Blog: Road Trip Adventure
One of the most magical places in Egypt, people mostly dream about visiting Marsa Alam, seeing the dolphins in Samadai Dolphin House, and snorkeling in Abu Dabbab. Why don’t they realize this dream you ask? Because Marsa Alam used to be a 12- hour drive from Cairo and, even though Marsa Aalam international airport was opened in 2003, not everyone can afford the plane ticket. However, all this changed with the opening of the new highways all over Egypt, now you can be in Abu Dabbab Beach just after eight hours of leaving your house or hotel in Cairo! We tried this marvelous trip ourselves to give you a road map for a vacation of a lifetime, a vacation that you will definitely want to experience again and again, as Marsa Alam can be addictive. Kindly note though that the sole purpose of this trip was swimming with the dolphins in Samadai Dolphin House, there are a lot more things to do in Marsa Alam but this short trip was all about the dolphins in Samadai and the sea turtles in Abu Dabbab. The road to paradise Google maps said the road should take 8 hours, so I started the trip at 6 am, planning to be at the hotel by check-in time. A lot of people prefer to start these trips earlier, and I might do that in the future, but as it was my first time driving this path I wanted the drive to be in the daylight. A road trip from Cairo to Marsa Alam means driving through Sokhna, Zaafarana, Hurghada, Safaga, and Al Qusiar, to reach your destination. You should take a look at a map of Egypt to check the distance and the roads before leaving. First of all the road is safe, Egypt is safe in general, but this was extra safe, a woman can drive along this road all alone and the worst that could happen to her is get a speeding ticket (guilty as charged) so that was definitely a good start to the trip. As safe as the road is for people it is still a very long drive with some parts surrounded by just the desert and the sea, so make sure to check your car before leaving. Pros of the road other than safety: The mountain views are breathtaking, and you travel by sea for two-thirds of the trip, which means beautiful relaxing views all the way. The first leg of the trip, from Cairo to Hurghada, is a piece of cake. Four to five hours of driving peacefully on a newly paved mountainous highway (Galala Road) with gas stations, side road cafes, and services. This should give you a decent start so try not to stop at this part except for gas. With the stops for gas and coffee, three gas stops, and one coffee break, the road took just the promised eight hours. Cons of the road other than the length: Galala road goes through a mountain, this provides a marvelous view but the altitude might be upsetting for some, especially if they suffer from middle or inner ear problems. The second leg of the road, from Safaga to Marsa Alam is a narrow two-way highway, some might find this scary especially with the twists and turns of driving through mountains. The fact is though you scarcely encounter other cars so it’s not that scary, just don’t drive too fast and stick to the speed limit. After Safaga there are no gas stations until you reach Al Qusair, so make sure to fuel before that stretch of the road. Is Marsa Alam really there? After eight hours of driving you might start thinking that Marsa Alam is just an illusion or a mirage, the city starts to feel more like a dream than a reality, more so when you start encountering hotels that promise they are in Marsa Alam while all they are surrounded by are the desert and the sea. This is because the populated city occupies around a third of its total area, the rest comprises beaches, mountains, and vast desert, with resorts dotting this expanded space. Beach Resorts start more than 50 kilometers north of Marsa Alam and continue all the way to Mount Hamata in the south. They are spaced apart in some areas and stacked together in others, but the whole city is quiet and serene, no place feels crowded there. In addition to being quiet, Marsa Alam is an impressively clean city, everything seems spotless from the pristine beaches to the azure water to the small streets. Everyone you interact with there will probably remind you to keep the beach clean and beware of plastic flying with the wind and tarnishing the sea. You don’t do that of course dear reader so just do as I did “smile and wave!” Finally, Samadai Dolphine house Before leaving Cairo I checked the trips to Samadai Dolphine House, how often in your life can you swim with a pod of dolphins in their natural habitat! Most trips are one and the same, it’s all about finding a good boat with the best professional crew, advanced divers, and experienced snorkeling guides. The trip starts at the marina, and here I have to admit that the rural looking small marina gave me an uneasy feeling, where are the throngs of tourists? I asked myself! This is part of the charm of Marsa Alam, it’s famous for being tranquil, so no one wants to disturb this serenity by building modernly crowded places. Albeit the small