Nuweiba & Taba
Nuweiba and Taba are two small settlements on the Sinai's eastern coast, gazing out over the Gulf of Aqaba to the jagged highlands of the Hejaz in Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Nuweiba and Taba are mostly new additions to the coastal landscape, with both growing into the small settlements they are today over the last few decades. Nuweiba is the bigger of the two; a sprawling town with an international port, hotels and other services. Taba is little more than a border post, with a large complex of five star resorts outsizing it to the south, known as the Taba Heights. Nuweiba and Taba are two of the Sinai's main international gateways and hikers traversing the Bedouin Trail will pass through one on their way between the Jordanian and Egyptian sections of the route.
Nuweiba: a quick glance
Sprawling over a large floodplain at the mouth of Wadi Watir, Nuweiba is more a loosely-connected cluster of centres than it is a compact, cohesive town. It is home to the Muzeina and Tarabin tribes, whose territories in the region are divided by Wadi Watir. Nuweiba's different districts are referred to by tribal designations, with its northernmost suburbs known as 'El Tarabin' and those in the south 'El Muzeina'. El Tarabin is a residential area for Bedouin families whose coastline is dotted with beach camps offering simple lodgings. A little way south of El Tarabin is Nuweiba's downtown district; home to a hospital, courthouse and post office, along with shops, cafes and ATMs. Nuweiba's port stands 7km to the south, near to the area known as El Muzeina. It is an area of shops, banks, cafes and cheap eateries, along with the town's main transportation hub, with a passenger ferry to Aqaba, regular bus services to Sharm el Sheikh, Dahab, Taba and Cairo and local minibus services to almost everywhere else in the Sinai. Between El Tarabin and El Muzeina is 'Nuweiba el Wassat', which translates simply as 'Middle Nuweiba'. This remains mostly undeveloped today, but a few pretty beach camps and hotels dot its coastline. About 20km north of Nuweiba is Ras Shetan; a small settlement of beach camps where the Sinai Trail begins and ends; 40km north of Ras Shetan is the Taba Heights resort complex, whose marina is connected to Aqaba with a small passenger ferry. The Taba land border with Eilat in Israel stands 70km north of Nuweiba.
Getting there & away
Nuweiba and Taba are both major international gateways on the Bedouin Trail, through which hikers will pass on a land or sea passage between Jordan and Egypt. Travelling by sea is the best way to go and regular passenger ferries run from Aqaba to both Nuweiba and Taba. AB Maritime runs a daily ferry between Aqaba and Nuweiba, departing Aqaba at 10pm and costing 40JOD (EGP1750). Going to Aqaba it leaves Nuweiba at 12 midday. In Aqaba, the best place to buy ferry tickets is an agent's office near the Nairoukh Hotel. In Nuweiba, tickets are sold at the AB Maritime office near the port. Going either way, the passage is about 3 hours. A smaller ferry runs thrice weekly between Aqaba's marina and the marina in the Taba Heights complex, about 10km south of the Taba land border. This is also operated by AB Maritime, who should be contacted privately for tickets. The Taba border with Eilat is open 24/7 and offers an alternative overland route either way between Jordan and Egypt via Israel. Standard 30 day visas allowing travel all over Egypt are issued at Nuweiba's maritime border. However, any visitors entering Egypt through Taba's land or sea borders must be aware only 14 day visas permitting travel on the Sinai's eastern coasts are issued. These will not be valid for travel in mainland Egypt; Bedouin Trail hikers going via Taba should purchase a full visa online or from the Egyptian consulate in Aqaba before travel. Nuweiba is served by daily buses running to Sharm, Dahab, Taba and Cairo, with East Delta and GO BUS the main companies.
The Bedouin Trail & Nuweiba
The Bedouin Trail integrates a 300km section of the Sinai Trail, following the first part of its route from Ras Shetan to Jebel Barqa, before aligning with an interior, secondary trail to St Katherine; actually the original route the Sinai Trail took across the region when it opened as a 220km trail in 2015. Moving between Ras Shetan and Nuweiba involves a 20km urban section which can be accelerated in a taxi. Wadi Watir offers a beautiful, direct passage from Nuweiba to the Sinai Trail but a police checkpoint stops hikers going this way. A similarly direct but less scenic alternative to the main route from Ras Shetan - which avoids going north from Nuweiba - runs out of the port, traversing the coastal ranges towards Jebel Mileihis. For more information, see Bedouin Trail: Thru Hike.
NUWEIBA: WHERE TO STAY
Whilst Sharm el Sheikh is top-heavy on five-star international resorts, budget and mid-range accommodation options thrive in Nuweiba, especially Bedouin beach camps offering sleeping options in huts and chalets. Whilst Nuweiba has some good places to stay, the beach camp experience is done best by the small settlement of Ras Shetan, a little way to the north.
SABABA - quiet beachfront camp with a friendly vibe in El Tarabin. Clean, simple accommodation, including rooms or beach huts, with huts the best option. WIFI available. Singles EGP400, doubles EGP600. Tel +20109-406-3646 (Mostafa)
HABIBA BEACH CAMP - long-running beach camp, attached to Habiba Organic Farm, with a strong community feel. Beach huts available & rooms with a/c & en-suites from EGP2700. Tel +20 1091113835 / www.habibacommunity.com
BIG DUNE CAMP - also in Nuweiba el Wassat, next to Zoola Camp. Simple beach huts with beds & fans from EGP300 & higher end chalets with a/c, en-suites, WIFI & high balconies from EGP1800-3700. Tel +20109-001-4025 (Abdullah)
ROCKSEA - superb camp on a headland in Ras Shetan. 100% solar powered, friendly vibe. Huts with fans & mosquito nets EGP1200 inc breakfast & dinner, doubles EGP1950. Higher end options available too. See www.rocksea.net / email@example.com
DROUB - Founded by two thru hikers of the Sinai Trail, Droub stands a little north of Ras Shetan. Quiet, backpacker friendly camp with simple huts, beach swings & hammocks. Singles EGP350, doubles EGP700. Tel +20109-531-0007 (Hazem).
NAKHIL INN - a higher-end hotel at the northern end of El Tarabin. Rooms with a/c, en-suites & WIFI, some with high treehouse-type sleeping platforms. Singles EGP2450, doubles EGP2750. Tel +20-122-2105906 / www.nakhil-inn.com
ZOOLA - quiet, simple & idyllic beach camp on the white sands of Nuweiba el Wassat. Beach huts with beds & fans from EGP300, higher-end chalets with a/c & en-suites from EGP500. WIFI available. Contact +20101-013-3028 (Fayez).
WHITE DUNE CAMP - another neighbour of Zoola camp, a little to the south. Similarly quiet & idyllic, with beach huts available for EGP900 & chalets with a/c & en-suites from EGP1800. WIFI available. Tel +20100-267-5860
SAHARA BEACH - well-established camp with simple beach huts, beds, mosquito nets & electricity. Sandy beach & relaxed vibe throughout. Good food & WIFI available. Huts charged at EGP480 per person. Contact +20100-507-3652.
DAYRA - One of the very best options. Friendly, welcoming, community-following across Egypt. Huts EGP500 per person; pitch-your-own tent area for EGP400 with breakfast. See www.dayracamp.com / Tel +20114-3333-131