The Blue hole - a dive site first and foremost :)

Red Sea, Egypt

"The Red Sea is a corridor of marvels - the happiest hours of my diving experience have been spent there". Jacques Cousteau, undersea explorer and the father of the silent world

"Have you ever swam out in the sea and not been able to see the bottom? All you can feel is the freezing cold water beneath your feet, all you see is dark blue water extending to infinity.

The Blue hole, Dahab
Imagine for one second descending into the blue, deeper and deeper with every kick and breath. The adrenaline kicks in and as the pressure builds, water compresses your chest. You’re scared, but there is something strangely inviting about the descent that makes it feel like you’re travelling to the center of the Earth. Looking ahead and all around you can see only a wall that drops for meters into the blackness below, and it is inviting, alluring. Welcome to the world of blue holes." - Linda, the sea explorer.
There are a number of blue holes across the globe, but only a few are frequented by divers. One of the five best in the world is Dahab's Blue hole. 

The Blue hole, Dahab
Dahab's Blue hole is located about 15 minuts outside of town by car. What you will see is a large crater style hole along the edge of the reef wall. It is a kind of submarine cave around 130 m deep. There's a shallow opening, around 6 m deep, known as "the saddle", going out to the see. Also tunnel which lies at a depth of 56m, known as  "the arch", 26m long. Tech divers come from all over the world to dive the Arch - a very challenging dive. 

(video: The first no fins, no suit freedive through the Arch, a 30m long tunnel connecting Dahab's Blue Hole to the Red Sea at a depth of 55m - William Trubridge, the world record holder in unassisted freediving)

Even though the wind and waves of the Red Sea can be rough, the Blue Hole is sheltered by reef and all you feel is a weak surface current, if any disturbance at all. The visibility is always in excess of 15 metres and on shore you will find toilets, change rooms and a selection of café-like restaurants serving hot lemon, bedouin tea and a delicious meal after a good day of freediving and snorkling.

Excellent conditions and depths make Dahab's Blue hole one of the world's famous dive sites and a magnet for freedivers.

In the 1960's, the Red Sea was famed by Jacques Cousteau - french inventor, engineer, explorer, naturalist, poet, and father of the undersea world. The story says that the entrance to the Blue hole was created by Captain Cousteau dynamiting the reef to get his ship in.

The Blue Hole, Dahab
The Blue Hole, Dahab
Dahab, The Blue hole
All in a must dive and snorkling site, you can not miss while in Dahab :)

Postcards from Dahab

Dahab means

magical landscape...

beautiful Red sea..

constant winds for windsurfing..

sunny chill-out  beaches..

amazing coral gardens and stunning reefs..

sweet friendly dogs..

great atmosphere and sheesha..

camels, cause camels belong to Dahab :)..


unique underwater world..

romantic sunsets..

adventure in the desert..

total rest and relaxation..

love :)

Is Egypt safe to visit now?

"I'm planing to visit Egypt in mid August.. Is it safe in Egypt now? What is the latest situation there. If it is relativly safe, then I will proceed with my bookings...Thank you very much!"

Is Egypt safe? I have been getting this question frequently for the last couple of weeks now. So I thought I'd share my answer with you all here :)

Egypt is perfectly safe and especially Sinai! I can assure you, you will be most welcomed as a tourist by all Egyptians.

Most of the Europian embassies's recommendation is "avoid public gatherings and disturbances", and this is a very good advice no matter where you travel. Also you should carry some form of photographic ID at all times. 

This year, I spent whole april and 1st half of may in Cairo and Dahab - Sinai, experienced no problems whatsoever, had a wonderful time and fell in love with Egypt once again :) 

Honestly, if you are looking to avoid the crowds, this is a great time to visit Egypt. According to the Washington Post, tourism is down 80% compared to last year.So if seeing Egypt has always been your dream, this is a good time to turn the dream into reality. 

And at the end I'll quote Jon Taylor from World Travel Man : "Go to Egypt. That's an order. Stop reading and go!" xD

Sinai adventure: Saint Catherine's Monastery - "where Moses spoke to God"

Saint Catherine’s monastery in the Sinai Desert is one of the oldest constantly working monasteries in the world, a place of uninterrupted prayer and worship since its founding in the 6th century. 
St. Catherine's Monastery
St. Catherine's was built on the site where Moses saw the burning bush and original still grows here today. Above the monastery is Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments from God. Because God spoke to Moses in these places, this area is sacred to three world religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. 

