The Sinai is the great continental crossroads between Africa and Asia and an age-old travelling passage. Getting here is pretty easy, however you want to do it. If you’re travelling to the Sinai from within Egypt always take your PASSPORT as it’ll be inspected at various checkpoints on the way. If you’re coming from outside Egypt then you’ll need a VISA too. Visas are available on arrival in Egypt but there are some potential pitfalls to be aware of when you’re getting one – especially if you’re entering the Sinai via the Taba crossing. Before you come, be sure to read the section on VISAS.
OVERLAND You can travel to the Sinai overland from mainland Egypt. Otherwise, there’s a border crossing with Israel at the town of Taba. North Sinai has a border with Gaza too, but it’s a Hamas-controlled crossing that opens/ closes at short notice and Westerners aren’t usually allowed to cross anyway. Going overland, public bus services are best.
Public bus from Cairo – The EAST DELTA BUS COMPANY run buses from Cairo. They go from the so-called TURGOMAN GARAGE or CAIRO GATEWAY PLAZA, depending on which signs you follow. This is in the thumping heart of downtown Cairo and it’s tricky to find; the quickest option is to take a taxi, telling the driver you want the TURGOMAN. If that doesn’t work, say EAST DELTA and the place you want to go (e.g. SHARM, DAHAB etc). Other companies like GO BUS/ EL GOUNA now run services to Sharm through day and night too, with some of their buses cheaper than the East Delta ones. Their office/ bus stop is by the Ramses Hilton: a huge, concrete monstrosity of a hotel north of Midan Tahrir/ the Egyptian museum.
Public bus from Israel – EGGED buses go to Eilat from Jerusalem, Beersheba and other places. You can cross to Taba here but beware of the situation with VISAS.
BY SEA It’s always great approaching the Sinai by sea: its rugged ranges rising slowly out of the desert haze ahead. But ferries have always been bad at the best of times; and they’ve got all the worse since the revolution in 2011. Schedules change at short notice; delays are virtually routine; and good information is hard to come by, even from the ferry companies themselves. Delays are worst during the windy times and the Hajj pilgrimage, when thousands of pilgrims use the ferry to return to Africa, travelling through the Sinai.
Ferry to Nuweiba AB MARITIME COMPANY runs a ferry from Aqaba to Nuweiba. In 2013 there was one ferry daily at 7pm, with the crossing times supposedly 3 hours. There used to be two, but one sank in 2012, with 1200 passengers being evacuated mid-crossing, and one dying after jumping overboard. Ask around locally in Aqaba about times as they often change.
Ferry to Taba MEENAGATE were running a catamaran between Aqaba and Taba in 2013. It leaves the Aqaba Royal Yacht Club around 7pm and takes 30-45 mins. Email MEENAGATE for more info before you travel as it could all have changed. Another option is the SINDBAD EXPRESS, which also goes from Aqaba to Taba, but it’s operation has been patchy since 2011. Email AL JAWAD tours to ask them for more information.
BY AIR Sharm el Sheikh is the main international airport. There’s a smaller one at Taba, and a smaller one still at St Katherine, though both are little-used. The St Katherine airport re-opened to civil flights in 2012, handling services from Cairo before closing again in late 2013, as tourism crashed. Flights might re-start if tourism recovers; but, as the old saying goes, it’s all up in the air. You can also fly to mainland Egypt: Cairo is a major hub and if you fly in here you can travel to the Sinai with an internal flight or overland.
From within Egypt EGYPT AIR has a monopoly on internal flights. There are seven daily from Cairo to Sharm and it takes about 50 minutes. You can also fly from other places in Egypt (Alexandria, Luxor, Aswan etc) though it’s usually a two-step process, with a change in Cairo. Egypt Air is a good, international-standard airline these days so don’t worry about flying. You can book tickets online but it’s best to wait until you’re in Egypt as it’s cheaper. SMART AVIATION ran flights to St Katherine: check back from time to time to see if they are still operating.
From outside Egypt Budget airlines fly to the Sinai from all over the UK. EASYJET go from Luton, Gatwick and Manchester. THOMSON, THOMAS COOK AIRLINES and MONARCH fly from other airports. From Germany, try AIR BERLIN, TUIfly and CONDOR. In Switzerland there’s, SWISS and EASYJET. Hunt around and you’ll find other airlines too. Flight times are about 5 hours and the cheapest times are autumn and winter.