Diving, chilling and desert adventures in Dahab, Egypt

In this article, our guest author, Mina Mahrous describes Dahab, one of his favourite places to relax, go diving and above all chill out in his home country of Egypt.

Thinking of Dahab, you would normally imagine diving and some great coral reefs, but while this is true, Dahab has much more to it than just diving. My first visit to Dahab was as a child with my family, as a 2 days trip from Sharm el Sheikh. We spent the night in the Blue Hole, camping under the stars and using the cool sea water as a fridge for our watermelon. Dahab held a special “hippie” place in my heart since then.

Mina relaxes at the Yalla Bar in Dahab, Egypt Photo: Mina Mahrous

Mina relaxes at the Yalla Bar in Dahab, Egypt

I returned many years later, this time with my friends, and even though the city has developed a lot, it still holds its hippie and simplistic charm. Diving is still one of the top activities to be enjoyed in Dahab, but I was never a diver, and I still enjoy Dahab more than any other beach city in Sinai.

Water adventures in Dahab

Whether it is diving or snorkeling, Dahab promises amazing views, colorful corals and hundreds of fish species. There is a reason it is called the divers’ Mecca. Inside the city you can sit in one of the many restaurants and start your dive/snorkel from there, or you can book a diving adventure with one of the countless diving centers that dot the promenade.

Divers at Dahab in Egypt Photo: Mina Mahrous (Dainute)

Divers at Dahab in Egypt

If you decide to get out of the city, you won’t run out of places. Very near to the north of Dahab there is the Blue Hole (literally) which is one of the most famous diving spots in Sinai. Other very famous diving spots include The Canyon, The Caves, The Eel Garden, Gabr El Bint and many others that are close to Dahab. To the south, about 100km away there is the famous Ras Mohammed national park, where more than a 1000 water species are kept for divers to watch!

Other water adventures are also available in Dahab, from snorkeling to boat trips that will take you to amazing scuba diving spots to glass bottom yachts (I’d recommend these if you are afraid of swimming around fish) and even to water sports like kite boarding and wind surfing. There are several ways to get interactive with the waters and witness the colorful underwater world in Dahab.

Just chilling in Dahab, Egypt Photo: Mina Mahrous (Dainute)

Just chilling in Dahab, Egypt

Relax in Dahab

My favorite ‘activity’ in Dahab is just sitting and relaxing. Dotting the shore inside Dahab are numerous restaurants and bars, each with its own atmosphere, colors and music. Sit and order some drinks or fresh sea food, work on your tan, go for a swim or sit in the shade. It is just so relaxing in the warm mornings of Dahab to sit there, watch the sea and watch the divers come and go. A day in Dahab is almost always very relaxing. Personally I loved sitting at Yalla Bar, prices are more or less the same as most other bars, but portions are HUGE and the staff are really friendly, plus they always have amazing deals – usually for breakfast and evening happy hours.

On the beach in Dahab, Egypt Photo: Mina Mahrous (Dainute)

On the beach in Dahab, Egypt

Day trips from Dahab

Dahab is located on the Eastern shores of Sinai, centrally located between Sharm el Sheikh to the south, Nuweiba and Taba to the north and St. Catherine to the west. This makes it a perfect base to explore all of Sinai, taking day trips over land to the other cities, and also day trips on boats for some water adventures or some safari trips in the desert.

A day/night trip to St. Catherine to climb Mount Sinai for a breathtaking sunrise is my top recommendation. I did this climb before with a friend and hands down this is the best sunrise I have seen so far, although the climb is a bit tiring, especially the last part when the climb turns into a steep staircase carved in the rocks!

Also, a day trip to Ras Mohammed for diving or just snorkeling is a must. I’ve never been to Ras Mohammed on just a day trip, I usually go there to camp with my friends for a few days and I love it there, but a day trip would do if you’re short of time.

Climbing Mt Sinai in Egypt Photo: Mina Mahrous

Climbing Mt Sinai in Egypt

Getting to and from Dahab

Even though Dahab is known for being a relaxed town that feels like it’s left out from the rest of chaotic Egypt, it doesn’t mean that it is completely remote. On the contrary, it is very easy to get to Dahab; there are several daily busses from Sharm el Sheikh, and direct buses from Cairo, as well as a network of daily buses connecting it to the other cities and towns of Sinai. Just make sure you actually take the bus as touts will always try to sell you private car rides once you get in the bus station – Insiders tip: Those rides are worth it if you are 3 or more people. If you are two or a single traveler, the bus is definitely cheaper.

Also, from Dahab it is easy to get to Taba and cross over to Israel, or get to Nuweiba and take the ferry to Aqaba, Jordan. It is also one hour away from the international airport in Sharm el Sheikh

Into the desert from Dahab Photo: Mina Mahrous

Into the desert from Dahab

Desert adventures from Dahab

There is no comparison between the desert in Sinai and the western desert of Egypt like in Siwa Oasis. Yet, it is undeniable that the mountainous terrain of Sinai and Dahab has its own charm. Taking camel treks in the desert or visiting a Bedouin camp for dinner is always an entrancing experience. Take a jeep excursion to get in touch with the rough nature of the desert, climbing up and down sand dunes and rock mountains.

