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I’m a proud PADI AmbassaDiver + this post is brought to you by PADI.

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After three exotic weeks exploring Egypt (and alliterating, apparently), it was time for one final adventure: a camel diving safari to the remote Bedouin settlement of Ras Abu Galum.

I know what you’re thinking. How the heck do you get a dive mask on a camel?! Believe me, it was my very first question, too.

Diving in Ras Abu Galum

Staying Overnight in Ras Abu Galum

Turns out, the camels don’t dive with you — missed opportunity, I know — but rather transport you to the very special area of Ras Abu Gallum Protectorate, a gem so hidden along the Sinai coast, it doesn’t even get a shoutout in my Lonely Planet, yet covers four hundred square kilometers of coastline between Dahab and Nuweiba. In fact, it was from the top of a camel, with tanks strapped across the humps on exploratory missions from Dahab, that divers first discovered the teeming reefs of this region.

They were tipped off to the tropical treasures beneath the surface by Bedouins of the Mizena tribe, who live within the protectorate and have been sustaining themselves off riches from the reefs here for centuries. Today, some of these enterprising fishermen have built basic camps, welcoming wanderers like ourselves to go back in time and live simply, for a while.

Camel Ride to Ras Abu Galum

Camel Ride to Ras Abu Galum

Camel Ride to Ras Abu Galum

Our trip started from Dahab, where Kat and I had enthusiastically planned our journey with our new friends and underwater spirit guides, the crew at PADI dive center H2O Divers Dahab.

The journey is half the joy when it comes to Ras Abu Gallum, and getting there by camel — or by your own two feet — puts you in perfect laid-back mindset to really melt right in upon arrival. After a quick taxi to the end of the road at the Blue Hole, H20 will load up a set of well-loved camels with tanks, dive gear, and everything else you’ll need for the next two days, and off you go along the coast.

Camel Ride to Ras Abu Galum

I won’t lie: camel riding is a little scary. I’d forgone camel riding in Giza as the camels there seemed a bit, well, sad, and I didn’t really feel right about it. But these desert camels seemed to have a pretty sweet life, as far as camel lives go, and after a brief chat with mine I felt pretty good about the whole arrangement.

However, I quickly sensed that my affections weren’t quite being returned. I had hoped, in my mind, that camels would be like lumpy-shaped, overgrown puppy dogs, posing for selfies together and vying for the love and attention that I’d happily lavish upon them. Not so.

Camel Ride to Ras Abu Galum

Camel Ride to Ras Abu Galum

Camels, it turns out, have more in common with cats than dogs — disapproving, unimpressed, and perhaps even a touch judgmental. I started to think my camel may have even enjoyed teetering towards the edge of particularly narrow passages along the path, leaning ever so slightly over the waters’ edge until I let out a panicked squeal.

My dream of being best friends with a camel like a princess-from-a-Disney-movie-with-an-animal-kingdom-sidekick dashed, I settled for basking in what felt like time travel — going back to those early days when the Red Sea was still being discovered by boat-less divers who used camels to explore unmapped coastline untouched by road. And I could see what kept drawing them further into the wild desert — red mountains, dramatic sand dunes, and wind-swept beaches all crossed our path.

Camel Diving Trip to Ras Abu Galum

Eventually, a broad peninsula dotted with simple huts appeared. “Ras Abu Gallum,” our dive guide Jenny confirmed with a nod.

Jenny apologized that she wasn’t really the Ras Abu Gallum expert of the H20 Divers team — that honor goes to Frank, who we heard rave reviews of — but we’d requested her specifically after having so much camera fun altogether during our dives around Dahab earlier that week. Plus, #PADIwomen girl power and all that — a joke we took even further by mock requesting only female camels, something Kat and I found side-splittingly hilarious and everyone else seemed to look at us like crazy people for.

Luckily, not an unfamiliar feeling.

Supermarket in Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

Hut in Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

After dropping our things in a shelter with the lovely, hospitable family who ran our desert camp, we set off to explore. When discussing the trip, Kat and I continually referred to it as “glamping.” “Oh, we won’t need accommodation that night,” we’d say. “We’ll be glamping.”

