Travel Info Red Sea
Marsa Alam (alias Mersa; Arabic: Marsa ´Alam) lies on the Red Sea in South Egypt, 271 km South of Hurghada. Edfu is about 220km away, it is 250km to asch-Schalatin and 131 km to the north lies El-Quseir. During the last two decades it has grown from a small coastal village with only a handful of small stone huts into a small town. Its importance lies in its location on the main coastal road, at the main crossroads to Edfu in the Nile valley and to the recently growing tourism.
Since November 2001, Marsa Alam can be more comfortably reached from the new airport Marsa Alam, which lies about 60 km NNW. The approx. 10,000 inhabitants are mainly fishermen; others keep sheep, goats and dromedaries; some work in the few mines, marble and granite quarries or in the hotels. Many are unemployed.
Sharm el Sheikh
Sharm el Sheikh on the southern tip of the Sinai has been an insignificant village until 1970. When the Israelis occupied the Sinai in 1967 a coastal road was built between Sharm el Sheikh and Eilat, it was this new access which gave birth to what has now become a thriving city.
The first hotels were soon erected in Naama Bay. Today, it is the heart of the city just 6 km from the Old Town. Here you will find first class hotels right on the beach, cafes, shops, restaurants, leisure facilities, night-clubs and, of course, dive centres and the jetty. Sharm el Sheikh offers everything you need in addition to beautiful beaches and crystal-clear water to spend a relaxing and happy holiday. In the past years, many new hotels, beach bars and restaurants, shops, bike rental stalls, etc. have been built in Naama Bay.
Scuba divers value the spectacular dive site, especially the wrecks which are easily accessible.
The Sinai came into existence between 30 and 40 million years ago when the Arabian peninsula broke away from the African mainland.
Where the earth’s crust split apart the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez were created, leaving the small landmass of the Sinai in the middle bridging Africa to the west and Asia to the east; the Mediterranean to the north and the Red Sea to the south. It is a desert landscape with rugged, bleak mountains. Politically, Sinai is part of Egypt, geographically it is part of Asia. The mountains of the Sinai are granite layered with grey, pink and red stripes of volcanic rock. This extraordinary formation creates an array of breath-taking sights which captivate all visitors.
The Sinai, with its strange and beautiful mountains, its lonely coastlines, its deserts, its remote oases ringed with palm trees, its idyllic bays and seductive beaches, boasts some of Egypt’s most stunning sights. Sinai’s coastline (which is nearly 759km long) counts among the most beautiful coastlines in the world.
Any holiday in the Sinai has adventure, relaxation, sightseeing and history all in one place. Visiting such famous attractions as Saint Catharine’s Monastery and Mount Sinai, the Coloured Canyon and the National Marine Park of Ras Mohammed will enable you to experience the very best the Sinai has to offer.
Position and Size
Egypt is not a conventional holiday destination. Its ancient culture, incredible art treasures and its lifestyle – unlike anything you’ll find in Europe – will astonish again and again. Travelling with an open mind and willingness to experience everything Egypt has to offer will more than compensate for the occasional irritation. The Egyptian style of doing business will, at times, try your patience. Punctuality and precision are not high on the agenda so try to relax and enjoy the show. One of the most common Arabic proverbs that you’ll soon become familiar with says, “Allah created the world, but did not hurry”. Some things will take a little getting used to and the thing that most people worry about is the attitude some people have towards hygiene which, undoubtedly, comes from the state of poverty many people live in, however with a little care and understanding, it’s an issue which shouldn’t cause any problems. The charm and mystique of Egypt will soon seduce you, as long as you don’t expect the “perfection” of the West. Think of the unexpected and unpredictable as all part of the adventure.
Egypt is a year-round travel destination and therefore has a permanent position in the tourism industry. However, since the revolution in January 2011 the tourism sector has suffered great losses. Terrorist attacks and other disturbances have been recurring. The media report about incidents in Cairo, Alexandria or other urban areas and the diving tourism is least affected by the disturbances. Our diving centres in Sharm el Sheikh and Marsa Alam have been reporting repeatedly that the incidents have no effect on the hotel and diving operation and that it is business as usual. Of course, we do understand your uncertainty and would therefore appreciate if you contacted us directly if you have any questions or doubts. We have noticed that especially divers are willing to travel despite the travel alerts and the difficulties finding flights or package offers during the past months.
