Since the unrest and headline grabbing events in Egypt during 2011, the country has been trying to rebuild its tourism industry. The major tourist resorts like Sharm El Sheik in South Sinai are keen to welcome visitors, and have lots to offer adventure seeking families looking to get beyond the beach and experience some Egyptian style adventure action.
Please Note: The UK Foreign Office has travel advisories in place for Egypt. At the time of publication these do not include Sharm El Sheik or nearby resorts, although we recommend you should check for the latest advice before making plans to visit.
Get Your Pulse Racing in Egypt
When you think of Egypt beyond the bustling cities, you probably think of relaxing at Red Sea resorts like Sharm El Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab, with their baking beaches and all inclusive hotels. But if you travel to Sharm el Sheikh you’ll discover there's much more to do there than lower your pulse rate by lying on a beach. There's plenty on offer for active adventure seekers, like these six Egyptian style adventure ideas we think could help get your pulse racing instead of falling.
1 Climb Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai or Moses Mountain is a literally a summit of bibilical proportions. If you can drag the kids out of bed in the middle of the night, there is nothing like the experience of climbing this 2285m mountain overnight to watch the sunrise from the top. It's not the highest peak in the area but it's high enough for a morning climb! At sunrise the colours will be magnificent, and you’ll be able to see for miles over the barren desert land. And it has a small Greek Orthodox chapel at the top, something else to aim for.
On the way back down, you can stop at Saint Catherine’s Monastery, situated at the foot of Mount Horeb. The Greek Orthodox St Catherines is one of the world's oldest functioning monasteries and is situated near the place where, according to Old Testament, Moses received the Ten Commandments and saw the burning bush. It's a special place, sacred in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2 Try hot boarding, sand skiing or sand surfing
If you're an action sport family and fancy the idea of sports like skiing or surfing but don't like the idea of getting cold or wet, then you'll probably love sandboarding, sand skiing, dry surfing or hot boarding. Basically you'll take to the desert dunes to ski, board or surf, safe in the knowledge that sand never melts and that if you or the kids fall over, there’s a soft landing. Be warned though, this is no hedonistic ski resort, you'll have to earn your pleasures by climbing up the dunes with your gear before you slide back down.
Interestingly, this is no new sport, it's said the Ancient Egyptians knew about sliding down sand dunes using planks of hardened pottery and wood. But while the equipment may have changed, one perennial problem remains; you may still find sand grains in your ears a week later. Still that's a small price to pay for the fun and exercise you can have.
3 Travel by the ship of the desert
You can't really come to the desert and go home without experiencing the most traditional form of desert transport, a ride on a ship of the desert, a camel. But don't expect a nice relaxing time riding on the back of a camel. No, staying stable on top of these charming animals involves some serious balance work, as you rock backwards and forwards and try and stop yourself falling off.
It's a good full body workout and not for the faint-hearted! But families are well catered for, some animals are large enough to ride tandem and kids love to watch parents struggling. A camel ride through the desert is a memorable experience and before long you'll think you are in Lawrence of Arabia, that is until it’s time to get off and the camel jerks you ungracefully back to the ground. Just hold on tight!
4 Dive the Red Sea or the Blue-Hole
The Red Sea is famous as one of the best diving destinations in the world and the Blue-Hole as one of the most exciting spots to dive. The water is clear and warm and underwater lies another world. Diving and snorkelling are probably the closest you'll come to visiting another planet. There's nothing quite like the experience of floating underwater surrounded by the strange and colourful creatures of the undersea world, a world you can visit but where know you don't belong.
The network of underground caves in the Red Sea's Blue Hole is a challenge to navigate, so make sure you dive with a guide. If you've never snorkelled or dived before, get help. There's lots of companies around the area who can help you learn safely or take you on excursion. If you've time and money to spare you could even do a course and get a diving qualification. If diving is not your thing there's plenty of other beach action options like windsurfing, kitesurfing, para-sailing, boating, and canoeing.
5 Go dune-bashing
If you don't like the idea of riding a camel you don't have to miss out on a desert sand dune adventure; there are modern adrenaline pumping equivalents, like dune bashing in a quad bike or jeep. If you go for a jeep adventure remember to brace yourself in the back when your guide speeds over bumps, spins doughnuts and spits sand as you explore the desert environment.
The best guides know how to thrill you safely and show you not only a good time but teach you a little about the desert. Kids tend to love it, squealing with excitement at every manouvre, while parents may prefer to close their eyes and squeal with terror. But if you can bring yourself to open your eyes, you'll not only get a thrill from the ride but get to experience and learn something about the mysterious and beautiful desert environment.
6 See the Pyramids
You can't come to Egypt and not go see the marvels of The Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza. It's a bit of a trek from the Red Sea resorts to these wonders of the world, and they are a massive tourist trap, but they are for a reason. The Pyramid of Khufu at Giza is the largest Egyptian Pyramid and the only one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World still in existence. It's that unique.
These sites will quite literally take your breath away and undoubtdely leave you with more questions than answers. Beware you may awaken your inner Indiana Jones or develop a passing interest in archaeology. But these are all good things right?
If you're into the whole tourist experience then you might also enjoy taking the kids out for an evening viewing at one of the nightly light shows. With rainbow coloured lighting, music and ever-so-over-dramatic storytelling, the history of these landmarks will come to life and make your visit to Egypt that little bit more tacky but also even more unforgettable. And the kids will probably thank you for it.
Disclosure Note: This post is brought to you thanks to support from Monarch Airlines.