People travelling to Egypt are mostly interested in the popular resorts on the Red Sea or in Cairo’s Pyramids. If you are looking for a place far from the usual tourist routes but with no less charm, here is a destination about 100 kilometres north from Sharm el Sheik.
Its name is Dahab, a coastal village of about 1300 inhabitants, little known and hardly reached by the common mass transportation vectors. If you want to enjoy the marvels of one of the world’s most beautiful seas, this is the place to be.
‘Dahab ‘ means gold. The name could hint to the colour of its beaches or to the gold market which used to take place here in the past. The village faces the Gulf of Aqaba and it’s very windy, a popular spot among windsurfers.
On the beachside we met our guide who took us for a ride on camels. After a few kilometres we arrived at our destination: a beduin tent on the sea where lunch was waiting for us. But our true aim was another: the barrier reef – whose beauty may be seconded only by the Australian reef – and the Blue Hole, a 100-metre deep and 50-metre wide hole inhabited by some of the most beautiful fishes you will ever see.
To snorkel in such a place is a unique and spectacular experience. But some warnings are due, strong streams and lack of proper preparation cause several victims every year. Flippers are highly recommended.
From a bridge on the seaside you jump in the Blue Hole, and the fear is high. It feels like jumping in an endless void, in a pit whose colour goes from blue to black in ten metres. But once you are inside, it’s like flying. The fishes are countless. They seem to be used to humans and you can almost grasp them. The variety of shapes and colours is breathtaking.
It was here that I saw for the first time in my life a clownfish, with its white, orange and black stripes looking hand-painted. The complete tour of the Blue Hole allows to see corals and lively anemones dancing on the waves. Once you get to the side leaning towards the open sea – paying some care to not get cut by corals and rocks – you can start to explore the coral barrier.
The water is so clear one can see through a depth of 20 metres. Life here is so coloured that it looks unreal, and if you are lucky enough you may also spot a giant sea turtle. After visiting the barrier, I wondered if the name Dahab has not been chosen for the undersea treasure this place has to offer.
Being so remote, Dahab managed to protect its gold, which otherwise would have already been raided by man.