Diving with the Pyramids as a Witness
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
Last month after several months of preparation 5 of us departed to #Egypt, to dive the Red Sea for the first time. The group comprised by Agustin, Andre, Didier, Julio and myself had never before dove that part of the world, so the excitement and expectation was at an all-time high!!
In this article I'll try to convey and overview of the whole experience and a bit of a trip report. For information on the specific dive sites please see the separate articles.
Getting there was all together an adventure itself, as the team participating on the trip is scattered across the Americas, so the first one to arrive was André, traveling from Brazil, who went straight to #Sharm-El-Sheik (place were we boarded our #liveaboard). Julio and Agustin flew from Argentina to Spain, where they met me as I arrived from the USA and from there, specifically Madrid, we jointly went to Egypt. Didier on his side, flew from Miami to Barcelona and then to Egypt. The 4 of us met in Cairo International Airport to get a short flight to Sharm-El-Sheik, prior going thru customs and buying our visas at the airport, and here is where the first #gotcha of the trip pops-up:
The flight from Barcelona to Cairo gives very little time for the luggage to be moved to the connecting flight to Sharm-El-Sheik, so if you are planning to do a similar trip, watch out for connection time!
As a result of this, Didier's luggage (all his gear) didn't make it on time and we had to wait until next day to receive it.
Once in Sharm, we were greeted by a representative of the liveaboard company. The liveaboard company is Blue Force Fleet (http://www.blueforcefleet.com/), Spanish company that also provides trips in Sudan and Maldives. They transported all the divers (80% of the boat arrived on the same flight) to the harbor, where we boarded the boat that was going to be our home for almost a week.
After a quick snack we received received the first briefing, which covered the boat amenities and overall logistics for our everyday activities. Rooms were distributed and luggage open (huge mess!!)
On our second day, everyone woke up with a bit of a jetlag but surprisingly, Egypt shares the same timezone as West Europe which made it no-so-terrible... We waited until noon for luggage coming from Barcelona to arrive (3 divers impacted onboard) and off to the Red Sea we went!!
The Daily Routine
The routine on the boat every day was exactly the same:
Wake up to the sound of a bells that signaled the briefing was of the first dive of the day was about to start. Quick coffee and to the boat's dinning room to listen to Valeria's briefing.
Right after each briefing, everyone populated the main deck of the boat and get all geared up. The tanks get filled in between dives while divers are on the surface interval. An important note is that you will get a tank assigned to you for the whole trip (unless you do tec diving, more to come on that point).
First dive of the day happens right there!
After the dive, everyone goes back to the dinning room for breakfast, which varied from day to day, from the regular egg-based to more local flavors.
Then, just chill until the bell rang again! (to the dinning room everyone!)
Second dive happens on late morning...
After the dive, everyone goes back to the dinning room for lunch... yes, more food...
Guess what? now you get to chill even more... roam around the deck... take a nap.... until.... DING, DING, DING, the bell rings and off to the briefing we go fo the PM dives
Third dive, is early afternoon...
When arriving back from the dive, you are greeted by the crew with refreshments, cold, warm or both... Surface interval goes on until the bell rings AGAIN. Vale is waiting on the dinning room.
Fourth dive, the last of the dives with natural light.
After the fourth dive, depending on the day, the boat would move to a shallower place in order to anchor for the night.
When anchored, the bell will ring one last time for the night dive briefing. This dive is made without a guide and, after an exhausting day, many diver will bail. For the ones that are up to the task, is all about gearing up for the fifth time in the day and.... To the water!
Fifth dive, the night dive
After the last dive of the day, shower and have dinner with whatever energy remains. After that, maybe a beer and to sleep, tomorrow this is going to be repeated all over again.
The Environment and Weather
As you may imagine, the weather is that one of the desert, very dry, very hot...
Temperatures vary depending the time of the year you visit, the maximums range goes from the high 70s F (25 C) during the winter to a solid 95 F (35 C) during the summer, while the minimum goes from 50 F (10 C) to 75 F (23 C), for the same periods.
The beauty about being in the desert is that rain is very rare.
During our trip, we had lovely weather, all sunny hot days, very enjoyable.
The variable that wasn't positive, was the wind, which in turn modified the intended itinerary of the trip, as the seas were so rough that crossing the Suez Gulf to get to the #wrecks of Abu Nuhas, was impossible. Another topic to have in mind when planning the trip... For us meant that we now need to go back to check out those wrecks!
It was very impressive the contrast of environments, between what was seen over the water, completely detached of life, versus the colorful and vibrant underwater environment.
Here is a brief summary of the divesites we visited, of course the #AbuNuhas wrecks were left on the bucket list.
Beacon Rock (wreck and reef), max depth 30m
Dunraven (wreck), max depth 30m
Thistlegorm (wreck), max depth 30m
Small Crack (reef), max depth 20m
Shark Reef, max depth 30m (actually a wall dive)
Alternatives, max depth 18m
Ras Gozlani, max depth 30m
Gordon Reef, max depth 25m
Thomas Reef, max depth 35m
Temple (reef), max depth 30m
Ras Um Sid (reef), max deptth 30m
Again, we will spend more time talking about them in specific articles.
So, after a week of very intense diving and with several new friends, it was time to get back home. We arrived back at the harbor, where we said the usual "see you soon" to the crew and specially to our VIPs: Valeria, Carlos and Tamer. Right there there was a shuttle waiting for us that got us to a lovely hotel on the beach and in the heart of Sharm-El Sheik's touristic epicenter.
Everyone relaxed, went to the pool, the beach, it was definitely too hot to get around yet. The sightseeing happened as soon as the sun went down. All the group got scattered depending on the different interests, we (our team) went initially to the "touristic" strip close to the hotel in order to have dinner and to enjoy the local hoocka. The place has a reminiscence of the traditional touristic places around the world, personally, it remind me of Cancún....
After some relaxation, we hit the road again, we wanted to see the mosque. We spent a good amount of time sightseeing on the neighborhood, taking pictures and eating some more local food, before heading back to the hotel.
The next morning, very early, our shuttle to the airport picked us up. There are no major comments on our trip back to Cairo, where Andre and I stayed for an extra night, we wanted to visit the historical landmarks on that city. Maybe an extra day would have been adequate to fully visit the city, so have that in mind if you are planning to do so.
After that, we just said "until next time" to Egypt and the Red Sea. Like Arnold said: We'll be back!