Are we going to see a bunch of sand? Do we have enough water? Why are we visiting the desert anyways? These are the questions I asked myself as the alarm sounded at an alarmingly early 7AM. The desert doesn’t have much to offer us humans, in fact, the word “inhospitable” comes to mind, inhospitable as in “stay out!” By the end of the day though I was glad we did some desert exploring in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.
Follow this guy into the desert? Seemed like the start of an Indian Jones movie…
Visiting the desert was high on our list of things to do in Jordan, but then we got there. It cost roughly 20 times more than we were prepared to pay, offered less than half of the things we’d want to see, and, to top it all off, seemed like it was going to be way more work than I was willing to expend to be dry roasted. When I saw inexpensive tours from Dahab in the Sinai I thought, “why not?” and signed up for the Colored Canyon and White Desert Safari.
Off we go, into the White Desert…
The tour began with a beautiful drive from the coast over barren mountains to the sandy desert. In actuality the entire area near Dahab is a desert, so what we were going to see were the canyons and mountains. From the moment we left the city we knew it was going to be a day of magnificent sights.
The “Colored Canyon” is named after the array of colors that can be seen in the rocks. While this seems like a geologist’s dream vacation and a bore for everyone else, it was really interesting. While there only seem to be shades of reds from afar, getting closer to the rocks reveals a multitude of colors.
The short morning hike through the Colored Canyon was beautiful, but the after-lunch hike through the White Desert stole the show. We entered a broad canyon that narrowed until we were squeezing between the sides. While it may not be ideal for claustrophobics, it was a wonderful experience. A French man who has hiked the Narrows in Zion National Park said it was a very similar experience. Finding ourselves at the bottom of a narrow canyon left us only one option to escape…climb out of it…
At the beginning of the day I had my doubts about visiting the desert, imagining sandy plains, scorching sun and dying of thirst. The desert near Dahab is anything but that, providing an array of things to see that make it a must-see if you’re in the area.
WHEN YOU GO:
-NEGOTIATE. As with everything in Egypt, the posted price is just a starting point. Expect to pay about $30 USD (180 Egyptian Pounds) for a day-trip. The “listed” price is double that.
-IT’S A GREAT BREAK. People come to Dahab and the Red Sea to go diving, this is a great break from exploring underwater.
-SKIP THE CAMEL RIDE. The camel ride is just a short ride around a village. Better camel rides are to be had throughout Egypt.