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Taba

Taba

Taba is a meeting of borders. It overlooks Jordan, Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is located at the north-east point of the Sinai Peninsula.

Taba is one of the newest resorts on the Red Sea and has developed around the border crossing between Egypt and Israel. Just south of Eilat, Taba offers an extremely picturesque coastline, filled with pretty bays and coves which dot the blue seas, backed by the beautiful Sinai majestic Mountains and accompanied by great views over the Red Sea and Jordan. Taba boasts fantastic scuba-diving conditions, and is an ideal destination for a quiet and relaxing beach getaway.

Taba, with its' stunning coastline of swaying palms, white sand and azure seas, offers just a few facilities - a choice of dive centers, hotels and Bedouin camps on the beach. The region is becoming known in the luxury market, due to the recent project Taba Heights, just 19km away from the border - a cosmopolitan development encompassing numerous 5 star hotels, a marina, a casino and an 18-hole championship golf course.

An ideal resort in which to learn to dive, Taba offers warm waters and a calm current, and shallow reefs accessible straight from the beach. There are hard and soft coral reefs, which have remained untouched due to the resort being less crowded than others along the shoreline of the Red Sea, filled with such marine life as rays, moray eels, bream, glassfish, snappers, batfish, seahorses and the unusual frogfish, which are rarely seen elsewhere. Some of the best dive sites in Taba include Pharaohs' Island, the Fjord, the Aquarium, Maxwell’s' and Topaz and Coral City.

Taba was once a rest town for traders using the caravan route to the fort of Aqaba, today is mainly a dream for tourists.

History

Upon the armistice line agreed upon in 1949 Taba was on the Egyptian side of the boarder and was returned to Egypt in 1957 after Israeli withdrawal from Sinai. After the reoccupation of Siani in 1967 the Israel took control of the Sinai Peninsula they began developing the area. The constructed a 400 room hotel. But after October War in 1973 known as Yom Kippur in Israel, negotiations regarding the exact position of the boarder began in preparation of the peace treaty in 1979. The Israeli claimed that Taba was on the Egyptian side by error in the previous treaties between the ottomans and the British mandate authority in Egypt. After a long dispute, an international commission composed of an Egyptian, Israeli and three outsiders ruled in favor of the Egyptian side. According to the agreement Israelis are permitted entry to Taba for 48 hours without a visa. After its return to Egyptian rule Taba witnessed massive developments and it turned to be a popular tourist destination with a variety of hotels and resorts that cater all tourist needs. Between Taba and Nuweiba the huge tourist project - the Egyptian Riviera including Taba Heights - is in constant development, and provides tourists with the most attractive and luxurious accommodation.

Taba highlights

Taba Protected Area

Inland from Taba and Nuweiba is the latest addition to Egypt's national park series. The huge 2800 square kilometer Taba Protected Area is a complex network of wadis and canyons that navigate through the park's granite and sedimentary mountains. Here, years of water and wind erosion have carved out gripping geological monuments. Some of Sinai's most stunning natural spots, like the Colored Canyon, Ein Umm Ahmed and Ein Khudra, are located within the protectorate. History buffs are intrigued as much by the park's ancient rock art of religious symbols and vanished animals, as by it's presumably stone age Nawamis tombs. The most noticeable plant species along the wadis is the thorny acacia tree, but diversity still abounds. Experts have identified as many as 72 different plant varieties in one wadi alone. Within the park thrive gazelle, Nubian ibex and hyrax, as well as large birds like bustards and the Egyptian vulture.

Colored Canyon

One of the natural wonders of the Sinai, the Colored Canyon is awe-inspiring. Take a walk in between dramatic sandstone canyon walls streaked with melting yellows, purples, reds, magentas and gold. In certain places the canyon walls reach up to 40 meters. You feel as if you are enclosed in a spectacular coloring book formed by the natural elements over centuries, the walls of Colored Canyon cascade with colors as a result of ferrous oxide and manganese. Consequently, a natural maze has been formed that is excellent for exploring and taking photographs. A haven of tranquility, Colored Canyon promises its visitors peaceful moments and silence. To ensure your safety, in some areas of the Colored Canyon you will need to be reasonably fit to investigate. Day trips to the Colored Canyon can be arranged from Dahab, Nuweiba, or Taba.

Ein Kid

One of the jewels on the Sinai, Ein Kid is a palm-filled oasis at the end of a pastel colored path. Promising shade and tranquility for every visitor, Ein Kid is the perfect remedy for the stress of urban life. The walk from Wadi Kid to Ein Kid is stunning as you spot the water flowing down from the oasis. The path is flanked by awesome granite boulders hovering, as you ascend into the oasis. You will feel so small in the shadows of these stupendous creations.

