Egypt’s Ras Sedr resort offers mix of nature, history

Ras Sedr is more than just a sandy beach and crystal-clear waters. It is also about people, culture, history, religion and food.
Sunday 28/10/2018
A family villa at La Hacienda Beach Hotel. (La Hacienda Resort & Hotel)
A family villa at La Hacienda Beach Hotel. (La Hacienda Resort & Hotel)

RAS SEDR, Egypt - Ras Sedr is more than just another resort on Egypt’s Red Sea where visitors can enjoy the beach at affordable prices because the city where it is located offers a diverse treat of Egyptian culture, history and social traditions.

Only 200km from Cairo and with a coastline stretching 95km in the most serene and clear parts of the Red Sea, Ras Sedr is an enchanting spot for swimmers, divers and beach lovers.

“The sands and the purity of the water in this part of Egypt are just matchless. They are the reason behind the reputation of the city,” said Ali Hamada, head of the Ras Sedr City Council.

The colourful coral reefs, home for a large variety of fish, offer divers a great experience. Beachgoers can indulge in all types of water sports.

Ras Sedr is more than just a sandy beach and crystal-clear waters, however. It is also about people, culture, history, religion and food.

The city was inhabited long ago by Sinai Bedouins. With their nomadic lifestyle, the Bedouins greatly influenced Ras Sedr’s culinary culture.

Most of the hotels are operated by Bedouins who also protect tourist and historical sites in the city. Bedouin-operated hotels and resorts offer an authentic culinary experience of what is commonly designated as “desert food.”

There is a belief among Bedouins that goat milk supports good health and long life. A mix of goat milk, sugar and wild aromatic herbs is a favourite local morning drink.

The Bedouins of Ras Sedr also cherish goat meat. Gubart bread, which is made with flour, water and salt; sala, goat meat and dates; and assida, a mix of flour, butter, milk and green cardamom, are staple foods for local people.

“Those coming to the city for the first time find these recipes stunning, delicious and different from anything they might have eaten in their life,” said Sobhi Saber, a tour guide. “This is less about the components of this food and more about the very distinct way the Bedouins cook their food. They cook it with love.”

Because it is surrounded by desert and mountains, Ras Sedr offers visitors a different safari experience. Quail are present in large numbers in some parts of the city and several animal species, especially the Nubian ibex, a desert-dwelling goat, roam the mountains.

Ras Sedr had not attracted foreign tourists’ attention compared with other Red Sea resorts, such as Sharm el-Sheikh, Hurghada and Dahab. This was partly because of the lack of investments.

However, tourism investments started some years ago, resulting in the emergence of hotels for all tastes and budgets. Ras Sedr boasts 15 hotels, some of them with private beaches. The price of a single room starts at $50 per night.

Ras Sedr has 12 natural springs that, local legend says, were created when Moses struck a rock with his rod to get water for the Israelites to drink from. Today, only one spring still produces water; the other 11 springs have been buried under the sand. However, the government has started a project to restore them.

The Pharaoh’s Bath is another interesting site in Ras Sedr. The bath is a natural pool that originates in a mountain cave with the water flowing into the Gulf of Suez. The water temperature rises gradually as one swims into the cave.

The cave was used as a refuge by Christians escaping persecution by the Romans in the fourth and fifth centuries.

Ras Sedr’s rich nature has been attracting many people in recent years. That includes Khaled Salah, an Egyptian expatriate engineer based in Dubai, who said he spends half of his annual vacation in Ras Sedr and bought a permanent residence there.

“The city’s merits can rarely be found in one place anywhere in Egypt,” Salah said. “Ras Sedr combines nature, history and people, things that make it beat out any other place here.”

A view of a beach at Ras Sedr.(Ahmed Megahid)