By Victor and Irina
Autumn in Egypt is the same way colorful, as European, but we definitely prefer the one in Egypt. What a sea color, even the sand is bright, and what a variety of colors under the sea! :-)
October-November might be the best time to visit Egypt for snorkeling and excursions. It is not so hot in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor, Taba Heights or Sharm El Sheikh, however the sea is still soft and warm.
For a start we decided to open up a new tourism region for us and traveled to Taba Heights. This is the best place for excursions to Jordanian Petra and Israel. To the border with Israel is only 20-30 km, ferry to Jordan is only 40 minutes and we were not going deny themselves in this pleasure.
Taba Heights can be called an oasis of Sinai: beautiful hotels are surrounded by mountains, wide sandy beaches and turquoise waters.
In contrast to the bustling Sharm El Sheikh here is nirvana! No animation, no discotheques – complete relaxation for really tired people!
The location is very interesting: living on one side of the Red Sea, on the other you can contemplate three countries: Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia. Excellent views, especially at night, when the other side is in lights!
Snorkelling on Taba Heights is pretty good. Near some hotels you will find very nice coral reef and vibrant marine life – sea urchins, lionfish, clownfish, stingrays, moray eels and a lot of young turtles. The shallow entry into the water is rocky, but after a few meters begins golden sand.
But the main story is about completely different place today
As far as we are people who can’t quietly lie down on the beach for hours and the desire of adventures does not leave us, we needed something new. For sure with a rich coral reef, nice beach and something special… :-) We found it – Sheraton Sharm El Sheikh.
You might ask – What’s the zest? These were the deserted Sheraton villas. The majority of the tourists have never even heard about them, and we found it very interesting to jump back in time and explore Sheraton of the middle of the last century.
Going in to the search.
We passed huge overcrowded beach. Looks like the whole Europe came to Sheraton from 1st to 10th of November and no tourists from the East at all. The only one was a sheikh – and that one a fake – it was Mr. Victor wearing Oriental dress. :-)
But Sheraton staff, just as a multilingual hive of the Jordanian Petra, were impressed by such a masquerade. :-)
The pass to the old villas is simple – go to the hotel’s beach, turn right and go straight ahead all the time. We had to walk nearly twenty minutes. The beach was becoming more and more untended, which meant that we were close.
Just keep in mind that the sun is tough and you should not follow the example of Irina. She is highly resistant to sunburn, so can allow herself a walk for half an hour with bare shoulders. For most people it can result in burn, but it is nothing to her.
Soon you will see a bower on the right. From there it is possible to reach the territory of the old Sheraton’s villas.
At first a veranda with very unusual furniture. You can sit and imagine that this is your house by the sea and there are bucket with ice and a bottle of white wine near the table.
Armed with a flashlight you can go to inspect the inner rooms.
Hey, Gene! Are you here? Come out!
Sharm El Sheikh – a young city, as well as Sheraton hotel, so you will not find medieval artefacts, such in France or Italy, but you will see already forgotten interiors of the last century. These trees are partly real, partly artificial – it is very difficult to distinguish. Mosaics, lamps, oval grille and even the great wash basins are well-preserved – kept the former luxury; it was so strange to see all that.
We enjoyed this “jorney through the time”, walking through the old and very beautiful walls – so mysterious and romantic. Such “antiquities” you will not find in Taba Heights. It might have been stolen at some other places, but here we still can see the carved doors with colorful stained-glass windows, kitchen furniture, wardrobes, stylish bras and elegant stair railings.
Seems like the Sheraton was the hotel of a higher class than now. However now it is not bad as well. :-)
We were impressed by the endless Sheraton’s beach and often went out to meet the sun on the deserted morning beach or to say it goodbye at the sunset time.
Air temperature in the beginning of November is stable +30, water +26. Sunny. The sea is calm.
The pontoon reef is not so interesting for snorkeling; a lots of fish, but nothing rare. However, we never snorkel near the hotel; this time we was investigating the reef prolonged towards the wild beach and deserted villas. That distant site of the sea prepared a royal gift for us the day before we left the hotel.
Our first meeting with Manta Ray
The story continues Irina:
That was the day when the fish crawled at the shore from the very morning and both of our cameras: tried-and-true Sony covered with the underwater box and new friend – underwater Canon – were very busy. As the evening came we decided to swim to the deserted villas and met a couple of snorkeling fans on our way – the fans of long swims too. At five o’clock we got stuck in the water just like the floats. Victor was shooting the reef, and me started to get inpatient – it is cold to get back after the sun set!
For lack of anything better to do I started to scan the bottom when suddenly heard such a horrid woman yell not so far!!! – I thought that somebody attacked our tourists.
Victor kept on shooting.
So, curious I peeped out of the water and see that couple coming back towards us with an express speed! And finally I noticed… a huge shadow moving in parallel to the reef in the deep – the shadow that was tracked by that couple.
In a moment I swam up to my strong half with a bulging eyes and furious gesticulation – HE did not understand!!!
With a gentle motion (fortunately it is easy in the water) I turned him to the deep and gestured “shoot!”, with all the strength pushing him towards the unknown, but took the lead at the start! And there was a big manta ray already drifting behind us with power and grace!
White unusual nose, white belly, spotted back, a lot greater than myself, around 2-3 meters in diameter – magnificent as Stealth!
Now it was traced by two more people… :-)
We have just a couple of minutes. I have never been working my flippers so hard, my legs were cramped, but still we were badly behind… so attractive manta ray finally went into the depth.
On our way back home we noticed a little spotted eagle ray below. A day of surprises indeed!
Third time visiting Egypt and such a miracle for the first time. We have to get back to this country. Too bad, it’s a hard time for Egypt, but the hoary pyramids went through even the worst. All things must pass. The whole life ahead. :-)