Walking in Egypt’s Coloured Canyon

Stuart Forster visits the Sinai Peninsula and goes walking in Egypt’s Coloured Canyon.

Hamid Selmi is a man of few words. The Bedouin guide beckons me to follow him and walks through fine golden sand and onto the bedrock that marks the beginning of a trek along Egypt’s Coloured Canyon.

Disclosure: Stuart Forster, the author of this post, travelled to Sharm el Sheikh as a guest of the Savoy Sharm el Sheikh, which did not review or approve this article.

I’m already impressed by Hamid’s knowledge of the terrain in this part of the Sinai Desert. As soon as our four wheel drive vehicle turned off the highway’s tarmac and onto the dunes, he came into his own, pointing and providing instructions as to the route we must follow. We bumped and snaked our way through the challenging drive over the sand to reach the unmarked canyon.

Selmi, a Bedouin guide in traditional Arabic clothing.
Selmi, a Bedouin guide in traditional Arabic clothing.

A canyon sculpted by nature

You don’t have to be a geologist to appreciate the, which has been formed by centuries of erosion. Nature’s sculptors – water, wind and sand – have gradually carved a spectacular channel through exposed layers of limestone and sandstone that long ago lay at the bottom of the Red Sea’s ancestor.

Erosion has helped form stunning geological formations such as the Coloured Canyon in the Sinai Desert.
Erosion has helped form stunning geological formations such as the Coloured Canyon in the Sinai Desert.

During the course of our trek we drop from a height of 770-metres to 570-metres above today’s sea level. I’m glad that all I’m carrying is a camera; in places the canyon is barely wide enough for a person to pass through without scraping against the steep walls of stone. Now and again we need to scramble down the rocks. Hamid shows the easiest way to climb down the steepest sections of the canyon.

Patterns worn by water and wind on rocks in the Coloured Canyon.
Patterns worn by water and wind on rocks in the Coloured Canyon.

Stone worn by wind and sand

Just 800-metres long, the Coloured Canyon is relatively short but the spectacular walk takes well over an hour as we keep pausing to enjoy the scenic details. The reddish stone has been worn smooth in places. Hamid points out the hues of natural sediments and curious rock formations, some of which look like grotesque sculptures.

Selmi in the Coloured Canyon.
Selmi in the Coloured Canyon.

He knows the canyon well and points out fascinating details that visitors such as myself would never otherwise notice, making the visit all the more memorable.

Colourful, mineral deposit rich in rocks within the Coloured Canyon on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. .
Colourful, mineral deposit rich in rocks within the Coloured Canyon on the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

Location of Egypt’s Coloured Canyon

The Coloured Canyon is approximately 130 kilometres north of Sharm el Sheikh. The canyon’s location can be seen on the map below:

Google Map showing Egypt’s Coloured Canyon (also spelt Colored Canyon)

Further information

Find travel and tourist information about Egypt on the Egypt Travel website.

Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography which is available for travel shoots worldwide.

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A version of this post was originally published on 13 May 2013.

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