There are a number of travel trivia questions that always turn up in quizzes and conversations. And every time they have you scratching your head in a, ‘I really should know this’ kind of way. Well, we’re looking at the places and countries that leave you geographically embarrassed, starting with is it the Red Sea or Dead Sea?
Let us know your top geographical confusions in the comments below.
Well could be either. They are both real places and they are not that far apart. So it is not that much of a surprise that many people are geographically embarrassed by this one. That said they are very different:
Guide to the Red Sea
Africa and the Middle East are separated by a long channel of water called the Red Sea. Access is via the Gulf of Aden, where the Indian Ocean ends and the Red Sea begins. Or it can be reached from the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.
At the most southern point, the channel between the two land masses is just 12 miles (20km) wide. Stretching 1,200 miles, it reaches Sharm El Sheik on the south coast of Sinai Peninsula before dividing into the Gulf of Aqaba and the Gulf of Suez.
It was formed over 30 million years as the African landmass separated from the Arabian plate. The resulting Red Sea was left rich in nutrients and it is teeming with life. There is rich, diverse reef life and there are plenty of wreck diving opportunities, too.
Thanks to this, Red Sea scuba diving holidays have become massively popular. Our love of all things subaqua is served by a number of well established tourist destinations in Egypt such as Sharm El Sheik, Hurghada, Dahab and El Gouna. But scuba diving holidays are possible in Sudan, Eritrea or Djibouti in Africa and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.
The Red Sea is also popular for windsurfing and kitesurfing in Egypt. Reliable winds, warm, flat waters and a good tourism infrastructure mean it is a perfect destination. Just be sure to check the latest Egypt travel advice from FCO.
Not a million miles from the Red Sea – 120 miles (200km) from the furthermost tip of the Gulf of Aqaba to be exact – is the inaccurately named Dead Sea. At 11 miles (18 km) across and 50 miles (64 km) long, this body of water is actually a lake. In case you are interested a sea is at sea-level and open to the ocean.
With Jordan to the east and Israel and Palestine to the west, it’s famously the lowest point on earth and teeming with minerals. At 410 m below sea level the Dead Sea most certainly is not a sea.
Dead as a Dodo? Well, not really. The Dead Sea is alive! Researchers have discovered underwater freshwater springs and multitudes of microorganisms. Although there are no fish as it is way too salty.
This is because the Dead Sea is a massive salt flat, fed from the Jordan River. Surrounded by a wild landscape riddled with caves and canyons gauged from mountains of salt, its shoreline is largely orographic desert meaning it receives little precipitation as it sits in the rain shadow of the Judean Hills.
Now, while you could go diving here there is nothing to see and the water is so dense it’s too difficult to be fun. Many people visit during overland trips or cultural holidays. There is also plenty of walking in the area and in theory you could kite or windsurf on the Dead Sea if conditions were right.
So, that’s ‘is it the Red Sea or Dead Sea’ trouble sorted out. Any suggestions for other posts to our Geographically embarrassed section? Answers on a post card postcard please! Or even better in the comments below.
Check out our Middle East adventure holidays that you could combine with a trip to either the Red or Dead sea.