Wadi El Gemal National Park, spanning 5,000 square kilometres of coastal and inland terrain, is characterised by mountainous backdrops and dense mangrove coastlines fringing turquoise oceans. Wadi El Gemal channels fresh water from the mountain regions to the sea and is home to one of the largest desert wadis in Egypt.
Visitors are afforded ample opportunities to experience a facet of recreational activities. From boat trips to desert camel excursions, swimming and snorkelling; there’s not much this park doesn’t offer its visitors. Wadi El Gemal National Park is also a significant area for culture and history, and there are plenty of artefacts reminiscent of ancient Egypt scattered around the park. The region is known for its prehistoric rock art and ruins from the Roman Empire.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of Egypt’s most interesting sightseeing destinations. Not only does it boast a diverse ecosystem, but it also has unusual archaeological sites. The park is easily accessible from the vibrant coastal resort town of Marsa Alam, which is only 45 kilometres south of the park. Visitors are encouraged to seek guidance before entering the national park, as the desert landscapes can be tricky to navigate.
There’s a huge diversity of wildlife and marine life in the national park. 450 species of colourful coral provide a sanctuary for over 1200 species of fish, many of which are endemic to the Red Sea. Snorkellers regularly spot dolphins, sea turtles, rare dugongs, emperor fish, green turtles and parrotfish while exploring the depths of the ocean.
Inland areas support a host of mammals such as the resident Dorcas gazelle, Nubian ibex and Barbary sheep. There are also plenty of reptiles in the park, including the delightful Jerboa. Birdlife is abundant, and visitors can expect to spot Caspian tern, spoonbill, striated heron and western reef heron. A wide array of raptors appear in the park, in particular falcons. It’s here where visitors can spot the sooty falcon and osprey.
The cooler season is from November to March, but temperatures are still mild. Visitors can expect average temperatures of 25 degrees celsius. The middle of summer is between April to October. Rainfall is certainly not significant in this area as this is a desert territory, regulated by the sea temperatures. Sea temperatures are always pleasant, with the coldest temperature only dropping to 23 degrees celsius.
Wadi El Gemal National Park offers a multi-dimensional safari and sightseeing experience. This park holds natural and historical significance and activities are tailored to take advantage of the spectacular surrounds. There are several scheduled tours and trips into the park, but visitors also have options to explore the park at leisure.
Jeep and quad bike safaris provide adrenalin based day trips into the desert, where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the landscape. While on these safaris, it is possible to spot desert-dwelling wildlife. Ancient ruins from Queen Cleopatra’s era can be seen while cruising through the interior of the desert. These wheeled-safari adventures always end in a sumptuous traditional Egyptian meal.
Camel safaris provide an adventurous way of game viewing in the park. Captivating scenes of tributaries in the valley, endless landscapes and archaeological ruins are all experienced while traversing the desert on the back of a camel. The main drawcard of the park is the many marine adventure activities on offer. Visitors can arrange dolphin spotting trips and snorkelling tours to discover the colourful underwater world. Chartered fishing safaris are also readily available.
Simple recreational activities such as mountain biking along the coast, suntanning and gentle walks in bird-rich areas, are just a few other activities to enjoy.
An array of hotels and beach resorts line the coast of the national park, some in the heart of the park and others on the outskirts. There are a few expensive resort hotels designed to look like Egyptian palaces, each of which comes complete with dive schools, travel centres and entertainment areas.
Most beach accommodation options have sun loungers and thatched umbrellas on the beach, available for sun-worshippers. There are more humble camping accommodation options in the park and self-catering options in the tourist town of Marsa Alam.