Egypt has a mystical and timeless appeal that has been attracting travellers from far and wide for many centuries. From the fascinating sights of the Pharoahs, on the banks of the Nile at Luxor to the glorious beaches of the Red Sea at Sharm El Sheikh, this is a land of great contrast, where ancient and modern life exist side by side. Until 1967, Sharm el Sheikh was merely a tiny outpost where customs men could keep an eye open for smugglers. Then its charms and tourist potential were recognized, and today it has an airport, fully developed hotel infrastructure, and well-organized sports facilities. The old town of Sharm el Sheikh itself (known as downtown Sharm) is set on the NW side of the almost completely enclosed Sharm el Maya Bay, which is flanked by low flat-topped cliffs. Naama Bay, 5 mls NE, lies all round the edge of the semicircular bay of the same name, again with flat cliffs on both edges. Both are backed by inhospitable arid desert with rugged saw-toothed mountains in the distance. Visitors can take full advantage of the hot, sunny weather, glorious beaches and underwater paradise without roughing it - and without the crowds. The main attraction is scuba diving in the area's unusually warm waters, full of many unique forms of marine life and spectacular coral reefs. Increasingly becoming known as a normal winter-sun beach holiday destination, thanks to its virtually guaranteed sun and dry atmosphere.