Tag Archives: Egypt

Egypt: Hurghada

Our first visit to Egypt took us to Hurghada. A few friends had recommended the area. We wanted warm weather, sunshine and a hotel close to the Red Sea.  In January it can be 25°C. During our stay the temperature did not get quite this high, but we enjoyed warm weather during the day. During the night it was about 12°C.

Egyptikartta

The vacation was great and the week was sunny.

Hurghada_Blue Lagoon beach

 

THE HOTEL

The Shedwan Garden Hotel has 4 stars.

Shedwan Garden Hotel Hurghada

Our first room situated outside the main building in a quickly built additional wing. The front door and the balcony door had a gap of a few inches between the floor and the door. The wind was strong, outside and also inside. The furniture was cheap and old. We decided to change rooms.

JH ekassa huoneessa_Hurghada

Personal discussions with the personnel worked well.  We got a room in the main building. We had to give up the wish of a balcony and partial sea view, but instead we got a real room, with great furniture, space and no wind inside 🙂

Ile uudessa kylpparissa

Johanna uudessa huoneessa

 

There were lots of cats around this hotel. I heard it is common in Hurghada. Hurghada_slight cat problem

The garden of the hotel was very nice. The personnel took good care of it. You could stroll through it during the evening and on your way to the beach.

Hurghada JH in the hotel back yard

THE BEACH

The beach of the hotel was OK. We had yet not found the amazing world of snorkelling and photographing underwater,  so the beach fulfilled our needs – we got to swim in the Red Sea.

Hurghada_Blue Lagoon beach

Hurghada_IH swimming in the lagoon_luxury boats in the background

There were no coral reefs close to the beach, but you could take a boat and travel to coral reefs and go scuba diving.

Hurghada seen from the beach

We saw some pedal boats and decided to try one. It was actually quite fun and sporty to pump the pedals in the high waves.

Hurghada beach_lets rent a paddle boat

Here are some great shots of the Blue Lagoon and Hurghada, seen from the sea.

Polkuveneellä laguunin ympäri

Hurghada_seen from the sea 2
It was nice to swim in the Blue Lagoon. The temperature was not too hot, but during the day it got warm and the water felt great on the hot skin.

JH tried the cold water

I recommend to travel to Egypt and to enjoy the country’s many beautiful places, beaches and its many attractions.

Egyptin pyramidit

 

Jordan: The magnificent Red Sea

There is a long and great beach between Hotel Radisson Blu Tala Bay and the Red Sea. Beach chairs are available and they are not too close to each other. This way you have space and peace, also at the beach. This is a positive rarity.
Red Sea between Jordania and Egypt

The magnificent Red Sea offers something for each and everyone. You can see small, big, colourful, dangerous and poisonous fish in the sea. The corals and plants vary depending on where you are, but they all offer a beautiful and colourful show. You can also see small crabs, lizardfish and fabulous sea urchins on the sandy bottom close to the shore.

The difference in the sea life between Egypt and Jordan is the amount of venomous fish we saw in Jordan. It was quite exciting to see and photograph new fish species and venomous fish. In Egypt the sea life is more colourful than in Jordan.

Here are some of the fish we saw and photographed, and a few photos from other divers:

The Lionfish (Pterois Volitans) is part of the Scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae) species, which take their name from the venomous spines positioned on the dorsal fin. They are also voracious predators.

The Red Lionfish:

Red Lionfish Pun Siipisimppu
The Black Lionfish
 (Pterois Miles) is extremely beautiful.

ps. to enlarge the photos, click on them 😉

musta siipisimppi pterois miles

We also saw a Lionfish which was a bit brown and beige. You find it on the left of the brain coral:

Siipisimppu Pterois Volitans

The Scorpionfish (Scorpaenopsis oxycephala), for example the Tassled Scorpionfish, is also part of the Scorpionfish (Scorpaenidae) species. It is quite a venomous fish. It is sometimes called  “false stonefish” as the resemblance to the Stonefish is remarkable. The mouth of the Scorpionfish is more hiorizontal than the one of the Stonefish.

