Dahab, Egypt: Camel Dive Safari
The Osprey Brand Team, a group of ambassadors reporting from the field at consumer outdoor events across the country as well as reporting on adventures in their own neck of the woods, delivers the latest from new team member Aimee Cebulski who is on a 6-month world travel adventure. She’s taking an Osprey Sojourn 28 with her (from our new Travel Collection). This is her sixth (and final) update coming to you from Egypt…
One of the top things we both wanted to do during our time in the Middle East/North Africa was to camp somewhere in the desert under the stars…Until we got to Dahab and heard about the Camel Diving Safaris, we hadn’t even thought about combining the desert camp with diving and an ocean view!
Like Baja California, Most of the Sinai is desert right up to the water. As a result, you have several small Bedouin (local) villages set up just along the shore. Buildings are no more than huts with no real walls or roofs to speak of. Since it rains maybe one day a year in the Sinai for about 15 minutes, this isn’t a problem.
Many of the villages (especially those close to interesting dive sites) welcome visitors to stay overnight in one of the many available huts and even cook you dinner and breakfast for a small fee. We decided to do a Camel Dive Safari out to Ras Abu Galum, an almost untouched dive site with far fewer visitors than other parts of the Sinai.
Ras Abu is only accessible via boat or camel – No roads. Many dive shops organize Camel Dive Safaris where you hire a local guide and local camels to take you and all the necessary dive gear out to Ras Abu. You can choose to do an out and back day trip (leaving early in the morning) or an overnight stay, leaving later in the day and doing most of your diving the next morning. We elected the overnight stay to be able to camp under the stars.
On our way to the location to meet the camels we stopped for a midday dive at Rick’s Reef, another less frequented location and had a nice quiet dive with just us and our guide April (who was my course instructor – she’s awesome as both a guide and instructor!).
We met the camels in the mid afternoon and watched the Bedouin locals load up all the camel bags with our gear (regulators, BCDs, masks, fins, overnight equipment, sleeping bags, food, even the air tanks for all our dives). These animals are amazing creatures, quiet and steady, workhorses that are the transportation backbone for this region.
This was my first time on a camel and let’s just say it’s quite bumpy and my butt was quite sore after just a short time. After a short ride on the camel I hopped off and walked the rest of the way – Ras Abu is about 4 miles from Dahab. It was a beautiful, breezy night and the walk right on the coast was spectacular.
We arrived at camp just as the sun was setting and we were treated to gorgeous colors in the sky, along with a few local children and women trying to sell us bracelets and scarves (of course). As the sun went down, we ate dinner by candlelight and took in the millions of stars.
Jeff & I elected to take our sleeping bags outside and just sleep under the stars. We did see a few remnant shooting stars from the Orionoids shower and fell asleep to the sound of the water. However, the sand was quite hard and even with a sleeping bag and pad, neither of us got a full night sleep. Oh well! The view was totally worth it.
We woke up with the sunlight coming over the back of Saudi Arabia (across the Gulf of Aqaba) and geared up for an early morning dive. The conditions, the reef and quality of marine life were out of this world! No one was out there but us and we saw tons and tons of fish (some really big ones) and amazing colors of coral.
We got out of the water, had breakfast, and then went in for our second dive, going in the opposite direction of the reef. We were greeted by a sea turtle, an octopus and a school of barracuda. Super cool!
After the second dive and cleaning up, packing the gear, it was almost noon and time to head back to Dahab. Unfortunately, the hike back was not nearly as fun as the way over with blazing sun, no clouds and 90+ degree temps. We all rode the camels for a while since we were tired, but it’s actually hotter and slower up there, so we got off and hoofed it back.
Jeff & I checked into our new place, the Dahab Coachouse, which is a lovely small B&B run by a Danish couple, took massive showers, wolfed a big dinner of the local meatloaf surprise cheeseburgers and promptly crashed! Today we are taking it easy; I might do yoga tonight again here at a local class. Tomorrow is our last full day in Dahab before making the trek to Petra, Jordan.
Dahab has been the perfect stopover after the craziness of Cairo and Sharm El Sheikh and the fast pace of the European leg of the trip. Super excited to see Petra and then move on to Eastern Africa when we touch down in Nairobi on November 1.
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For more information about Aimee, check out her bio page here.