Redeeming Sharm?

Sharm El Sheikh 038 “Not with a bang but a whimper”  is a famous line from T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland.   And our trip to Africa got off to a somewhat whimpering start.  We wanted a place where we could hang out for a few days to get used to the six-hour time zone change, have access to a great beach, and be close to some interesting things to explore.  Since our first country in Africa is Egypt, we decided on Sharm El Sheikh, at the bottom of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.  Sharm has some redeeming aspects, but by and large will be a forgettable part of our trip.

The main attraction of Sharm El Sheikh, at least for us, is the coral and snorkeling here in the Red Sea, along with a great climate.  It’s one of the world’s top snorkeling and diving places.  We spent parts of several days exploring the coast line, and saw some amazing coral structures and fish.  We didn’t have an underwater camera with us (and our attempts to use one at the Great Barrier Reef weren’t all that useful), so you’ll have to take my word for it that the fish and coral were spectacular.

Sharm El Sheikh 036 The best snorkeling was at a local national park, Ras Mohamed (photo of the entrance to the park on the right).  But apart from the snorkeling, this park was desolate.  We saw a few shorebirds and nothing, and I mean, nothing else roaming the protected parklands.  No hiking trails.  A few mangrove trees.  And lots of rocks and desert.

Sharm El Sheikh 087 We spent most of one day driving up to St. Catherine’s Monastery, where we saw the Burning Bush (photo on the left, with the Burning Bush on the right hand side of the photo).  Elizabeth appreciated this visit more than , but the five hour car drive made it a challenging day.   One thing many people do here is a nighttime hike to the top of Mt. Moses, starting the hike at 1:00 a.m. and reaching the summit in time to see the sunrise over the Red Sea.  It sounds like a great experience, but not one that the four of us were up for. 

Sharm El Sheikh 090 The Monastery itself was built around 330 A.D. at the site of Moses’ Burning Bush.  It has a collection of precious icons, hanging lamps, and rare books (although only a few are on display).  Behind the monastery is a 3,750 step stone stairway leading up to the spot where Moses is believed to have received the Ten Commandments.

The hotel didn’t really have a beach, although it had a small access point for some snorkeling along the coral.  And the rest of Sharm El Sheikh was kind of a cross between Atlantic City and Palm Springs — lots of casinos (most looked tacky, but maybe that’s an oxymoron), lots of desert, and a really eclectic set of tourists.  But we are all relaxed, adjusted to the time zone, and ready to explore Cairo!

If you have way more time on your hands than you know what to do with, check out our Sharm El Sheikh photos.




















One Response to “Redeeming Sharm?”

  1. sam liss Says:

    OK, so maybe this was a bit of a bust, but how was the falafel?

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