Field Trips

Oasis in desert mountains. Wadi Gunai . Dahab. South Sinai. Egypt.

Field trip # 1

Wadi Gonai & Three pools
Written by & Trip leader: Dr. Samir Kamh
Field Guide:
Dr. Mohamed Abdullah KOTB (The General Director of Sinai Protected Areas)

Wadi Gonai:
Wadi Gonai is located about 6 km south of Dahab and known as a granitic wadi. Granitic rocks have wide areal extension around Dahab city and at wadi Gonai. These rocks known as younger granites formed as far back as 600 million years and attain more than 1000 m elevation. They composed mainly monzogranite, alkali granite. The monzogranites are pink in color, medium to coarse – grained, highly jointed, fractured and exhibit high relief. They have gradational contacts with syenogranites and dissected by different types of dykes.

Dyke Swarms:
There are dykes like curious stripes that crisscross the ranges, which you can see wherever you go in the mountainous areas around Dahab. These stripes, varying in colour but usually dark. When these dykes softer rock than the surrounding granite, they erode faster often forming gullies, cuttings or long depressions functioning as natural channels. When the surrounding granite is softer, dykes stand above the surface, often forming long hills or backbone like.

Three Pools:
Three natural pools with sandy bottom. Moreover, the three pools are between 3 – 4 m and aligned next to each other. They contain hard coral slope with massive pore corals and small pinnacles between which are salad coral and brain corals. Diving up to depth of 15 – 20 meters.

The trip track has amazing attractions such as:
Geological attractions in Wadi Gonai
• Amazing steep granite walls
• Gradational Contacts
• Systematic fractures sets
• Dyke swarms (parallel, branching, crosscutting relation, different types, directions, thickness)

Geomorphological attractions in Wadi Gonai:
• Rugged mountains
• Vast amounts of perfect bouldering on granite boulders in shaded, sand-floored valleys
• Waterfalls
• Camel Canyon
• Alluvial fan
• Coastal features
• Meandering
• V-shaped streams
• Stream dyke barriers
• Flash flood traces
• Sand and rocky beaches


abu galum-1
abu galum-7
Coral and fish in the Red Sea.Egypt
abu galum-9

Field trip # 2

Blue Hole and Abu Gallum Protected Area
Written by & Trip leader: Dr. Samir Kamh
Field Guide:
Mr. Ahmed Mohamed EL SADEK (The Director of Abu Gallum PA.)

Blue Hole:

The Blue Hole is exciding more than 100 depth underwater sinkhole, located 7 km north of the city of Dahab. It isn’t just one of the Sinai’s most popular dive sites. This hole was originally a cave system formed out of limestone starting with the last glacial period. It is considered a karst eroded sinkhole and said to be the largest of its kind and is actually part of the Belize barrier reef reserve. The best way to snorkel this spot is to enter the water up north on the reef, and then to drift to the Blue Hole. Snorkeling consists in moving along the vertical coral walls surrounding the sinkhole, where large shoals of surgeonfish, couples of butterfly fish and small groups of Red Sea banner fish find shelter. Opposite the shore, there is a shallow opening, known as “the saddle”.

Abu Gallum protected area:

 Abu Gallum is a managed resource protected area that covers an area of about 400 km², located between Dahab and Nuweiba. It represents third of five protectorates located in the south Sinai district of Egypt. It was declared a reserve in 1992 primarily for the protection of mangroves and coral reefs. The protectorate is among most picturesque in Egypt with its high mountains sinuous valleys, coastal suns, spectacular alluvial fans, and low-lying salt flats. Impressive granite mountains end abruptly on the coastal plain. Easy beach entries and fringing reefs with some of the highest coverage and richest formations of coral in Sinai make this park a snorkeler’s paradise. The importance of Abu Gallum can be seen in the existence of a special topography in the area. Where the mountains near the beaches and the varied terrains include coral reefs, sea herbs, sea creatures, lagoons, mountains and desert environmental system, meaning almost everything at one place.

Abu Gallum Flora and Fauna Because of the wide variety of natural habitats, this small area hosts a remarkable 165 plant species. The mountains and valleys are refuges for wild animals and birds.

Abu Gallum main attractions Abu Gallum is one of Sinai’s least developed parks, wherein lies its appeal. 

The main attraction is its wilderness-an island of peace in a sea of development.  Ras Mamalah 

 Wadi Arasasa 

 Wadi Al Okda 

 Dahayla village 

 Blue Hole



Field trip # 3

Saint Katherine
Written by : Dr. Shahenaz EL GAMMAL
Trip leader: Dr. Samir KAMH
Field Guide:
Mr. Ismail Mohamed Hatab (The Director of St Catherine PA.)

St. Katherine area is occupied entirely by granitic and volcanic rocks which are invaded by a few numbers of acidic and basic dykes. These rock units are faulted and jointed with various intensities and attitudes. The Katherina volcanic overlie both the volcanic and the alkali feldspar granites with an angular unconformity. The Katherina volcanics are mainly alkali rhyolites and less abundantly alkali latites with more than 1000 m thick.
St. Katherine area includes the highest mountains in Sinai, hence its mild climate compared to the surrounding arid areas. Temperature ranges from 23 to 32 c⁰ in summer and from 9 to 12 c⁰ in winter. The area is characterized by a higher precipitation (62 mm/year). The relative humidity ranges from 30% to 60% and reaches 90% during rainy times.
The geomorphology of the St. Katherine area is a reflection of the structures and lithologic composition of the existing basement rocks. Saint Katherine area and its surroundings are characterized by a mountains landscape which consists mostly of hard granitic rocks forming very rugged peaks rising up to 2637 m+ at G. Katherine. The mountainous terrain is highly dissected by structurally controlled drainage lines with various widths. The floors of these wadis are covered with alluvial deposits along the wide flat parts, while along the narrow steep slopes, the alluvial cover is washed down.
Factors affecting water occurrences
In St. Katherine area, the geological setting and geomorphology create a unique hydrogeologic system compared to the adjacent areas. The acting factors are as follows:
1- St. Katherine area is enclosed among the highest mountain peaks in Sinai. These mountains form a wide catchment area that receives the highest precipitation all over the surrounding areas ( 62mm/y ).
2- The Katherina volcanics and the medium-grained granites provide suitable environment for high storage capacity where they are highly jointed. Three main joint trends, namely, N-S, NNW-SSE and NE-SW are encountered in these rocks. The stored water in the two overlying rock units flows through the few fractures of the coarse-grained granites and either appears as springs on the valley sides or continues to recharge the limited hydrogeological units.
3- St. Katherine area is generally affected by three main sets of faults, NNW-SSE, NE-SW and N-S. Faults of the first set are mostly open, sometimes filled with permeable gouge which form local aquifers especially where the bounding rocks are jointed.
4- The Quaternary alluvial deposits along the main wadis represent important aquifers due to their thickness and good hydraulic properties. Storage in these aquifers is governed by the acidic dykes that cross water flow and act as natural barriers accumulating water behind.
5- Dykes, in St. Katherine area, play a significant role in the accumulation of water either in the host rocks or in the alluvial deposits. The acidic dykes are resistant to weathering and usually form positive relief features. They act as natural barriers wherever they cross the water flow. In addition to the acidic dykes, the basic dykes are found and dominate the fault zones-oriented NNW-SSE. The top portions of such dykes respond easily to alteration and the resulting clayey material acts as another aquifer with very low horizontal permeability. The lower parts of the basic dykes act as dams that collect water, when intruded in the sheared medium-grained alkali feldspar granites