Ras Mohammed is a national park on the Sinai Peninsula just 12 kilometers from the resort of Sharm El Sheikh.
Before starting our story, we will answer the most frequent question among tourists: “Do you need a full-fledged visa to Egypt to travel to Ras Mohammed?” Answer: “No, it is not needed, you can come here with a Sinai stamp.” Now let’s start our article with the history of this place.
From 1979 to 1982, the Sinai Peninsula was passed from Israel to Egypt. In 1983, the Egyptians renamed the city of Ophira Sharm el-Sheikh and actively began to develop tourism in the region.
In the same 1983, it was decided to create a national park on the southern ledge of the Sinai Peninsula in order to protect the unique nature of this place from the influence of resorts and prevent the construction of hotels here.
The area of Ras Mohammed National Park is 480 square kilometers.
Of these 480 square kilometers, only 135 are on land, the remaining 345 are sea. In addition to the main part, the national park includes two more islands – Tiran and Sanafir, but they are already in the northeast of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The relative position of parts of the Ras Mohammed park and the Sharm el-Sheikh resort, we showed on the map on the left.
The name “Ras Mohammed” translates as “Head of Mohammed”. This is a literal translation, but here we mean the head not in the anatomical sense, but figuratively. Correctly translate the name as “Cape of Mohammed”.
Already in the modern era, the guides have come up with a different version. Allegedly, one of the rocks looks like the profile of the face of a man with a beard, and that is where this name came from. In this rock, you can really make out a face and a beard, but you need to have a very developed imagination.
Table of Contents
The motto of the excursion to Ras Mohammed
If you listen to the impressions of tourists about a trip to Ras Mohammed, then you will hear a “big bouquet” of opinions from complete disappointment to wild delight. This range is too large to be the result of the subjective opinion of people. It arises for a different reason.
The quality of the excursion to Ras Mohammed is highly dependent on the work of the accompanying guide. We can say that this factor determines the result. Some guides talk interestingly about the types of fish in the Red Sea, some do not know anything about it. Some guides know the best places with the most beautiful reefs, some prefer to take tourists to where it is closer and more convenient. Which guide do you come across? This is a lottery.
Lunch is included with every excursion to Ras Mohammed. It can be tasty and interesting with seafood, or it can consist of a “chic” set of rice, potatoes and pasta. It depends on your travel company. This is a lottery.
For diving to the beauty of the Red Sea, it is highly desirable to have a mask, snorkel and fins. They can be given to you to use for free, or they can ask for money for it. It depends on your travel company or the particular yacht on which you sail. This is a lottery.
To describe the excursion to Ras Mohammed in one word, it will be the word “lottery”. It is the combination of all these circumstances that will shape your opinion and your impressions of the Ras Mohammed reserve.
Now many readers will object: “It happens on all excursions, the impression depends on the guide, lunch and travel conditions.” Undoubtedly, this is so. But! If you are going to see the Cheops pyramid, then 80% of your impressions will be formed by the pyramid itself. In Ras Mohammed, beautiful fish will form your impressions, but you must see them, and with a bad guide you won’t really see anything.
What tourists are looking at – the gate of Allah
This gate is located near the entrance to the Ras Mohammed National Park. This is a new building, which was built specifically for the entertainment of excursion groups.
The guides say that the shape of this gate resembles the word “Allah” in Arabic, hence the name. Probably, you can see this word there, but you need to “turn on” the fantasy at full capacity.
Just in case, in the photo on the left we have placed an Arabic inscription with the word “Allah”. Try to find it in the gate design yourself. By the way, in other languages they are called simply “the gates of Ras Mohammed” without any mention of Allah.
This is the first place of interest on the bus tour, and tourists love to be photographed in front of this gate. At the beginning of the trip, everyone’s energy is still “overflowing”.
What tourists are looking at – Lake of Desires
This is a very interesting place. The water in this lake is saltier than in the ocean. Guides say that this is the second salinity body of water in the world after the Dead Sea in Israel. This statement does not correspond to reality, since even the Dead Sea is in the ranking of the salinity level not in the first, but in the fifth place. The saltiest body of water is Patience Lake in Canada.
The water in the Lake of Desires is not dangerous to the eyes, as in the Dead Sea. It is pleasant and safe to swim in it, and tourist buses make a stop here for this very purpose.
It is difficult to call it a lake, since its length is only 200 meters. Many tourists use the phrase “big puddle”.
Already in the modern era of tourism development, the guides came up with the idea that a wish made in the lake will definitely come true. Hence, its advertising name was born – the Lake of Desires.
What tourists are looking at – faults in the ground
Earthquakes in Ras Mohammed Park have created faults in the rocky soil. From these rifts, the Egyptians made another tourist attraction. The largest fault is 40 meters long. The width is usually 15 to 20 centimeters. There is a reservoir at the bottom of each fault, and the depth reaches 14 meters. We do not recommend getting close, it can be dangerous.
What tourists see here – underwater living world
This is the main reason why tourists go to Ras Mohammed. The local sea waters are home to over 1000 species of fish, 40 species of sea stars, 25 species of sea urchins, more than 100 species of molluscs and more than 150 species of crustaceans. Also, individuals of large species of turtles – the Green Turtle and Byssa – come here.
