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Sharm Excursions and Trips
Sharm Excursions to Book
Excursions in Sharm el Sheikh often involve the sea and water sports. There are however plenty of things to do in Sharm el Sheikh without getting wet! Sharm el Sheikh is also an excellent base for day trips further afield to Cairo and Luxor which you can visit either by plane or by coach.
This page, Sharm excursions to book, details a majority of the trips that you will be able to book with your travel representative whilst in resort. Having visited Sharm in January 2014, I have done many of them myself and I am also providing details of likely prices. Expect value for money given the current situation and favourable exchange rate. Prices may vary from tour operator to tour operator and these prices should be used as a rough guide when deciding which excursions to book. You may also be able to negotiate a better price if you book with a local tour operator but you MUST ensure that your travel insurance is valid for any such excursion or day out.
If you have not visited Sharm for a few years, you may notice that prices have increased quite considerably for visits outside of Sharm. Cairo by coach has in fact doubled in price in recent years but many local excursions and activities are competitively priced due to the fall off in tourists visiting the Red Sea. There is also room to negotiate on most prices even with your holiday rep.
Prices can be negotiated due to the current exchange rate with one UK pound being worth about 10% more than twelve months ago. If you change your money in resort in January 2013 you were getting LE10.5 to Â£1.00 sterling. Many daytrips are priced in sterling so the rep has room to negotiate without losing out. Many tour operators also offer free add-on excursions and free child places on some excursions. A trip to Soho Square can often be had for free and free kids place on the Star Gazing tour was also offered to me.
Snorkeling in the Red Sea offers some of the most spectacular coral and fish in the world. For those who want to stay dry, a trip on a glass bottom boat gives you a great view of the ocean floor. The more adventurous can try open water diving with several international diving centres in the Red Sea resorts offering PADI approved courses. There are dozens of boat trips offering diving and snorkeling trips with Tiran Island and Ras Mohamed Bay in Eastern Sinai being popular destinations. In fact a full day boat trip is a must if you want to sample the coral banks and beautiful fish in this part of Egypt.
Para-sailing, banana boat rides and water skiing are also possible on the beaches of Sharm el Sheikh. These activities can be booked on the beach but it is usually cheaper to book in advance with your rep who will have negotiated a price. Don't forget you will also usually be offered a DVD or pictures taken of you doing the activity. Always negotiate the price of these! A picture CD should be about Â£15, a DVD up to Â£20. Individual pictures are about one Egyptian pound but it depends on how much you want them and how you haggle.
On land there are organised shopping trips as well as cultural trips to St Catherines Monastry and Moses Mountain. Trips further afield to Luxor, Cairo and Jerusalem are possible but may not be available due to the ongoing political situation. Excursions to Jerusalem are currently suspended.
Boat trip or from the beach
The Red Sea offers some spectacular coral and marine life, much of which can be observed just a few metres from the shore. Many hotels have a private beach or access to a private beach offering a unique opportunity to observe fish and marine life in their natural habitat. A Snorkel and mask allows you to explore the ocean bed and sea many different species of fish and other sea life. There are also many different boat trips that give you the opportunity to snorkel in the waters of the Red Sea. A full day trip to Tiran Island or Ras Mohamed can cost between Â£20 and Â£30 including free drinks and lunch.
Picture credit: Amazon.co.uk
Star Gazing and Bedouin Dinner
The star gazing excursion usually departs early in the afternoon, getting you to the desert before 4.00pm. The transfer can be a bit long winded, especially if there are a few pick ups. Once off the coach, the first part of this trip involves a twenty minute camel trek to the Bedouin village. You will have a villager leading the camel who you will need to tip about LE10. Once inside the Bedouin village you can make a short climb into the mountains with your guide.
A buffet dinner is served along with juice and Egyptian tea. You then get the chance to join in singing and dancing around an open fire and can cook your own wafer thin bread, a staple of the bedouin diet. The sheesha pipe, another Egyptian tradition is also passed around. After dinner you are also invited to buy trinkets from the bazaar, about six stalls laid out on blankets and you then make your way out of the village to the telescopes.
The actual star gazing is very brief, you only get a couple of minutes to view the night sky but the Astronomer will take pictures with your camera through the telescope for you. Arrival back at your hotel is around 9.30pm, the trip costs about Â£25 per person, sometimes kids go free, depending on your rep.
Shopping is fairly expensive in Sharm el Sheikh although there are bargains to be had. Naama Bay is on most peoples list but this can be tiresome as you are hassled to go into shops and usually end up diving for cover in McDonalds. The Old Market is more charming than Naama Bay and the haggling much more gentle. Fake designer goods abound and there are plenty of shops and stalls to visit selling pretty much everything except alcohol.
Alcohol in the Old Market is only sold at the Duty Free shop and you need your passport which must show you arrived less that 48 hours ago. Premium brands are very expensive in Sharm, buy your Scotch, Malibu and Tia Maria at the airport in the UK.
Completely relaxed shopping can be had at Il Mercato, a modern shopping mall with several UK retailers as well as McDonalds and Pizza Hut. Il Mercato is in the Habada part of the city about 10 minutes from Naama Bay.
Many supermarkets also sell souvenirs and cigarettes, most of which are fixed price shops. 200 cigarettes (Lamberts, Bensons, Regal) can be bought for Â£20, Rothermans are half this price. If you wait until departure, 400 Lamberts at the airport cost $48.
Quad biking is best done in the afternoon so that you can take in the desert sunset. A typical quad bike excursion lasts about 2.5 hours. You will be part of a convoy of about 12 bikers, riding on the Egyptian roads to get to the desert. In the desert you visit a bedouin tent and usually test the echo of the empty mountains.
Buy a scarf before you go and ask the rep to tie it for you. The excursion is very dusty and the sun can be bright, even in the late afternoon. Its also advisable to take bottled water on the trip as it is quite dry out in the desert. DVD souvenirs of the day are always available but only pay what you think is reasonable. Never use the excuse of having no money with you as they will insist that it can be delivered to your hotel room.