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Ras Muhammad National Park


Page update - Sep 15, 2021

Ras Muhammad is a national park on the Sinai Peninsula, just 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Before we begin our story, we will answer the most common question tourists have, "Do you need the full-fledged Egyptian visa to travel to Ras Mohammed?" The answer is, "No you don't need to, you can come there with a Sinai stamp". Now let's start our review with the history of the place.

Facts, fugures, history

From 1979 to 1982, the Sinai Peninsula was returning from Israel to Egypt. In 1983, the Egyptians renamed the city of Ofira to Sharm el-Sheikh and began to actively develop tourism in the region.

Also in 1983, the decision was taken to establish a national park on the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula, in order to protect the unique nature of the area from the impact of the resorts and to prevent the construction of hotels there.

The Ras Mohammed National Park covers an area of 480 square kilometers (185 square miles). Only 135 square kilometers (52 square miles) are on land and the remaining 345 are offshore. In addition to the main part, the national park includes two more islands - Tiran and Sanafir - but they are located north-east of Sharm el-Sheikh.

We have shown the relative location of parts of Ras Mohammed park and Sharm El Sheikh resort on the map near. Click on the map to enlarge.

The name "Ras Mohammed" translates to "Mohammed's Head". This is a literal translation, but it does not mean head in the anatomical sense, but figuratively. It is correct to translate the name as "Mohammed's Cape".

Already in modern times, guides have come up with another version. Allegedly, one of the cliffs resembles the profile of a man's face with a beard and that this is where the name came from. It is indeed possible to discern a face and a beard in this rock, but one has to have a very rich imagination.

Ras Mohammed tours motto

If you listen to tourists' impressions of a trip to Ras Mohammed, you'll hear a "big bouquet" of opinions ranging from utter disappointment to wild delight. The range is too wide to be the result of people's subjective opinions. There is another reason.

The quality of a tour to Ras Mohammed depends very much on the work of the tour guide. It can be said that this factor determines the result. Some guides talk interestingly about the kinds of fish in the Red Sea, some know nothing about it. Some guides know the best places with the most beautiful reefs, some prefer to take tourists wherever is closer and more convenient. Which guide will you get? It's a lottery.

Every tour to Ras Mohammed includes lunch. It can be delicious and interesting with seafood, or it can consist of a "fancy" set of rice, potatoes, and pasta. It depends on your tour company. It's a lottery.

A mask, snorkel and flippers are highly desirable for diving to the beauties of the Red Sea. You may be given them free of charge or you may be charged for them. It depends on the tour company or the boat you'll be sailing on. It's a lottery.

If one word to describe the excursion to Ras Mohammed, it would be the word "lottery". It is the confluence of all these circumstances that will shape your opinion and your experience of Ras Mohammed Reserve.

Now, many readers will argue, "It happens on all excursions, the impression depends on the guide, the lunch and the conditions of the trip". Undoubtedly, this is true. If you go to see the pyramid of Cheops, then 80% of your impressions will be formed by the pyramid itself. At Ras Mohammed, you will be impressed by the beautiful fishes, but you have to see them, and you won't see anything at all with a bad guide.

What to see - Gates of Allah

This gate is located near the entrance of Ras Mohammed National Park. It is a new structure that was built specifically for the entertainment of tour groups.

Tour guides tell us that the shape of this gate resembles the word "Allah" in Arabic, hence the name. It is probably possible to discern the word there, but you have to "turn on" your imagination to the full.

Just in case, we have placed an Arabic inscription with the word "Allah" in the photo near (click on the photo to enlarge). Try and find the word in the design of the gate yourself.

This is the first notable spot on the bus tour, and tourists love to have their photos taken against the backdrop of this gate. At the beginning of the trip, everyone's energy is still "pouring through".

What to see - Lake of Wishes

This is a very interesting place. The water in this lake is saltier than in the ocean. The guides tell you that it is the second most salty body of water in the world after the Dead Sea in Israel. This statement is not true, as even the Dead Sea ranks fifth, not first, in the salinity ranking. The saltiest body of water is Lake Patience in Canada.

The water in Lake of Wishes is not hazardous to eyes like the Dead Sea. It is pleasant and safe to swim in, and tourist buses make a stop there for that very purpose.

It is difficult to call it a lake, as it is only 200 meters (650 feet) long. Many tourists use the phrase "big puddle". See the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge.

In the modern era of tourism, tour guides came up with the idea that a wish made in the lake would definitely come true. Hence its advertising name, Lake of Wishes, was born.

What to see - cracks in the ground

Earthquakes have caused cracks in the rocky soil in Ras Mohammed Park. The Egyptians have made these cracks into another tourist attraction. The largest rift is 40 meters (130 feet) long. The width is usually 15 to 20 centimeters (6-8 inches). There is a reservoir at the bottom of each rift. The depth reaches 14 meters (46 feet). We don't recommend getting too close, as it can be dangerous.

What to see - underwater wildlife

This is what tourists come to Ras Mohammed for. The local waters are home to over 1000 species of fish, 40 species of starfish, 25 species of urchins, over 100 species of molluscs and over 150 species of crustaceans. The large turtle species of Green and Bissa turtles are also found there.

Ras Mohammed National Park is home to 220 species of coral, 125 of which are invertebrate corals. One of the reefs at Ras Mohammed is 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) long. The reefs there are up to 50 meters (165 feet) wide. This size of coral reefs is considered gigantic.