Immigration / Visa
The visitor’s permit / visa can be obtained for European nationals at the airport on arrival for a fee of approximately US$ 25. All visitors must have a valid passport with at least six months left on it. Children do need their own passports. As from 26.06.2012, children cannot travel on their parent’s passport anymore.
For some European citizens (e.g. German nationals) it is possible to travel with an ID card in which case a photograph has to be brought to immigration at the airport. Please check with the Egyptian Embassy in your country if you need a passport or if you can travel with your ID card. If you enter the country from Israel, special procedures apply. Please check with the Egyptian Embassy in your country.
For non-European visitors information is available from the Egyptian Embassy and, if needed, visas should be applied for at least two months in advance.
Journey to Marsa Alam
Journey to Sharm el Sheikh
Money / Currency / Creditcards
Cash in US Dollars, Euros, Swiss Francs or Pounds Sterling are commonly accepted. Most hotels and banks will change money for you provided you have your passport for identification. Exchange rates will vary so shop around. Credit cards can be used at many shops and restaurants. Cash machines to withdraw money by credit card are also available.
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Climate / Weather
Power and Water Supplies
Be aware, that water is scarce in the desert. Power and water supplies might be temporarily interrupted. Lengthy blackouts are uncommon, except after a heavy rainfall. Water and power restrictions can be implemented on governmental order.
Food and Beverage
Festivals and National Holidays
Numerous public and religious festivals known as “mulid” are celebrated in Egypt. Although most festivals are related to specific Coptic or Islamic saints, usually all Egyptians, regardless of their religion, participate in the celebrations. Ramadan in Egypt is very special. It is celebrated with music, lanterns (so-called “fawannes”) and bonfires and attracts Muslim tourists from the whole region. The ancient spring festival “Sham el Nisim” (Coptic name: “shom en nisim”) has been celebrated for thousands of years, typically between the months of Paremoude (April) and Pashons (May) following Easter Sunday.
Ramadan is the Islamic fasting month which takes place at a different time every year. Muslims do not eat, drink or smoke from sunrise to sunset during this period. Away from the touristic areas there might be certain restrictions. In 2014, Ramadan is likely to start on 28 June and end on 28 July. The end of Ramadan will be celebrated with the feast “Eid al-Fitr”.
Flora and Fauna
The fauna is not very manifold, either. Camels, donkeys, sheep, goats, jackals, hyenas and wild cats are the bigger mammals. In addition, there are rabbits, mice, lizards and scorpions to be found in the desert. On the banks of the Nile and in the Nile Delta many species of water birds are resident joined by numerous European migratory birds in winter. It is mainly the underwater world which attracts us. We mainly dive on the fringing reefs and in bays. In Sinai we also dive in Ras Mohamed national park and in the Straits of Tiran.
Well-known dive sites in Marsa Alam include Elphinstone and Dolphin House.
The variety of fish species in the Egyptian Red Sea is incredible. Nearly all of the species of the Indo-Pacific Ocean are resident and you can nearly see everything all year long along the fringing reefs: Manta rays, whitetip reef sharks, Dugongs, sergeant and angel fishes, lion fishes, puffer and porcupine fishes, blue-spotted stingrays, octopus, moray eels, spinner and bottlenose dolphins.
Kairo 2, Sharia Berlin (Ecke Sharia Hassan Sabri) Kairo 11211, Ägypten
Tel.: +20 2 27 28 20 00
Fax.: +20 2 27 28 21 59
Honorakonsulin der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Alexandria 9, El Fawatem Street, Mazarita, Alexandria
Tel.: +20 3 486 75 03
Fax.: +20 3 484 09 77
Honorakonsul der Bundesrepublik Deutschland
Hurghada 465, El Gabal El Shamali, Hurghada, Red Sea, Ägypten
Tel.: +20 65 344 57 34, +20 122 313 52 81
Fax.: +20 65 344 36 05
Botschaft der Arabischen Republik Ägypten
Stauffenbergstraße 6/7, 10785 Berlin
Tel.: +49 30 4 77 54 70
Fax.: +49 30 4 77 10 49
Generalkonsulat der Arabischen Republik
Mittelweg 183, 20148 Hamburg
Tel.: +49 40 4 13 32 60
Fax.: +49 40 41 33 26 19