Ras Mohammed National Park is home to 220 species of coral, of which 125 are invertebrate corals. One of the reefs at Ras Mohammed is 9 kilometers long. The width of the reefs here reaches 50 meters. Coral reefs of this size are considered gigantic.
The coral reefs at Ras Mohammed are often very close to the surface. It happens that corals are only 10-20 centimeters under water, and at low tide the reef is generally in the air. We urge you to be careful when swimming in such places, because corals can easily get injured.
For this excursion, the organizing company is obliged to buy you special insurance, as the usual travel insurance in Egypt does not cover cases of careless handling of marine animals.
Many of the reefs in Ras Mohammed are world famous. Mars Bereik’s reef became famous in a sad way. In 1996, near this reef, sharks attacked the Englishman Martin Richardson. He was rescued by dolphins. Other famous reefs include Marsa Gozlani, Old Cai and Shark Observatory. Here at the bottom lies the English transport ship SS Thistlegorm, which was sunk by German aircraft in 1941. Divers also like to dive to it.
What tourists see here – mangroves
Trees grow right in the salty sea water – an amazing sight. There are not many opportunities for tourists to see mangroves. They can be seen on Saona Island in the Dominican Republic or Thailand. Ras Mohammed in Egypt is definitely the cheapest option.
The statement that mangroves grow in water is not entirely true. They grow in the area between high tide and low tide. That is, they are in salt water for only half of their lives.
The leaves of these trees are especially interesting. Mangroves desalinate the water that they absorb from the sea, but not completely. A few fractions of a percent of the salt goes into the tree. This salt is removed by means of special glands on the surface of the leaves. Older trees have a thick layer of salt on the leaves.
There is a misconception that mangrove trees are engaged in desalination of water around them. This is not true, they desalinate water only for their own food.
What tourists see here – coastal living world
Unfortunately, there are not many animals in the coastal strip. Most often you can see crustaceans here.
The crab on the left is one of the “calling cards” of Ras Mohammed National Park.
Tourists call them “crabs with one big claw”. In scientific terminology, they are called “violin crabs” or “alluring crabs”. There are several dozen families and about 100 species of them.
For tourists, they are interesting not only for their colorful appearance, but also for their brave behavior. Unlike other crabs, they are not afraid of humans.
Violin crabs do not grow to a large size, they do not grow more than 5 centimeters. They are not poisonous and not dangerous to humans, they can pinch a claw, but without serious wounds.
Violin crabs are famous for the fact that only males have such one large claw, while females have the same claws. This large claw is called a chela. Crabs use them to fight for females in ritual battles. Mating season is the most interesting time to observe these crabs.
Two types of excursions
In Ras Mohammed, tourists either travel by bus or sail on a yacht. The bus tour is considered more interesting.
The Gate of Allah, Lake of Desires and the coast are accessible only from land. The mangroves from the yacht are viewed only from afar, and only the participants of the bus tour can approach them.
Both excursions include lunch, their price is comparable – from 35 to 60 dollars (depending on the program).
In addition to ordinary excursions, travel companies take tourists on a separate diving boat, but this is already a more expensive pleasure.
Another good option is a taxi ride. Many taxi drivers will not only take you to Ras Mohammed, but also work as a guide to the best of their knowledge of the English language. The price of such a trip is from 1000 Egyptian pounds for the whole day.
Description of the bus tour
The bus tour includes:
– Stop at the gate of Allah.
– Stop and swim in the Lake of Desires.
– Stop and swim on the coast in the western part of Ras Mohammed Park on the shores of the Suez Strait.
– Stop and swim on the coast in the eastern part of the park on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba.
– Inspection of mangroves.
During the excursion along the coast, you can swim and see coral reefs. When visiting Ras Mohammed Park for the first time, we recommend the bus tour. Bring plenty of water with you, and don’t forget sunscreen.
Description of the sea excursion
A yacht excursion includes sailing as the main element of the program. If your main goal is to swim with a mask and fins and see the beauty of the Red Sea, then this is your choice.
The sea excursion includes:
– Three stops near the reefs with swimming for 1 hour each.
As you can see, the program is much more modest. In addition, a lot of time is wasted on a yacht excursion. At first, everyone is collected at the hotels, after arriving at the port, tourists will have a long registration procedure, and then waiting for their yacht and boarding. Everything is easier and faster on a bus tour.
– The main thing is not to forget about sun protection! Cover your shoulders, do not forget a hat, cream and glasses are desirable. Details about the protection measures in our articles “What is not allowed in Egypt” and “What to take to Egypt”;
– Distance to Ras Mohammed from other resorts of Sinai: from Dahab – 120 kilometers, from Nuweiba – 180 kilometers, from Taba – 250 kilometers;
– At lunch there are often drinks for a fee, take a few dollars or euros to pay. You can take Egyptian pounds, but then you need to change, which is usually impractical. If you still need to change, then read our article “Currency exchange in Egypt.”