Sharm El-Sheikh, city of peace

Sharm El-Sheikh, city of peace
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Updated 23 November 2012

Sharm El-Sheikh, city of peace

Sharm El-Sheikh, city of peace

Sharm El-Sheikh’s beautiful beaches and the desert activities make the city one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Middle East. Many hotels offer reasonable packages for groups and families who are looking for a new adventure.
The city is situated on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, overlooking the Red Sea. Sharm El-Sheikh is called the “city of peace”, referring to the large number of international peace conferences that have been held here.
Sharm El-Sheikh offers a dramatic mountain backdrop and stretches of golden beaches on outstanding waters. It has an international reputation as the most extraordinary diving destination in the Red Sea. Scuba diving and snorkeling is always a rewarding experience here, thanks to the crystal clear water, magnificent corals, exotic underwater flora and rare tropical fish.
The list of things to do at the seashore also includes parasailing. Take a jet boat and head for the open water while you are suspended from a parachute. If heights are not your thing, take a glass-bottom boat to see the Rea Sea underwater life. Beach explorers may enjoy windsurfing, kite surfing, boating, canoeing or simply lying by the beach and getting a suntan.
Ras Mohammed, about 20km south of Sharm El-Sheikh, is a must-see national park of South Sinai, located on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula. It has famous dive sites in the Red Sea, with 800-meter deep reef walls and coral gardens. The quantity and variety of sea life are exceptional and put this diving spot among the best around the world.
For those who are looking for land activities, Sharm El-Sheikh provides many, such as biking, hiking, horseriding or simply driving to the Sinai desert and go camel trekking. One can go on a camel ride to the Bedouin tents and enjoy a real Bedouin dinner with them under the desert stars, away from the noise of the city.
Take a camel ride to the Moses Mountain and follow the footsteps of Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) when he climbed Mount Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments from Allah. The climbing requires an individual to be in moderate shape. It takes about three hours to climb the 2,285-meter peak following the path of Moses, via a stairway of nearly 4,000 steps.
Some companies offer a package deal that includes exploring the desert on a quad bike or buggy and enjoying a cooked meal by the Sinai Bedouins. You could also just drink Egyptian tea and smoke shisha in one of the tents built especially to welcome tourists who are looking to experience the real Bedouin life in the desert and get a chance to see the sunset from the top of the mountain.
Millions of years ago, the sea covered Sinai. This left a brilliant legacy upon the landscape of the colored canyon, close to the coastal town of Nuweiba. The walls of the canyon reach up to 16 stories. One can easily say it is the most colorful and intriguing rock formation in all of Sinai.
The canyon mouth is accessible by car; it is perfect for a short hike of about 700 meters. As one ventures into the canyon, the walls narrow width to just a few feet in some places, which gives the place a secretive atmosphere. This canyon is most commonly compared to the Jordanian city of Petra, even though the canyon was not man-made.
The Pharaoh’s Island is also a must-visit. It lies just a few kilometers south of Taba, at the very top of the Gulf of Aqaba and just a few hundred meters from the coast. The island is one of the most blatantly picturesque spots in the entire gulf. Many boat trips take tourists to this location.
The Pharaonic Water Park, Cleo Park, is located in Na’ama Bay and it is the first themed water park in Sharm El-Sheikh. It is the perfect place for thrills seekers and water enthusiasts: it offers Cleopatra baths, Nile adventure river rides, Nile spring cruise, a young pharos oasis and slides.
For some fun at night, one can go to Na’ama Bay, by far the busiest place in Sharm El-Sheikh. It is open during daytime but it comes alive at almost midnight. Many say it is the heart of Sharm El-Sheikh, as everyone meets here after a long day at the beach. Na’ama Bay’s open-air area offers a huge number of local and international restaurants that are open until after midnight. Coffee shops offer live local music and shisha. Souvenir shopping can get quite hectic here, when friendly Egyptian sellers are trying to make a profit.
For a more modern and less chaotic night out, go to Soho Square. It offers complete entertainment for the whole family. The ice rink, bowling alley and kids’ arcade are perfect for the young ones to enjoy while parents can smoke shisha and have dinner.
Soho Square offers the best selection of restaurants from Japanese, Thai, Cantonese, Italian and Indian to Egyptian and many open-air coffee shops that offer shisha. There are also a few shops selling souvenirs and clothing.
II Mercato is another shopping destination in Sharm El-Sheikh. It is the open-air version of Dubai’s II Mercato and designed by the same architect. Apart from many restaurants and shisha cafes, it is a child-friendly place with open parks and game rooms. The shops filled with local and international brands and of course many souvenirs provide great presents for friends and family that weren’t so lucky to visit Sharm El-Sheikh yet.