I didn’t meet one person who disliked their stay in Dahab; it always seems to meet one’s taste in adventure or relaxation. There is something for everyone in there!

Yalla Bar bioMina Mahrous is the first Egyptian travel blogger! Rather than accepting the conventional dictated future for people his age in Egypt, he decided to try and follow his dreams of traveling. He blogs about his travels and hardships of traveling with an Egyptian passport, all from an Egyptian point of view. You can follow his blog Someday I’ll Be There, or follow him on facebook, twitter and google+.

For more travels in Egypt:

What makes the perfect holiday in Marsa Matrouh?
6 misconceptions I had about Alexandria
The Siwa sunset at Fatnas Island

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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More than Machu Picchu – Alternative Inca trails to try in Peru

While Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail in Peru are on everyone’s bucket list, our guest author Jonathan from Go Andes discovered alternative trails that are  just as stunning and rewarding, as well as far less crowded.

Peru is one of those destinations that is synonymous with travel, and I have always had a passion for a travel, and a desire to travel to Peru. This started when I was a young boy and I had been stupefied by a TV documentary showing the wonder of Machu Picchu. At the time, around about 13 years of age, I don’t think I could admit that I knew where Machu Picchu was, only that it was some mystical ruin in some faraway place!

Fast forward 15 years or so, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Peru, so I jumped at the chance and included plans to visit Machu Picchu during the trip by trekking on the infamous Inca Trail.

Machu Picchu on the Inca trail in Peru Photo: Jonathan Lillie

Machu Picchu on the Inca trail in Peru

A life changing challenge

The Inca Trail did live up to all expectations: it somehow managed to be amazing and life changing, whilst simultaneously being very tough-going and painful all at the same time! The Inca Trail starts at Ollantaytambo, and is a 4 day trek through rolling hills, that eventually ends up at Machu Picchu early on the morning of the 4th day, just in time to watch the sun rise over the splendid ruin – undoubtedly the best way to experience the site. What a lot of people don’t know (I certainly didn’t, at least before doing the trek) is that the route of the Inca Trail allows you to visit 3 or 4 other impressive Inca ruins that are situated along the route of the trek that can only be visited by doing the trek itself. This alone makes the Inca Trail a very viable option.

Walking the Inca trail in Peru Photo: Jonathan Lillie

Walking the Inca trail in Peru

Of course, Machu Picchu is a world famous UNESCO Heritage Site, and the most visited tourist destination in South America, which inevitably means that it is very busy. The Inca Trail is also one of the most famous treks on the planet, and one of the problems I had with the trek was simply the sheer number of people that were doing the walk with me. Every day, except February when the trail is closed for repairs, 500 people start the trek, which means there are up to 2000 people per day at some point of the trail. Although the trail was amazing, and an experience I would do again and recommend to others, after I completed the trial I started to wish that I had had the experience “to myself” a little more, to experience trekking in Peru for real, with a little more isolation. I started to research other options for trekking either to Machu Picchu or in and around Cusco and Ollantaytambo in particular.

A few years after completing the Inca Trail I returned to Peru with the aim of doing some more trekking, and I eventually chose to do two of the “alternative” treks to Machu Picchu: the Lares Trek and the Salkantay Trek. I was successful in finding very good alternative options to the Inca Trail, so I want to share my findings with you here.

Horses graze in the Andes, Peru Photo: Jonathan Lillie

Horses graze in the Andes, Peru

More solitary treks to try

Both the Lares and the Salkantay treks start in Cusco, which is the best place in the area to get a good hotel (and a good nights sleep!) ahead of a hard trek at altitude. I did the Lares trek first and immediately realised that this was exactly what was missing from my Inca Trail experience – there was only a small group of us doing the trek (around 8, including guide and porter) and we hardly saw any other people for the whole of the trip! The route took us through rolling valleys and slowly increased in altitude towards some frightening mountain peaks in the distance.

Inca man in Peru Photo: Jonathan Lillie

Inca man in Peru

The first night was the best, as the trek stops near an traditional village, so if you want you can head into the village to see a real Andean indigenous community, meet them, try and talk to them, and learn a little about where they live, what they farm, what they wear – I found the whole experience empowering and felt very privileged to have met these wonderful people. The hardest part of the trek was trying to get a good nights sleep, as the campsites on both the first and second nights were at altitude (around 3800 – 4000m), but the views made up for the lack of sleep.

Camping in the Andes, Peru Photo: Jonathan Lillie

Camping in the Andes, Peru

The Salkantay Trek is a little longer, with 4 full days of trekking against 3 days for the Lares option, and, although longer, I actually found this trek a little easier and more enjoyable. With the exception of the first night of camping, which is at a high altitude of around 3800m, the remaining nights were all lower altitude so I found it easier to sleep which made the trekking experience a whole load more enjoyable. The best thing about the Salkantay trek is the outstanding views along the route – this trek heads deeper into the Vilcabamba mountain range and has some stunning views of snow-capped mountains stretching into the sky over 6000m high (including the famous Mount Salkantay). Although we didn’t get the opportunity to stop at a village for some time and meet people, as I had done on the Lares trek, this route does pass many farming communities and indigenous people so offers opportunities to see how traditional people still live and work in this challenging environment. Probably the best thing about the trip was also being able to visit the Inca ruin of Llactapata on day 4, which I stunning both from afar and close-up.