Turns out we kind of oversold it to ourselves. The sand-floored lean-tos were little more than shelter from the sun and wind. A bathhouse out behind the camp housed one preciously flushable toilet and a dribbled cold water shower. There was no electricity, no wifi or cell service, and no locks on the doors.

It was perfect.

Camel in Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

Tires in Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

Hut in Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

Camel in Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

Look, I’ve had some very glam camping experiences — in New Yorkin Thailandin Peru, and at festivals all over the world. They are fun and frivolous and I hope to have many more of them. But I loved that this was unapologetically authentic, born of tradition and necessity, not the desire to be an Instagram backdrop.

The rest of the camps in the area had a similar vibe and aesthetic, with a few standing out as particularly funky, with Burning Man-esque installations and murals created by past guests. After a brief walk, we’d lapped the entire settlement. No surprise, as Ras Abu Gallum is home to just a few families.

Overnight Trip to Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Overnight Trip to Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

A baby camel drew us in to what we gathered was named Peace Camp (our camp, in what a PR marketing executive enamored with the idea of speakesies might call genius, appeared to have no name at all), which was the busiest of the bunch — as in, they had guests at all — and we returned there a few times to say hi (to the humans, not the baby camel, but maybe also kind of both.)

Peace Camp was enthusiastically run by a young Bedouin who spoke perfect Hebrew to his group of exclusively Israeli guests, who were very excited to hear I was headed to Israel in just a few short days. At least I think they were excited — it was kind of hard to establish a group pulse when they were all too stoned to vary their facial expressions or vocal intonations, but, I mean, I presume they were pumped.

Camel Diving Trip to Ras Abu Galum

Hippie Camp at Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

Camels in Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

I was very grateful for our brief time at Peace Camp, however, for it opened my eyes to a chapter of history I hadn’t known existed. When I marveled to Jenny that the Bedouin host had spoken such fluent Hebrew, she gave me a look similar to the one my camel had been giving me earlier that day.

What can I say! I never seem to absorb history until I’m in a place, which is how I now know that the Sinai Peninsula was actually part of Israel for over twelve years, first seized during the 1967 Six-Day War and later returned to Egypt in stages beginning in 1979 as part of the Israel–Egypt Peace Treaty. Who knew! (Other than Jenny, those with basic knowledge of Middle Eastern history, my camel… okay, never mind.)

Camel Diving in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

In addition to history lessons, another thing I wasn’t expecting, based on our remote location, was the gorgeous food we were served at every meal. Fresh, healthy, and as always in Sinai, served with the biggest smile.

Food in Ras Abu Galum, Egypt

Desert Camp in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Believe it or not, Dahab is so magnetic that only a tiny percentage of its divers make the journey to Ras Abu Gallum every year, leaving the reefs in pristine condition. Those who do come tend to make the most of it, cramming at least four dives into an overnight stay. Because Kat was flying out of Sharm El Sheikh the next evening, we planned just two dives on our first day, and a morning snorkel our second.

I confess that I’d actually thought, while planning, whatever — two dives is surely more than enough there. How wrong I was! The diving was in fact so spectacular I have a whole post about it coming up next.

Scuba Diving in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Scuba Diving in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Scuba Diving in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Scuba Diving in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Jellyfish in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Scuba Diving in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

That said, our more relaxed dive plan left us plenty of time for what I think is an essential element to the place: relaxing. We laughed and played with the local kids as they splashed into the water when we emerged from a dive. We lay out on the rest area in front of our camp, letting the sun dry the chilly droplets from our skin. We drew shapes in the sand with our toes.

We watched the stars and drank wine we’d packed from Dahab and chatted with Jenny about expat life in a diving town. And finally we slept, deeply and contentedly, the way you do after a day full of incredible adventures.

Snorkeling in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Drone Aerial View of Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Scuba Diving in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

The next morning we soaked up our last fleeting hours of Egypt together — Kat was soon headed back to the UK, and after one more night back in Dahab, I was on my way to Israel. We snorkeled in the reef right offshore from our camp, ate more beautiful food, took a few more lazy naps, and packed up to head back to reality.

Scuba Diving Trip to Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Drone Aerial View of Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Drone Aerial View of Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Snorkeling in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Snorkeling in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

When we’d first arrived, and Jenny had told us some hippie travelers would post up in Ras Abu Gallum for a week or more, I’d gasped. Just over twenty-four hours later, I kind of got where they were coming from.

