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Egypt Diary

Egypt is of course, fascinating, not just for its history - Abu Simbel, Karnak, Valley of the Kings, Luxor, the pyramids, Siwa etc - but also as a country with wonderful adventure travel opportunities.See Sinai link for treks and climbs on the Sinai Peninsula.

Med coast July 08.
Nicholas Grybauskas emailed to say "I've been living in Alexandria and there's great bouldering along the sea in Sidi Bashr, excellent steadily overhung 3-5m cliffs that are filled with pockets and jugs. The rocks are located directly next to the Touring and Automotive Club. I have a couple pictures of the rocks hosted on Facebook".


Western Desert
Siwa is an increasingly popular attraction, whilst for the desert lover, places like Wadi Rayan, the Great Sand Sea, remote Gilf Kebir and even more remote Gebel Uweinat in the far south west can be visited.

Red Sea Mountains
Hurghada is well known as a Red Sea resort for snorkelling, diving and hanging out in the sun. Other villages further down the Red Sea coast are also opening up, all the way down to Berenice, serviced by a new (2002) airport at Mers Allam.On our first Red Sea Mountain visit, when Hurghada was little more than a fishing village, we travelled alone but were stopped at Hurghada by an army checkpoint. Our second visit, which was sponsored by an Egyptian travel co (Pan Arab Tours) and the ETA, allowed us to glimpse seldom climbed peaks, some climbed by G W Murray and the famous Italian climber Emilio Comici, such as Gebel Gharib, Gebel Qattar, Gebel Shayib. Further south, we reached the remote and unclimbed 'Berenice Bodkin' but sadly the military refused access to climb despite having Permits and an ETA letter. Our third trip was more successful. This time we were with the Egyptian Nomad Tours (no connection with n.o.m.a.d.s.) who obtained Permits after some delays, which lost us a week of our trip.

Accompanied by a military escourt, we finally reached the previously closed southern Red Sea Mountains inMarch 2001. Great place! In the desert inland of Berenice, we climbed the "unclimbable" Gebel Sila'i which turned out to be easy, if sensational, with exfoliating flakes and magnificent views. A great 'trekking peak', though ability to move safely on easy but flaky rock is essential! South again, we reached the magnificent Rock Bridge in the Farayid Mountains. Discovered by G.W. Murray (Alpine Club member, Director of Egypt's Desert Survey and RGS Founder's medal holder)about 1920 and rediscovered by the n.o.m.a.d.s. team March 2001, we did a unique 250m Grade 4 climb up through the arch. Running out of time, all that remained was to locate the unique spire of the Berenice Bodkin and some excellent looking ‘big walls’on nearby Purdy Peak.

2002
Using our notes, a group of Italians climbed on the Qattar mountains near Hurghada, in honour of the great Italian pioneer, Emilio Comici:"We thank you for the information you generously gave us, and especially for rediscovering those beautiful mountains."
Mirella Tenderini, Italy.

July 2004.
The Red Sea Mountains from Berenice to the Sudan border are still closed for"climbing, desert safari and desert rallies" by the National Parks Authority / Military. We are trying to find out why and have told them that climbing should not pose a threat to a National Park and may even benefit it by aiding the local economy. Actually we think the problem stems from oil: in 1992 Egypt apparently exceeded its terms of agreement with Sudan by drilling for oil in the Red Sea, off the disputed area known as 'The Hala'ib Triangle' a region used by both the Sudanese Ababda Bedouin and the Egyptian Beja. The area was, by agreement, under Sudanese administration despite being Egyptian land according to the 1899 treaty. This led to various problems which were further exacerbated when Egypt moved troops in, in 2000. The resultant closure extends north to Berenice, well beyond 'the triangle'.

Over in south west Egypt, the region adjoining Sudan and Libya and containing the mountains and canyons of the remote Gilf Kebir, Jebel Uweinat and Jebel Kissu may be accorded Protected Area status by UNESCO, there being, according to Dr Giovanni Boccardi, an "urgent need for adequate protection and increased awareness among local communities" if the magnificent rock art of these mountains is not to suffer the damage of that in Libya's Akakus Mountains.

2014
Red Sea Mountains Permits to the southern mainland are still unobtainable, but the tour operator we recommend to be sure of genuine permits (should they ever become available) is Hany Amr of Desert Adventures who was with us in spring 2001, but (luckily for him!) was unable to join us for our ill-fated December trip. Hany also sometimes works with Hani Zakr, The Safari Manager for well established EMECO, on the development of Adventure Tourism. Ahmed Musa of Pan Arab Tours may be another useful contact.

Sinai See the Sinai link on this page for info on climbing and trekking including new guidebooks.