Gabal Elba


Elba Mountain is a peak and in general includes the associated mountainous area in the Hala’ib Triangle area. Despite being claimed by both Egypt and Sudan, the area is currently under Egyptian control.


The higher peaks in the area are Gabal Elba itself (1,435 m), Gabal Shellal (1,409 m), Gabal Shendib (1,910 m) and Gabal Shendodai (1,526 m).

Average annual rainfall in the region is less than 50 mm, but orographic precipitation in and around Gabal Elba itself amounts to as much as 400 mm. in the upper areas.

This phenomenon owes to the vicinity of the Red Sea coast (some 15–30 km east of the mountains) and also to the fact that the coast, slightly curved to the east at this point, presents an unusually broad front to the sea across a 20–25 km strip of relatively flat land which facilitates interception of moisture-laden north-east sea winds.

This phenomenon is registered at its best in the northeast of the region, where Gabal Elba is located, which explains the fact that Gabal Elba receives higher precipitation than other coastal mountains in the range, including higher ones. Aridity gradually increases to the southwest of the area.


Gabal Elba’s summit is a “mist oasis” where much of the precipitation is contributed in the form of dew, mist and clouds, creating a unique ecosystem not found anywhere else in the country.

Indeed, Gabal Elba is a “biodiversity hotspot”, with a biological diversity unparalleled in any terrestrial environment in Egypt proper. The relative abundance of moisture supports a diverse flora of some 458 plant species – almost 25% of plant species recorded for the entire country.

Many Afrotropical elements have their northern limits at Gabal Elba and the dense cover of acacias and other scrubs represents the only natural woodland in Egypt. There is at least one endemic species of plant (Biscutella elbensis).