Weshwash Canyon: Egypt’s beauty in the middle of the desert

Sunday 12/03/2017
Visitors swim in the green waters of a lake in Weshwash Canyon in the eastern part of the Sinai peninsula. (Haitham Salah)

Cairo - Visiting Weshwash Can­yon in the eastern part of the Sinai peninsula and only 12km from the city of Nuweiba, which overlooks the Gulf of Aqaba, is nev­er for the faint-hearted.

The canyon, which was discov­ered by chance by local Bedouins and boasts an immensely beautiful lake, is a rewarding site for adven­turers and diving and swimming enthusiasts.

The green-coloured lake in the canyon was formed by rains over years. At first glance, the lake doesn’t seem to fit in its surround­ings but a deeper look reveals that the lake is a natural extension of the beauty that surrounds it.

About 12 metres deep at some points and 500 metres wide, the lake is surrounded by some of the most beautiful and colourful rocks in Sinai. The red, golden and yellow lines protruding the marble fabric of the rocks look unearthly but, viewed from above at the canyon, the desert that surrounds it and the turquoise waters of the nearby Gulf of Aqaba show that the colours are part of the multilayer magnificence of the area.

“To say the truth, this is one of the most wonderful sites I have ever been to in my life,” said Mu’men Hussein, a 20-year-old Egyptian who recently visited Weshwash Canyon. “My visit to the canyon was part of an excur­sion while my friends and I were on a visit to Nuweiba but the beau­ty of the place is remarkable and is worth the pain one sustains in trav­elling to it.”

The road to Weshwash Canyon from Nuweiba, where tourist ho­tels, beaches, cafés and restau­rants are concentrated, is full of adventure. Passing through rugged desert, the journey to the canyon, which takes almost an hour by car, is rewarding and full of exploration and discovery too.

To reach the canyon, visitors pass several other canyons, each of which has its own natural at­tractions. Each of the canyons is a study in geology and beauty.

The White Canyon can be seen on the way to Weshwash. It is carved in soft rock, starting as a crack with a sudden deep drop. A ladder and a rope are there to help visitors climb. Despite the dramat­ic look, the rocks are easy to climb for those reasonably fit.

One of the other attractions on the road is the Coloured Canyon, known to be the best site in the Si­nai peninsula along with the Saint Catherine’s Monastery. Relatively near Nuweiba, the Coloured Can­yon exists below an open plain from which several lowlands start. It runs between very tall and nar­row rock walls, and at one point, a little scrambling is involved.

Karim Ahmed, among those of­fering visitors guided tours of Weshwash and other canyons in the region, is full of admiration for the area. He said those tired from the calm and serenity of the beach in the Gulf of Aqaba city can have an outing full of activity in the area.

“From the breathtaking heights of the rocky mountains of the area to the depths of the Weshwash lake, visitors see more than the eye and the mind can fathom in a short period of time,” Ahmed said. “Some of my clients have loved the place so strongly that they swear that they will not come to Nuweiba again without visiting it.”

What makes this part of Egypt worth visiting is also its diverse nature. The area is about desert ex­ploration, safaris, mountain climb­ing, water skiing and relaxation on the beautiful beaches of Nuweiba. It is also about diving for those with professional credentials.

The nearby Blue Hole site in the Gulf of Aqaba is categorised as one of the most dangerous diving plac­es in the world, yet it is a magnet for the daring and well-qualified. Every day, deep-sea divers and fearless swimmers explore the cor­al-lined, 120-metre-deep area for a rewarding experience.

Islam Mohamed, another tour guide from Nuweiba, said those visiting the city to enjoy its attrac­tions and the surrounding areas can do so on a limited budget.

“A visit to Weshwash Canyon and the other canyons in the area, for example, costs a visitor a little more than $50,” Mohamed said. “Apart from this, some of Nu­weiba’s hotels offer very cheap, yet wonderful accommodation to visitors, the thing that makes the whole experience of visiting the area far from expensive to anyone.”