National Parks:

Ras Mohammed

Nabq Protected Area

Abu Galum

The South Sinai is one of the most spectacularly beautiful landscapes on the planet, some of which has in recent years been set aside as national parkland. The most famous of these parks (and in fact Egypt's first national park) is found at the far southern tip of the Sinai, where the desert peninsula of Ras Mohammed edges out into the Red Sea, its craggy plateau disintegrating into broad sand beaches or dropping off into brilliantly rich coral reefs. Heading northeast up the Aqaba coast, you pass through Sharm el Sheikh and Naama Bay, dive meccas that have in recent years become centers for a host of adventure and eco-tourism activities. The coastline here is steep and dramatic, as the rocky table of the Sinai plateau crumbles into the sea.

Beyond the wide, full basin of Naama Bay the road turns inland, entering the broad sandflow of the Wadi Kid, an extinct riverbed that wends its way down from the central mountains to the shoreline at the Nabq Managed Resource Protected Area. Further north still lies Dahab and then Abu Galum, the northernmost of the park system's protected areas. There the sharp granite peaks of the interior extend right to the edge of the Gulf of Aqaba, offering visitors a stunning glimpse of terrain more hospitable to Nubian Ibex than to casual human visitors.

These parks are comparatively young--Ras Mohammed having been established only in 1983--and they have been joined even more recently by the region surrounding St. Catherine Monastery. Encompassing Mount Sinai as well as a number of other attractions of the area, the park at St. Catherine's is perhaps the best example of the purpose and the need for the Sinai's protected areas. As tourism has grown in the region, so too has tourist waste and damage, and a few years ago such sublime sites as the top of Mount Sinai itself appeared to be sinking under the burden of careless visitors. Although the designation of these areas as national parks has afforded them some degree of protection, it is ultimately the care and consideration of each visitor that most contributes to the work of preserving the beauty and the wonder of the Sinai.



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