Experiencing Serenity in Ras Abu Gallum

Written by Alia Moustafa Photographs by Saber Moustafa

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Imagine riding a camel up a mountain trail while taking in the picturesque views of the ascending wall of the mountain on your left and the brilliant blue hue of the Red Sea on your right. You feel the adrenaline of the adventure, but you also feel the calmness of the camel’s movements.

The mountains, the clear blue sky and the water are just some of the many scenes you will be engrossed in, if you visit Ras Abu Gallum in Dahab, Egypt.

Location and Overview

Ras Abu Gallum, or just Abu Gallum as it is widely known, is a national protectorate that is located on the east coast of South Sinai and covers an area of 400 km2. It is situated between Dahab and Nuweiba and has been declared a national reserve since 1992.
The area protects various mountainous and coastal ecosystems, as well as its beautiful flora and fauna, coral reefs and reef fish that are specific to the Gulf of Aqaba. To keep Abu Gallum’s precious assets safe from any harm or destruction, certain trails are used for travelers to reach the area, where some are not open to the public to keep the plants and animals protected. Also, the fishing done by the locals are currently being regulated.

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Home to high mountains, a narrow coastal plain and a tropical climate with Mediterranean conditions, Abu Gallum hosts 165 different species of plants, including some medicinal flora. This area is also home to a number of different animal species, such as the Striped Hyena, the Nubian Ibex, the Red Fox and the Hyrax. There are also lizards and snakes, three species of which have been identified as very dangerous: the Horned Viper, Burton’s Carpet and the Black Cobra. It is safe to say, however, that the areas in which they are located are not accessible to anyone without a Bedouin guide to steer travelers away from these dangers.

There is more than one way to reach Abu Gallum: you can rent camels and have a guide take you from the Blue Hole, up the mountain trail until you reach the destination, or you can hike from the Blue Hole to Abu Gallum. There are also the options of driving from Taba or driving from Dahab.

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What to Do

There are a few activities you can try while you are there that will help make your experience a well-rounded one. Apart from going on a safari, where you can do some hiking and ride camels, you can also have an honest Bedouin lunch. The meal consists of rice, potatoes and chicken and/or meat prepared through the traditional Bedouin way. After lunch, Bedouin tea is served, which tastes earthy and delicious.

You can also buy geodes with beautiful and colorful crystallized cores or you can purchase bracelets and key chains handmade by the Bedouins. For the ladies, locals can braid a few strands of hair using colorful thread.

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For those water sport lovers, you can snorkel and dive into the waters of Abu Gallum, a very popular reason as to why people travel to Dahab, where you can spot unique fish and explore the lagoon’s coral reefs. Snorkelers and divers will need to acquire the equipment needed from the diving center located at the Blue Hole, and beginners can take the first step in achieving their licenses by taking the introductory courses offered.

Animal and bird watching are also available for anyone interested in such activities. Moreover, you may want to allocate a few hours of your day to sitting back in one of the huts overlooking the water and enjoying the serenity of basic living.

An experience I would not recommend you missing is camping. Be sure to pack a sleeping bag and a pillow, because you can camp out on the sands of Abu Gallum and set up a bonfire under the stars surrounded by darkness and silence, solely accompanied by the sounds of the gentle waves hitting the shore.

Ras Abu Gallum is an all-year destination that unfortunately does get a little crowded with tourists during the holidays. Anyone can go, whether you are traveling in a small or big group, just to relax and have a good time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is definitely an escape for anyone who needs a break.

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