The relatively unknown Nabq Nature Reserve encompasses 600 square kilometres of coastline just north of the world-renown Sharm el-Sheikh area in Egypt. The coastal park fringes the Gulf of Aqaba and is a remarkable area for snorkelling and birding. The coral communities along this portion of the coast differ greatly from the reefs found in the waters off Sharm el-Sheikh.
The reserve is primarily a marine area teeming with exotic fish and rare corals. However, it does spill over into the interior, which is characterised by mountainous terrain and mangrove forests. Such varied topography gives rise to distinct and delicate ecosystems, which the reserve protects. Large congregations of gazelle can be spotted in the interior, and birdlife is in abundance in the mangrove forests.
The nature reserve is easily accessible—the majority of visitors stay in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, which has an international airport. Sharm el-Sheikh is only 35 kilometres from Nabq Nature Reserve.
The Sinai Peninsula’s most dense concentration of gazelle is found in Nabq Nature Reserve in the inland areas. There are other mammals in this region, which include ibex—confined to the mountain regions—camels, deer and fox. Rock hyraxes are also commonly spotted.
There’s prolific birdlife in the region, with eagles dominating the skies over dry land and a range of shorebirds on the coast. The mangrove forests provide the perfect habitat for spoonbills, herons and the white-eyed gull, endemic to the Red Sea region.
A few of the marine animals include sea turtles, whale sharks, hammerheads, Hawksbill and green turtles.
June to August is brutally hot in the desert and is the peak summer season. The ideal time to visit is from May or October when the weather cools down. Even though the temperatures are cooler, it's still a desert climate, which means Egypt is warm year-round.
Spring is from March to May and is also a good time for visitors. The sea temperatures are warm during this period, which means marine life comes close to the surface. Both snorkelers and those on boat safaris can spot marine animals - visibility is also best during this season.
The natural diversity of this reserve lends itself to all sorts of outdoor pursuits, the most popular being snorkelling and diving adventures. During the spring, visibility is 100%, and big marine animals come close to the surface.
Snorkelling and diving expeditions are commonplace. This part of the reserve is home to a rainbow of corals and fish that differ from the dive sites closer to Sharm el-Sheikh. Boat trips are popular with visitors who want a more surface level marine excursion.
Private tours to go birdwatching in the mangrove forests can be arranged, and so can hiking and walking tours. Local guides will introduce visitors to the Bedouin communities, where they can sample homemade cuisine and teas. The reserve is home to a myriad of mountain biking trails, a unique experience that allows visitors to cover plenty of ground. Biking is ideal for spotting birds and other wildlife.
A few resorts and beach hotels line the coast from Sharm el-Sheikh to Nabq Nature Reserve. Most visitors choose to stay in the coastal hub of Sharm el-Sheikh, where international hotel brands and resorts are in abundance. The resorts all have swimming pools, bar areas and a choice of room types. This area is geared towards tourism.