El Kousseir, Egypt: a resort not just for divers

El-Qusair resort in Egypt.

El-Qusair is not on the list of the most popular resorts in Egypt, which is why it is attractive to many tourists. If you have already been to Egypt and want an “exclusive”, it is the perfect solution. On this page we will tell you about the features and attractions of El Qusair.

The main ideas of this resort are.

The vicinity of El Qusair city has been declared a special ecological zone. The Egyptian government has already “stepped on mistakes” in the resorts of Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, when they did not control the environmental situation. They do not intend to make such mistakes a second time.

Beach in Eden Kusair, wildlife

Thanks to serious restrictions on economic activities, the resort of El-Qusair has become one of the best places for diving enthusiasts and those who want to enjoy the pristine view of the Red Sea.

Naturally, environmental restrictions impose their own mark on the rest in El-Qusair. First of all, this applies to prices. To “fluently” estimate the cost of recreation at this resort, multiply the price of Hurghada or Sharm el-Sheikh in 1.5-2 times.

On the other hand, such pristine coral reefs you will never see in Sharm or Hurghada. You will never see such a variety of fish and sea animals in the popular Egyptian resorts.

Another idea, El Qusair is an ancient city. It is no secret that Sharm el-Sheikh and Hurghada were built quite recently, and these cities were created for tourism and only for tourism. The city of El-Qusseir is 5000 years old. You can see the traditional houses with carved doors and windows, the “old town” really has the right to be called that.

Of course, the city is increasingly subjected to tourism. Even now, most of its population is engaged in the tourism industry, but the original population remains here, and the historical heritage is honored and preserved.

The main features of El-Quesair and the map

It does not have its own airport. Tourists fly to Hurghada or Marsa Alam Airports and then take a bus to Al-Qusair. The resort is right in the middle – about 150 kilometers south of Hurghada and about 135 kilometers north of Marsa Alam.

Map of Egypt with resorts

In any case, prepare for a two-hour trip by tour bus if you bought a package tour. If you’re going here on your own, prepare 600-700 Egyptian pounds for a cab. See the picture to the left for the mutual location of the resorts.

There are not as many hotels here as in the popular resorts. At the time this article was updated (September 2021), there are only 16 big hotels. Of those, only two are classified as 3 stars. This is quite consistent with the image of El Qusayr as an expensive resort.

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Now some of the hotels in El-Qusayr are temporarily closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

There are no crowds of tourists from the former Soviet Union as it is in Hurghada or Sharm. Recreational contingent is more respectable, consisting mainly of representatives of Western European countries. There is always less noise and more calm than in the popular Egyptian resorts.

Russian tourists are accustomed to that the staff at hotels in Egypt speaks Russian, at least at a basic level. It’s not like that in El-Qusair. There is a small chance of finding someone in the hotel who speaks Russian, but do not get your hopes up. English, German and French are spoken by all staff here.

The best hotel in El Quseir is the Moevenpick Resort El Quseir. It is located on the first beach line. It is decorated in the form of small bungalows, and the restaurants are right on the shore of the Red Sea.

Be warned right away, this cost of a vacation at this hotel may seem excessively expensive, but it will help you understand the level of prices in the El Quseir resort.

As we have already mentioned El-Qusseir is located 150 kilometers south of Hurghada and the climate is a bit warmer here. The average water temperature is 1 degree higher than in Hurghada and the air temperature is 0.5 degrees warmer. This feature makes El-Quesair a great place to go to Egypt in winter. See the main article “Weather in Egypt.

Tourists should keep in mind that all the beaches here are coral, and you can’t do without special shoes. In Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheikh, some hotels are making sandy beaches or clean the sand from coral, but in El-Qusayr it is just prohibited by law.

Coral reef fish

Also, it is forbidden to change the landscape on the beach, and many tourists complain about the uncomfortable entrance to the sea. You have to put up with this, these are the features of special ecological zone.

All this is compensated if you snorkel or dive the reef. Untouched underwater reefs preserved all the variety of flora and fauna.

This is a diver’s paradise. If you like to dive and look at the underwater world, then you need to go here. El-Qusair is one of the top diving destinations in Egypt along with Marsa Alam, El Gouna and Dahab.

