A perfect start in Sudan!

All beginnings are difficult – they say – but luckily, in our case this phrase is not true…The first week of our 2013 season began on February 9. It was a bit cloudy all week but warm and except for a couple of days, no wind at all. The biggest surprise of the week was the giant school of hammerheads showing up at Shaab Rumi but this was not the first surprise of the week!

Tour date: February 9 – 16, 2013
Itinerary: Sudan North
Air temperature: 28-30C
Water temperature: 25C
Visibility: 20m

Just when you think you are an old salt, you must face that fact that the sea never shows the same face twice, it never really goes by the book. Of course, you can expect the usual and you can estimate what the next dive site will bring but the statistics are modified by almost every dive.

Which is exactly what happened last week on our first Sudan tour this year. Our briefing was relatively brief but we were secretly hoping for some extraordinary sightings and since the Sudanese waters rarely disappoint, the things we saw this past week were the top!

We were able to visit all the sites of the planned itinerary:

Day 1: Shaab Sued, Gotta Shambaia, Gotta Shambaia
Day 2: Angarosh, Angarosh, Merlo, Gotta Shambaia
Day 3: Quita el Bana, Blue Belt, Shaab Rumi – Precontinent, Shaab Rumi Lagoon
Day 4: Shaab Rumi South Plateau (3 dives), Precontinent
Day 5: Shaab Rumi, Sanganeb, Sanganeb, Umbria
Day 6: Umbria, Umbria

We were pleasantly surprised at all shark sites! We counted 20 hammerheads at Angarosh, 1-2 large specimens at Quita el Bana but at Shaab Rumi everybody got a huge jolt! We were swimming among 50 hammerheads and at times, we saw the sharks already at 15m. Aside from these sightings, we ran into huge schools of jackfish and barracuda at Shaab Rumi and at Sanganeb as well. While the other boats were still back at Port Sudan this week or sailed out later in the week, we barely saw anybody during the week. We only had company for 2 dives at Shaab Rumi and that was it.

We wish more of such sightings and great surprises for our guests in the coming weeks and months. 🙂 To be continued next week…

New wrecks and reefs maps

New coral reef maps published by Red Sea Boats Holidays! We are always looking at ways to improve our blog and having taken note of your comments over the past few months, we have drawn up 11 new dive site maps of our most favorite diving Wrecks and Reefs in Egypt. Please take a look and let us know what you think.

Red Sea reef mapsPlease have a click around and let us know what you would like to see more of by leaving a comment on this post. The Wrecks and Reefs itinerary is operated by some of our most luxurious Red Sea Scuba Diving Liveaboards including M/Y Cassiopeia and M/Y Andromeda.

For more information about these boats or how to book your next diving adventure, please contact us!

Shaab Rumi: The best place for shark watching

If I had to name just one underwater dive route that would alone be worth the travel to Sudan, it certainly would be Shaab Rumi! Without a doubt it is one of the most picturesque dive sites in the Red Sea. This reef lies 48km from Port Sudan and encircles a beautiful lagoon which we can cross through a man-made strait (actually blown up by Cousteau).

The outer reef, surrounding Shaab Rumi’s various dive sites, contains a place that makes this area unique. Outside of the lagoon, about 100m from the entrance, Cousteau built his futuristic world, the Precontinent II, in 1963. During the experiment he researched whether a group of scuba divers could survive for several weeks underwater in a village specially designed for this purpose. Still, Rumi’s Southernmost end is its most exciting dive site. Like a balcony, a plateau stretches towards the open sea. Its three sides are surrounded by steep walls plunging into the deep. What also makes this place so unique is the always present barracuda, tuna, batfish, and reef, grey and hammerhead sharks.

Shark watching at Shaab RumiWe formed into 6-diver groups and jumped into the zodiacs right away. After 20 minutes we were already at Shaab Rumi’s Northern point. On a count of three we backflipped into the water and began our descent. When I looked below, right away I saw the silhouette of a large grey shark! The scuba diving liveaboard operators almost guarantee shark sightings at this part of Shaab Rumi because here is the coral-encrusted Cousteau shark feeder, left behind to this day. The sharks have long gotten used to this place, waiting for their old friend, Cousteau, to return and to make their regular feedings again.

Cousteau's PrecontinentSwimming above the plateau, the greys were already swarming around us. I counted about 15 around me but I never knew how many more could have been behind me. The sight was amazing! What was up close and real now, I only saw in documentaries. Though my battle plans primarily included the stalking of hammerheads, at that moment the greys had my complete attention. For 20 minutes I was just looking all around, never knowing from which direction they were coming towards me only to change direction with a quick whip of the tail less than half a metre from me.

Meanwhile giant bass were irritating the big fish, bravely facing them. After a long watch, we left the greys behind us and continued for the North point of the plateau, closely swimming over the plateau. We barely made a few fin kicks when we ran into a giant barracuda school counting 80-90 of them. Some of them were as long as a metre and a half. By the time we reached the drop-off, our air supply was dwindling, so after the safety stop, we met on the surface to share our latest experiences.

Shark in the sudanese Red SeaBetween the two dives, familiar fins appeared about 200m from the live aboard, heading straight for us. Right away we knew that a group of dolphins arrived in the lagoon, right beside us. That was it and half the boat jumped into the water, people flying over the railings. I tried to make room through the crowd on the scuba diving platform. With my mask and fins in place, I jumped into the water, right among the dolphins. It could not have been directed better! The beauty of their figures and moves is something no other animal can come close to. As if they were being moved by the sea, they swam in front of us with great precision. They always fascinate me and again I swam an hour with them. What an amazing scuba diving holiday!

Scuba diving at Sha’ab Claudia

Sha’ab Claudia (sometimes known as Sha’ab Claude) is a small reef with lots of disturbed water at the surface and can have quite large swells in the top 5m of water. The west side of the reef has lovely hard coral formations, with stony and boulder corals cascading down to 20m like an underwater waterfall. Current will normally run from north to south and live aboards usually moor on the more sheltered south side, although surface conditions can still be rocky on the boat.

Location: Egypt / Marsa Alam / Fury Shoals
Description: Reef / Coral garden / Caves
Depths: 12 – 24 meters

Red Sea Shaab ClaudiaThere are some reef fragments to the west which also have great hard coral, and yet more reef pieces to the south. Although the southern pieces are sparser in terms of coral growth there is some nice small marine life and in the top 5 metres the reef is densely populated with antheas.