Not so very long ago, Sharm el Sheikh was a quiet fishing community sitting on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. Then, sometime in the mid-1980’s, word got out about the endless sunny days, the white sand and the crystal blue waters. Before long, hoteliers were building four and five star resorts here, and the city has never looked back.
Sharm el Sheikh attracts both foreign and domestic Egyptian tourists. Most visitors are British or European, as Sharm is a much more affordable beach destination than many alternatives. In particularly busy tourist seasons, the whole city is hopping with nightclubs and plenty of other entertainment. It can all get a little crowded and hectic. Fortunately, there are a number of offbeat things a tourist can do in Sharm that make this sunny destination a fun stop at any time.
1. Go on a Desert Safari
Many touring companies in Sharm el Sheikh offer an endless variety of ways to explore the surrounding desert terrain. The common mode of transportation on these sandy odysseys is an air conditioned Jeep. However, those seeking a more adventurous outing can opt for a quad bike or a dune buggy. Quad bikes are typically suitable for one or two riders while dune buggies can accommodate up to four or five people including a professional guide.
Adventurers who want to explore the desert on something that doesn’t have an engine can do so on a guided camel ride. The animals are sometimes stubborn and slow moving, but they have a lot of personality, and participants are guaranteed to walk away with a good story or two. Camel riders should remember to bring their camera to fully document the experience.
2. Enjoy a Bedouin Meal
The front desk at a hotel or a tour company are both good resources for finding out how to participate in a traditional Bedouin feast. Typically, guests are transported into the desert at around dusk where they watch the sun sink slowly in the west. Inside a luxurious tent, guests are served tea and fresh baked bread as appetisers before the real feast begins. As the festivities come to an end, the guests are transported back to the centre of Sharm.
3. Go for a Spin at an Ice Skating Rink
Sharm likes to style itself as a destination that has a little bit of everything. That includes the ability to ice skate in the middle of a desert climate. This unlikely attraction is found in SOHO Square, which is located between two mega hotels. The Square features an impressive collection of restaurants and bars along with plenty of shops. In addition, the ice skating rink makes for a chilly escape from the hot daytime temperatures. Travellers who would rather not skate have the option of patronising the bowling alley or attending a show at the Culturama, an interesting panoramic movie exhibition.
4. Try a New Water Sport
Sharm is known as a world class diving destination. It’s the sport that attracts most visitors here, but other, less well known, sports flourish here too. Among the most popular of these is kiteboarding. This high flying, adrenaline pumping pastime is not for the faint of heart. In fact, those who have never tried kiteboarding before may find that they are in for a multi-day experience as they learn the ins and outs of various techniques. By the end of the learning course, most students have got the fundamentals down, and they are able to fully enjoy their time on the water. Experienced kiteboarders can simply rent the necessary equipment. Sharm is definitely the ideal place to learn how to play with a board and a kite on the water.
5. Shop the Local Souk
It’s easy to find stores throughout Sharm el Sheikh. Many of them sell the prized translucent turquoise for which the Sinai Peninsula has long been known. However, a more interesting shopping experience can be had in the part of town known as “Old Sharm.” This is where tourists can find the local bazaar, called a souk in the local dialect. The free wheeling spirit of the place is reflected in the countless languages spoken and the noisy haggling that never seems to stop. It’s easy to find jewellery vendors here, but some people are selling less expected items like snorkelling masks. Actually, the souk can be a great place to pick up a bargain or find a souvenir of a memorable trip.