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History of Al-Qusair

There are many sights to see in El Qusair, and this is due to the city’s rich 5,000-year history. So first a little bit about the history and then we will tell you what you can see interesting in the city.

The Ancient Route of Wadi Hammat

During its existence the city has had ups and downs. Its first dawn came in the days of ancient Egypt.

In ancient times, Egypt was not as arid as it is now. Instead of deserts there were savannahs on which lions and antelopes ran.

There was a river in the place where El-Qusair is now, and it stretched right up to the site of the ancient city of Luxor. It was the dried-up riverbed that became the ideal caravan route from Luxor to the Red Sea coast, and el-Qusair was Egypt’s largest seaport on the Red Sea during the New Kingdom era in Egyptian history.

Through el-Qusair passed trade routes to the south to the country of Punt. What kind of country it was and where it was located, scientists are still arguing, but the fact of its existence and the active trade with Egypt is known for sure.

The largest trade expedition to Punt from Egypt was organized by Queen Hatshepsut around 1500 BC. Hatshepsut’s resting temple at Luxor contains bas-reliefs detailing this expedition.

Ships to the country of Punt

No large expeditions were organized after Hatshepsut. The country of Punt was in decline, and soon Egyptian trade with it ceased. The city lost its key importance.

Its new dawn came during the Arab and Turkish domination, when maritime trade with India and China intensified.

The sights of Qusayr are connected to these two periods of history.

The sights of Qusayr

Wadi Hammat is the area of the dried up river that leads from Qusayr to Luxor. The watchtowers guarding the route are preserved here. There are also mines and quarries along the route which have preserved writings from different eras ranging from 4000 BC to the Ptolemaic period around 100 BC.

Bir Umm Fawakhar is a 6th-7th century gold mine. They are located north of the Wadi Hammat caravan road. In the heyday of gold mining, up to 1,000 people lived there. Now you can go down into the deepest mine about 100 meters long and feel like an ancient miner.

Excavations Mios Hormos

Mios Hormos is an ancient port, built here by the pharaohs of the Ptolemy Dynasty in the 3rd century BC. It was used for trade with India until in the Roman era, this cooperation almost completely stopped due to the general crisis of the Roman Empire. There are now active archaeological excavations here. The photo on the right shows the work of archaeologists. Many tourists do not find this place interesting.

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Sultan Selim Fortress was built in the 16th century during Turkish rule. It became the center of the modern city of El-Qusayr. Now it has been completely restored. Surprisingly, we owe its present appearance, which is completely faithful to the original, to Napoleon Bonaparte.

During his Egyptian campaign at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, the French made sketches of the fortress. And it is from these sketches Sultan Selim’s fortress was restored. Now there is a museum and a tourist center inside.

And of course, water sports – diving, scuba diving, parasailing and water skiing, and desert safaris are very popular in El-Quesayr. In short, there is a lot to do at this resort, and the epithet “boring” does not award it in any way.

Some tourists still call it boring, because there is no big water park, aquarium or zoo. There are no noisy discos or nightclubs.

Let us summarize .

El-Quesair resort has its own specialization. We hope you understood from our description how it is suitable for you.

It is also important and useful to know

– There has been one case of a shark attack on a person in El Qusair, and it was fatal. Read more in our “Sharks in Egypt” review;

– Buy a local SIM card for inexpensive internet at the resort will be expensive. Buy a SIM card without leaving the airport. Read which one in our article “Internet in Egypt;

– The same “trouble” with cigarettes, the prices are inflated compared to the official. Take stock with you or buy at the airport. See the article “Smoking and Cigarettes in Egypt” for details.

Read descriptions of other interesting places in Egypt (links to articles below).

The young Egyptian resort of El-Queir

El-Qusair (the word means “small fortress” in Arabic) is a resort in Egypt known for its coral reefs and gorgeous beaches. On a map of the country, El-Qusair can be found on the southern coast of the Red Sea.

Stone tower

Geography and Climate

El-Qusair is 120 km from Hurghada and 80 km from Marsa Alam. The journey by bus from Hurghada International Airport takes 2.5 hours, by car – 1.5 hours. The route from Hurghada to Qusayr lies through Safaga.

