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The Red Sea | Northern Egypt | Southern Egypt | The Sudan
 
The Southern Egyptian Red Sea
 

For the Southern Egyptian cruises we are using the beautifully proportioned Hurricane, launched in May 2004, and still the market leader for the Red Sea. 36m in length, and of steel construction, she sleeps 22 in twin en suite cabins, all with individually controlled air conditioning. Each cabin also has its own music system, a small fridge for keeping nightime drinks cool and a safety deposit box for valuables such as passports and money.

The dining area is located on the main deck and the galley serves a selection of delicious international and local cuisine. On the bridge deck is the saloon and bar with stereo, CD/DVD and a plasma screen for watching your underwater videos or one of a large selection of current movies. The well stocked bar serves wines, beers and a variety of spirits and cocktails. The sun deck has open and shaded areas for you to catch some rays or take in a gentle sea breeze, and there are other areas on the ship when sun lovers can work on their tans!

The dive deck is positively state of the art, with tank racks and individual gear bins, camera tables, Nitrox membrane and mixing panel. Technical divers are catered for with oxygen & helium tanks, Inspiration tanks, a range of pony cylinders, sofna lime etc and a modest additional charge. Two 6m RIBs with centre driving consoles whisk you speedily off to the dive sites.

Hurricane is based most of the year at Marsa Alam, which means no long open ocean crossings from Sharm or Hurghada, as in the “good old days”. The Brothers, Daedalus, Elphinstone, Zabagad, St Johns and the reefs of Safaga & Abhu Gifan are all within easy reach, maximising your precious holiday time. Different 7 night cruise itineraries cater for the needs of individuals and groups alike.

Almost directly east out of Marsa Alam can be found The Brothers, two islands rising from exceptionally deep water that are a magnet for sharks and other large pelagics. The sheers walls of The Brothers are covered in soft corals that have grown to immense size in the clear, nutrient rich waters and swift currents. Two excellent shipwrecks are located on the slopes of Big Brother, just to add a bit of variety!

Further south still, towards the Sudanese border, can be found Daedalus, Elphinstone, Rocky Island, Zabargad and St John’s Reef. Daedalus Reef lies approximately 50 miles off shore from Marsa Alam, and is marked by a lighthouse and long jetty that runs to the reef edge. In the deep waters around the flat-topped reef schooling hammerheads, manta rays and other pelagic (including the occasional thresher & whale shark) are regularly sited. Soft corals grow prolifically in the swift currents that sweep around the island, and large hard coral formations step down into the clear waters. A beautiful garden of anemones and their resident clownfish are another highlight of Daedalus.

Elphinstone is only 300m in length but don’t be put off by its paltry size! Sheers walls are home to millions of purple anthias, Napoleon wrasse, tuna, snapper & jacks and in the open ocean you may be lucky to spot the resident thresher shark. Oceanic white-tips are also spotted on a regular basis. At the southern end of the reef the plateau is home to a fabulous coral garden of soft corals, sea fans, sea whips and hard coral formations. An archway between 160-200ft makes for fantastic photo opportunities.

Rocky Island & Zabargad are almost on the Sudanese border; while they are within close proximity of each other they offer markedly different diving. Rocky Island has 3000ft sheer walls similar to those of The Brothers or Ras Mohammed, covered in sea whips and soft corals, some excellent swim throughs and caves, and is an ideal location to see sharks and other pelagics. Zabargad has a stunning aquamarine lagoon; the sun penetrates the shallow depths and here can often be found manta rays cruising the shallows. For shell lovers the lagoon offers excellent night diving opportunities. At the southern end of the lagoon a beautiful coral tower rises from the depths, a haven for fish life in a sea of sand. Beyond the sea floor plunges into the deep. Here is where you are likely to see hammerheads and manta rays. A number of wrecks, including a tug boat, are also to be found around the island.

A mere 25 miles from the Sudanese border can be found the stunning St John’s Reef system. Over 15 sq miles of patch reefs, coral bommies, oceanic reefs and fringing reefs are scattered like jewels across the southern Egyptian coastline. These reefs are without a doubt the finest in Egypt, and only second to those of Sudan’s in the Red Sea. Exquisite coral gardens of soft corals, sea fans, sea whips and beautiful hard coral formations are home to millions of anthias, surgeonfish, fusiliers, butterflyfish, cardinals, goatfish, grunts, snapper, sweetlips and other tropicals. Turtles are commonly sighted munching their way across the hard corals, and solitary Napoleon wrasse and schooling bumphead wrasse are regular visitors.

This massive reef system is located furthest south and is the most remote, There are dozens of excellent dives, some on tiny circular reefs which come to just below the surface such as four metre reef! Huge shoals of fish congregate around spectacular vertical underwater gardens full of soft corals. Fusiliers, surgeon fish and unicorn fish often swarm together, in one big feeding frenzy! Turtles are common as are Napoleons and grey reef sharks. Hammerheads and other shark species are possible. White tips and grey reef sharks are always seen patrolling the deep water beyond the reefs, and many of the walls are deeply cut by glassfish-filled swim-throughs, and encrusted with soft corals and sea whips.

Southern Egypt still holds many secrets for even the most well travelled diver. Hurricane will be at the forefront of openeing up new diving frontiers in this exciting region.

 


 
 

Scuba Safaris | United Kingdom


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