The Red Sea Travel Guide Where Deserts Meet the Deep Blue . Experience Hurghada .. Dive into Adventure

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

The Wadi El Gemal Reserve is located on an area of 7,450 km2, the land section of which extends for a distance of 4,770 km, while the marine section extends for a distance of 2,000 km2, and covers 60 km of the Red Sea coast and includes the Wadi El Gemal islands, coral reefs and seaweed clusters, in addition to Mount Hamata, which is located at the beginning of the reserve. 

Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

The coastal area boasts rich coral reefs featuring 450 species of coral, plentiful cnidarians, giant clams, sponges, crustaceans and more. Additionally, there are over 1200 species of fish, including the Blue-spotted fantail ray, emperor angelfish, giant moray, parrotfish, redmouth grouper, Red Sea bannerfish and clearfin lionfish, Sohal surgeonfish, surge wrasse, white-spotted puffer and the yellowmargin triggerfish. Around one-fifth of the marine life is native to the region and greater Red Sea. It also includes five islands, including Wadi El Gemal Island. 

Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

These islands are a breeding ground for several bird species, including African spoonbill, Caspian tern, desert wheatear, striated heron and the western reef heron. The beds of sea grass are important sources of food for the endangered dugong and green turtle.

Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

A flowing freshwater source that mixes with seawater and forms a low-salinity marsh. The reserve is divided into several areas: the Wadi El Gemal Island area, which is the second largest concentration of the Sooty Falcon, the Hankawareb area, which is 18 km south of Wadi El Gemal and is characterized by beaches and coral reefs, and the Qalaan area, which is 9 km north of the village. Hamata, characterized by the presence of vast areas of mangrove and many types of endemic and migratory birds, the Hamata Islands area, which is located two miles from the beach opposite the village of Hamata and is characterized by places for practicing swimming and diving activities. 

Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

The valley was given this name due to the presence of a plant in that area that is palatable to camels. Wildlife and marine life are active in the reserve, including mountain goat “ibex”, Dorcas gazelle, which is also known as the afri, the aril gazelle, which is one of the smallest and most common species of deer, Ibex, Antelope, more than 13 species of birds, including Sunset Falcon, and marine creatures that include four species of Sea crab, Dugong, green turtles, whale shark, mermaid fish, dolphin, and more than 13 species of small fish, as for plant communities It includes 141 species, including mangrove trees, swamp herbs, and doum palms. The area is not devoid of ruins, as the mountain embraces the Temple of Sket, located 60 km inside Wadi El Gemal.

Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

Wadi El Gemal National Park

The reserve has four entrances, and three administrative offices have been established, in addition to a museum for the Ababda tribes in which the tools they use are displayed. Tribal women are also taught, marketed, and sold handicrafts. The Ministry of Environment provides patrols to implement the reserve law, the environmental law, and environmental monitoring.

Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

The coast of Wadi el Gemal is semi-rocky, mostly coarse to medium-grained sand, with several sections dominated by mangroves. The mangrove habitats are particularly widespread in the south of the park, where one may find the largest mangrove forest of the entire Red Sea.

Along the coast of the park are many picturesque beaches, with shallow waters suitable for casual or practice snorkeling and scuba diving. The charismatic spinner dolphins inhabit the area’s waters, entertaining onlookers with their dramatic displays, propelling their bodies out of the water while spinning in a circle or flipping upside-down.

The inland area is home to many desert-specialised species, including mammals like the aoudad (or Barbary sheep), Dorcas gazelle, jerboa and the Nubian Ibex.

