3 canyons

So like I said in my short previous post this post is set in the Sinai desert. It was a two day trip starting at 8am Saturday morning. We came out of our new house at 8am to find a taxi and a jeep there. We took the taxi. We had no idea about the jeep but I’ll come to that very soon.

We drove out of the security checkpoints of Dahab and into the desert beyond. A few minutes after we came through the checkpoints the taxi came off the main road onto a track and it stopped. We got out of the taxi and they transferred us to the jeep that we saw earlier on. We found out that the Egyptian government has a stupid rule that tourist cars or jeeps have to be newer than a 2005 model for the tourist. This jeep looked brand new but it was 2005 so that’s why we came in the taxi.

The jeep was very spacious with 2 front seats and 2 seats going down the side of the back with space for luggage in the middle.

They drove us along the main road for a while and then cut off onto a track going to the left of the road. A few seconds later we spotted a dam in the middle of the mountains. The guide said it was to stop the water from Saint Catherines flooding down into Dahab. After that we stopped to have a look what the Bedouins grew in a poly-tunnel. In this particular one they grew tomotoes and cucumber. It was very well set up and very tidy.

Polly tunnel - Travellingminstrel #1
Polly tunnel – Travellingminstrel #1

We drove on across the desert which was so peaceful apart from the guides driving – which was insane. I suppose you had to go fast at some points, but really there was NO need to drive at 80km per hour through rough terrain. At one point we got stuck in the sand so he let some air out of the tyres which didn’t seem like a good idea but it seemed to work after some effort.

We drove to Ibrahims’ (the guide) home village of Ras Ghazala with some plain concrete small houses and some shacks. There were lots of children who came to have a nosey. We met Ibrahims family while he sorted the blankets out for tonights sleep.

After that we drove to a canyon which already had a few Russians there. I’m not sure what the guide said it was called but it sounded like Salama. It wasn’t as good as we expected and Jed didn’t help either since he screamed the whole way because he was tired but we managed to walk through it. It had a few interesting shapes and colours but it was my least favourite canyon of the day.

Jed in the rock formations - Travellingminstrel #
Jed in the rock formations – Travellingminstrel #2

But at the end we got some Bedouin tea which was good.

We drove some more at the same speed until we reached a huge dune of some of the most silky and delicate sand I’ve ever felt and I think Jedidiah felt the same way.

Jed in the silky sand - Travellingminstrel #3
Jed in the silky sand – Travellingminstrel #3

It was almost vertical with sand with a track in the middle. He was going to let TUT drive down but nobody trusted him. It was quick but fun going down it in the jeep. He showed us a magnificent sandstone rock formation which was just standing on it’s own near some cliffs.

The Mushroom - Travellingminstrel #4
The Mushroom – Travellingminstrel #4

Most of the rocks here are sandstone but some are granite. Myself my family and the guide decided that this land would have been at the bottom of the sea a few thousand years ago but we don’t know when.

Ibrahim let TUT drive for a while and he did fine since he hasn’t driven a manual for a while.

Next stop was an oasis (Ain khudra) which he said was very old. There were palm trees (some date trees) all around an area where once there would have been water.

The Oasis - Travellingminstrel #5
The Oasis – Travellingminstrel #5

It was good to see trees in the middle of dry land. There was a small cave there with water inside which he said the residents here relied on . We had lunch here which consisted of veg, fruit, sauces and my favourite foul beans. After some food we walked through the White canyon (which could be my favourite canyon but not sure)

The White Canyon - Travellingminstrel #6
The White Canyon – Travellingminstrel #6
Us in the White Canyon - Travellingminstrel #7
Us in the White Canyon – Travellingminstrel #7

with a different man who helped a bit with Jed since it was difficult. We walked it to the canyon which was the easiest bit then we climbed higher up until we reached a small crevice in the wall which was hard to get through since it was tight but we managed.

After that it got easier again but not for long. There was a ladder to climb and after that rope to climb until you reached the top of the canyon. Jed was still canyoned out so he was crying again. Once we reached the top there was that lovely sand again

The top of the canyon - Travellingminstrel #
The top of the canyon – Travellingminstrel #8
The top of the canyon - Travellingminstrel #
The top of the canyon – Travellingminstrel #9

which Jed immediately played in

Rest - Travellingminstrel #
Rest – Travellingminstrel #10

and a hut so we thought we had finished and were going back in the jeep : ) .