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Remote travel: On the road in Namibia

Remote travel: On the road in Namibia
Updated 15 January 2021

Remote travel: On the road in Namibia

Remote travel: On the road in Namibia
  • Sparsely populated and hugely diverse, this African nation is an ideal destination for our socially distanced times

WINDHOEK: In this age of COVID-induced social distancing, the more remote the location, the better.

And Namibia is about as remote as it gets. 

That isn’t just a by-product of the global tourism downturn — this central African nation has long been a destination to explore without the crowds. Namibia is home to just 2.5 million people, but expands over 824,292 square kilometers – more than six times the size of England. This goes some way to explaining the diversity of its landscapes, from the towering sand dunes and canyons of the south, to the lush greens of the north, through the arid desert in between. 

Travellers have two main choices of transport: by plane, or by road. The former involves the hiring of a small Cessna and a pilot, hopping between five-star lodges, while the latter tends to involve a more challenging — and lengthy — trip, not least because the roads are mostly gravel, often pock-marked and uneven. The scenery can change drastically in just a couple of hours and many hours can pass between passing another vehicle.

Swakopmund is a German-inspired town. (Shutterstock)

However, car hire is cheap and easy: A brand-new Toyota Hilux, complete with rooftop tent and a cab full of essentials — table, chairs, gas stove, utensils, fridge, kettle and storage — for about $100 per day. Campsites are plentiful and well-equipped — you’ll likely get a table and shelter, sometimes your own toilet and shower. 

From the capital, Windhoek, head north on one of Namibia’s few tar-sealed roads for Etosha National Park, home to a plethora of wildlife, easily spotted around its many waterholes from the comfort of your own vehicle, as it’s a self-drive park (typical for Namibia). Seeing rhino and giraffe, or even a pride of lions, near your campsite isn’t uncommon. 

Heading south, the landscape changes abruptly from to iron-rich, rock-strewn expanses  and flat-topped mountains. This is Damaraland, and it’s worth visiting for the drive alone. On your way through, stop in at Grootberg Lodge. Set in a private concession and perched on the edge of Etendeka Plateau, the view from your stone hut is surely the best in Namibia: a green valley floor framed by a jagged canyon. A sundowner drive will take you across the mountain plateau, where you can spot elephants, oryx and springbok. 

You should not leave Namibia without making time to visit one of the world’s most remote locations, the Skeleton Coast. (Shutterstock)

You should not leave Namibia without making time to visit one of the world’s most remote locations, the Skeleton Coast. It gets its name from the whale carcasses and many shipwrecks that line its shores. 

It is largely unpopulated, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest town, and carefully protected — you’ll need a permit to get in. About 200 kilometres north of the entrance to the park, the road stops at Mowe Bay and access is restricted to rangers and those heading for Shipwreck Lodge, one of Namibia’s — if not Africa’s — most incredible accommodation offerings. It is marketed as one of the most remote lodges on the planet, and it delivers. Consisting of just 10 rooms, all designed to resemble shipwrecks, this understated luxury lodge looks out on wind-whipped dunes and thrashing seas. You can spend your days tracking elusive desert elephants through dry river beds, going in search of shipwrecks, picnicking on the beach opposite violent waves, or quad biking on untouched dunes, before tucking into an oryx fillet in the restaurant. It is a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience, with prices likely to skyrocket in future, so there is no better time to visit.

‘Big Daddy’ is the area’s largest dune, drink in the landscape. (Shutterstock)

While it can be tempting to try your luck as a castaway here for the rest of your days, the south of the country is also worth seeing. Particularly the German-inspired town of Swakopmund, and the iron-rich sand dunes of Sossusvlei — a sharp contrast to the gleaming white dunes of the Skeleton Coast. Along the way, stop in for the best apple pie in the country at Solitaire — a strange outlier in an otherwise desolate sandscape. Though its likely been clear the entire journey, here is where you’ll truly appreciate the solitude of Namibia. Sat atop ‘Big Daddy,’ the area’s largest dune, drink in the landscape. It will be completely different after a few hours in the truck tomorrow.