When you set your eyes on the oasis, you will be amazed by the contrast of colors created by the desert landscape and the lush trees. Complete with date palms, acacias, and fruit bearing trees, Ein Kid is the ultimate place for an afternoon picnic and a hike. You can organize a day trip or camping trip from Sharm el Sheikh or Dahab.

Abu Galum Protected Area

Abu Galum Protected Area, along the Gulf of Aqaba between Dahab and Nuweiba, is a 500 km2 natural wonderland. Shell speckled gravel beaches run parallel most of the way to the splendid coral reefs below, unless rudely interrupted by plunging mountainsides. Close examination of the beaches will expose masses of Nerita splendors, a tiny snail whose decorative shell blends seamlessly into the pebble mosaic. Inland into the park, deep wadis interlace with massive granite mountains that are intermittently cut by dark dolerite dykes. Out of a total 167 species recently recorded in this environmentally unique region, as many as 44 plant species are endemic. Mammals seem to like this plant diversity. Nubian ibex, hyrax, red fox and striped hyena thrive here, as well as a variety of lizards and snakes, including the black cobra, the horned viper and Burton's carpet viper.

Blue Desert

The most amazing thing about the Blue Desert isn't the blue paint on the rocks, it is the wadi itself - against the backdrop of the legendary blue Sinai sky. Massive granite sculptures and golden boulders cover the desert floor along with beautiful pink flowers dotting the plains. The Blue Desert is a great place for climbing, taking pictures or just getting away from it all. In 1980, Belgian artist Jean Verame came to the Sinai to paint a line of peace. With the permission of Anwar Sadat and a grant of ten tons of paint from the UN, the artist managed to paint four miles of the Sinai. One year later, a stretch between Dahab and St Katherine was blue; hence, the name the Blue Desert.

Ein Umm Ahmad

One of the most precious and lush desert locales in the Sinai is Ein Umm Ahmed. Translated from Arabic, Ein Umm Ahmed means "spring of the mother of Ahmed". This oasis spans along a wadi filled with life. The abundance of fruit trees bearing lemons, olives, figs and dates is overwhelming in this remote location in the desert. A complete vegetable garden with tomatoes, basil and mint is witness to the abundance of water. The oasis is bursting with flora, fauna and birds. The spring and bountiful water supply are a welcome relief for all desert travelers. The oasis of Ein Umm Ahmed is inhabited by local Bedouins, who are always interested in seeing a visitor, have a tea and show off this amazing location. It is advisable to take a guide from either Nuweiba or Dahab to Ein Umm Ahmed, as there are many interesting spots to check out along the way

Monastery of St Katherine

The Monastery of St. Katherine lies at the foot of the Gebel Musa, or Mount Moses, in the heart of the South Sinai. In 330 AD the mother of Emperor Constantine, Empress Helena, ordered the construction of a small church by Moses' Burning Bush. It was called the Church of the Transfiguration. The fortified monastery we see today was built around this church during the reign of Emperor Justinian (527-565 AD).

In the 11th century the monastery was dedicated to St. Katherine of Alexandria, who had died in 310 AD. Her remains, reportedly found by monks on a mountain peak next to Mt Sinai, are buried in the monastery's Basilica.

Fronted by gardens and cypress trees, the monastery is owned and run by the Greek Orthodox Church. Its rich library houses the world's second largest collection of illuminated manuscripts after the Vatican. You can see the Burning Bush and a large number of antique works of art: invaluable icons, beautifully carved doors, exquisite wall paintings and other fine religious ornaments.

Mount Sinai (Gebel Musa)

Mount Sinai, just south of the Monastery of St Katherine, is of great religious importance to Jews, Christians and Muslims. According to the Old Testament this is where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Throughout the centuries the mountain has drawn thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. You can ascend to the summit (2285 m, 7497 ft) to experience the ultimate spiritual high; either by climbing some 4000 steps built by monks or by following an easier but longer path. Both lead to an open area known as Elija's Basin where you walk up the remaining 750 steps to the top. At the summit you will find the Chapel of the Holy Trinity that was built in 1934 on the site of a much earlier chapel built in 363 AD. The climb takes about three hours but the view from the top is truly breathtaking, especially at sunrise.

Diving in Taba

Although not as dramatic as Sharm el Sheikh’s walls or Marsa Alam’s offshore reefs, the Taba coast offer some very rare marine life in an un-crowded environment. Typical to the area, for example, is a rare species of frogfish, and many species of seahorses, hardly found anywhere else in the Red Sea, making a diving holiday in Taba a unique one.