The monastery itself is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

View of St. Catherine's from the mountains above

The geographical locations of these biblical events are not known and a wide variety of theories have been offered by scholars. No particular evidence supports the site on which the monastery is built nor for the peak identified as Mount Sinai. However, the attachment of early Christian monks to these sites is not without significance.

In the early 4th century, St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, built the Chapel of the Burning Bush at the site where Moses is supposed to have seen the miracle.

View from outside the heavily fortified walls of St. Catherine's Monastery
The fortified walls were built around the chapel by the Byzantine emperor and great church-builder Justinian (who also commissioned the Hagia Sophia) starting in 527. The Church of the Transfiguration was completed by Justinian's workers in the 560s, around the time of his death.

The Basilica of the Transfiguration, the main church of the monastery. It was constructed in 527 and commissioned by Emperor Justinian.
The monastery's actual name is the Monastery of the Transfiguration, but it later became associated with St. Catherine of Alexandria, a 3rd-century martyr whose head and hand were brought here for safe keeping in the 10th century. St. Catherine's Monastery became a major pilgrimage destination in the Byzantine Era and it still is today.

Mount Sinai is also revered by Muslims as Jebel Musa (Mount Moses), the place where God handed down his Law. In 623, a document signed by the Prophet Muhammad himself, the Actiname (Holy Testament), exempted the Christian monks of St. Catherine's from the usual taxes and military service and commanded that Muslims provide the community with every help. In recognition of this gesture, the St. Catherine's monks permitted the conversion of a small Crusader chapel within the monastery to a mosque between 1101 and 1106 during the Fatimid Caliphate (909-1171).

The Fatimid mosque
Close to the monastery church is a bright, white tower. This is the minaret of the only mosque within a monastic enclosure. The Fatimid Mosque, still used by the monks, Bedouin grounds-keepers and neighbors, was in regular use until Mameluke rule in the later 13th century, when it was neglected until its restoration in the early 20th century. It must be one of the oldest mosques in the world. 

Side view of the Basilica of the Transfiguration, from near the tower
In 2002, the area centering on St. Catherine's Monastery was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO because of Mt. Sinai's importance in three major world religions, the natural environment of the area and St. Catherine's historic architecture and art.

If you ask me, absolutely the most impressive at St. Catherine's is the library :) It is  the oldest library in the Christian world and preserves the second largest collection of early codices and manuscripts in the world (outnumbered only by the Vatican Library). Its collection includes more than 3000 manuscripts and more than 5000 early religious books.
The library at Saint Catherine's Monastery
The library also has a precious collection of more than 2000 icons of Christ, Mary and the saints, displayed in a special gallery. These represent almost every school of Byzantine iconography from the 6th to the 18th century.

Mountain landscape near St. Catherine's Monastery

Many visitors to St. Catherine's Monastery also make the hike (or the camel ride) to the summit of Mount Sinai (2285m), a.k.a. Mount Moses or Mount Horeb. This is identified as the mountain where Moses received the Tablets of the Law from God. The main route to the summit is known as the Path of Moses (Arabic:Sikket Sayidna Musa) and is lined with remains of various chapels.

This spectacular place definitely deserves a place in your trip -holiday list and for sure prepare to be dazzled:)

Egyptian makeup style or story about one & only KOHL :D

In today's world, a woman has literally hundreds of cosmetics to choose from, with a wide variety od colors and uses. But did you ever wonder how cosmetics got started and when?

The earliest historical record of makeup comes from the 1st dynasty od Egypt. Makeup was the single most important part of Egyptian culture.

They used many different kind of makeup: eye liner, lipstic, henna but eye makeup is one of the most noticeable features of this ancient kingdom's style. It had a long history in Ancient Egypt and both men and women were using it as early as 4000 BC. It was known that an eye without make up was an unprotected eye (an "evil eye"). 