Travellingminstrel #
Travellingminstrel #11

But nooo the man told us to carry on so we had to remove Jed from his luxury once more and hear his screams once more. The sun was dying away behind red sandstone.

Rock - Travellingminstrel #
Rock – Travellingminstrel #12
Rock - Travellingminstrel #
Rock – Travellingminstrel #13

We walked through plains and came to the top of a vertical sand dune about “100” meters high that apparently we were to slide down. Jed was still crying going down it but once we were half way he realized he liked it and wanted to do it again.

Travellingminstrel #14
Travellingminstrel #14

Once at the bottom we carried on walking. We now thought we were walking back to the oasis but thankfully we stopped to find Ibrahim with his jeep setting up camp.

Mum with the sand mountain behind - Travellingminstrel #
Mum with the sand mountain behind – Travellingminstrel #

The man helped him and me,TUT and mum went searching for rocks and fossils while the baby sat comfortably with a packet of biscuits in some blankets watching the fire being built.

Next to the fire - Travellingminstrel #
Next to the fire – Travellingminstrel #

Me and my mum had rice with bits of veg in (you couldn’t taste much but it was edible) and The Ultimate Traveller had a fish soup and chicken with rice.

Jed with his bucket - Travellingminstrel #
Jed with his bucket – Travellingminstrel #

Once we ate up me and Ibrahim cleared the stones from the ground of where we were going to sleep for the night whilst TUT and mum shone the torches. We all went to sleep at 8 but I couldn’t get to sleep for a long time. Once The Ultimate Traveller hits the pillow he just falls to sleep and starts snoring so he never woke up although he said he didn’t sleep a wink-that’s TUT for you!

Our bed - Travellingminstrel #
Our bed – Travellingminstrel #

The stars here were and are amazing. You can see almost every constellation. The good thing was there was no moon unlike Ras Abu Galum. Once I did get to sleep I woke up now and then and saw the stars for the last time in that area.

The next morning we woke up earlier than usual and Ibrahim and the other guy (they both slept at the other side of the jeep) were already making a fire. For breakfast there was fruit, cake, cheese and egg. I don’t eat egg on it’s own so I didn’t have much of a breakfast but it was fine.

After some food we explored the big crevice or a sort of canyon that was on our right. Later on when the guide went up there just before we left (personal reasons) he came back with a small stone with a rose shape on it, he gave it to us.

We drove back to his village for another of my favourite teas and we were off. He first drove us to a newly chipped cavern (on the main road) which was supposed to be a visitor center but obviously it’s not any more.

Jed the cave-baby - Travellingminstrel #
Jed the cave-baby – Travellingminstrel #
The visitor center sign - Travellingminstrel #
The visitor center sign – Travellingminstrel #

After that just a bit further up the main road he showed us a once-running tour place. It belonged to his father now it belongs to him and he intends to run it again. There was this small room-cave which had been dug out of the rock which was surprisingly warm inside. There was a flour grinder and a weaving instrument which they used to build the Bedouin tents.

Next he drove us yet to another canyon and once we walked out of the jeep TUT used the expression- “I am a bit canyoned out”. I was too I guess but this one was fun all the same. This was called the Red Canyon. Obviously they have named the canyon because of it’s colour which was indeed red.

It had lots of ladders and ropes to climb up and down. It wasn’t a very long one so we reached the other side easily. The other guy led the way. We found Ibrahim and his jeep there and they both started making tea and bread. They made a fire to use for both the tea and bread. They cooked the bread in the ashes of the fire for 20 minutes and it was delicious.

Making bread - Travellingminstrel #
Making bread – Travellingminstrel #

There was also a Wheat-Ear bird who fancied a taste of the bread.

A Wheat-Ear - Travellingminstrel #
A Wheat-Ear – Travellingminstrel #

After that they drove us home. It was an aventurous, fun, funny and unpredictable adventure that we won’t forget.
Thank-you for reading this blog post which turned out really long. Once I start I can’t stop.
If you are interested in booking this tour with Ibrahim or even having a look at his fathers place which might be open soon here is his number – 01019681533. He doesn’t yet have a website or an email so I can’t tell you. He doesn’t write English but he speaks it well.

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