Most of the dive sites in Taba are situated along the Red Sea coast, in the fringing reefs which adorn the Taba shoreline. They are mainly reachable by boat, but some have shore access from the hotel, and others and can be reached by car or jeep. Local dive boats leave every day for day or half-day diving excursions.

The Taba marine area is protected, as many other areas in Egypt, and diving centers here operate under environmental-friendly procedures.

Taba Diving sites:

Three amazing sites are found at Marsa El Mugabilla. The Canyon is a deep dive at a maximum depth of 40 meters - only permitted to Deep Diver Specialty Divers. For the Advanced Open Water divers this is a beautiful 30 meter dive on a multilevel basis. The topography of the site is breathtaking. The shallow part of the dive is full of life with much color and fish life, the deep part is amazing hard coral formations, reminding of a picture from the surface of the moon.

Mugabilla

Major is situated to the left of the Canyon with a maximum depth of 18 meters, suitable for all levels of diver certification from Open Water and above. The topography of the site is breathtaking with schools of Barracuda and Bat fish always seen. Mugabilla Minor offers a shallow dive at a depth of 16 meters. The shallow reef is home to fire corals and many many different varieties of reef fish.

Picasso Reef

200 meters from the shore, is an underwater mountain. The dive leads down to 24 meters to huge table corals some 10 meters across with Eagle Rays and Great Barracuda passing by. On a level of 12 meters, the terrain is full of fish. Among them plenty of Trigger Fish and even the rare and beautiful Picasso Trigger Fish can be seen. At the natural Fjord two sites are found: Fjord the hole. At the depth of 16 meters across a huge coral bed make a 90 degree turn to the left and after and find a huge hole with a maximum depth of 24 meters. After entering the whole rise to 8 meters and watch at a pinnacle rock how the fish from the open sea come to feed on plenty of tiny Glass Fish and Silver Fish. Fjord Banana is a shallow reef in the shape of a banana with much to see. Maximum depth here is 12 meters.

Coral City

It has a deep dive to a maximum depth of 20 meters. Under the boat are huge Brain and Mountain corals supporting many Lion Fish, occasionally Stone fish and tiny Silver and Glass Fish? In this area there are often Jacks and Tuna feeding.

Angel Net

Is another site around 200 meters from the shore to a depth of 26 meters? Beautiful table corals are here, full of life, where huge coral blocks are present.

Sun pool

Sun pool is a Salt water lake next to the sea, but supports no life. A shallow dive, maximum depth of 16 meters to the beautiful shallow reef next to the Sun Pool leads to many Fire Corals growing here. The reef is rich of fish among them Eagle Rays.

Ben Coral

The most beautiful reef is located in front of the Octopus Dive Center and about 250 meters from the shore. This amazing dive site in 12 meters inhabits the most beautiful collection of small Red Sea Banner Fish all swimming together as one. At the deep side of the reef at only 18 meters virtually all the reef fish of the Red Sea can be seen! In the center of the reef there are literally thousands and thousands of Glass fish and Silver fish. Consequently all the hunters from the Open Sea are feeding here. Inside the corals there are many Lion Fish asleep waiting their turn to feed at night. Other fish include many Two Bar Bream and Batfish and with some luck the biggest Giant Sting Ray in this area.

Mediums Reef

A short surface swim is required - a shallow dive leads down to 12 meters where thousands of Glass and Silver fish exist, attracting all the fish from the open sea to hunt here.

Pharaoh Island

Offers 5 dive sites, 3 from the boat and 2 from the Island itself, all are beautiful with a spectacular wall dive.

House Reef

House Reef is easily accessible from the shore and offers a nursery slope for diving perfect for Open Water Training dives and Refresh and Intros.

Activities

Water Activities

In Tuba there is a wide array of water-sports and sea-related excursions to satisfy every taste. Taba beach resorts and camps offer water-skiing, windsurf, kitesurf, glass bottom boats, Hobie cats, snorkeling, parasailing, canoeing, and paddle-boating and, of course, the top of all Red Sea activities: superb scuba diving. Sailing on the “Henry de Manfred", a replica of a 19th century sailing boat, is one of the nicest excursions you can experience in the area. Just imagine to set sail on the azure waters of the Red Sea of an historical sailing boat, to reach pristine islands and coves and snorkel in un-crowded sites. A favorite day snorkeling excursion is the one to the fascinating Pharaoh’s island, a tiny island just off the coast reachable by boat. Here, visitors can enjoy the views of the ancient Ottoman fortress, and swim and snorkel in the impressive coral barrier around the island. Most beaches in Taba are sandy and have easy access, making them perfect for board sports enthusiasts. Prevailing winds are strong enough to ensure some exciting wind and kite-surfing. Local water-sports centers are geared up to offer courses and equipment rental of the best brands.

