A date with Death – Nuweiba

17th March 2008

Today I opted to go to the coloured Canyon near Nuwieba. I booked the tour the day before, but little did I know it was going to be led by Bedouins. We drove out of Dahab for about an hour and then all of a sudden went off the road into the desert.

We were in the back of a Toyota Land Cruiser, and this was a real desert safari. We drove off road through the desert for about an hour. It was very bumpy and the guy driving drove like a maniac. He was not the only maniac, there were points where I was gripping onto the passenger seat in front of me and laughing, when we launched over dunes or big rocks. I think the other five people thought I was quite mad.

We reached the canyon and began to climb down into it, there was no real set path, you just had to make a calculated guess on how to get down. Once inside, we went through lots of twists and turns and it got very narrow in places, the colours in the canyon were very pretty, but this was a hike for real mountain climbers. There was this place where you actually had to slide under a huge boulder, almost like a slippery slide, and I’m afraid there were places where my short little legs just weren’t long enough, and I needed a little help. Most places I was ok, except when it came to climbing out of the canyon. I think the Bedouin, operate by the pirate code, whoever falls behind, gets left behind.

It had gotten quite hot, and the sun was high in the sky, I got about halfway up and started to feel very dizzy. The other five people and the guide were gone, I had to stop, I felt sick. I sat on a rock, and I can say with no word of exaggeration, that at that moment…. I felt death. I felt it in the sun, in the flies that were attempting to infest my ears, my nose, my lips, I couldn’t even swat them away. I felt it in the rock I was sitting on and in the dizzy sickening feeling in my head. Somehow, I managed to find a tiny bit of strength to pull my water bottle out of my bag and tip it over my head. It was excruciating at first, but it did cool me down so I could begin the climb again, one foot in front of the other Kristina, I kept saying to myself. I finally scrambled over the edge and collapsed in the small Bedouin tent at the top.

Coloured Canyon Nuweiba
Hiking the Coloured Canyon near Nuweiba

After I had cooled off, (by the way, the guide didn’t even ask where I had been, or if I was ok, I could have just been left in the middle of the desert) we got back into the 4WD and drove for about two hours into the heart of the desert to see the “Mushroom Rock” as we drove we passed wild camels and miles and miles of endless desert. We reached the rock, and it did look a bit weird and we were there for all of about 10 minutes, and even 200km into the middle of the desert with no one else around there was someone sitting here selling souvenirs…amazing!

We got back into the car and drove away into the desert again to the oasis of Ain el-Furtaga. One minute we were in the desert and the next palm trees appeared over the horizon like some kind of mirage. We stopped and had lunch with a Bedouin family, friends of our guide, so there were no other tourists there, this was a real Bedouin settlement, with about two families, some goats and one camel.

We set off again on foot to explore the “White Canyon”, now I’d just about had my fill of mountain climbing, so I decided, that I didn’t care how much of a rush the guide seemed to be in, that I was going to take my time, I’d already felt death once today and I was in no hurry to tempt it again. This canyon was harder than the first, it was more like rock climbing than mountain climbing. There were spots where you had to abseil up cliff faces and climb up shaky old rusty ladders. Even though I decided to be the last one out, I made it out alive and I was proud of that much.

We then got back into the car and drove back to Dahab, when I got to my hotel, I collapsed exhausted onto my bed and fell asleep for two hours. I got up later and went into the town and got a pedicure and a massage, so that I would be alright for my flight to Alexandria tomorrow.

Oasis near Nuweiba
An oasis in the Sinai Desert

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