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Red Sea Choices [not Sharm or Hurghada]

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I am looking at heading back to the Red Sea at the end of the year to add some blue water shots to my collection. I've done both Sharm and Hurghada many times and really wanted something different. Last time at Tiran was like trying to compose pictures in Picadilly Circus. What I was hoping for was somewhere less crowded and where the guides are either happy to leave you alone or allow composition time before shoo'ing you on.

 

I was sort of trying to choose between Nuweiba, Taba, Dahab or Marsa. Has anyone dived all or most of these and able to give a good comparison?

 

Thanks

Daniel

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Daniel

 

I spent a week in Marsa Alam last March and found the housereef to be the best landbased diving I've done in Egypt, it reminded me of Tiran 15 years ago.

the hotel was the Lamaya. the dive centre was Coraya Divers.

The dive centre was on the beach shared by 4 hotels but was not busy.

They offer dayboat trips to offshore destinations such as Elphinstone or a short zodiac ride to nearby sites.

What I liked about the housereef was the fact that you only need a buddy and no guide so you can spend an hour or more on one coral head without p***ing anyone else off. This included night dives.

Last month saw me on a liveaboard out of Sharm and nearly all sites were diver soup. I counted 26 day/livaboard boats on the Thistlegorm and promised to never go back.

 

I've dived out of Taba Dahab Sharm Hurghada and can honestly say that for the next year or so Marsa is the best choice.

 

Nige

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I'm also considering a trip in this direction if I can make it work. I'm intrigued by the camp at Wadi Lahami, but if I went I'd like to try to combine the dive part with a short trip to Luxor and Giza. I can book the diving easily enough but the flights are a bit interesting and the people that book the diving and the flights through Gatwick say they can't book other tours in Egypt. I can probably find alternative flights (through many other European countries and/or Cairo) but it seems easiest (and possibly cheaper) to fly in and out of Marsa Alam and start and end the land tour there. Of course, the Wadi Lahami camp is a bit of a hike from the airport and I'm not keen on schlepping y dive gear all over the country if it can be avoided. Any ideas out there?

 

Mike

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For the best diving, there are now 14-day liveaboard trips leaving Ras Ghaleb (near Marsa Alam), Egypt that go all the way down to Port Sudan and then back up to Egypt again. You get the chance to dive Sha'ab Rumi, Sanganeb Atoll, Angarosh, the wreck of ss Umbrea and a couple of other world class sites in Sudanese waters as well as the best dives in the Fury Shoal and St. John reef system in Egypt. I only know of one ship doing this route at at the moment (www.royalevolution.com). I went on her this summer and it is a spectacular dive ship which I truly can reccomend.

 

/christian

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Agree with Christian - go for a liveaboard.

 

I would say though that 14 days will be very tiring, I dive most days in the summer here at home but I am usually shattered after a week of 3 or 4 one hour dives a day which is 'usual' on a liveaboard.

 

You can always elect not to dive for a day or two or skip some dives but again I personally find that difficult to do!

 

The offshore dives in the red sea can be awesome.

 

Paul C

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Agree with Christian - go for a liveaboard.

 

I would say though that 14 days will be very tiring, I dive most days in the summer here at home but I am usually shattered after a week of 3 or 4 one hour dives a day which is 'usual' on a liveaboard.

 

You can always elect not to dive for a day or two or skip some dives but again I personally find that difficult to do!

 

The offshore dives in the red sea can be awesome.

 

Paul C

 

14 day trips (which actually are 12-13 diving days), logging some 35-40 dives is perfect for me. One week trips (actually 6 diving days) leaves me craving for more and going home unsatisfied is the worst thing... I once went on a 19-day liveaboard cruise Egypt-Sudan RT with 50+ dives. But that was almost 10 years ago. I think it would be a little bit too much, even for me nowadays. But I know people routinely going on 3-4 week trips, doing 75-100 dives. I guess it is a very personal thing.

 

/c

Edited by Christian K

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I guess it is a very personal thing.

 

Yea - maybe I am just getting old........

 

 

Paul C

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I would add to Christian's comments on Royal evolution that there is wasted diving time: the Sudanese authorities do not permit diving in Sudanese waters until the boat has docked at Port Sudan. Diving Royal Emperor out of Port Sudan on a long trip (despite Sudanese airline's idiosyncrasies) gets you out into the water faster.

 

Tim

 

B)

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For the best diving, there are now 14-day liveaboard trips leaving Ras Ghaleb (near Marsa Alam), Egypt that go all the way down to Port Sudan and then back up to Egypt again. You get the chance to dive Sha'ab Rumi, Sanganeb Atoll, Angarosh, the wreck of ss Umbrea and a couple of other world class sites in Sudanese waters as well as the best dives in the Fury Shoal and St. John reef system in Egypt. I only know of one ship doing this route at at the moment (www.royalevolution.com). I went on her this summer and it is a spectacular dive ship which I truly can reccomend.

 

/christian

The trouble that we have this year is that our annual leave situation is not all it could be and so we are stuck with having to limit it to a week. Added to which, because we are looking at December (i.e not long before Christmas), we could do with keeping the cost down. A late weeks shore based in Taba or Marsa is something like £250 each plus diving whereas a weeks liveaboard is around £1000 each.