marina, the boat I chose was nice, modern, and spotless, and the 40 minute trip to Samadai Dolphin House was fairly easy. We were warned though the trip back won’t be as smooth, as we will be traveling countercurrent. When the boat finally docked at Samadai natural reserve we were instructed on how to proceed. Boats are not allowed to go further, so snorkelers will be taken by zodiac boats while divers should get ready to dive from the ship with the instructor. The zodiac trip was exhilarating, just a few minutes ahead we started to spot dolphins jumping in the water beside us, a lot of dolphins! Zodiacs stopped outside the Dolphin house as they cannot go further, this is the part you have to swim on your own. It is very safe though, even if you can’t swim, as wearing a life jacket is mandatory and every group must have a licensed guide. This is a surreal experience that should not be missed, swimming with wild dolphins in their natural habitat, these are not trained dolphins, they are real, everything is so real that it feels more like a dream your first time, just like Marsa Alam! Back to the boat to take a break, then another round of snorkeling, this time around the coral reefs where the ships dock, at the gate to the Dolphin House. The water is so clear and so blue that you can see all the way to the bottom, with all the fascinating marine life below. Facts about Samadai Dolphine House Marsa Alam The reef is actually called Sha’ab Samadai, the name Dolphin House was first commonly used by the locals for the presence of a permanent family of dolphins. The nickname became as famous as the real name that they have merged into one: Samadai Dolphin House National Park since 2004, the reserve is governed by very restrictive rules, as previously mentioned floating vests are mandatory, and licensed guides. The rare horseshoe-shaped coral reef is 500 meters wide and 900 meters long, making it a very fertile environment for the dolphins that live and move there in very large pods. The site is divided into three areas: Zone A is exclusive for dolphins, Zone B is for snorkeling, and Zone C is where the boats dock, it is also the only zone where diving is allowed. The reserve is only open to visitors from 9 am to 3 pm, that’s why all boats plan their trips accordingly Abu Dabbab Beach: sea turtles dugongs, and crystal clear waters One of the best beaches in Egypt, and one of the best places to spot dugongs and giant sea turtles, a trip to Marsa Alam is not complete without paying a visit to Abu Dabbab. You can find Some hotels along this beach that lies 30 kilometers north of Marsa Alam, but if you are staying someplace else you can enter the public beach for a fee (130 EGP for Egyptians). It is fair to say that Abu Dabbab is one of the most tended public beaches in Egypt, or dare I say the world. The public beach is no different than a five-star hotel private beach, clean with elegant chaise longues and stationed umbrellas. All services and facilities can be found on the beach, whether you are looking for a place to have lunch, have a drink, or take a shower after swimming. Abu Dabbab is considered one of the top diving and snorkeling spots in the world, the water is so clear that you can see all the way to the bottom, for 30 or 40 meters, while snorkeling. Also, the two well-preserved vast coral reefs are rich with diverse marine life, a whole world is going underneath you while you swim. In addition to all that, the sun is nice, the weather is balmy and the water is so warm in the summer, which makes for a perfect swim. If you don’t want to get lost (like I did) I highly advise that you stick to the coastal road while traveling from one point to another in Marsa Alam, the mountainous road doesn’t get good cellular coverage so Google maps can’t offer much guidance all the time. Facts about the sea turtles and dugongs in Abu Dabbab Bay Marsa Alam turtles like leatherbacks and hawksbills feed on jellyfish. That’s why they die from consuming plastic floating in the water, it looks like jellyfish. Large in size with impressive longevity, baby leatherback, and flatback turtles are larger than other adult sea turtle species. They can also live for a hundred years. A mammal that lives on seagrass, The dugong has been on the red list of threatened species and has been considered vulnerable to extinction Since 1990. Dugongs have shorter lives by half compared to sea turtles, they only live for 50 years. Dugongs and sea turtles alike live in Abu Dabbab because of the abundance of seagrass around this reef. Strict measures have been taken to preserve the marine life in Abu Dabbab, boats are not allowed inside the bay now and moorings have been removed. Also, some local seagrass areas are now off-limits to divers and snorkellers, and stepping on or touching the seagrass beds or reefs is prohibited. When to go to Marsa Alam Most tourists think of Egypt as a winter destination, especially the red sea and upper Egypt, and while this may be true when it comes to cities like Luxor and Aaswa, when it