The Coloured Canyon presents one of the most magnificent rock formations in the world. Driving through the Wadi Watir (wadi = valley) to reach the canyon, the visitor will recognize very soon that it doesn't have to be green to be beautiful. The vegetation that you see throughout the drive & the hike is very limited. No more than some lonely acacias, green capparis (capparis sinaica), tamarisk trees, willow trees, sodom apples (which are poisonous) and desert pumpkin. Now, the rock formations are an incomparable attraction: they vary from sandstone to limestone, granite and veins of basalt dominate the scenery through the entire hike.
The road to the Coloured Canyon is well paved, and snakes nicely through magnificent mountains and bold, rugged rock-formations of awe-inspiring beauty. Then, by a cluster of date palms, it turns onto a gravel road for about 15 minutes. As you reach the summit, rehydrated & energized, you are ready to descend.
When you start descending, you'll notice that many of the rocks are covered in a chalk-like powder caused by being worn down by tourists. After about 20 minutes, it feels like walking through a dry riverbed.
It is a must, besides watching your feet, to look around and above you (at some points, the walls reach some 20 stories in height) to realize that it is a geological wonderland. At some places, the rocks radiate crystalline colors, at others, they have a smooth velvety appearance. Except for one or two obstacles, it's fairly an easy hike.
For example, at one point, one has to slide down through a vent, where the two sides of the canyon almost touch each other and where maybe thousands of years ago, a fallen boulder had blocked the way, leaving a narrow opening underneath. On the other side of this obstacle, the canyon floor gradually starts to rise again. A few minutes later, another obstacle appears where the best way to handle is to swing yourself around a huge rock to slide two meters down, or simply to jump over it.
The canyon is almost 800m long. Before you climb out of it, you'll see a twin palm-tree, which gives a little shelter for about a minute. The first bit of climbing up is your choice, walking uphill and getting sandy hands or doing some rock-climbing. Then comes a short and flat walk before the last climb to reach the point where your 4-wheel drive laid in the sun for almost two hours. Probably, your driver either had a nap or played backgammon with his fellows waiting for you...
Try to be there as early as possible, in summer, start the hike around 00:07am, in winter at about 00:09 am is good. This can avoid bad weather, but more important is to avoid the masses of tourists. With too many people, it doesn't feel majestic anymore.
A guide is a good idea. As some of the tracks & footprints take you to nowhere and you loose time.
Keep your hands free; you might need them to support yourself, especially the first bit.
Make sure that you include this trip, if you're at Nuweiba, Dahab, Sharm El-sheikh or St.Cathrine's.
The trip from Cairo is much longer: through the tunnel underneath the Suez Canal (approx. 2 hours) it will take in total about 5 hours to reach the Coloured Canyon.