To book hotels and excursions email Steven@marsaalam.com or tel Steven on + 20 1284332337.
TOP TWELVE PLACES TO VISIT
DON'T FORGET THERE'S MUCH MORE TO EGYPT THAN YOUR HOTEL POOL AND THE BEACH.
These are my top twelve recommendations most of them including private air conditoned taxi transfers.
My rating system
*** Worth a visit if you have time
**** Interesting and enjoyable. If you can do go.
***** One of the very best sites. Don't miss out !
For more information on any excursion see the recommended page or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All prices quoted are for his excursions. In the unlikely event you find any price quoted cheaper elsewhere let Steven know and he will normally be able to match or beat it.
Number One (*****) - Sataya Reef
Price - Just 45 euros (£40) per person - this includes a return transport from your hotel, the boat, all your snorkeling equipment, lunch, tea, soft drinks and the legally obligatory permit which guarantees you access to the protected area and contributes to the cost of the reef's conservation.
Plus points - One of the world's most likely places you will be able to get up close to and swim with wild dolphins. This is such fun, so life affirming and so interesting, that some have argued that such swimming could help cure depression.
The reef, with its' beautifully intact coral and crystal clear waters is also one of the most beautiful underwater places in the world. It's only a short boat ride from Hamata and a large family of Spinner dolphins have made it their permanent home.
It's a lot less well known than "Dolphin House" so visitor numbers are restricted so you won't have to compete with too many tourists. Divers and snorkelers can also explore the coral reef.
Negatives - If you are very unlucky it's possible most or all the dolphins might be sleeping but there's still a lot of amazing marine life to explore around the reef.
See our Red Sea Dolphins page for fascinating facts on the world's most intelligent sea mammal.
As an alternative you can visit the popular Dolphin House for which you need to consult our Dolphin House page.
Number Two (*****) - Luxor Excursion
Price - starting at 85 euros (£73) per person for a guided tour* including your taxi trip, entrance fees, lunch and an Egyptologist guide and you can make an even cheaper excursion if you want to organize your own tour and just take a car with a driver - a little under 40 euros per person if you are a group of four sharing, 50 euro per person if you are a group of three sharing and 75 euros per person for a group of just two.
Plus points: Probably the world's most impressive open-air museum - wonderful treasures and beautifully preserved remains of Egypt's phaoronic past including Karnak Temple - the largest ancient religious site ever built. Also possibly the best place in Upper Egypt for souvenir shopping and has many excellent restaurants and local coffee houses. Here you can see "the real Egypt" and watch the pastoral way of life on Luxor's West Bank. Great sunsets over the river Nile - best appreciated from one of the many traditional sailing boats or feluccas.
Negatives - A long three hour journey although the route inland across the mountains, the high desert plateau and then the Nile Valley is good for photo opportunities. Don't forget to set the alarm -you have to wake up quite early - ask at your hotel's reception if they can arrange an early breakfast for you - alternatively the driver can stop on route to pick up a breakfast snack.
*For a group of three or 105 euro per person for two.
See the Luxor excursion page.
Number Three (*****)
Wadi El Gamal National Park
Price - just 70 euros (£60) per person - for a half day trip from your Marsa Alam hotel including a camel treck, tea in the mountains and dinner in a bedouin village including a traditional dance show.
Plus points - massively underrated. Marvel in wonder at how mangrove and acacia trees thrive in such an arid waterless land. Be amazed by the variety of wildlife including gazelle, the Nubian Ibex and wild foxes. Watch a huge variety of birds which use the wadi as a resting place on their migration routes. Explore the surprising history of the area harbouring possibly the world's oldest emerald mine and learn about the survival strategies and complex culture of the local bedouin. And if you like snorkelling there's Wadi El Gemal Island with its' turtles and dugongs.
Negatives - Distances inside the 5000 square mile park take time to cover with only poor infrastructure. You really need more than a half day or one day excursion to really see everything.
See the Wadi El Gemal page.
Number Four (****) - Sharm El Luli Beach
Price - just 30 euros (£26) per person half day or 60 euros (£51) full day excursion.
A half day includes a private air conditioned taxi transfer from your hotel to the beach and return as well as all your snorkeling equipment and watermelon, biscuits and soft drinks, returning to your hotel in time for lunch. A full day also includes your private air conditioned taxi transfers and snorkeling equipment, but instead of watermelon and biscuits you have a full lunch as well as soft drinks and tea or coffee returning to your hotel at around 6pm.
Plus points: Probably the most Caribbean-like sandy beach in the Marsa Area with easy wade-in and relatively safe swimming. Extensive reefs popular with sea turtles, including frequent sightings of the beautiful and critically endangered hawksbill turtle and an impressive range of colourful corals and fish species. Absolutely undeveloped so almost no pollution and inside the Wadi El Gemal National Park conservation area with a beautiful mountain backdrop. Frequently described as an earthly paradise.
Negatives - Absolutely undeveloped so no facilities and you must take everything with you. There's little in the way of shade so you may want to take hats or a beach umbrella. Also a fair distance if your hotel is at Port Ghalib (about 1 hour 30 minutes), but much closer if your hotel is nearer to the town of Marsa Alam and virtually on your doorstep if your hotel is further south.
See the Sharm El Luli page.
Number Five (****) - El Quseir Town and Castle
Price - just 15 euros (£13) per person* for a trip by car from most Marsa Alam hotels for a half day in El Quseir, excluding only those few hotels situated a long way south of Marsa Alam for which a higher fee would be charged.
