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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

Driving the Sinai Peninsula

EGYPT | Thursday, 9 August 2007 | Views [1899]

The sun cracked open before us, through the early morning haze and clouds, oozing red-ish orange color across the sky.  It's 5:30 a.m. and the painted sky in front of us through the windshield of the car turned hues of pinks, purples, and reds as we drove north from Mansoura through the delta region of the Nile, toward the northern border of Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.  We opted to drive the long distance during the day light, as vehicles on the road in Egypt don't use their head lights, even when it's pitch dark out.  There have also been security issues in the past on the Sinai Peninsula, so we wanted to be alert and vigilant during our 8 hour drive to Sharm El-Sheikh.  The views are breathtaking.  Driving north towards Damaietta, through the Delta region, it's a mass of water, fisheries, tributaries and fertile farm land.  We head East toward Port Said, up to the mediterranean sea, and cross the new 2 year old bridge, across the Suez Canal, which is a magnificent sight to see - the engineering wonder that connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea, and fuels Egypt's shipping and trade revenues.  we're now on the Sinai Peninsula heading south down the East side of the Suez, past Ismailiya, toward the Red Sea.  There's a point where we leave the Nile Delta region and the landscape turns almost instantaneously from lush waterways to windblown desert.  It feels like we've landed on the moon, and like we're nomads in a deserted, arid region.  The only forms of life we see; the random camel and a Bedouin (local Egyptians who live in the desert) - looking mysterious in their flowy long robes, head scarves, and dark weathered skin.  They seemingly float across the sand, as they walk to where we're really not sure... we don't see life, homes or any buildings or bodies of water or land that's farm-able... for as far as the eye can see it's flat, white sand, desert.  The Bedouins we see seem to be all alone, nomads... and some don't even have a camel, it's just themselves and the wide open dunes.
As we drive along the Suez Canal, the view is surreal.  The sand dunes block the water level from our sight, and all we see are large container ships that look like they are cruising in the sand, through the desert.  It's a magical sight.  We drive through the desert for hours and we begin to see the Red Sea to our right hand side... brilliant, sparkling blue water.  It also looks like some resort complexes and holiday villas have been under construction here, off in the distance on the shore line, but for some reason, never completed.  Wire structures grow from the tops of unfinished roofs, additional levels of houses still waiting to be built.  We're told that if a building remains incomplete, there are no taxes levied by the government on the property owner.  That certainly explains why even in the big cities, much remains incomplete.  Here on the Sinai Peninsula, however, it reminds us of towns on the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, where there had been big tourism plans, but buildings were never completed, and the towns remain vacant ghost towns... such a shame here, as the water and beach, and underwater scene is incredibly inviting.  We head through Abu Zenima and down into Sharm El Sheikh.
Our trip has been slowed by the very regular security stops.  We are very fortunate to be traveling with Kim, Dennis and their driver, who are all considered Egyptian residents.  We don't need the typical "police security escort" vehicles which are usually compulsory for foreigners driving overland here in Egypt.  We are traveling however, with a special letter certified by Dennis's company along with copies of our passports which are regularly requested every 50 or so kilometers by security guards at checkpoints.  Security here remains incredibly tight, given that there were three significant bombings in Sharm El Sheikh in 2005.  Now, only hotel shuttles can drive through the streets of Nama Bay in Sharm, and even they are scrutinized before entering.  It took us around 8 hours to make the drive and w were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to make the trip by land... it was a real treat to see the change of landscapes from north to south.  A huge thanks to Kim, Dennis and Adal, for showing us this magnificent landscape!

Tags: On the Road


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