Ras Mohammed National Park
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Ras Mohammed is a national park on the Sinai Peninsula, just 12 kilometers from the resort of Sharm El Sheikh .
Before the beginning of our story, we will answer the most popular question for tourists: "Do you need a full-fledged visa to visit Ras Mohammed for Egypt ?" The answer is: "No, you can come here with a Sinai stamp." And now begin our article with the history of this place.
From 1979 to 1982, the Sinai Peninsula was transferred from Israel to Egypt. In 1983, the Egyptians renamed the city of Ophir in Sharm El Sheikh and actively began the development of tourism in the region.
In the same year 1983 it was decided to create a national park on the southern ledge of the Sinai peninsula in order to protect the unique nature of this place from the influence of resorts and prevent the construction of hotels here.
The area of Ras Mohammed National Park is 480 square kilometers. By the standards of the Russian Federation this is not enough. In Russia there are 36 national parks even larger. However, Ras Mohammed is larger in area than, for example, the park "Shushensky Bor" in the Krasnoyarsk Territory (392 sq km) or "Losiny Ostrov" in the Moscow region (129 sq km).
Of these 480 square kilometers, only 135 are on land, the remaining 345 are the sea. In addition to the main part, the national park includes two more islands - Tiran and Sanafir, but they are already in the north-east of Sharm El Sheikh.
The mutual arrangement of the parts of Ras Mohammed Park and Sharm El-Sheikh resort was shown on the map to the left.
The name "Ras Mohammed" translates as "The Head of Mohammed". This is a literal translation, but here there is a view of the head, not in the anatomical sense, but figuratively. Correctly translate the name as "Cape Mohammed".
Already in the modern era, the guides came up with a different version. Allegedly, one of the rocks looks like a face profile of a man with a beard, and that this name went from here. In this rock you can really see the face and beard, but you need to have a very developed imagination.
The motto of the excursion to Ras Mohammed
If you listen to the impressions of tourists about the trip to Ras Mohammed, then you will hear a "big bouquet" of opinions from complete disappointment to wild ecstasy. This spread is too large to be the result of people's subjective opinion. It arises for another reason.
The quality of the excursion to Ras Mohammed depends very much on the work of the accompanying guide. We can say that this factor determines the result. Some guides are interesting to talk about the species of fish in the Red Sea, some do not know anything about it. Some guides know the best places with the most beautiful reefs, some prefer to take tourists to where closer and more convenient. What kind of guide will you get? This is a lottery.
Every lunch in Ras Mohammed is included. It can be tasty and interesting with seafood, and can consist of a "chic" set of rice, potatoes and pasta. It depends on your travel company. This is a lottery.
For diving to the beauties of the Red Sea, it is very desirable to have a mask, a tube and fins. They can be given to you for free, or they can ask for money for it. It depends on your travel company or specifically the yacht on which you will sail. This is a lottery.
If one word describe the excursion to Ras Mohammed, then this will be the word "lottery". It is the confluence of all these circumstances that will shape your opinion and your impressions of the Ras Mohammed reserve.
Now many readers will object: "It happens on all excursions, the impression depends on the guide, lunch and the conditions of the trip." Unquestionably, this is so. But! If you are going to see the pyramid of Cheops , 80% of your impressions will be formed by the pyramid itself. In Ras Mohammed, your impressions will form beautiful fish, but you should see them, but with a bad guide, you do not really look anything.
What do tourists see here - the gates of Allah
These gates are located near the entrance to the territory of the Ras Mohammed National Park. This new building, which was built specifically for entertainment groups.
Guides say that the shape of these gates resembles the word "Allah" in Arabic, hence the name. Probably, you can see this word there, but you need to "include" the imagination at full capacity.
Just in case, in the photo on the left, we placed an Arabic inscription with the word "Allah". Try to find it in the gate design yourself. By the way in other languages they are simply called "the gate of Ras Mohammed" without any mention of Allah.
This is the first remarkable place during a bus excursion, and tourists are very fond of taking pictures against the backdrop of this gate. At the beginning of the trip, everyone's energy "pours over the edge."
What is there watching tourists - Lake Wish
This is a very interesting place. The water in this lake is more salty than in the ocean. Guides say that this is the second most saline water body in the world after the Dead Sea in Israel. This statement does not correspond to reality, since even the Dead Sea is in the rating of the salinity level not in the first, but in the fifth place. The most salty pond is Lake Pasion in Canada.
Water in the Lake of Desire is not dangerous to the eyes, as in the Dead Sea. Bathe in it is nice and safe, and tourist buses make a stop here for this purpose.
Lake it is difficult to call, since its length is only 200 meters. Many tourists use the phrase "big puddle".
Already in the modern era of tourism development, the guides came up with the idea that the desire in the lake is sure to come true. Hence, his advertising name was born - Lake Zhelaniy.
What tourists are looking at here - faults in the earth
As a result of earthquakes in Ras Mohammed Park, faults in stony ground formed. Of these faults the Egyptians made another tourist attraction. The largest fault has a length of 40 meters. Width, usually, from 15 to 20 centimeters. At the bottom of each fault is a pond, and the depth reaches 14 meters. Close approach is not recommended, it can be dangerous.