Plus points - the oldest town on the Red Sea and fairly close to Marsa Alam, a picturesque harbour and surrounding streets, a fascinating Ottoman castle, a good fish restaurant and the best choice for local shopping and except for the brief periods when tourists descend from coaches, mostly quiet, relaxing and peaceful.
Negatives - on the main shopping street you can get hassled by traders.
*For a group of three or more or 20 euro each for two.
see the El Quseir excursion page.
Number Six (****) - Abu Dabbab Beach
Price - from just 15 euros (£13) per person* including your taxi transfer both ways from your hotel, use of the beach and all snorkeling equipment.
Plus points - a beautifully sandy beach which is rare in the Marsa Alam area, a sheltered lagoon surrounded by reefs but with a grassy seabed which is great both for snorkelling and the massive but endangered dugong sea cow. You can also find some basic but clean beach cafes as well as beach parties at least once a week ( normally on a Thursday night ) and all this very close to most Marsa Alam's hotels.
Negatives - Being virtually on the doorstep of many local hotels the beach can become crowded and the charges expensive.
*For a group of three plus, 20 euro per person for two.
see the Abu Dabbab page or
the Dugong page for fascinating dugong facts.
Number Seven (****) - Cairo Excursion
Price - starting at just 110 euros (£94) per person for a trip and overnight stay. The price includes the cost of all airport taxi transfers (four in total), a comfortable and clean hotel in Cairo, all trips and transport and the services of a fully qualified Egyptologist guide. However you will need to book the flight yourself - which can be done via the EgyptAir.com website.
Plus points - There's so much you can see or do. The awe-inspiring pyramids, the Egyptian Museum with over 120,000 items from Pharaonic times, Islamic Cairo with it's labyrinth of narrow streets and bustling markets - a relic of the city's former spice trade economy. And today the city is the Arab World's largest and culturally most important city teeming with energy. You can explore the history or culture or go shopping or party.
Negatives - pollution, traffic chaos, some minor types of crime such as pickpocketing higher than elsewhere and also it's relatively expensive to get to from Marsa Alam as much the quickest way of getting there is by air. A taxi takes at least seven hours from Marsa Alam to central Cairo.
See the Cairo excursion page.
Number Eight (****) - Seascope Submarine Trip
Just 40 euros (£34) for adults and
22 euros (£19) for children.
Plus points - If you are a family with young children or you don't like getting wet, are not a strong swimmer or you are afraid of dangerous sea creatures - then this is the perfect way to see the beautiful and exotic marine life of the coral reefs from the safety and comfort of a semi-submarine.
In fact you are at a depth of three metres so the experience is more similar to scuba diving than snorkeling. However you can still enjoy the view in air conditioned comfort while your normal digital camera - which wouldn't last a minute in the sea - will work fine here.
Negatives - You loose some of the freedom of movement you have when snorkeling or scuba diving and if the sea is rough the ship can be a little rocky - totally normal and safe - but those susceptible to sea sickness should choose a calm day.
See the Seascope Semi Submarine page
Number Nine (****) - Aswan Excursion
Plus Points - Enjoy one of the most beautiful views in Egypt looking out over the Nile, shop in one of Upper Egypt's largest souks for some real bargains, see Nubian villages and enjoy their hospitality and you can also see some of Egypt's ancient sites as well as the highly impressive High Dam.
Negatives - It's a considerable distance from Marsa Alam - about three or four hours by taxi - and although the ancient sites are fascinating they cannot really compete with the impressive treasures of Luxor - also on offer as an excursion. However you can combine both cities with a Nile cruise or a two day overland excursion.
For more information on Aswan see the
Luxor and Aswan excursions page.
Number Ten (***) - Port Ghalib Marina
Plus Points - Great if you like American style chain restaurants including TGI Fridays, Pizza Hut and Costa Cafe. Also impressive array of yachts and tempting items in the bazaars. Very close to some hotels so not too far to go. Sometimes organizes open-air concerts with World-class stars.
Also if you don't like diving or snorkeling then you'll be pleased to learn that Port Ghalib is the home of the Seascope submarine from which you can observe the amazing marine life of the local reef without getting wet.
Negatives - Most services and products are very expensive. Entirely modern and totally closed community - more like an overextended hotel than a real town.
For more information see the Port Ghalib page.
Number Eleven (***) - Marsa Alam town
Plus points - Often underrated. This is where most of the hotel workers who come from all parts of Egypt live as well as local bedouin, men working in the nearby gold mines and traders who have set up to provide local services. It's very close to most of the hotels in the region, it has a number of shops selling both essentials and souvenirs, a reasonably priced market and a handful of fairly basic but clean restaurants and cafes. Locals usually very happy to see tourists and genuinely friendly.
Negatives - A modern town with little intrinsic architectural charm or beauty - at midday sometimes has the appearance of a ghost town although it comes to life in the evenings when it's cooler and the working population returns.
For more information please see the page on
Marsa Alam town.
Number Twelve (***)
The Camel Market at Shalateen
Plus Points - Few tourists visit and you get a real idea of authentic bedouin and local life and on the trip down you get some great views of the Sahara and the sea. The local people will love to chat with you and you can get some great photographs.
Negative Points - It's a long way to go and some traders use force to load camels on to lorries.
For more information see the Camel Market page.