Eye makeup was consisted of just eye liner and some powder that they brushed under their eyes. The favorite eye liner colors were black (kohl) and green. They decorated their eyes by applying dark green colour to the under lid and blackening the lashes and upper lid with kohl. It is believed that the Jews adopted the use of makeup from the Egyptians, since references to the painting of faces appear in the New Testament section of the Bible.
All makeup was made of natural materials. The black eye liner - kohl was obtained from galena - blue gray natural mineral, found and mined in the eastern dessert at Gebel el Zeit. The green eye liner was made from malachite - carbonat mineral with green pigment, which was imported from copper mines of the Sinai Desert. 

There were planty of reasons for using make up in Ancient Egypt: kohl shieled eye against the sun and also acted as a detterent to flies, galena - which made the kohl - had disinfectant qualities, and of course purely cosmetics reasons - make up really emphasized the eyes and made them look more beautiful. 

The Egyptian style of applying eye makeup has become synonymous with the Ancient Egyptians and today we are using kohl as a modern  version of ancient cosmetics ingrediance :) 

Sinai adventure: The temple of Turquoise lady

Sinai is recently one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world and hugely popular with foreign tourists as a major beach destination of the Egypt. But if you think  that fantastic beaches, year-round sunshine and beautiful clear blue waters are all you can find here, you are wrong :)

Legend says that long long time ago, in ancient Egypt, there was a goddess of sun, music, arts, sky and activities. Her name was Hathour. Sinai was thought to be the place where Hathour put the seeds of her beauty to grow up into unlimited glorious beauty among the high mountains and throughout the narrow valleies.
Pharao Sneferu of the 4th dynasty was the first to make expeditions to the Sinai and they found turquoise. By 3500 bc, the great turquoise veins of Serabit el Khadem had been discovered. 
The first proper temple at this location, used by the miners, was built during the Middle Kingdom. In the new kingdom, the facility was enlarged. Hathour was also called the "Lady of the turquoise" and she became the patron goddess of miners.

The Egyptian largely depended on inspiration to find gems and metals as there was little technology. And the inspiration  was coming from the dreams in "Sleep chambers" at the temples of the Sinai. 
The miner leaders would pray for signs and wait for a dream to tell them where to dig next. As the revenues from the Sinai miners were considerable, the cult of Hathour quickly spread to the banks of the Nile upon the triumphant return of the miners.
The barren top of Jebel Serabit el Khadim…
The pharaonic mining complex of Serabit el Khadem lies into a deepest Sinai, on a small plateau, not far from modern El Tor, the capital of Sinai, which  is about three hours drive from Dahab. 
Today, it is not difficult to reach the ancient turquoise mines, off course with a jeep and a knowledgeable guide. 
Where there are several turquoise mines
Look inside
But the temple of Hathor is situated at the top of a mountain range and one must climb up a long series of steps to the top and then trek back along mountain ridges.
The path up to the top passes several Pharaonic inscriptions

It takes about two hours for the average person to reach the temple, and finally you can't stop asking yourself: how they managed to build a temple at the top of a mountain?!
Temple of Hathor, Serabit el Khadim
The temple at Serabit el Khadem is one of the few pharaonic monuments of the Sinai, and the only temple we know of built outside mainland Egypt.Although many of the hyrogliphics were destroyed by a British attempt to reopen the mines in the mid 19th century, along the path to the temple are a number of engravings that were written by the ancient minors. 
Hieroglyphic tablet of the reigning Pharaoh above the mine
Some of the most interesting portray the ships that would carry the turquoise to Egypt. In the 1905, Flinders Petrie ("Researches In The Sinai") investigated the site, and found the famous proto - Sinaitic script, which is believed to be an early precursor of the alphabet.
Temple of Hathor
The surrpunding area of Serabit el Khadem is more than intersting and had a rugged beauty. The local tribes are responsible for protecting the site from looting and are open to assisting tourists. 
As a touristic destination, Serabit el Khadem trip is more a trek adventure than a pure pharaonic sightseeing tour. What you will need is a lots of water - as there is none to be found along the road and Indiana Jones' hat ;)

References: The temple and mines at Serabit el Khadem in the Sinai by Jimmy Dunn,
            The complete temples of Ancient Egypt by Richard H. Wilkinson.