Sharm El Sheikh is the capital of the Red Sea Riviera, a quintessential resort town that caters to about everything you might think of. It will certainly leave you breathless. But what if you want to gasp some fresh air, away from the crowded beaches and the hip night life?
Nabq is your long pursued quest.Located just 25km north of Sharm ElSheikh, it doesn’t take more than ten minutes to reach the natural protectorate of Nabq. The 600 km² marine
reserve offers a unique opportunity to experience Mother Nature at its best. With varying terrain, Nabq interiors are dotted with high chain mountains while its coast plays host to a five kilometre stretch of mangrove; the most northerly in the Red Sea. Mangrove is not just an atypical tree that grows out of the sea!
It plays a pivotal role for the surrounding ecology; acting as a natural nursery for small fish and crustaceans, providing nestling locations for birds and forming natural tsunami wave breakers. Put on your sneakers and go mangrove wading, it is spectacular. In one particular location, El Gharqanah The Drowned, you can have a peaceful stroll, or rather a wade, midst the mangrove trees, and all the way to a nearby shipwreck. No need to bring your diving gear, the walk is waist-deep and the shipwreck is visible from the shore. If you are a nature lover but not that into trees, Nabq is an ideal place for bird watching. Located right on several species migration route, some stop for a break, while others call the place home. Grab your binoculars and look out for herons, plovers, gulls, terns and the Red Sea endemic White-Eyed Gull with its vibrant yellow legs, blood red bill and a crescent-like white ring around the eyes. Tired of staring through your binoculars? Get in your diving suit and take a plunge; the reefs are mind-boggling to say the least, especially those at Ras Tantur and Nakhlet el-Tal. And if your still waiting for your PADI open water certificate, put on your snorkelling gear; there are a plethora of underwater life to behold without getting too deep. And after all said and done, if you still feel the urge for some good adrenaline pumping activity, no need to worry; certain areas are designated for quad biking and four-wheel off-roading. Enjoy the thrill as you bash through the roving dunes.
Thinking out of the box, Nabq Natural Protectorate is not all about enjoying nature and the great outdoors, it can also make up for a good team building activity playground; especially if you are having your company’s year-end meeting held in one of Sharm El Sheikh copious hotels. A Summer Camp at Nabq sounds enticing as well. Without a doubt Nabq Natural Protectorate is great place to have fun; lest we forget that it is a fragile ecosystem that we have decided to safeguard and protect. Such a notion has to be carefully regarded when we pay the place a visit. Take as much as you want of photographs, but please leave only footprints behind. Haphazard littering and trashing can have a devastating impact on the ecology. Equally destroying can be your own four-wheel drive; driving outside the designated areas and tracks can squash plants and blossoms. Locals are part of the grand ecosystem as well, and in Nabq there are two main permanent Bedouin settlements; the villages of Khereiza and El Gharqanah. Please be respectful to their conservative culture and don’t flash your camera before asking for permission first. Reaching Nabq from Sharm El Sheikh is straightforward; just follow the airport road heading north. The tarmac ends right before the protectorate main entrance gate. From there it is dirt track all the way; hence, it is much advisable to have your 4X4 in mint condition before you venture. Inside the protectorate there is a rather small rest house that offers soft drinks and a limited variety of sandwiches. Grab a light lunch with you; after all it is a picnic into the wilderness at your footsteps.