A vacation in Egypt seems to be quite an adventure these days. But apparently one does not need to worry when going to Sharm El Sheikh! If you’ve never been, you should really consider. Why? Keep reading!
The Sinai peninsula separates the Red Sea from the Mediterranean, encompassing 61,000 square km of land. Across the Gulf of Suez the rest of Egypt lies to the west, on the north eastern African continent. To the East, the Gulf of Aqba and the borders of Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Sharm El Sheikh itself is on the tip of the Southern Sinai and covers an area between Ras Mohamed and Tiran Island, which lies in the Straits of Tiran.
With a seasonal climate ranging from pleasant in the winter months to becoming almost unbearable in the summer months – reaching temperatures upwards of 45 degrees F – and home to the most wonderful underwater scenery in the world, the location of Sharm El Sheikh makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Every year sees thousands of divers make their own pilgrimage to dive into the warm, crystal clear blue waters and witness an array of spectacular sea creatures and stunning coral – their own personal Mecca of underwater exotic delights. Not too long ago, Sharm El Sheikh was little more than a fishing village; now it is home to over 35,000 inhabitants and often referred to as the ‘City of Peace’ due to the ever growing number of annual peace conferences that are held there.
It primarily consists of three main areas: the old town and bay of Sharm el Moya, El Hadaba – spoilt by holiday apartments and villas for tourists – and the bays that see the vast number of scuba divers indulge in their religious fervour for fish. Of these bays, possibly Garden Bay, Tiger Bay and Sharks Bay have been anglicised for the tourists, yet others, such as Nabq Bay and Na’ama Bay have certainly retained their Hebrew heritage.
For it is here, that, according to theologians, was the starting point for the Exodus, hugely significant for Judaism of course and celebrated in the Jewish festival of Passover or ‘Pesach’. According to the Book of Exodus, following a vision, Moses led the descendants of Abraham – the Israelites – through Sinai in order to reach ‘The Promised Land’. So, instead of following the herds down to the sea, why not trek inland to Saint Catherine’s Monastery?
The monastery is at the foot of Mount Moses, reportedly on the site of the burning bush, where Moses met an angel of Tahweh, or God. Outside of the Vatican, this glorious testament to the past houses the largest collection of illuminated manuscripts in the world. This unique building has enthralled its visitors for over 1400 years; a history that is far richer than the town of Sharm itself, a temple to tourism and one which has only developed over the past fifty years in a reaction to worshipping the money god. So, as well as your flippers and snorkel – why not pack a Bible or Torah in your next travels and surround yourself in history rather than fish?