A Scorpionfish next to a black Sea Urchin inside a small rock:

False stonefish_ tassled scorpionfish

Whilst I photographed a small Scorpionfish, it suddenly moved, which is rare, and “flew” away. I am glad it “flew” away from me, not towards me.

Skorpionikala ui

The Stonefish (Synanceia Verrucosa), is the most venomous fish in the world!

You better not step on one of these. You can be paralyzed and you can die. Stonefish use incredible camouflage to ambush their prey. They blend into their environment very well. They live in shallow waters and are a danger to bathers who may step on them.

It is not always easy to see if you are looking at, or photographing, a small Stonefish or a Scorpionfish. The sea sways you a bit and you cannot swim too close. We are yet not sure if we saw a Stonefish or not. I show you a few pictures taken by other divers:

stonefish 3

stonefish 2

Sea Urchins

We were lucky. A nice man from Lappeenranta, Finland, warned us about the hundreds of Sea Urchins (Echinoidea) just minutes before we stepped into the Red Sea.

Merisiilet

We moved carefully step by step until the water was about  30 cm deep.  Then we dove carefully into the Red Sea, sliding above the Sea Urchins and other dangerous species. I saw hundreds of black Sea Urchins. First I was a bit “scared” how all this will end, but then I relaxed and focused on the superb views around me, took photographs and remembered to keep my feet at least 60 cm above the bottom.

The Sea Urchin’s body, closed in a compact shell, is covered with spines which are mobile. The mouth is surrounded by strong teeth and opens underneath. This allows this echinoderm to crop algae.

merisiilikuva

We had invested in a new waterproof camera. Not a too expensive one, but a good one for amateurs like us. We took hundreds of pictures and also some videos. We spent half of the days in the Red Sea. I can warmly recommend this hobby.

During the 4th day something odd happened. I was stung in the sea. I wondered if I only imagined it. I could not see anything and no more stungs were felt. The next day I was stung maybe a hundred times. Small burning stings hit me everywhere. I got worried and a bit scared. My husband appeared next to me and when I got my ears above the water, he told me we were in the middle of a  cloud of Jellyfish. I took some pictures quickly and swam to the shore.

Stinging jellyfish Red Sea Jordan

I spoke with the life guard to check if he knew about these Jellyfish. He did. He said they should not be dangerous, but it could be a good idea to wait and see if I would feel sick or get red arms and legs. Then it would be good to see the doctor at the hotel.

No strange feelings or red skin! I was so happy. What an exciting experience, though I cannot recommend to try how many small electric stings feel. 

In Egypt we fell in love with the Picasso Triggerfish, which is part of the Balistidae species. There are some 40 different Balistidae fish. Here is a Picasso Triggerfish, which we saw at Port Ghalib, Egypt some years ago:

Picassokala

In Jordan we saw a a black Triggerfish (Sufflamen Chrysopterus), which was very beautiful.  It was a Halfmoon Triggerfish. Here is a picture of it with a small Lionfish:

Sufflamen chrysopterus_flagtail triggerfish_Ruostesäppikala ja siipisimppu

You can see more pictures on my Pinterest page. Welcome to follow my Pinterest boards.

We love the Red Sea:

Ile sukeltaa

Lähdössä mereen

I admire Jacques-Yves Cousteau. His incredible adventures in the sea have affected many of us. I think Cousteau has something to do with my interest to take some PADI Open Water diving courses 20 years ago and that I am now a great fan of the Red Sea. My husband shares my passion to explore the shores of the Red Sea and photograph the beautiful sea life.

Upea kokonaiskuva Red Sea Tala Bay

 

Waiting to fly to Jordan

Where is Jordan?

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is in The Middle East, on the East Bank of the Jordan River. Jordan borders Saudi Arabia to the south and east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and Israel to the west.

