Scuba Diving in the Southern Red Sea

Southern part of the Egypt Red Sea

This year my wife and I traveled to Egypt for a 1 week scuba diving safari in the southern region of the Egypt part of the Red Sea ( which itself reaches further down up to Eritrea ), after we had been there last year to explore the North.

Our dive sides in the Red Sea

In the middle of the night – at 01:15 am on May 28th – our group of divers from our local scuba diving club met at Frankfurt airport terminal 2 to check in for TUIFly flight 6102 to Hurghada, which departed on time at 03:20 am. After 4,5 hours flying time we landed in Egypt and started our second part of the trip, a 6 hours bus ride to Hamata. On our way we picked up our two dive guides for the week, Sonya from Switzerland and Vanessa from Spain, at a hotel in Port Ghalib.

At late afternoon we went on board the M/Y Emperor Elite. After the boat briefing we had to fill out a lot of paper work and clarify all kinds of questions with our dive guides about our last dive, number of dives, health, and a few more topics. After dinner we went to bed quiet quickly after this long journey without any sleep. Nevertheless, the boat had started its long trip down into the South to the Abu Fandera Reef so the engine was running all night long and we did not get much sleep either in this night.

Welcome on board the M/Y Emperor Elite
Welcome on board the M/Y Emperor Elite

Wakeup was at 06:30 am the next day for our first early morning and check dive. Like last year I used 11 kilogram additional weight and that turned out to be just right. The strenuous  journey the day before had been  forgotten real quick as soon as I entered the water.   We stayed at this reef for this and the next day and enjoyed 5 relaxing dives there.

Real quick we started to feel comfortable with the daily boat routine schedule: wakeup at 06:00 or 06:30, briefing, early morning dive, breakfast, a video presentation by Sonya about interesting subjects like “Life in the sand”, “Corals”, “Fish”, “Symbiosis”, “Night Dives”, based on film material produced at the Fiji islands, a rest period, next briefing, next dive, lunch, a rest period, briefing, dive, dinner. My wife and I did not do any night dives, three dives a day was quiet enough for us. Sometimes the boat had to travel for a few hours to get to a new dive side during the day. From day 2 on no more shipping during night, thus we now were able to catch more relaxing sleep. The food on board has been excellent and nobody got sick.

On 05/30 we went to the Dangerus Reef, Gota Sachaira and to St. John’s, where I did my first cave dive. No real caves – I probably never will do that – those caves had some exit at the top most of the time.

Sealife DC800

For this scuba diving trip I bought myself a first real underwater camera, a Sealife DC800. It turned out for me that underwater photography is much more complicated than taking pictures on land. I had to make myself familiar with the new equipment and I had to learn my lessons regarding underwater photography; more about this in a separate posting. Correctly adjusting the flash light and maintaining a proper buoyancy had been the main challenges for me. First results can be seen here on my flickr account.

After the St. John’s Caves we traveled much further North and visited Claudia, Abu Galawa with a little boat wrack, and Shiriniat, before we continued our trip to the famous Elphinstone Reef. Until that time our dives had been quiet easy and relaxing, now it started to become more advanced: we went down to depth up to 40 meters and had to deal with strong currents. We did three dives here and the first two had been quiet a challenge for me. During these dives we have been dropped off above the northern plateau and every time I was struggling to escape the current and get close to the wall on the Eastern side to start the drift towards the South. Vanessa signaled me to go deeper to find a weaker current there during the first dive which indeed worked nicely, and during the second dive Sonya had to pull me closer to the wall. The third dive became easier since we skipped the North Plateau and started our dive right away behind the main reef on the West to then do a smooth drift to the South Plateau and getting back to our boat without the need to be picked up by a Zodiac.

Yellow couple at Abu Dabab II
Yellow couple at Abu Dabab II

Real quickly the week went by. On the evening of the last day on sea we got a special dinner with a huge turkey and a big cake for desert, combined with some Thanks speeches to the crew, music and dancing. The next day we did two more dives, at  Abu Dabab II and Shouna not far away from Port Ghalib, where we also observed a big school of dolphines on the surface. Some of us chased them to go snorkeling but usually they disappeared real quick when the Zodiac approached them.

At the evening we stayed on board in the marina of Port Ghalib and did a short walk through the newly built hotel and shopping area there, before we watched a soccer game evolving between divers and crew members in front of the boat. Two harbor sheriffs appeared to stop that and Vanessa had to have a phone call with their boss to get the game going again.

The next day we had to leave the boat at 09:00 am and stayed in a hotel at the pool for the next 6 hours before a bus took us back to the airport in Hurghada, where our flight back home departed at 09:05 pm. It became 03:00 am in the night until my wife and I got back home, tired but lucky about this interesting trip to the Red Sea, real busy but busy in a different way: no time to think about work, somehow relaxing to follow a tied schedule made to support lots of fun and wonderful dives.

Here is a list of my dives:

# Date Depth Duration Dive side
1 05/29/2009 22.5 m 44′ Abu Fandera East
2 05/29/2009 17.4 m 47′ Abu Fandera East
3 05/29/2009 22.7 m 42′ Abu Fandera East
4 05/30/2009 19.6 m 49′ Abu Fandera West
5 05/30/2009 19.6 m 48′ Abu Fandera West
6 05/30/2009 22.4 m 45′ Dangerus Reef
7 05/31/2009 22.2 m 45′ Gota Sachaira (Shaab Mahrous)
8 05/31/2009 16.7 m 51′ Umharim (St. John’s Cave)
9 06/01/2009 12.9 m 58′ Claudia
10 06/01/2009 16.6 m 55′ Abu Galawa Soghaira
11 06/01/2009 12.4 m 62′ Shiriniat
12 06/02/2009 32.1 m 36′ Elphinstone Reef
13 06/02/2009 37.7 m 35′ Elphinstone Reef
14 06/02/2009 38.0 m 46′ Elphinstone Reef
15 06/03/2009 15.8 m 57′ Abu Dabab II
16 06/03/2009 28.6 m 45′ Shouna
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