BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO EILAT & SINAI
Eilat, of course, is in the nation of Israel, a compact area about the size of New Jersey in the United States that houses some of the most ancient treasures from three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Sinai of Egypt, like Israel, is home to great marvels of both religious and historical importance. And like Israel, Sinai of Egypt also offers stunning Mediterranean beaches, stretches of sandy desert and plenty of natural beauty to enjoy between sightseeing tours.
This city sits at the southernmost tip of the country. Half a country away from the capital city of Jerusalem and the international airport in Tel Aviv, the region's main allure for many travelers is its abundance of natural beauty.
Regardless of where you are departing from, Israel only has one international airport, and that is located in Tel Aviv. This is the ideal entry point to start your adventures.
Instead of a passport stamp, you will receive a stamped piece of paper. This is for your own safety and protection amidst the current political difficulties. But hang on tight to this paper - you will need to show it at hostels and hotels and when departing the country!
The journey from Tel Aviv to Eilat, takes between 3 and a half and 5 hours depending on the means of transport. There are regular shuttles and buses from Tel Aviv to Eilat (5-6 hours), private tour buses, and private transfers (3.5-4 hours). There are also flights to Eilat throughout the day, which take around 1 hour between the two cities.
Because the weather is lovely nearly year-round, you may find you don't want to spend much time in your accommodations! The gorgeous nearby Red Sea and many unique beaches will certainly lure out out as well.
But there is something to be said for getting a good night's rest! The highly rated Arava Hostel is not cheap yet not expensive. Per night, expect to pay around $57USD. HI Hostel is similarly priced and also highly rated.
If you are really watching your wallet, camping is an absolutely viable option with the mild and lovely weather! For about $17USD per night, consider camping at the SPNI Field School located right across from the reefs at Coral Beach Nature Reserve, where you can see Israel's only coral reef.
As one BACKPACKERS GUIDE after another reiterates, all featuring personal writing for a blog from a backpacker's point of view, the local food is simply delicious. This is especially true if you are already a fan of tasty, fresh Mediterranean foods like humus, pita, pickled veggies, falafel and other traditional fare.
Omer's comes up again and again as an affordable favorite with plenty of original twists on local staples, including super-friendly waitstaff and decadent fresh-baked bread.
Falafel Halev Harahav is another fan favorite of locals and travelers alike. Cheap, fresh and tasty, with indoor and outdoors eating and lots of options.
Humusof and Achla Platinum Grill are also great and have plenty of kosher, vegetarian and vegan options as well.
The Mountains Nature Reserve is a top destination for visitors. One of the highlights is that on clear days you can see four different countries (Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt) from some observation sites within the park. The hiking is spectacular, but you can also enjoy the views by booking 4X4 tours as well.
Dolphin Reef is another hot spot and their relaxing pools are not to be missed. You have your choice of three pools: salt water, fresh water and "Dead Sea" floating pool.
Camel riding is another favorite at the Camel Ranch, where you will enjoy views of the mountains with a very unique furry escort!
Timna Park is the site of a former copper mine where you can see the site of 8,000 former mines and create your own colorful sand bottle souvenir.
BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO SINAI
For many backpackers, touring Sinai of Egypt is all about walking in Moses' paths, seeing Mount Sinai of Egypt and bringing their religious devotion to life in this way.
But Sinai Egypt is also a land of many other marvels and wonders that draw in travelers from all around the world.
In fact, as you are reading the personal writing for a blog from a backpacker's point of view of traveling in Sinai of Egypt, you will notice plenty of references to the allure of the blue Mediterranean waters and world-class beaches!
But first, of course, you have to get there.
Getting there and crossing the border
To get to Sinai Egypt, you will need to go through the Taba border. This is the only operational border crossing and it is important to monitor your embassy's travel advisories before entering the country.
There are also many places to stroll around while you are staying in the hotel. Each hotel or camp where you are staying will be happy to arrange for you a driver who knows the roads, paths and folds of the ground and takes you for a few hours or a whole day in the spectacular views of Sinai or just back to the border Taba when it's time to go back to Israel.
As of the time of publication of this BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO EILAT &SINAI, you should allow at least two hours for the actual border crossing process. You can hop on the Central Station Bus 15 and get off at Taba (the last stop). Be aware there are various taxes and fees going and coming and you will want to change money in advance to speed the process along.
You can stay up to 14 days if your travels will be limited to the Sinai Peninsula area. Otherwise it is more complicated and you need to apply for an Egyptian visa in advance. The Sinai Egypt border control will stamp your passport, which may limit your ability to travel to some countries that do not recognize Israeli statehood.
Beaches and diving exploring the virgin nature of sacred land of Sinai The coral reef along the Sinai coast is world famous and it is a major international diving destination.
The most famous coastal resort town of Sharm El-Sheik sits right at the northernmost mouth of the Red Sea - the very same one Moses parted to help the Israelites escape. Here and about 12 miles (20 km) to the west lie some of the best and most beautiful coral reef snorkeling, diving and scuba diving adventures in the world.
The Ras Mohammed National Park includes two of the most famous reef sites, the Shark Reef and the Jolanda Reef. You can enjoy the beach and the water and then head over to witness the ancient mangrove forest and the jagged splits in the earth from an ancient earthquake of Biblical proportions.