Map of Jordan and the surrounding countries
Where is Aqaba and Tala Bay?

Aqaba is situated in the southern  part of Jordan and is the largest city on the Gulf of Aqaba. It is Jordan’s only coastal city. Tala Bay is a holiday resort 15 minutes south of Aqaba and very close to the border of Saudi Arabia.

Why Jordan?

We have travelled during the summer in countries around the Mediterranean Sea for more than 10 years. During winter time it is a bit cold in Europe, so we decided 5 years ago to visit Africa. We thought Egypt could be something interesting, mysterious and fun.

Egypti kamelimies
We love the sun, warm days on the beach, diving into the sea and photographing fish and corals. It is also wonderful to experience new cultures and countries, meet local people.

Exif_JPEG_422
We have visited Egypt 5 times. We are in love with the Red Sea.

fish in the red sea
In September 2013 the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland recommended to not travel to Egypt due to the unstable situation in the country. As a result of this all Finnish travel agencies cancelled all reservations to Egypt until April 2014.

We searched the web for other countries (to which Finnish travel agencies offer flight + hotel packages) around the Red Sea, which we hoped to visit again. We found Jordan and Israel. They both have some coral beaches on the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea.

We compared Israels’ Eilat with Jordan’s Aqaba. Aqaba sounded more exciting and mysterious. Then we found Tala Bay, a sunny vacation resort 15 minutes south from Aqaba. No noise of a hectic town or traffic, great hotels, long beaches and promise of corals and exciting fish … that is all we needed to make our choice. Apollomatkat is the only one in Finland offering vacation packages to Tala Bay (and Jordan for that matter). If you want to go to Eilat you can choose between Aurinkomatkat and Apollomatkat. Both fly with Finnair.

Tala Bay venesatama kuva
The temperature in November in the southern part of Jordan was said to be quite warm. Forecasts promised 23-30° C during the day and 19° C or less in the night. This sounded very good.

Apollomatkat, which we had never before used, handled everything very well from the beginning. The website works well, the customer service is friendly and helpful and the list of hotels in Aqaba was surprisingly long. In Tala Bay you can choose between 3 nice hotels.

We chose Radisson Blu Tala Bay, as the pictures of it on the website of Apollomatkat were great, we were promised corals and fish very close to the beach, the hotel had a private beach and the website of the hotel gave a great overall feeling of the resort.

Radisson Blu Tala Bay web site Radisson at Tala Bay Jordania_6Radisson room pic
The hotel gave us great service already before our trip. We have a wish list regarding the room and the car service. I contacted the hotel, as Apollomatkat, just like all other travel agencies in Finland, cannot confirm if you get a balcony or terrace, if you are on low floor or high floor etc. We got all our wishes fulfilled with the kind help of the executive assistant manager at the hotel. To offer this kind of service is definitely a competitive advantage.

It takes 5 hours to fly from Helsinki to Aqaba. Most tourist take the travel agency’s bus. But as it usually takes a long time to wait for all people to come to the bus, and the bus drives to many hotels before ours, we started to use the hotels’ car service a couple of years ago. One more reason was a sad experience with Finnmatkat (which otherwise works quite well). The bus did not pick us up from our hotel in Egypt some years ago. (The guide did not answer her phones and no one knew what was going on. The hotel finally drove us to the airport. When checking up on this matter, we were told “the phone lines do not always work in Egypt, the bus was late and the guide forgot to inform the hotel and the customers about this.”)

Most hotels offer car service. It is smooth and fast. It does not cost more (or much more) than the bus service.

This was an introduction to my future stories about Jordan. I will write about Tala Bay, the history of Jordan, the corals and the fish in the Red Sea as well as a review of Radisson Blu Tala Bay Resort.

Our passion since a few years back is to photograph in the Red Sea. I have hundreds of pictures from the land, the air and the sea. I’ll share the best with you.

Radisson Tala Bay Red Sea Diving picture_2 Ma`a as-salāma!