The inca site of Llactapata in Peru Photo: Jonathan Lillie

The Inca ruin of Llactapata in Peru

Although there is only one official “Inca Trail”, what I discovered through my love of Peru is that there are more options available. If you want to tick the “Inca Trail” off your travel check-list, then clearly you will need to do the official trek (so make sure when you book that you are on the Camino Inca – as some Peruvian trekking agencies have been known to mislead tourists with alternative treks), but if you only want to experience trekking in Peru but aren’t bothered about the route and want to visit Machu Picchu but don’t care about the official trek, then one of these options is a good idea as it will give you more of an education on the traditional way of life in this part of the world, has similar or arguably better scenery, and will avoid the crowds of people that start the Inca Trail every day.

A view of the Andes in Peru Photo: Jonathan Lillie

A view of the Andes in Peru

Next on my list of treks…? The trek to Choquequirao, the Inca ruin that some people think rivals Machu Picchu – I can’t wait!

My thanks for this guest article to Jonathan who works for the travel company Go Andes. Jonathan has travelled extensively, and lived and travelled throughout most of Peru in 2008 and 2009. Since returning back to normality Jonathan likes nothing more than a bowl of ceviche and a bottle of Peruvian beer to remind him of his travelling days!

More trekking tales

How to choose the perfect hiking boots for the Tour de Mont Blanc (and other mountain trails)
My teenage daughter’s trek in Nepal
South America Backpacking with Indie Travel Podcast

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

Wilderness Camping on Hinchinbrook Island – Queensland, Australia

Located just off the province of Queensland, this tiny island paradise recalls Australia’s primordial past. Craggy mountains ringed with mangrove swamps meet sandy shores licked by clear ocean waves. The untrammeled depths of the island can only be reached on foot; there are no roads. For all of you adventurers looking to find a remote and peaceful getaway, Hinchinbrook Island delivers seclusion, beauty and the feeling of having traveled back in time to an era of primordial simplicity.

Hinchbrook Island Photo: Tourism Old

Hinchbrook Island

South of Cairns, the township of Port Hinchinbrook is the site of a ferry that travels to the island. The ideal time to visit Hinchinbrook Island is during the winter season, from May through October. The temperatures are balmy, with cool nights and warm, sunny days. When the monsoon season sets in during the summer months Hinchinbrook Island Ferries reduces regular ferry service to the island or even halts it entirely. The only resort on the island, the Cape Richards Resort, also closes from February to March.

Self-sufficient camping

To maintain its pristine state, Hinchinbrook advocates certain guidelines for camping either on its beaches or in its interior. Campers must carry in all items intended for use and then carry them out again. This includes drinking water, as the only sources on the island, rainfall or water in creeks, cannot necessarily be counted on as a steady source as these are seasonal.

Camping on Hinchbrook Island Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Camping on Hinchbrook Island

Ideally campers will plan for three or four days in which they are entirely self-sufficient. This includes sources of heat by which to cook, as open fires are not permitted at any time on the island. Campers must also bring enough food and the gear required in order to enjoy their trip safely. There are no shops on the island, but the Hinchinbrook Island Wilderness Lodge does keep basic supplies on hand. While there is one resort on the island, the Richards Bay Resort, adventurous campers can simply pitch a tent or just unroll their sleeping bags and lie out under the stars.

Trek or kayak to beautiful beaches

Hinchinbrook Island is noted for its exemplary beaches, of which there are several. Most are best accessed by the sea, but a few of them can be reached by following trails such as the Thorsborne Trail. The most popular beach, Ramsay Beach, is a gorgeous expanse of black sand that makes an excellent site for a base camp. The Hinchinbrook Island Resort is close to two very beautiful and secluded beaches, Orchid and North Shepherd beaches.

Travel around the island is best accomplished by sea kayak; however, there is a trail that follows the coastline of the island, known as the Thorsborne Trail, which requires a permit in order to trek its 32-kilometre length. Because the number of hikers is limited at any given time, reservations made months in advance are the best way to ensure a place on the trail when travellers wish to visit. Any trekkers wishing to climb the heights of Mt. Bowen must register separately for a permit to hike that trail.

Hinchbrook Island Photo: Australian Tourist Commission

Hinchbrook Island

For misty volcanic peaks, lush mangrove swamps filled with saltwater crocs, kilometres of isolated beaches and the opportunity to view some of the most beautiful expanses of scenery in Australia, Hinchinbrook Island makes the perfect camping adventure.

Photo credits: Hinchbrook Islan by Tourism Old and Australian Tourist Commission

For more adventures down under read:

Perth, Australia – an unexpected gem
Alice Springs – the Australian Outback
White sand beaches, sheep and Maori Culture – A Motorhome adventure through New Zealand

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

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