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Gebel Elba – the remote mist forest of the Sahara

Summary and recommendation: 10 days nomadic bird-expedition to one of the remotest, unexplored and most exciting spot of the Western Palearctic.


Destination country: Egypt. Start and finish in Marsa Alam, Egypt.

Next schedules: TBA

Duration: 10 days. It is wise the book the flight tickets from Egypt Air as it is simple and cheaper to book the international and domestic flights from the same company. Extension to southern egyptian pelagic trip also available. To see some pictures click here and here!

Price: ... GBP (excl. airfares). Price includes: accommodations and meals (lunch is typically picnic!), drinking water, vehicle hire with fuel and driver guide, park entrance fees and ranger guides. The price exclude: bank transfer loss, international flight, visa, tips, drinks, personal travel insurance and any other activities of personal request e.g. laundry, toalet fees, phone calls, etc.

Accommodation: 2 nights in Ecolodge, 8 nights in campings (tents).

Numbers: Max 15 tour participants.

Transport: Bus to Halaib. 4WDs from Halaib to Gebel Elba.

Recommended link: Please read Steve's trip report about our latest expedition!

Description: "...The trip is exploratory, due to travel restrictions in the region. This is the first trip organized for explorers as it is a virtually “terra incognita” from many points of view.
Gebel Elba is a single mountain in the extreme SE of Egypt in the so called Halaib Triangle, an unique area of Egypt administered by the Sudanese Government.
The average annual rainfall due to some particularities is up to 400 mm/year and mist clouds often shroud the mountain, which allows a higher biodiversity than in any other region of Egypt. Kassas and Zahran (1971) describes 458 plants from the area, among them the superb Ombet tree (Dracaena ombet); 23 mammals has been reported from the region, including Aardwolf, Striped Hyena, Leopard, Wild Ass, Nubian Ibex, Dorcas Gazelle, Ethiopian Hedgehog, Zorilla and Spotted Genet; 24 reptiles and amphibians, some of them been endemic species (Sharif Baha el Din, 2006): Dodson`s Toad (Bufo dodsoni), Speckled Snad Snake (Psammophis punctulatus), Theban Sand Boa (Eryx colubrinus colubrinus), Saharan Ocellated Skink (Chalcides cf. humilis), Anseba Lizard (Acanthodactylus mucronatus), Mount Elba Snake–eyed Lizard (Ophisops elbanensis), Long-tailed Lizard (Lacerta longicaudata)...The avifauna is unique if we are considering this area as the part of the West Palearctic..."

Target birds: Ostrich (Struthio camelus), Lammergeyer (Gypaetus barbatus), Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus), Lapped-faced Vulture (Torgos tracheliotos), Egyptian Vulture (Neophron precnopterus), Verreaux’s Eagle (Aquila verreauxi), Pink-headed Dove (Streptopelia riseiogrisea), Namaqua Dove (Oena capensis), Blackstart (Cercomela melanura), Rosy-patched Shrike (Rodophoenus cruentus), Black-bush Robin (Cercotrichas podobe), Long-billed Pipit (Anthus similis), Shining Sunbird (Nectarinia habesinica), Sudanese Golden Sparrow (Passer luteus), Arabian Warbler (Sylvia leucomelanea), Fan-tailed Raven (Corvus riphydurus), Fulvous Bubbler (Turdoides fulvus), Black-crowned Finch Lark (Eremopterix nigriceps), Red-tailed Wheatear (Oenanthe crysophigia), House Bunting (Emberiza striolata).


Day 1. Arrival and meeting at Marsa Alam International Airport, by a domestic flight operated by Egypt Air. Overnight in a nearby 2* Hotel or Ecolodge. After gathering, we`ll serve the dinner and discuss the further detail of the next days.

Day 2. Departure to Halaib, shopping of supply (food and water) on the way. Than, we`ll say goodbye to the civilization and asphalted road, and take the ancient camel track to the heart of the Eastern Desert, heading to the foots of Gebel Elba. As we arrive to the mouth of Wadi Adeib, we`ll set up the camp in a selected place on the spot. (Lat. 22.205440° Long. 36.391826°).

Day 3. In this first true day in Gebel Elba we will walk upstream of the Wadi Aideib, exploring the surroundings of the new habitat, looking for animal tracks, rock paintings, caves in the surroundings of the camp, and of course, keeping with our eyes and ears open for the the local bird specialitys (Sudanese Golden Sparrow, Rosy- Patched Shrike, and Shining Sunbird).

Day 4. Exploring the whole length of end the Wadi Adeib (Lat. 22.188647° Long36.368220°), focusing of the rare local breeding Bateleur and on the larges lacertid Lizard in Egypt: Long-tailed Lizard .

Day 5. Car trip to Wadi Akamwatra in search of the Sudanese Golden Sparrow, Egyptian Nightjar and the tiny Nubian Nightjar, which has been reported from here. (Lat. 22.194379° Long. 36.326683°) No 3 on the map.

Day 6. Exploring Wadi Akau (Lat. 22.218598° Long 36.321755°) the best place for Bonelli`s Eagle and Verreaux`s Eagle.

Day 7. Car trip to Wadi Serimat (Lat. 22.110376° Long. 36.338968°) to the mist forest at the top of Gebel Elba, to photograph the amazing Ombet Trees (Lat. 22.169801 Long 36.360084°).

Day 8. Car trip to the place where the most birds were found (Wadi Serimat, Wadi Akau, or Wadi Adeib)

Day 9. Drive to the Red Sea Coast, for birding at Gezirat (island) Halaib El-Kibir (Lat. 22.264953° Long 36.642031°). Swimming in the warm and extremely clean waters of the Red Sea is somehow a must after an exhausting week in the mountains. On the sand dunes we can look for the extremely elusive Theban Sand Boa, and the mangroves can reserve some surprises for us : Crab Plovers, Goliath Herons and we`ll have the chance to be the first to discover a population of the mangrove dweeling African Reed Warblers (Acrocephalus avicienne)! Departure to Marsa Alam, for overnight in a 2* hotel or Ecolodge.

Day 10. Departure to Cairo with Egypt Air

The price includes:
- Hotels Bed & breakfast (first and last day of the trip).
- Full board in desert (food& water).
- Tent for camping in desert.
- A Diesel electricity generator will be provided (please take the necessary converters with you)
- Transportation from Marsa Alam and back.
- Permissions to Gebel Elba National Park.

Not included:
- Flight ticket, medical insurance, tips for the drivers, cook & the desert guide (local bedouins).

- A police officer will join us for “security reasons”.


Upcoming trips & Expeditions

Slovenia-Croatia birding (14-23 June, 2022)

Hungarian butterfly circle (29, June - 07 July, 2022)

The Danube Clouded Yellow and her friends (Transylvania butterfly special; 2x July trips, 2022)

Slovenia butterflying (21 - 28 July, 2022)

Montenegro butterflying (10 - 18 Aug., 2022)

Late summer birding trip (Hungary, 21-31 Aug., 2022)

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