Difference between revisions of "Nuweiba"
Revision as of 16:57, 30 January 2013
Nuweiba means, “bubbling springs” in Arabic. The 7-km long stretched settlement developed from a barren isolated place with no infrastructure into a promising and attractive tourist destination. Nuweiba was recently discovered by tourist investors establishing hotels along the coastline connecting it with Taba in the north and Dahab in the south.
The city is divided into three parts. From southward you'll find the port, the city, and Tarabin, the Beduin camp and beach strip where most backpackers stay. Nuweiba city lacks a center, but has a small strip of cheap restaurants, an internet cafe, and some souvenir shops. Along the beach in the city some resorts and more upscale camps are located.
To the north, between Tarabin and Taba, you'll find even more basic camps than you'll get in Tarabin. All these camps were struck hard by the lack of Israeli tourism after the Taba/Ras Shaitan bombings in 2004 and the later Sharm and Dahab bombs. The places that used to rely on Israeli visitors can seem almost dead and you have a high chance of solitude by the beach in this area.
Ferries run regularly from Nuweiba across to Aqaba in Jordan, bypassing Israel and the sometimes complicated border arrangements. Generally there is no visa fee for entering Jordan through Aqaba since it is a part of the free trade zone. The line to Aqaba is operated by ABMaritime, see their website for the 'official' timetable and current prices.
There is more information about the boat crossing in the itinerary Ferries in The Red Sea
Buses are operated by East Delta coaches. This is basically a shabby bus that goes to many places including Cairo, Dahab and Sharm el Sheikh. The prices are very cheap (about 50p) but the buses are really not that good. They are ok if you are going to sleep a lot of the way. It is not just a bus for tourists it is also a local bus service so ladies be sure to cover up to a certain amount.
The bus trip from Cairo to Nuweiba takes at least 7 hours. Don't believe the information about 5 hours - it's 670 km, two stops for toilets and tea, several stops for taking up and dropping passengers and at least two military checkpoints at the coastline where they check the passports and visas. So don't forget to bring it with you, identity cards will bring you into a short police interview (the bus will wait for you fortunately).
Tickets form Cairo should be booked in advance, the central bus terminal is called Turgoman and is located near the Ramsis Railwaystation. Unfortunately you can only book one-way. Tickets from Nuweiba are sold at the East Delta Company bus terminal. No reservation is possible. If you stay at a camp between Nuweiba and Taba, you can simply wait by the roadside and wink the driver to stop. You will then be able to purchase your ticket during the short stop in Taba.
By bus to St. Catherine: as of the end of October 2011, there is a regular, twice weekly, minibus service to and from St. Catherine. The Bedouin Bus runs on Wednesday and Sunday and costs 50LE each way. Check the website for details on pick-up and drop-off points in Nuweiba and St. Catherine.
The majority of travellers arrive by ferry or bus to the port. If you are coming from Taba/Cairo you could ask the bus driver to let you off by the hospital. From the port you'll have to find a taxi to the city or Tarabin. It should not be more than 5-10 LE, but as taxis are often scarce, prices will be inflated. Negotiate hard.
Between the city and Tarabin distances are coverable by foot. If you're let off by the hospital it's a twenty minute walk to the beginning of Tarabin.
There are only a few ways that you can get around in Nuweiba. One is the blue and white taxis. Although you can get just white taxis, stick only to the blue and white and also try and make a mental note of the drivers taxi license, which should be on clear display, and his taxi number, which should be on the drivers side of the taxi. If the driver is good and charges a good price then try and take his number as taxis can sometimes be hard to come by in a small place such as Nuweiba.
The sunrise in the east, rising over the hijaz mountain-range of Saudi Arabia and the aqaba gulf is probably the most spectacular sight in this area. Otherwise, the area is low on historic sights, but offers plenty of interesting mountain landscapes. Trekking with camels can be organised from the beach in Tarabin, otherwise, an early morning walk northwards to Red Rock (small red mountain clips by the sea) is possible (about 1 hr).
The city of Nuweiba is new and built in concrete. The Bedouin village in Tarabin holds little of interest except seeing how settled Bedouins live in modern Egypt. Apart from this, you might enjoy ship-spotting from the beach.
Apart from hanging out at the beach, Nuweiba offers diving and snorkeling from the camps and hotels. A small reef is located south of Tarabin, otherwise better snorkeling and diving is found at Ras Shaitan (Devils Head), a short car ride north of Tarabin. Other great scuba diving sites just a short drive from Nuweiba include South Cove a few kilometers to the north.
Short or longer camel treks can be arranged from the Bedouins at Tarabin. You can just ride along the beach or go into the mountain interior. A fair price would be 25 LE per hour.
Most of the camps and hotels also organize treks to the Colored Canyon and a smaller Canyon trek closer to Nuweiba. If you are in a group the price should be about 50-100 LE per person, maybe 400-500 LE for a 4WD to the Colored Canyon. This is considerably much cheaper than Dahab and Sharm.
Reserve at least a few days before you arrive if you want to spend a day at Castle Zaman. On a hill just north of town, it serves as an oasis for trekkers and campers in the area. You can spend a relaxing day on a bean bag seeing an amazing view of the gulf and 4 countries. Some of the features are a sauna, a good bar with cocktails, lunch/dinner, and a swimming pool that blends nicely in the nature of the area. http://www.castlezaman.com/
There is a a cluster of small shops along Tarabin beach selling souvenirs and artifacts. Items of special interest are handmade Bedouin rugs and silver, which are cheaper here than in the tourist shops in the larger cities.
The camps and hotels runs their own restaurants, and mostly serve the standard travellers diet of pasta, pizza, pancakes and some kebab and burger varieties. Fresh fish from the Red Sea are also served in most of these places.
Nuweiba is a bad place for discos and bars, but you'll find beer and Egyptian wine and liquors at a licensed store by the port. Otherwise, the resorts and some of the camps have alcohol.
Travelers can choose from the resorts and upscale camps in Nuweiba Port, City and Tarabin or the more basic camps at the "hippie beaches" north of Nuweiba. Some cheap, dirty hotels are located by the port.
The places at the Tarabin beach strip all offer more or less the same concept: relaxed atmosphere, huts and beach access. Most camps are within a range of 500m of each other. If you're tight on budget start comparing and bargaining, it's worth the hassle.
The camps and resorts in the city are all located along the beach.
North of Nuweiba
Drugs, particularly marijuana, are widely available in Nuweiba and famously cheap. This does not make them legal, so consider very carefully if you want to risk at best large fines and at worst lengthy prison terms in Egypt's notoriously squalid prisons before indulging.
Women travellers are pretty safe in Nuweiba. As a matter of courtesy to the local customs, even though you will see quite a few girls with short skirts and tight t-shirts, please respect the fact that Egypt is a conservative country, and dress appropriately in the city (at the beach a bikini is no problem).