An overlook at Elba Mountain. May 14, 2017 - Wikimedia/Ahmed Ehab
CAIRO – 3 January 2018: One of Egypt’s unforgettable heavens; Gebel Elba National Park is a remote place in the southeastern corner of Egypt, where Elba Mountain blossoms on one side and a network of small valleys and Red Sea hills are situated on the other side, separating the Red Sea coast from the southernmost mountain of Egypt, Elba Mountain.
Elba Protected area May14, 2017– Wikimedia/Ahmed Ehab
The park – Egypt’s largest and richest protected area – stretches over 50 square kilometers north of Shalateen, all the way south to the Egypt-Sudanese border. Also, it lies 250 kilometers south of Marsa Alam.
Elba park is considered a biodiversity laden land which encompasses a myriad of ecosystems ranging from marches, coastal plains, mangroves and coral reefs to mountain high lands, sand dunes and valleys including around 458 plant species of acacias, moringas and dragon trees, 86 different corals, 104 fish species, 60 resident birds comprising eagles and falcons, and 26 mammals including gazelles, Barbary sheep and ibexes.
Closer Look at Elba National Park – May 14, 2017 - Wikimedia/Ahmed Ehab
But what makes this area unique is its weather which is relatively moist because of its closeness to the sea and favorable position in the face of humid winds, affecting the surface temperature of the rocks and any exposed surfaces causing them to be cool overnight. The area also witnesses unusually high rainfall of 400 millimeters each year on average, which is caused by a combination of prevailing north east rain bearing winds over a wide range of the mountain, forcing moist clouds upwards and causing them to cool, condensate and eventually rain.
The park’s high precipitation levels, combined with the cooler temperatures of the higher altitudes, sustain a surprising variety of wildlife – from 40 species of birds and 30 species of reptiles to 23 species of mammals that have been recorded in the park.
The most highlighted landscape in this region is Mount Elba, which is Egypt’s second highest mountain, at 1,435 meters high, whose summit is a “mist oasis” that contributes in the forming of dew, mist and clouds.
View of Gebel Elba – January 28, 2007 – Wikimedia/Usamaghazali
Back in history, ancient Egyptians extracted oil from the seeds planted in the park’s soil and used them in perfumes, cooking and skin lotions. Nowadays, Bedouin men work, often in pairs, to harvest the seeds from the trees to then sell them in Cairo’s markets.
Although Elba National Park was established by Egypt in 1985, getting permission to visit it is difficult, as you need a police officer to accompany your expedition due to its close proximity to the Sudanese border and also due to concerns over the impact of tourism on the delicate environment.
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