The coral reefs at Ras Mohammed are often very close to the surface. It can be as little as 10 to 20 centimeters (4-8 inches) underwater and at low tide the reef is exposed to the air. We urge people to be careful when swimming in such areas, as the corals can easily hurt you.

The tour organizer company is obliged to buy you special insurance, as regular travel insurance in Egypt does not cover careless handling of marine animals.

Many of the reefs at Ras Mohammed are world famous. Marsa Bareika Reef has become famous in an unfortunate way. In 1996, an Englishman, Martin Richardson, was attacked by sharks near this reef. He was rescued by dolphins. Other famous reefs: Marsa Gozlan, Old Kai and Shark Observatory. The English transport ship SS Thistlegorm, sunk by German aircraft in 1941, lies at the bottom there. It is also a favorite diving site.

What to see - mangroves

Trees grow directly in the salt water of the sea - a sight to behold. Tourists do not have many opportunities to see mangroves in the world. You can see them on Saona Island in the Dominican Republic or in Thailand. Ras Mohammed in Egypt is definitely the cheapest option for Europeans.

The statement that mangroves grow in the water is not entirely true. They grow in the area between the high tide line and the low tide line. That is, they are only in salt water for half of their lives.

The leaves of these trees are particularly interesting. Mangroves desalinate the water they absorb from the sea, but not completely. A tiny fraction of a percent of the salt goes into the tree. This salt is excreted by special glands on the surface of the leaves. In old trees, the leaves are covered with a thick layer of salt.

There is a misconception that mangroves desalinate the water around them. This is untrue. They only desalinate water for their own nutrition.

What to see - coastal wildlife

Unfortunately, not many animals are found in the coastal strip. Crustaceans are most often seen there. The crab in the photo near is one of the "calling cards" of Ras Mohammed National Park.

Tourists call them "crabs with one large claw". In scientific terminology, they are called "fiddler crabs" or "beckoning crabs". There are several dozen families and about 100 species.

The crabs are interesting for tourists not only for their colorful appearance, but also for their brave behavior. Unlike other crabs, they are not afraid of humans.

Fiddler crabs do not reach a large size. They do not grow larger than 5 centimeters (2 inches). They are not poisonous and not dangerous to humans, they can pinch with their claws, but without serious wounds.

Fiddler crabs are famous for the fact that only the males have such a large claw, and the females have identical claws. This large claw is called "chela". Crabs use them to fight for females in ritual fights. The mating season is the most interesting time to observe these crabs.

Two types of excursions

Tourists either travel to Ras Mohammed by bus or sail on a yacht. The bus tour is considered more interesting for most tourists, but some prefer yacht tours.

Gate of Allah, Lake of Desire and the coast are only accessible from land. The mangroves can only be viewed from a distance from the yacht and can only be approached by bus tour participants.

Both tours include lunch. The prices are comparable 35 to 60 US dollars, depending on the programme.

Beside the usual tours, tour companies take tourists on a separate boat for diving, but it is already a more expensive experience.

Another good option is a taxi ride. Many taxi drivers will not only take you to Ras Mohammed, but also will work as a guide to the best of their knowledge of English or other languages. The price starts at 1,000 Egyptian pounds for the whole day. Find the current exchange rates in our review "Money in Egypt". Find the actual cab fares in our review "Taxi in Egypt".

Bus tour description

The bus tour includes (usually):

- Stop at the Gates of Allah.

- Stop and swim in the Lake of Desire.

- Stop and swim on the coast at the western part of Ras Mohammed Park on the shore of the Strait of Suez.

- Stop and swim along the coast in the eastern part of the park on the coast of the Gulf of Aqaba.

- Exploring the mangroves.

- Lunch.

A bus excursion allows you to swim and see the coral reefs. For your first visit to Ras Mohammed Park, we recommend the bus tour. Take plenty of water and don't forget your sunscreen.

Boat excursion description

The boat excursion involves swimming and diving as the main element of the programme. If snorkeling, flippers and viewing the beauty of the Red Sea is your main objective, then this is your choice.

The boat tour includes:

- Three stops near the reefs with swimming for 1 hour each.

- Lunch.

As you can see the programme is much more modest. In addition, a lot of time is wasted on the boat excursion. All are firstly collected according to hotels, after arrival to the port there is a long check-in procedure, and then there is a long wait for their boat and boarding. The bus tour is simpler and quicker.

Important tips

- Most importantly, don't forget to protect yourself from the sun! Cover your shoulders, don't forget your headgear, sunscreen and sunglasses are advisable. For more information on protection measures, see our in-depth review "What not to do in Egypt" and "What to take to Egypt";

- Distance to Ras Mohammed from other resorts in Sinai: 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Dahab, 180 kilometers (112 miles) from Nuweiba, 250 kilometers (155 miles) from Taba;

- There is often a charge for drinks at lunch. Take some dollars or euros to pay. You can take Egyptian pounds, but then you have to change, which is usually impractical. If you do need to change, read our review "Currency exchange in Egypt".

We hope you enjoy Ras Mohammed, and read our useful pages about Egypt (find the pages list below).

TIPS FOR TOURISTS

What Don't Do in Egypt

Cheats of Tourists in Egypt

What to Take to Egypt

Sharks in Egypt

To Egypt With Kids

How NOT to Get Poisoned in Egypt

National Holidays in Egypt

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What Money in Egypt

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Naama Bay

Hurghada

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Mediterranean Rivera

BAD HABITS

Alcohol in Egypt - Prices & Rules

Local Egyptian Alcohol

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