This resort, like the rest of Egypt, has a GMT+2 time zone. The climate in El-Qusayr is hot, winter temperatures range from +20 to +25 degrees, the sea temperature is +20. In summer, the temperature may be as high as +40 degrees and the water temperature reaches nearly +30 degrees. Help carry the heat fresh winds from the sea. The best time of year for a holiday in this city is from September to December.

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The history of .

In ancient times, the site of the city was a port of Jaau in the XVI Nome, it was founded during the reign of Pharaoh Mentuhotep IV. Ships were brought to Jaau from Thebes to send them to the country of Punt. El-Qusayr used to be a strategically important settlement.

In the Hellenistic period the city was given the name Levkos Limen (“White Harbor”).

Through a tributary of the Nile River El-Qusayr was connected to Kitts. The riverbed has long since dried up, but the hieroglyphic tablets are about 4,000 years old. They show boats sailing down the Nile. During Roman rule, watchtowers were erected along the tributary to guard the port, called Mios Hormos, some surviving to this day. Every year ships carrying various costly merchandise were sent from El-Qusayr to India.

Merchant ship

El-Qusayr received its present name during the Ottoman period. Sultan Sulemin’s fortress protected the city from enemies. The architecture of modern El-Qusayr is very interesting – ancient Roman buildings are next to houses built during the Islamic period and also during the conquest of Egypt by the French and the British Empire. At the end of XX century, the city became a resort area and a favorite place for divers from around the world.

Tours and attractions

Historical attractions of the resort are the fortress of Sulemina and the Al-Farran Mosque. In addition to it, there are three other mosques in the city. In El-Qusayr, an ancient Roman port was discovered by archaeologists, where many household items of that time are found. There are ancient quarries and a gold mine not far from the city which date back to the 7th century.

While in El Qusayr you can take a tour on quad bikes or jeeps. You will drive through the desert toward the mountains and visit a Bedouin village. The Bedouins are always hospitable and offer camel rides. You can also go to the most famous cities in Egypt – Cairo, Luxor, Hurghada.

But still the main specialty of this resort is diving. All the hotels on the seashore have diving centers and their own piers with boats and yachts. Diving safaris are also popular here. Tourists can go to the ancient shipwreck, the remains of which are clearly visible from a small vessel. Near the Zabargad Reef you can dive to great depths, there grow great corals and meet unique sea creatures.

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Scarlet fish

Just south of El Qusayr is Elphinstone Reef, which has a sheer wall. Its fauna is very diverse; you can see coral fish such as moray eels, lionfish, Napoleon fish, and predators such as sharks, barracuda, and stingrays. Near Elphinstone there are large turtles and even dolphins.

Shopping and Entertainment

El-Quesair in Egypt can not be called a noisy and lively city – life there flows steadily and there are few tourists on the streets. Almost all tourists spend their time in the hotels, where they have an extensive infrastructure – swimming pools, sports courts, restaurants, gyms and much more.

It takes 15 minutes to get to the hotels from the city. Due to the relatively recent development of the tourism industry in El-Queira, the hotels are brand new and very comfortable.

If you go to El-Queira you can visit several restaurants with great food and a cafe where you can smoke an aromatic hookah. It is where the young people of the city gather in the evenings.

In the center there are quite a lot of stores and outlets with souvenirs, where original products of local artisans are sold. As a memento one usually buys T-shirts with the inscription “El-Qusair”, statues made of alabaster, carpets, figurines made of leather and papyrus. However, when buying papyrus we recommend asking for a certificate.

Shells on the beach

El Qusayr is a small town, and women often work as vendors. The stores are open from 9 a.m. to 9-10 p.m., but they close for lunch in the afternoon. You can buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the city market.

Tips for tourists

While vacationing in El-Queira, do not forget that Egypt is a country with its own traditions and customs. For example, the Quran forbids taking pictures that depict a person. Therefore, you can not take pictures of local Egyptians without their permission. Women need to remember that here, as in any Islamic country, is not welcomed open clothes.

Before shopping try to study Arabic numerals – so you will know what the price is on the price tag and you can bargain. In hotels and restaurants it is customary to leave a “tip”.

El-Qusair is a place for a quiet holiday away from the noise of the city, combined with active diving. The underwater scenery and sandy beach leave no one indifferent.

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