What do tourists see here - the underwater living world
This is the most important thing for which tourists go to Ras Mohammed. More than 1,000 fish species, 40 species of sea stars, 25 species of sea urchins, more than 100 species of mollusks and more than 150 species of crustaceans live in local sea waters. Also here come the individuals of large species of turtles - Green Turtle and Bissa.
In the national park of Ras Mohammed, there are 220 species of coral, and 125 of them are invertebrates. One of the reefs in Ras Mohammed has a length of 9 kilometers. The width of reefs here reaches 50 meters. Such sizes of coral reefs are considered to be giant.
Coral reefs in Ras Mohammed are often very close to the surface. It happens that the coral is only 10-20 centimeters under the water, and at low tide the reef is generally exposed to air. We encourage you to be careful when swimming in such places, you can easily injure corals.
For this excursion, the organizing company is obliged to buy you a special insurance, since the usual tourist insurance in Egypt does not cover cases of careless handling of marine animals.
Many reefs in Ras Mohammed are famous throughout the world. The reef of Mars Bereik became famous in a sad way. In 1996, around this reef sharks attacked the Englishman Martin Richardson. He was rescued by dolphins. Other famous reefs are Marsa Gozlani, Old Cai and Shark Observatory. Here on the bottom lies the English transport ship Fistlegorm (SS Thistlegorm), which in 1941 sank the German aircraft. Divers also like to dive to it.
What tourists are looking at here - mangrove thickets
The trees grow right in the salt water - the sight is amazing. Russian tourists do not have many opportunities to look at mangroves. They can be seen on the island of Saone in the Dominican Republic or in Thailand. Ras Mohammed in Egypt is exactly the cheapest option for Russians.
The statement that mangroves grow in the water is not entirely true. They grow in the zone between the tide band and the tide band. That is, they are in salty water only half their life.
Especially interesting are the leaves of these trees. Mangrove trees freshen water, which is absorbed from the sea, but not to the end. The calculated fractions of the percentage of salt enter the tree. This salt is removed with the help of special glands on the surface of the leaves. In old trees, the leaves are covered with a thick layer of salt.
There is a misconception that mangroves are engaged in desalinating water around themselves. This is not true, they are desalinated for their own food only.
What do tourists see here - the coastal living world
Unfortunately, in the coastal strip there are not so many animals. Most often there you can see crustaceans.
The crab on the left is one of the "visiting cards" of the Ras Mohammed National Park.
Tourists call them "crabs with one big claw". In scientific terminology, they are called "violin crabs" or "inviting crabs". There are several dozen families and about 100 species.
For tourists, they are interesting not only for their colorful appearance, but also for brave behavior. Unlike other crabs, they are not afraid of man.
Crabs-violinists do not reach a large size, more than 5 centimeters they do not grow. They are not poisonous and not dangerous to humans, they can pinch the claws, but without serious wounds.
Crabs-violinists are famous for the fact that only one male has such a large claw, the claws are identical in females. This big claw is called "chela". They crabs fight for females in ritual battles. Mating season is the most interesting time for watching these crabs.
Two types of excursions
In Ras Mohammed, tourists either ride a bus or swim on a yacht. Bus excursion is considered more interesting.
The gate of Allah, Lake Zhelaniy and the coast is accessible only from the land. Mangrove groves from the yacht look only from afar, and only the participants of the bus tour can approach them.
Both tours include lunch, the price they have comparable - from 35 to 60 dollars.
In addition to the usual excursions, travel companies carry tourists on a separate boat for diving, but this is more expensive.
Another good option is a taxi ride . Many taxi drivers will not only take you to Ras Mohammed, but also work as a guide to the best of their knowledge of the Russian language. The price of such a trip is from 1000 Egyptian pounds for the whole day.
Description of bus excursion
The bus tour includes:
- Stop at the gates of Allah.
- Stop and swim in the Lake of Desire.
- Stopping and swimming on the coast in the western part of Ras Mohammed Park on the shore of the Suez Strait.
- Stop and swim on the coast in the eastern part of the park on the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba.
- Inspection of mangroves.
During the excursion to the coast you can swim and see coral reefs. When we first visit the Ras Mohammed park, we recommend a bus excursion. Take more water with you, do not forget the sunscreen.
Description of the sea excursion
Excursion on a yacht means swimming as the main element of the program. If the main goal for you is to swim with a mask and flippers and see the beauty of the Red Sea, then this is your choice.
The sea excursion includes:
- Three stops near reefs with bathing for 1 hour each.
As you can see, the program is much more modest. In addition, during the excursion on the yacht a lot of time is wasted. Firstly, they collect all the hotels, after a visit to the port, tourists will have a long registration procedure, and then wait for their yacht and boarding. In the bus tour it's easier and faster.
We hope that Ras Mohammed will like you, and read our articles about Egypt ( links below ).