For around $40USD per night (although some rooms are much higher in price, especially during peak travel times), the Concorde El Salam Front Hotel sits right on Shark's Bay and is another divers' hotspot.
Getting around while following Moses' paths is best accomplished by bus or private car. Bus is the easiest and most economical option. Taxis do operate here they don't use meters so price gouging is all too common.
This BACKPACKERS GUIDE recommends using coaches (more luxurious buses with a/c) for longer treks and saving the noisy, crowded city buses for local hops.
The entire Sharm El-Sheik area is a mecca for international tourists. There is plenty to see and do, lots of resorts and plenty of nightlife at least on weekends. But for some backpackers, the place to rest is Dahab, a smaller Red Sea-side town a bit south of Sharm El-Sheik.
There are several hostels of varying quality up and down the coast. The Fighting Kangaroo Camp gets some of the best reviews. They have a/c in some rooms and the option for cooking in the small community kitchen. Best of all it's only about $10USD per night.
For something a little more upscale around $35USD per night, try the Tropitel Dahab Oasis. Located across from the region's most famous diving point, the Blue Hole, you are sure to meet many interesting fellow travelers here!
Nuweiba can be divided into three main sections and runs for some ways along the beach. The three areas consist of the port of Nuweiba which has become fairly busy these days, Nuweiba City which has a bazaar and tourist shops, and Tarabin which is the real party area of the area. All along the Sinai cost you will find good scuba diving, and Nuweiba is no exception. This town lies either side of the Wadi Watir delta about 57 miles north of Sharm el-Sheikh, and consists of the Muzeina Bedouin fishing village to the south and the Tarabiin Bedouin and tourist villages to the north. They are separated by an 18th century Turkish citadel. Besides the diving, you will also find camel and jeep adventurers. The Colored Canyon is nearby, and a little beyond is the oasis of Ain el-Furtaga. Be sure to take the road between Nuweiba and Taba if you like beautiful scenery. Nuweiba also has a daily ferry service to the Jordanian port of Aqaba.
My favorite place is Paradise it is a desert resort located on the Red Sea shore in Bir Swear, at 42 km Taba - Nuweiba road, South Sinai, Egypt. It will take about 2 hours from Sharm el Sheikh to reach paradise beach Camp. Enjoy the openness and the magnificent view of the mountains and the sea while listening to the best music.
A place for rest and relaxation, tranquility and inspiration,Electricity by generator in the evening. They provide all basic needs for a comfortable blissful staying within the virgin nature of Sinai and Red sea: huts, meals, bathroom, electricity, water .The opportunity to enjoy exploring the natural bedouin life with bedouin meals, Bedouin parties, Bedouin music and dancing.
Where to Eat
The street food is cheap and awesome and plentiful - you won't have to go far to find vendors cooking up hot, fresh delicacies day and night.
However, it is important to be aware that if you are traveling during Ramadan, an important Muslim holy holiday that starts in early may, lasts for a month and ends in early June annually (dates vary based on the lunar calendar), you may find that many restaurants and eateries are closed. During Ramadan, the observant fast from sunup to sundown every single day.
Meeting other Backpackers
In any BACKPACKERS GUIDE, meeting other backpackers is always a trip highlight. After five, 10 or 20 years have passed, it is likely the fellow travelers you meet during your trip to Sinai Egypt that will remain most alive and treasured in your mind.
Lodging in Sinai is in hotels in cities or "hushas" and stone cabins along the coast. In fact you can stay in Sinai in any style you want, depending on you and your perception of the concept of "freedom."
There is no doubt that the place to meet backpackers is in camps scattered along the coast, who visited Goa India knows the feeling, and will always miss the quiet and connect with nature
Visiting Mount Sinai
Just entering Sinai Egypt puts you on Moses's paths, since this is the land where Moses was born, was hidden in the rushes by the Nile and was found by the Pharaoh's daughter and raised in the royal court.
The Mount is the foremost attraction in the area. This is the Biblical site where God reportedly handed Moses the 10 Commandments. If you are visiting so you can walk Moses' paths, this is the main attraction and one of the four sacred "middle eastern mountains" along with Mt. Zion, Mt. Ararat and Mt. Tabor.
There are always affordable local tours options that combine the Mount with a tour of St. Catherine's Monastery and Moses's mountain (best seen at sunrise or sunset). If you are on a limited timetable, these tours are a great way to make the most of your trip.
Fascinatingly, a recent discovery made international news headlines when researchers claimed to have discovered how Moses could have parted the Red Sea.
Many backpackers begin their desert excursion along Moses' paths at St. Catherine's Monastery, where you can tour the Basilica of the Transfiguration. And then, just outside the monastery itself, you can view a large green tree that is said to be a descendant of the actual burning bush that Moses encountered (the very same where he heard the voice of God).
A BACKPACKERS GUIDE to EILAT &SINAI word to the wise - the desert is dry and hot year-round and you will want to cover up. Camel tours, 4X4 tours and hiking tours are all common and popular and you will be able to find affordable options.
Many backpackers walking in Moses' paths opt for the challenging 3,750 Steps of Repentance hiking path straight up the Mount to the summit. 3,000 of the steps take you through Elijah's Basin and the final 750 steps lead up to the summit. You can make this trek a bit easier on your knees, feet and body by opting to take a camel either up or back.
We hope you have enjoyed this BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO EILAT &SINAI featuring personal writing for a blog from a backpacker's point of view!