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Visiting Sinai

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Approaches to the Sinai from Israel and Jordan are covered here. Serious divers and trekkers should acquire the 1:250,000 Sinai Map of Attractions, an English-language tourist map sold at most resorts.

Visas

You can visit part of the peninsula on a free Sinai-only visa, valid for two weeks and covering south Sinai only. If you wish to visit Ras Mohammed, other parts of Sinai’s interior or mainland Egypt, you’ll need a regular visa, which can be obtained upon arrival at Sharm el-Sheikh airport.

Sinai’s climate

Sinai’s climate is extreme. On the coast, daytime temperatures can reach 50°C (120°F) during summer, while nights are sultry or temperate depending on the prevailing wind. In the mountains, which receive occasional snowfall over the winter and the odd rainstorm during spring, nights are cooler – if not chilly or freezing. Outside of winter, you should wear a hat, use high-factor sunscreen and drink four to six litres of water a day (more if you’re trekking) to avoid sunburn and heatstroke. During summer, the heat is likely to make you spend less time on the beach and more time in the water, and to forgo trekking or camel riding entirely.

Security

Although the overwhelming majority of tourists visit Sinai without incident, it is important to be aware of the security situation. Between 2004 and 2006 a series of bomb attacks struck Sharm el-Sheikh, Dahab and Taba, and the risk of further terrorist attacks in the future remains real. It is important to keep up to date with the latest security situation.

Armed Bedouin groups – who often clash with the police – kidnapped several groups of tourists in early 2012 on the roads between Nuweiba, Dahab and St Catherine’s Monastery, although all the tourists were released unharmed within hours. There have also been cases of roadblocks and robberies on these highways, as well as on the Suez–Sharm el-Sheikh road, which is currently unsafe to travel at night – SUVs are particularly at risk.

The situation in northern Sinai is volatile and often violent, and travellers are currently advised to avoid the region.

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