I can sincerely say I can’t think of a better note to have ended my time in Egypt on. It was here that I knew with absolute certainty that the next Wander Women Retreat would be in Dahab — I couldn’t not bring you all here, after experiencing it for myself.

And as I started to daydream that retreat, I knew it would end exactly like this trip had: looking for shooting stars and starfish in Ras Abu Gallum.

Drone Aerial View of Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Snorkeling in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Snorkeling in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Want to do it yourself? Here are a few fast facts to help get you there.

Cost of a Trip to Ras Abu Gallum

To head to Ras Abu Gallum with H20 Divers, pricing varies depending on what gear you’ve packed and how many total dives you’re doing with H2O — in Dahab and afield — but you can expect to pay around $25USD per dive, and around $120USD for the overnight trip, which includes all transportation, accommodation, meals, and non-alcoholic drinks.

While you can do this as a day trip for $60USD (by boat or by camel), I can’t imagine why you would. Staying overnight is just magical.

And don’t forget cash to tip. We tipped 400EGP (about $25USD) to the family that hosted us in Ras Abu Gallum for the camel ride and the camping, and went wild and tipped Jenny 1000EGP (about $55USD) for taking such great care of us.

Camel Riding in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Getting to Ras Abu Gallum

Ras Abu Gallum, like most places worth going, is not easy to get to. If you insist on traveling by road from Dahab, you’ll be making quite the journey — driving the hour north to Nuweiba, then doubling back along the coast with an off-road jeep for two more. A speedboat from Dahab is more direct, and takes about an hour.

But I recommend heading on foot — or hoof. A thirty minute taxi to the Blue Hole followed by a sixty to ninety minute hike or camel ride north will deliver you straight to paradise.

Where to Stay and Eat in Ras Abu Gallum

Well, you’re not going to be booking a place to stay on Tripadvisor! It’s my understanding that the vast majority of travelers who visit Ras Abu Gallum do so with a dive shop or travel agency that has a longstanding relationship with one of the Bedouin families in the area — and they call ahead and let them know who is coming and for how long so they are prepared with enough provisions. There aren’t really “hotels” or “restaurants” — just various camps that provide both basic food and modest shelter.

If you are DIY-ing the trip, you’ll just have to wing it — show up and hope for the best. However, there are (I think obviously, at this point) no dive shops in Ras Abu Gallum, so if you plan to dive there, you need to do the trip with one of the dive shops in Dahab. I can’t recommend H20 Divers more highly — they know the area well and have it down to an art.

Overnight Trip to a Desert Camp in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

What To Pack for Ras Abu Gallum

Not much — after all, you or a camel has to carry it all! We packed two swimsuits to always have a warm dry one, simple kimonos to wear around the camp, warm, comfy sweats to wear in the chilly evening, a headlamp to get around camp in the post-sunset darkness (I just linked to my favorite ultra compact travel version), any snacks and alcohol you might want, and eco-friendly toiletries. The last one is particularly important since the lack of anything beyond the most basic plumbing means anything you use will wash right into the ocean.

Lately I’m crushing on Stream2Sea, a reef safe brand with a comprehensive line of products — try out a bunch with a sampler pack of travel-friendly versions of their best sellers.

Want a full rundown of the dive gear I brought to Egypt? Find it here!

Scuba Diving in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Overnight Trip to a Desert Camp in Ras Abu Galum, Sinai, Egypt

Clearly, I can’t gush enough about this place. Stay tuned for one more post about our underwater adventures here!

Would you make the journey to Ras Abu Gallum?

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This content was brought to you by PADI, the world’s leading dive organization. Many thanks to PADI dive shop H2O Divers for hosting me in Dahab and Ras Abu Gallum.

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23 Comments...
  • Dylan
    November 11 2018

    Your whole Egypt trip seems so dreamy…and I’m constantly in awe of what you do with the *same underwater photo set-up as me* (plus a strobe?). Thanks for the in-depth practical info at the bottom, because I might try to recreate this dive excursion step by step…in a couple years, but still 😉
    Dylan recently posted..Back in Barranco: Ceviche and Street Art in Lima

    • Alex
      November 12 2018

      Any photos with strobe in this post were by Jenny… mine had flooded by the time I got to Dahab. Sob!

