The Oasis Marsa Alam, Rotes Meer, Ägypten, Tauchen und Entspannen

Marsa Alam


Marsa Alam (alias Mersa; arabian: Marsa Alam) lies on the Red Sea in South Egypt, 271 km South of Hurghada. Edfu is about 220km away, it is 250km to asch-Schalatim and 131 km to the north lies al-Qusair. During the last two decades it has grown from a small coastal village with only a handful of small stone huts into a small town. Its importance lies in its location on the main coastal through-road, at the main crossroads to Edfu in the Nile valley and to the recently growing tourism.
Since November 2001, Marsa Alam can be more comfortably reached from the new airport Marsa Alam, which lies about 60 km NNW.


The approx. 6000 inhabitants are mainly fishermen; keep sheep, goats and dromedaries; work in the few mines, marble and granite quarries; many are unemployed. Mining has been done in this area for thousands of years. During the time of the Pharaohs and later, under the Romans, the region was well-known for its deposits of gold, emeralds and semi-precious stones, as well as for copper and lead.
The road to Edfu was probably built during the reign of Ptolemaus II and travels past many important historical sites, such as Wadi Miya with its famous temple built by Seti I and Wadi Baramiya where the ancient Egyptians operated mines. The business of grinding quartz containing thin veins of gold producing about 20 g gold per tonne continued into the period of English occupation before being closed down as longer cost effective. A few years ago, the mines were reopened for operation once more by Australian investors using modern methods of mining.

The residents in the area original belong to one of two tribes: the Ababda from the north and the Bedscha- Bedouins from the south, who have lived for generations in the eastern desert and were already used in the defence of the border by the ancient Egyptians.
Later they intermingled with the Arabs, who also brought the Islamic religion into the country. They keep and breed animals, are well-known for producing charcoal and were famous hunters.
They’re houses are called Kischa and are usually built on slopes in order to prevent the inevitable flooding after the heavy rains. The building of the houses is the work of the women, erecting them from tree branches and covering them with palm leaves.

Often rock drawings (Petroglyphen) which date back to pre-pharaonic times have been found throughout the whole area. These drawings the animals found in this area during that period, such as giraffes and cattle, can be seen and they also depict hunting scenes. Also, there are many interesting geological sites.


National park Wadi-al-Gamal-National park
The Wadi-al-Gamal National Park is often visited. It is the third largest park in the East Arabian Desert and, due to it’s delta, it is counted as one of the most beautiful National Parks in Egypt. It was official opened in May 2005 and in it’s 7450 km², it is home to a large diversity of plants and animals, measured by desert standards.
The area of the precipitation surface amounts to 1840 km km² and reaches from the north flank of the Gabal Hamata in the south to the south flank of the Gabal Nugrus in the north. Further high mountains are the Gabal Hafafit, Gabal Hamamid, Gabal Sartut and Gebel Sikait.
Other wadis also belong to the protected area, such as Wadi Abu Ghusun, Wadi ar-Ringa and Wadi ar-Rada. The borders of the terrestrial portions of the high land are from Ras Baghdadi, Ras Hankurab and the Scharm-al-Luli bay. Also integrated is a strip of sea with an average breadth of 15 km with four islands in the Hamata Archipelago and the Wadi-al-Gamal Island. Here, too, are worthwhile historical spots which go back to the Roman and Ptolemaic periods. The dirt roads should only be driven with vehicles with a generous ground clearance, four wheel drive is not compulsory but are recommended. Trips are offered from many accommodations.
At the Wadi entrances the Bedouins have built a simple collection of huts from corrugated iron, material, wood and plastic.

Before the animal world of the East African savannah became better known due to the Thomson and Grant gazelles, the Dorkas gazelle (Gazelle dorcas) was considered typical. Although it is the largest population in Egypt, with estimation of only 25-30 gazelles it counts as an endangered species. The IUCN classified the species as endangered.
Also classified as endangered, is the shy Syrian or Nubian ibex (Capra ibex nubiana).
The African (Wild) Donkey (Equus asinus syn. E. africanus) had already disappeared from large parts of it’s environment during roman times and is a severely endangered species in the wild.
The Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) is something between a goat and a sheep. The name Ammotragus is derived from the Greek word which literally means "sand goat”, the name "Aoudad” generally used in the English language derives from a Berber language.

Also integrated is a mangrove covered coast and the already mentioned strip of sea with an average breadth of 15 km with four islands also covered with mangroves in the Hamata Archipelago and the Wadi el Gamal Island which appear on the horizon. On the Wadi el Gamal Island is the largest colony of slate falcons (Falco concolor) worldwide. Breeding time is from August until September and in October they leave for Madagascar. Due to their small numbers they are already on the Red List for endangered species from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The island is also inhabited by a large breeding colony of 75% of the white eyed sea gulls (Larus leucophthalmus) with orange-red bills and pitch black wing feathers. These birds only breed by the Red Sea and in the Gulf of Aden and are also endangered. A small colony can be found on the island Giftun by Hurghada, 75% however, prefer the island with the same name by the Wadi el Gamal. Due to this their numbers diminish to the north. Both varieties are meanwhile classifies as endangered by the IUCN.