Warning: travel to North Sinai is not allowed at present!
There is not much along the north coast of the Sinai – there is the city of El-Arish and the swampy lagoon of Lake Bardawil, separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a limestone ridge. El-Arish is a pleasant seaside town with fine beaches and there are families from Cairo who own holiday properties here, but because of its proximity to Rafa and Gaza (Palestinian territories) and problems associated with it, it is not a main tourist destination. Lake Bardawil is of interest for birdwatchers and a part of it is a nature protectorate.
“Lake Bardawil is a large, very saline lake in Egypt on the north coast of the Sinai Peninsula. The lagoon is shallow (reaching a depth of about 3 metres) and is separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a narrow sandbar.Lake Bardawil is about 90 kilometers (56 mi) long, and 22 kilometers (14 mi) wide (at its widest). It covers an area of about 700 km2 (270 m2).
Bardawil is the Arabic version of Baldwin, the name of five Crusader Kings of Jerusalem. The lake lies in an area which, in the Crusader period, was disputed territory between the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem and Egypt, and as early as Herodotus was considered to mark the boundary between Syria and Egypt. Its marshy edges were Herodotus’s Serbonian Bog.”
The Zaranik Experience at Lake Bardawil.
“Zaranik is an important bottleneck for migrating birds and is to feature in the forthcoming Important Bird Areas of Egypt. It was established as a Protected Area by the Egyptian Government in 1983 and forms part of the Lake Bardawil RAMSAR site declared in 1988. It is also the site of Egypt’s first bird observatory and a great opportunity exists for others to experience this magnificent migration spectacle. The Observatory can accommodate up to six people in three bedrooms and has electricity and water. Zaranik is located 35 kilometres west of El Arish on the main north Sinai road and can be reached by either bus and taxi services both of which regularly operate between Cairo and El Arish, although arrangements need to be made to stop at Zaranik. Intending day visitors are advised to contact the Manager, Waheed Salama in advance as visits to the area need to be properly cleared with the local authorities. Entry to the Protected Area is free but an accommodation charge of £3 Sterling per night is levied for staying at the Observatory and this must be pre-booked.”
“The importance of Bardawil as a stop-over and staging site has not been investigated thoroughly, but there are indications that at least a portion of the massive numbers of migrants passing through Zaranik, particularly in autumn, utilize some of the habitats available at the lake. Diversity of breeding species is very low. However, two of the six species known to breed in the immediate vicinity of the lake, Sterna albifrons and Charadrius alexandrinus, occur in internationally important numbers.”