  • Rachel
    November 11 2018

    I’m loving all of these underwater photos! Egypt and the Middle East in general is an area that hasn’t really been high on my “to visit” list but your posts about your trip are really beginning to change my mind. I’m looking forward to your next post about your diving trips! I can’t dive anymore because my ears won’t equalize so I’m diving vicariously through your posts!
    Rachel recently posted..How Teaching English in China Led Us to Location Independence

    • Alex
      November 12 2018

      Aw, so sorry to hear that Rachel! My Israel diving trips were super unique… might just get your mind changed about the Middle East by the time my coverage wraps!

  • Becky Hutner
    November 11 2018

    Alex this looks like the most magical part of the whole trip! Every time I see boat-less snorkelling, my interest piques!!

    Also you are looking particularly babe-a-licious here. Camel diving becomes you.

    • Alex
      November 12 2018

      Haha, thanks Becky! I think Kat just makes me laugh anytime she’s behind the camera, and having so many lovely relaxing hours meant we had time to get creative 😉

  • Riley
    November 11 2018

    This is awesome. One of the items on my bucket list is to go on a camel ride. Jealous! And what beauty Egypt seems to behold. Can’t wait to make it there someday. Looking forward to hearing more about your trip to the Middle East!
    Riley recently posted..Sorrento: Italy’s Least Interesting Little Town

    • Alex
      November 12 2018

      Thanks Riley! I’m super excited to start writing about Israel. It was really a fascinating three weeks, and I crammed so much in…

  • Jo-Anne the crazy lady
    November 11 2018

    How exciting
    Jo-Anne the crazy lady recently posted..Lest we forget

    • Alex
      November 12 2018

      It sure was 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  • Janice Stringer
    November 14 2018

    Egypt looks so amazing!
    Thank you for sharing this lesser known area. So interesting..
    Janice Stringer recently posted..Reminisce Simpler Times During A Mid-Week Break In Devon

    • Alex
      November 17 2018

      You’re so welcome, Janice! Sad my Egypt coverage is coming to an end, but thrilled to dig into Israel next…

  • Ashley
    November 14 2018

    Ras Abu Gallum looks like such a gem! How did you find snorkeling there? Also, can non-divers join your diving retreats?! Haha
    Ashley recently posted..7 Reasons Why I Love Lisbon (+ My Top Travel Tips)

    • Alex
      November 17 2018

      Ha, I actually had three girls who weren’t divers sign up for my Koh Tao retreat! Just come early to do your Open Water 🙂 The snorkeling in Ras Abu Gallum was gorgeous since the water is so clear and sites are quite shallow, but I will warn you it was cold out there without a wetsuit!

  • Rachel
    November 15 2018

    The pictures look really amazing…It looks to be visited at least once in a lifetime !!

    • Alex
      November 17 2018

      Thanks Rachel! I hope for me it will be more than once 🙂

  • Jojo
    November 15 2018

    What!? Who would have known you could ride camels and scuba in the same place! 🐪
    Jojo recently posted..Glen Onoko Falls Hike

    • Alex
      November 17 2018

      I know! Sign me RIGHT up!

  • Dominique
    November 18 2018

    This looks fantastic! I like how they added splashes of colour to the camp to make it more appealing because it looks like a lovely place to stay now. I’m not a fan of camels – well, I tried to be but they don’t like me – but I would still try to ride one to get to that place! It looks like it worth it.
    Dominique recently posted..Sillustani – 5 Reasons to Visit this Pre-Incan Cemetery

    • Alex
      November 19 2018

      Haha, I was so disappointed in the camels not wanting to be my best friend! I’ll win them over next time 😉

  • Marni
    December 14 2018

    One of my favourite things is to experience the feeling of stepping back in time in a place, no matter how that happens. A camel ride to a picturesque hidden gem diving site and Bedouin camp sounds like the absolute perfect combination. The whole experience must have been so special. Great post!
    Marni recently posted..Wine Not? – A Niagara-on-the-Lake Winery Tour

    • Alex
      December 16 2018

      Thank you so much! I think it was one of my greatest adventures of the year, easy!

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