Land Activities

Taba, set at the feet of imposing, steep, Rocky Mountains, offers the chance to explore the surrounding awesome desert locales. The Sinai here has an amazing topography with a kaleidoscope of colors and rare fauna and flora, and it is extraordinarily rich in history and ancient culture. There is many ways to discover the beauty hidden in valleys and mountains. Whether by camel, truck, 4x4 jeep or quads, desert safaris and day trips take you to unforgettable adventures, guaranteed to take your breath away. Hiking and trekking in the desert is within range of everybody, provided that you go with experienced guides and follow their advice – most excursions to the desert include an easy walk accessible even to the less fit. Hotels and resorts in the area offer as well a number of exciting land activities. Although Taba is essentially “marine”, with its soft sand beaches and many water sports available in all resorts, from scuba diving to kite surfing and windsurfing, it offers also a number of leisure activities on land such as horseback riding, archery, games in multipurpose courts, beach volley, biking, etc. Entertainment Taba is tranquil and made for those who want to get away from it all. Day and evening entertainment is limited to the hotels and resorts facilities and staff. Some hotels might have an animation team, providing beach and pool side activities during the day, and some shows or parties during the night.

Dining

As Taba itself is a tiny village with just a few facilities, dining in Taba is mostly about excellent restaurants in hotels and resorts. Upscale resorts in the area have good á-la-carte restaurants in beautiful settings. The cuisine is international, with a select     ion of dishes and specialties to suit most tastes, but some of the hotels have themed restaurants from one country or the other.

In Taba Heights a dine-around program allows you to sample the restaurants of hotels other than your own. In the other resorts, the cuisine is in general quite good, offering some great candle-lit dining with stunning views in beautiful ambiences. Salima Restaurant is overlooking the beautiful Fjord, a natural bay in outstanding scenery. On Coral Island known now as Gezirat Pharaoh (Pharaoh's Island) the Salah el Din Castle (12 C.E) was restored by the Egyptian Antique Organization. Further south an architectonic jewel, the Castle Zaman, attracts with its natural pool and pub and slow cooked food using Pharaonic recipes

Getting around

Taba itself is an international border settlement. Within less than an hour one can cross from luxury Eilat into the fascinating wilderness of the Sinai. From here service taxis and car rental services provide transportation to the coastal towns of South Sinai.

Since Taba existed only as a small Bedouin village, there was never any real transportation infrastructure. More recently, Al Nakb Airport, located on the Sinai plateau some 35 km from Taba, was upgraded and renamed Taba International Airport (IATA: TCP, ICAO: HETB), and now handles half a dozen charter flights a week from the UK as well as weekly charter flights from Germany, Belgium, France, Holland and the Czech Republic. Since the opening of the Taba airport in November 2000 Taba visiting this part of Sinai became even more attractive.

Many tourists enter via the Taba Border Crossing from Eilat, Israel and a marina has been built in the new Taba Heights development, some 20 km south of Taba, and which has frequent ferry sailings to Aqaba in Jordan, although these are restricted to tourists on organized tours.

Taba Weather and Climate: Seasonal Variations

Taba Weather - Ideal beach destination all year round

It is a simple decision to choose Taba to send your holiday in , as the resort boasts a superb year round sunny climate. Sunbathing, water sports and diving can even be enjoyed in January and February with sea temperatures at an inviting 23c. Rainfall is extremely low and is even considered a novelty by local residents with any likelihood of wet weather, however brief, usually restricted to springtime or autumn. Throughout the year Taba weather will see consistent warm or hot sunshine with clear skies and very welcome cool breezes bringing much needed relief from the heat.

Taba Weather - Endless sunny days and clear skies 

Summertime weather in Taba will invariably enjoy guaranteed sunny days with the possibility of rainfall very rare. During the peak months of July and August, average temperatures will reach 33c seeing around 11 hours of sun daily. It is not uncommon to see the thermometer rising above 40c so extreme care should be taken on shade less beaches or on a desert trip. Taba holidays in May are much more comfortable and are considered a perfect time to visit for many with warm afternoons of around 26c, cool sea breezes and consistent clear blue skies.

Taba Weather - Perfect for low season diving holidays

The terrain surrounding Taba is quite unique in Egypt with parched desert giving way to lush mangroves and marshland. This is due to higher rainfall here than elsewhere in the region and results in slightly higher humidity. However winter rainfall is still exceedingly low with wet weather a minor possibility usually in autumn. Expect temperatures of 16c at the beginning of the year rising to 23c in April with 7 or 8 hours of sunshine. Taba weather is ideal for low season diving holidays with extremely warm seas and a climate perfect for sunbathing and water sports at any time.

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