comes to the red sea I beg to differ. The weather is perfect during winter of course, and the water is largely warmer than most other countries, but it is still a bit cold and it gets chilly in the desert night. Besides, dolphins get a bit shy from December to March. In summer the weather is perfect, but it can be deceptively balmy. Unlike really hot destinations such as Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada, Marsa Aalam weather feels nice with a light breeze, so if you fry easily take good measures and use lots of sunscreen. The warm water though is worth it, it nearly feels like bathwater, only better. If you want to play it safe though then spring and fall are your ideal time, nice weather, nice water, nice everything. The road back With a sad face and happy memories, I left Marsa Alam, positive that I will visit again. I still need to check Sharm El Luli and Wadi El Gimal, which I had no time to visit on this trip. The road back took me through Al Qusair city and took only 7 hours rather than 8. Allowing for a stop for lunch and another stop for coffee it should take 8 hours to Cairo if you are staying in one of the resorts north of Marsa Alam, add another hour if you are staying at a more southern resort. The road might be long, but Marsa Alam is definitely worth it, so is swimming Samadai Dolphin House, and snorkeling in Abu Dabbab.! To learn more about Marsa Alam see also: Marsa Alam: Explore the Beauty of the Red Sea
Is it now a better time to start planning your next road trip? From stunning natural panoramas to tropical beaches to down-home Texas barbecue, this list has it all. Explore the most unforgettable road trips in the world that you never knew you were missing. Make sure you add them to your travel list. Route 66, USA One of the most unforgettable road trips is the famous Route 66, which was completed in 1926, connecting Chicago and Los Angeles via the heart of America. Today, the road has become as famous as ever. Starting from Chicago and ending in Santa Monica on the outskirts of Los Angeles. It is not surprising that Route 66 has taken centre stage thanks to its spectacular views of 2,448 miles, travelling through the likes of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California, Offering you ideal views to capture photos. Great Ocean Road, Australia The Great Ocean Road (B100) is one of the most popular travel routes in Australia and also one of the unforgettable road trips that you can travel through. Take the travellers on an incredible breakthrough pocket of rainforests, tranquil coastal towns and under tree-shade trees. Attractions include limestone cliffs and dairy farms, and travellers can get close and personal through the strong waves in the Southern Ocean. Ruta, Argentina Ruta 40 is one of Argentina's longest highways (3,100 miles long) and is one of the world's most unforgettable road trips. It runs through 20 national parks, climbs 28 mountains and crosses 18 major rivers. Blue Ridge Parkway, USA Blue Ridge Parkway is a 469-mile long strip running across Virginia and North Carolina. It spans the southern and central Appalachian Mountains, offering exceptional views of regional flora and fauna and is renowned for its biodiversity and wildlife. Sites along Whitewater Falls and Mount Mitchell include the highest mountain peak in the eastern United States. Finger Lakes Highways, USA In western New York, the hills are cut by 11 long narrow bodies of water called Finger Lakes. The area is known as an outdoor paradise (in addition to the state's main wine-growing area). The area also has beautiful scenic drives and to the west, Keuka Lake is bordered by two small government parks that are particularly attractive. Valley of Fire Road, USA Served in the state-of-the-art Valley of Fire Park, a 40,000-acre area of bright red Aztec sandstone, this vast desert road runs its way miles from the expansive landscape. This is really one of the most spectacular and unforgettable road trips around the world. Ring Road, Iceland Also known as Route 1, the ring road was completed in 1974 and encircles the island to connect most of the country's populated areas. Leading to some of the country's best tourist attractions, such as the Seljalandsfoss Falls, Skógafoss and Jökulsárlón Glacier, and the route has seen increasing numbers of visitors over the last 10 years. Trollstigen, Norway Part of the Norwegian Scenic Road strolls Trollstigen (Route 63) through the 11 hairpin curve during its climb to Stigrøra (858 metres above sea level). The mountain crosses certain places and includes a natural stone bridge across the Stigfossen waterfall. The road is the result of the 100-year-old engineering work that offers stunning views. A popular choice for visitors to Norway. Icefields Parkway, Canada Top Road In North America, the Park field Icefields in Alberta take travellers as close as possible to reach the Rocky Mountain peak in the car. The roadside stations provide an opportunity to enjoy the sparkling glacier lakes, waterfalls and observation points