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My club is going with Oonas Divers on a southern safari, on shore a few hours drive south of Marsa Alam (sadly without me) next month. It sounds interesting, but I can't tell you more at the moment.

 

Tim

 

B)

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I don't have any price lists at hand, but if you want to dive a lot, inme, land-based usually works out at the same cost as the low to mid end liveaboards when you add everthing with diving, drinks and food up. But if you absolutely want to do land based, then Marsa Alam area would be my pick. You have some very good reefs, such as Elphinstone and a few in the Fury Shoal reachable by dayboat. I have only dived from liveaboards in that area, but friends say that the Red Sea Diving Safaris Marsa Shagra camp is very good. They have a house reef which they offer unlimited diving on (just grab a tank and go in whenever you feel like it) and it should be of very decent quality.

 

good luck

 

/christian

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If you are game for shore diving and want easy Red Sea conditions, I loved my experience a couple of months ago at Nuweiba. I dove with Sarah and Daniel of African Divers, a new outfit there. We had the reefs completely to ourselves & were truly catered to. Given the season, we had few palegics (a couple of rays), but -- many spots with gorgoeus soft corals, glassfish schools and anthias against rich blue water; squids, octopus, spanish dancer, the usual other suspects like puffers, pipefish, stonefish etc etc plenty of macro subjects; beautiful healthy hard coral gardens at Ras Mumlach camp. Latter was a fabulous experience.

 

I had the chance to really start learning wide angle, and by my choice visited some of the sites several times. Only two other divers showed up while we were there. LIkely more activitiy in the in season, but still, far more personal and peaceful an experience than Sharm. Total costs about $1000 for 8 days (dives, 2-days bedouiin camp, accommodations, great meals.)post-2008-1188615775_thumb.jpgpost-2008-1188615847_thumb.jpgpost-2008-1188615881_thumb.jpg[attachme

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Tim/Christian:

 

I am looking at a trip on the Royal Emperor for late in 2008 or 09. Do you have any recommendations for time of year, or anything else? Any thoughts on getting a Sudanese visa for North Americans? I understand the process is much easier for Europeans.

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

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Tim/Christian:

 

I am looking at a trip on the Royal Emperor for late in 2008 or 09. Do you have any recommendations for time of year, or anything else? Any thoughts on getting a Sudanese visa for North Americans? I understand the process is much easier for Europeans.

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

 

Dan,

 

About six months ago, I wrote away for information on trying to go to Sudan on the Royal Evolution. The FAQ file they sent me said they would handle getting the visa for their passengers. It required filling out a form (in Word) and sending it in with a scan of the passport a couple weeks before the trip. Keep in mind that if your passport has any Israeli stamps in it, you will not be granted a Sudanese visa . . .

 

Mike

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Hi Mike:

 

Thanks for the information. I have been swaping e-mail with Yasser El Moafi, General Manager of their operations, and he sent me to Peter Hughes Diving, who is currently their US agent. Red Sea Safaris out of Denmark has been really helpful, but it looks like the visa requirements for non-Europeans are a bit more stringent. Will keep checking it out.

 

Thanks Again,

 

Dan

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Hi Mike:

 

Thanks for the information. I have been swaping e-mail with Yasser El Moafi, General Manager of their operations, and he sent me to Peter Hughes Diving, who is currently their US agent. Red Sea Safaris out of Denmark has been really helpful, but it looks like the visa requirements for non-Europeans are a bit more stringent. Will keep checking it out.

 

Thanks Again,

 

Dan

 

The information I got was from Peter Hughes diving, but one never knows how these things can change over time. If you PM me with your e-mail address, I can forward you all the information I got from Peter Hughes . . .

 

Mike

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Tim/Christian:

 

I am looking at a trip on the Royal Emperor for late in 2008 or 09. Do you have any recommendations for time of year, or anything else? Any thoughts on getting a Sudanese visa for North Americans? I understand the process is much easier for Europeans.

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

 

Dan

 

Sorry for the delay, but I've been away.

 

Best diving is in march-may with lots of sharks and action on the reefs. Fall is not that special diving wise inmo, unless you hit the manta dance in mesharifa (late august-early october).

 

If you go with the Royal Emperor (located in Port Sudan), you should contact Tony Backhurst who runs that ship about visa-questions and local flights (Cairo-Port Sudan). They will know if there are any special requirements for U.S. citizens.

 

If you go with the Royal Evolution, you might not need a visa (I didn't when I made this trip in 99 on another ship) as you actually never set foot on Sudanese ground. You will need dive permission, but that is arranged when you arive in Port Sudan. But better check as things change all the time. If you contact Yasser El Moaffer he will give you all the details. And please give him my best regards.

 

Good luck, Sudan is a fantastic dive destination.

 

Christian Karlsson

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i personally would stay away from a 14 night liveaboard in Egypt. most of the liveaboards are offering bread with blue mouldy bits by day 5. a week out of port Galib followed by another week out of Galib would be much better. i personally would go for week 1, bothers - elphinatone - daedalus followed by week 2, diving down at st johns. Emperor divers might be worth a look.

 

stunning shots BTW

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