National Park Wadi el Gemal

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ancient emerald cities

This tour combines some of the best sights of the Eastern Desert: its fantastic landscapes and its most spectacular archaeological sites.

We leave after an early breakfast. Following the Red Sea south for one hour we enter the National Park “Wadi el Gemal”. The park is named after the valley “Wadi el Gemal” (valley of the Camels) which cuts from West to East through the mountain range. This Wadi was well known throughout history as an important trading route. Along this route we will find many traces of this desert’ s history, such as ancient caravan stations and tombs of the Blemmey tribe, the ancestors of the Ababda Bedouin.

During our off road drive through Wadi el Gemal we will also look in detail at its unique vegetation.

After two hours of driving we reach the area where emeralds have been mined since Ptolemaic times. There are long forgotten but well preserved settlements. First we will arrive at the Roman settlement of Umm Kabu, where the gems coming from the mines higher up on the mountain were prepared for their further transport to the Nile.

After a short drive we will enter Wadi Nugrus and Wadi Sikait, to reach the National Park’s most known ancient settlement Sikait. Sikait is famous for its well-preserved Roman houses and its small temple, dedicated to Isis, cut out in living rock. We will walk through the ruins of the village and visit the emerald mines.

From Sikait we will drive to Appollonia, where only the ruins of a thick stone-build wall remembers of the large ancient Roman fort. Here we will have lunch under an acacia tree.

Lunch is followed by a short walk over sand dunes to Marfuah, a Roman satellite settlement where emeralds were processed as well. It’s background hills offer a splendid panoramic view. After visiting Marfuah we take a track back to the coast.

 You will arrive back  late afternoon.

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