of Parkway. Cabot Trail, Canada Walking on the Cabot Trail is Nova Scotia's most famous leisure activity. And the road takes visitors along winding roads and tranquil lakes, making it one of the most unforgettable road trips around the world. West Coast & Milford Sound, New Zealand On the west coast, you will encounter glaciers, beaches and rainforests, in a country so picturesque that you can stand in the middle of the earth. The 75-mile trip from Te Anau to Milford Sound along Milford Road is undoubtedly a magnet. This winding road takes you to the National Park of Fordingland, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is also the largest national park in New Zealand. Passing highlights including Mirror Lakes and The Chasm, but in fact, it is the epic mountain landscape that makes driving very distinctive. Milford Sound is the final destination of the Milford Road, a beautiful strait of the Miter Peak, a stunning mountain rising straight out of the water. You can see this better by doing a boat tour at Milford Sound. Cyprus Cyprus is the candidate for one of the unforgettable road trips in the world. Many roads dot the stunning coastline, providing great views of the deep Mediterranean Sea. As you drive from the beaches of Ayia Napa in the east to Paphos in the west, the ancient ruins form wonderful stops along the way for any lover of history. History, not your thing? Head to the Troodos Mountains to do some hiking and explore part of Cyprus that most people never see. Do not forget many wineries in Cyprus, one of the most wine regions in Europe. Finally, do not forget to stop in the capital of Nicosia (also called Lefkosa in Turkish) to walk across the border from the southern (Greek) side to the north side (Turkish) for a completely different perspective. Also, you can read: 7 Things to do for the perfect road trip Travel checklist: The best travel advice you will ever get
If you are a free spirit with a soul that craves adventure then you might want to consider a road trip. The perfect road trip is where you will get to create unforgettable memories, ones that will definitely last for a lifetime. There is nothing exciting like a starting an adventure and exploring the world. Here is what you need to know to plan for the perfect road trip, a trip that will definitely refresh your soul and restore your faith in adventure. Prepare an epic playlist When the road is long, nothing makes it more fun and entertaining than a playlist of the latest hits and the music you and your buddies enjoy listening to. The trick here is to know how long the road will take and create a very long playlist so you and your friends don’t get bored from listening the same songs over and over again. Smart Packing The perfect road trip requires a different kind of packing. Besides your clothes and shoes; you should carry first-aid kit, spare tires, mobile charger, jumper cables to jump-start the car in case it dies as well as food, sodas, cold water and your favorite treats from chocolates, nuts and whatever makes your trip twice the fun. Plan ahead your stops You got to have some fresh air otherwise boredom will just get to you and your friends. Before hitting the road, study the route and its stops so you know ahead of time when and where you are going to recharge your batteries to keep going for a while more till your next stop. Capture every moment Road trips are the perfect opportunity to make memories and capture the beauty of the world around you. If you are travelling between countries or cities; then you should stop and do some sightseeing; dine there and have an authentic experience. Capture as many pictures as you can for the place, you and your friends! It is in these trips when you know you are creating everlasting memories. Get your car checked To avoid any unfortunate events and to make sure your road trip goes as planned, you better run a full car check before taking to the road. It's better to do this weeks before your road trip so as to give it a trial and try it out first before officially starting your trip. Don’t forget your camping gear Road trips are all about stepping out of your comfort zones, exploring the world around you and just having the adventure of a lifetime. Hence, make sure to pack your camping gear from tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, air mattresses and more. If you are traveling for days, instead of staying at a motel or a hotel; you can consider becoming one with the nature and just have a perfect night sleep under the stars. Prepare games Bored with music! Then games are your second option to opt for as they will keep you entertained during your road trip. There are plenty of road trip games that you will actually enjoy such as singing games, movie games, the name game…etc. If you do all this, you'll get the perfect road trip that you dream of, all you have to do is to plan well for a memorable journey. Also, read: Unforgettable Road Trips: 12 Road Trips you should not miss
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