Dive Into Sharm el-Sheikh
While Egypt perhaps isn't the most common destination for budget backpackers, the country offers a bounty of beautiful and affordable wonders. So get out of ultra-busy Cairo and head 500 kilometres South East to the Sinai peninsula, and a diving oasis known as Sharm el-Sheikh.
A Day Out Diving
Weather-beaten backpackers should shrug off the heat, by hiring a diving instructor, equipment and a boat. Those who like to set out in the off-season will find many cheap holidays to Sharm el Sheikh. From there it's simple to get onto transparent water of the Red Sea and enjoy snorkelling, wind surfing, diving and water skiing. Under the tutelage of an instructor, it's possible for first timers to snorkel in the shallow reefs of the middle garden region. Intermediate and advanced divers can go further out and revel in exotic marine life and rainbow coloured reef. It's enough to make a fossilised desert wanderer turn into a seafaring mermaid.
Naps in Na'ama Bay
Sedentary travellers will enjoy the laid back vibe of Na'ama Bay, a beach-side hideaway a couple of kilometres from Sharm el-Sheikh, which is the reasonably-priced and yet equally impressive relative of the bigger resort town. Hotels and hostels are well-appointed with comforts, and some feature a private beach for more exclusive sunbathing. From the beach, it's only a short stumble to get out of the hot afternoon sun and into a shady Bizarre, where you will discover plenty of colourful souvenirs and trinkets. Travellers should then haggle down the price and then retire to the beach for some writing and gloating via post card.
After twilight, the place gets lively with several bars and clubs open, including the Pacha, Little Buddha and Hard Rock Café. Take a stroll along the plentiful walkways and boulevards where coffee houses offer Turkish coffee and shisha. People-watching on the street is the perfect way to end a lazy, sun-bleached day.
A Pilgrimage to Mount Sinai
Ancient relics abound in Mount Sinai. It's said to be where Moses received his ten commandments and is the location of the Monastery of St. Catherine. This place has been in constant use since the 6th Century A.D. The mind boggles with the stories that must have unfolded here. It's around three hours’ drive from Sharm el-Sheikh. Super-keen culture vultures can take an overnight bus that arrives at around 1 am. After this is a traditional climb up Mt. Sinai under cover of darkness, in order to watch the bewitching sunrise and explore the monastery. If the midnight desert trek gets the better of travellers, there are plenty of guest houses, camps and hotels that can accommodate in St. Catherine.
Sharm el-Sheikh and the surrounding region could be considered as the seat of modern civilisation, where ancient relics meet ultra-modern comforts to create beguiling results.