s most popular coastal destinations. Known as the Koh Samui of the Middle East, Dahab is a place where backpackers and adventure travelers are still the rule rather than the exception.

Along the chilled-out beachfront area of Assalah, you’ll find everything from banana pancakes and mango smoothies to coconut-curry stir-fries and frosty pints of Saqqara lager. Indeed, at times it can be difficult to pry away from this laid-back beachside paradise, though Dahab makes for a convenient base for rewarding diving and desert excursions.

40 leagues under Egypt’s seas

In 1989, a panel of scientists and conservationists selected the Red Sea as one of the Seven Underwater Wonders of the World. Here, divers will find coral mountains rising from the seabed, shallow reefs swarming with brightly colored fish, sheer drop-offs disappearing into unplumbed depths and coral-encrusted shipwrecks, all bathed in an ethereal blue hue.

From Dahab, a plethora of shore dives brings you to such storied dive sites as the “Blue Hole,” a gaping sinkhole just offshore that drops to unfathomable depths of 130 meters. For the experienced diver, an overnight boat ride brings you to the wreck of the Thistlegorm, the famous British freighter that sank with its full cargo of World War II military paraphernalia.

Following Moses’ footsteps

Rising up out of the desert and jutting above the other peaks in the interior of the peninsula is Mount Sinai, which is revered by Christians, Muslims and Jews, all of whom believe that God delivered his Ten Commandments to Moses at its summit.

The mountain is easy and beautiful to climb, especially if you beat the desert heat with an overnight ascent followed by an unforgettable sunrise at the summit.

At the base of the mountain is Saint Katherine’s Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site named after Saint Katherine, the legendary martyr of Alexandria who was tortured on a spiked wheel and then beheaded for her faith. Here, you’ll find what is thought to be a descendant of the original burning bush. According to the monks, this bush was transplanted from the nearby chapel in the 10th century, and continues to thrive centuries later – much like Egypt itself.

Dive and tour information: Every hotel in Dahab – from the $5-a-night backpacker joint to the $150-a-night pleasure palace – can easily help you arrange dives around the Red Sea and guided treks to Mount Sinai and Saint Katherine’s Monastery. For the uninitiated, “Discovery Dives” can be arranged for less than $50, while experienced divers can take advantage of extremely affordable and customizable dive packages. If you’re looking for some biblical inspiration, a guided tour to the peak of Sinai and Saint Katherine’s is a steal at just $15.

Source: Scuba Diving Egypt – the Best dive centers in the Red Sea !

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