Whilst our healing retreat is being built, I have tried to give our readers a feel of the energy and vibes that we will embrace and the kind of space we want to create for our ‘retreaters.’ We prefer the word retreaters over guests or clients because we hope that people who come to us will view the place as theirs for the duration of their stay and exercise the freedom to be themselves.
So far, this blog has shared what we are aspiring to achieve and what you can expect from our retreat in terms of treatments, healing modalities; how the desert itself is a great healing environment and why we chose to be where we are.
Now that the building is well on its way, my future posts will concentrate more on updates and the progress of the work, so that you can follow the journey as we get closer to our dream in the desert. But before that I cannot proceed without mentioning Wadi Gemal National Park. We are fortunate to be located literally on its border.
Wadi Gemal National Park
Also known as The Valley of The Camels, it is 7400 sq m and includes both marine space and virgin desert, it is described as the most natural area of Egypt and has been protected since 2003. It has some of the most beautiful landscape and is home to many species of wild life and flora and fauna.
Its waters are described as a Divers Haven and its Deserts as a Hikers Paradise. It’s a vast area to cover so this week we’ll explore the beautiful desert terrain.
The Mountains and the Wadis
The Valleys are called ‘Wadis’ there are hundreds of them, the main ones are still inhabited by the few remaining Ababda families with their animals.
The varied landscape of the desert is such that no two wadis are the same, they differ in geology and character.
In 2015, the park had its first rainfall in 11 years, yet the plants still found a way! We’ve been fortunate to have rain every year since then.
There are natural wells if you dig deep enough. There are also fresh water springs which overflow to make small streams when the water is high enough.
Mountain Spring Dry Stream
Here you will find the Visitor Centre and the park’s first outpost. This wadi is significant because it has evidence of pre-historic rock art etched on the rocks.
It’s fascinating because many of the desert tracks between the Red Sea and the Nile show evidence of Pre-historic man, and what is now a desert is depicted in these drawings as lush terrain with many kinds of tropical animals including giraffes, cattle and thriving farming communities.
There are even images of boats which bear out claims that there were tributaries that flowed from the Nile to the Red sea.
Here you will find the remains of an ancient Roman settlement Mons Smaragdus (Emerald Mountains). Their primary concern with this area was with the emeralds, there is still evidence of the Cleopatra Mines. They would excavate here and then send the raw stones across the desert to the Nile from where it would set off on its journey to Italy. Today this area is still rich in gold and minerals and you can still find Roman coins among the ruins.
Wadi El Gemal
Confused? It’s a bit confusing but the park takes its name from this valley, ‘the Valley of the Camels and it is here that you are most likely to see camels roaming freely.
The landscape in this wadi is pristine with splendid views.
So many different coloured landscapes
Wadi Gemal National Park has over 70 different species of plants that are used for medicinal purposes. Tamer Mahmoud worked as a ranger in Wadi El Gemal National Park and has written a wonderful book on the plants in the park and their uses. It’s a very good read and has some beautiful pictures.
Wadi Gemal’s landscape is different to anywhere else in Egypt and the further south you go the more beautiful it becomes, the terrain is interspersed with acacia trees and grasses reminiscent of the African savannah.
Don’t forget to: follow this blog for updates, you can also view pictures on instagram: www.instagram.com/marsa_alam_desert_retreat