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Egypt

Marsa Alam – The Red Sea

The main reason we wanted to visit Egypt was to snorkel in the Red Sea. Our destination of choice for the snorkeling after much research was the area known as Marsa Alam. We drove 6 hours from Luxor to Marsa Alam to reach our destination of Resta Reef resort. The resort had its own house reef, which was amazing, but unfortunately it was not sheltered from the wind. On a few of the days it was unsafe to snorkel with the large waves crashing onto the reef, so those were snorkeling days lost.

Just next next door was the resort called Coraya bay, which had a sheltered bay for snorkeling that was protected from the elements. We managed to convince them to allow us onto their beach after much performing….we now know that hotels own beaches in Egypt and assuming you can walk along a beach and swim where you want is a mistake.

One of the days that we were not able to snorkel at Resta Reef, we instead went on a snorkel tour, where we were taken out to sea to a pristine reef for snorkeling. We managed to see lots of corals and turtles, but one thing that still eluded us was the Dugong. We were taken to the dugong feeding area, and although they were around, we were unable to see one, which was very dissapointing.

After a few days at Resta reef we were almost going to leave Marsa Alam altogether, but we werent ready to give up the fight to see a dugong. We did some more research and found good reports about dugong sightings at Abu Dabbab bay, so we booked accommodation and left Resta Reef resort.

Abu Dabbab lodge was where we checked into next. The lodge was a 5 minute walk down to the beach, and we were excited to find an awesome reef on both sides of the bay, as well as an abundance of sea life such as turtles, lion fish, sting rays, moray eels, octopus, and too many other reef fish to name. The reef at Abu Dabbab bay was the best reef we have ever seen, corals and fish in huge abundance, and the best part was we did not need to book a tour, and we could enjoy snorkeling all day in the pristine clear water.

After searching since Indonesia for dugongs, we finally got to swim with one in Abu Dabbab bay! The dugong visit to feed on the sea grass, and we were able to swim right next to the dugong many times, he was not phased by our presence and we got to have a magical encounter that we will never forget.

Another amazing experience was the dolphin tour that the guys at Abu Dabbab arranged for us. Our tour began at sunrise, with a 2hour bus journey to the port, followed by an approximately 2.5 hour boat trip in big swells, to Sataya bay, which was a reef 11km off shore, where the biggest pods of spinner dolphins frequent. We managed to swim with the wild dolphins many times as they circled the area, playing with each other, making dolphin sounds, and investigating us. This was another experience we will most certainly never forget.

The reef and sea life in Abu Dabbab bay was so exquisite, that we extended our stay, to have more time with the fishes. The beach was amazing to relax on, with lots of free beach chairs and beach tents with bars etc, but we spent most of our time in the water.

Another unforgetabe experience we had at Abu Dabbab bay was an introduction to scuba diving. We went into the water on the beach with our diving gear and swam along the amazing reef. It was a new experience being at the bottom of the sea as opposed to floating on the top with the snorkel, holding your breath to dive down. We absolutely loved the experience and the location was the perfect one to experience this for the first time.

We felt we could have stayed at Abu Dabbab forever, it was everything we were looking for, but it was not cheap, so we had to move on to our next destination on our Egypt journey.

Categories
Egypt

Egypt – Giza

We arrived at Cairo International at 2am, and were surprised at how busy the road was at that time of the morning. It was quite a scary drive to our accommodation in Giza, and it was our first introduction to ‘Egyptian road rules’, which is, there are no rules.

Our first impressions was lots of dust covered cars and dirty streets, packs of dogs picking through mounds of trash and garbage left on the street corners. We checked into our accommodation called the Sphinx Guest house, which was supposed to be near the pyramids, but at that time of the morning we were not able to see much in the darkness.

In the morning we went onto the rooftop balcony of the guest house building and found we were directly opposite the Great pyramid and Sphinx. We could not believe our eyes, it was so surreal to see the view from the rooftop of these structures that have been standing there for thousands of years. The view was outstanding as there was no buildings obstructing our view at all, and we were about 200m from the Sphinx itself, directly in front of it, and across the road from the entrance gate to the area. This meant that we had the perfect viewpoint to watch the nightly sound and light show that they have on the Sphinx and pyramids, for free. Another thing we noticed from the balcony was the very busy shit-covered streets below us. The horse carts and camel rides start early every day, so by the afternoon when the complex closes, there is loads of piss and shit everywhere in the streets. It made us very sad to see how hard those poor animals have to work everyday in the desert sun.

Being in the desert, we found the days to be hot, with cloudless blue skies, and the nights rather chilly. We spent a day exploring the pyramid complex, and wondering around the surrounding desert area. Some areas were quite windy, and we saw a few dust tornados. The pyramids attract a lot of tourists from all over the world, and somehow we stood out. Maybe it was the time of year, but there was not a lot of western looking white people around. We felt like celebrities, as people kept on wanting to take selfies with us, and at one point we were almost trampled by a group of locals all wanting to take their photo with us.

We went inside the great pyramid, which was hot and crowded inside, but quite an amazing feeling to be inside such a structure. We explored the pyramids with a fellow traveler from Denmark who is a sound healer, and her Om Chanting inside of the pyramids sounded amazing, but angered the caretakers who she had to pay in order to not get arrested. This was when we started to realise that everything in Egypt is about money, tips, back handed payments etc. It was impossible to walk around the complex in peace due to the constant harassment by touts trying to sell camel rides, horse rides, clothing, souvenirs etc. As soon as one left, another arrived, and they all don’t want to take ‘NO’ for an answer.

We explored the ruins inside the complex and went inside 3 pyramids in total. It was an amazing experience but also very tiring.

At our accommodation we befriended a Swedish man who treated us to an evening of drinks at the famous Menna House 5 Star hotel in Cairo. Many famous people and royalty have stayed at the hotel, and we had a tour of the famous Montgommery Suite. We felt ‘fancy’ for the evening while sipping our overpriced drinks in the piano lounge, and giving the pianist song to play.

It was such a great feeling to wake up to the pyramids every morning, and again to watch the sun setting behind them every night. We explored the complex twice and highly recommend visiting.