Delightful Dahab?

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Sep 30, 2010

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Flag of Egypt  , Red Sea and Sinai,
Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dahab is backpacker heaven, so the guidebook assured us - which gave us cause for concern. But Dahab is a pleasant beach side town which stretches along the waterfront on the Sinai peninsular (that Eastern bit that is not quite on the African continent). Dahab is no palm tree and white sand beach destination, although plenty of the resorts plant palm trees to create the illusion, but the natural landscape is jagged rocky cliffs of red desert, meeting brilliant blue ocean in a stretch of coral reef. Sadly decades of package tourism have taken their toll and some of the coral is dead but snorkeling is still an amazing display of colours and a variety of fish. We snorkeled off the beach at Dahab as well as further along the coast at a site called the blue hole - a deep sinkhole just off the beach, with vertical sides covered with coral, fish, and learner divers.

Our first night in Dahab was spent climbing mount Sinai, familiar to those biblically inclined as the place where god handed down the 10 commandments to moses. Or the place where Mohammed's horse ascended to heaven if you prefer the Koran. The night climb is very popular these days and the path ahead is a swaying line of torchlight. We were lucky in having a nearly full moon for the climb, so you could see the frequent camels before they were in your face - surely its cheating to ride up the mountain? If it doesn't hurt, it doesn't count right? One monk has even built a harder way up the mountain - the ultra painful steps of penitence - we came down that way instead of up (cheating? well maybe.)
There is supposed to be an amazing sunrise from the top, although we lucked out with a entirely dull sunrise leaving us wondering why we had inflicted sleep deprivation on ourselves.

After the climb, it was very easy to justify a couple of days lazing around doing little other than relaxing and eating. At the restaurants lining the water cats fight each other for the honour of sitting on your lap as you eat and the staff were handing out squirty water bottles as a deterrent.

Nicely relaxed and refreshed, we headed to Sharm El Sheik airport for our flight out, a process of taxi, bus and 2 minibuses which went smoothly until the second minibus suddenly decided they wanted more cash and demanded 8 times the price we had agreed to. Unimpressed by us not actually having that much money (hey, we are only leaving the country) we were unceremoniously dumped by the side of the road to try and negotiate a taxi. Half an hour later after declining taxis that offered to take us firstly for my watch and secondly if I kissed the driver, we negotiated a lift for small change in multiple currencies. Thoroughly unrelaxed, we boarded our plane vowing never to return to the Sinai region again.

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