Wadi El Gemal Visitor Center in Marsa Alam

The building serves two main functions: 1. Orienting visitors and disseminating essential information about the park’s nature and inhabitants (Ababda tribes) through maps, brochures, tours, and presentations to increase visitors’ appreciation of, and sensitivity to, the distinctive natural, environmental and cultural resources of the area. 2. A reception and pit-stop that is predominantly open, serves basic visitors’ needs, such as refreshments, and presents local crafts. It also houses office space, a store room and provides ample uncovered parking at its front entrance. Restrooms are housed in a separate annex.
Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt
Conceptually, the design of the building was inspired by the acacia tree, the only tree type abundant in this arid desert. The Visitor Center was designed to offer shade and shelter where multiple activities can take place. The simple floor plan allows for the client’s program requirements to be functionally and esthetically laid out while creating a playful semi-outdoor ambiance that lends itself more to the surrounding natural elements. The building's placement on the site is axial to an existing acacia tree, thus respecting its presence and using it as the prime element of its southward vista.
Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt
The Visitors’ Center introduced in its composition the same materials used by the nomadic Ababda tribes in erecting their Bersh houses. The design was also inspired by the traditional Roman construction methods, found in remnants of watchtowers, fortresses, and watering stations in the WGNP. The Visitor Center is conceived to be a "model" that demonstrates how local resources can be redefined and how the available know-how can be developed to bring into being other constructions. Hence the design is laden with sublime messages that aim to guide the ordinary building practice of tourist resorts in the region.

Wadi el Gemal Beaches 

The coasts of the Park of Wadi el Gemal are flanked in many spots by breath-taking beaches of very fine sand that gently sink in the blue waters of the sea. One of the most popular beaches, both for its beauty and ease of access, is the one of the Bay of Hankorab, located less than twenty kilometers South of the main hotels in the area. A lovely coral reef marks off the Northern side of the beach, allowing people to snorkel or dive (this site is especially suitable for beginners since it is protected from waves and currents). 

Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

The coral reef is rich in madrepores, among which a multitude of reef fish hover around, such as the red Anthias, as well as Butterfly fish, Parrotfish,and Damselfish. The beach is equipped with beach umbrellas, toilets, and a small café: a pleasant walk allows one to reach the nearby lighthouse of Ras Hankorab.

Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

 More to the South, at Abu Ghosun and Qulan, there are two more amazing beaches, less frequented than the previous one.In Qulan, there is one of the most beautiful lagoons of the Red Sea, famous for its turquoise-blue waters, while all-around one can admire large mangroves. A small restaurant, a café, and a center for the sale of local handicrafts managed by Beduins are another attraction of this wonderful site.Finally, for athletes and kitesurf enthusiasts, there is the long beach of the Kite Village, which is a center especially dedicated to those who practice this sport. Even more to the South, the big and lovely beach of Wadi Lahami is home to a huge forest of mangroves, and is equipped with a small ecolodge and a dive center.

The Ababda Bedouin

n this area the local population is the Ababda Bedouin, who have many rich and colourful traditions, many of which are endangered by the pressures of modern life and the economic exploitation of the area and its resources.

Ababda Bedouin wadi el gemal marsa alam red sea egypt

Traditionally nomadic, some still work herding their goat flocks through the network of wadis in search of grazing land and water.  They are renowned for their skilled animal tracking abilities.

Wadi El Gemal Island

Wadi El Gemal island With its beautiful coral reefs, extensive sea grass beds, crystal clear waters, and amazing wildlife this island is one of the top destinations for visitors.

Wadi El Gemal Island Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt
The island is a haven for dugongs, turtles and a vast variety of migrating sea birds and has been designated as “an important bird area” by Bird Life International.

Ras Boghdadi

Ras Boghdadi Near the mouth of the wadi there is a small delta and marsh of around 500 square metres.   Here is where the water from a fresh water spring combines with sea water and deposits of alluvial sediment brought down thousands of years ago during the wetter Pleistocene period.

Ras Boghdadi Wadi El Gemal National Park Red Sea Egypt

Some types of vegetation, which are relatively salt tolerant, flourish. These include mangrove, tamarisk trees and salvadora persica, better known as the toothbrush tree, as traditionally its twigs were used for toothbrushes.

Wildcats, foxes and gazelle can often be seen here due to the relative abundance of fresh water.

The park is the site of prehistoric rock art, as well as Ptolemaic and Roman ruins; Mons Smaragdus is the site of small mining communities, dating back to ancient Egypt.

Wadi El Gemal is an IUCN Category II park, established in 2003.

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