Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Diving at Daedalus and Rocky – Day minus 1

Pat is going on to France for 6 days with some old school friends so I am taking the opportunity to go diving (again!) for a week in Egypt – a similar area to last year (Daedalus, Rocky and St John’s) but this time it is just Daedalus and Rocky – the difference between the two trips is (unsurprisingly) that we spend more time at each of two sites rather than going to three sites!

One other significant difference for me is that I am travelling without my regular dive buddy  - son Ben. Arriving on a liveaboard as a single diver is not unusual and I will either team up with someone on the boat for the whole trip or change each dive. Diving alone is not an option – dead divers dive on their own!

Daedalus and Rocky are down at the southern end of the Red Sea close to the border with Sudan – this means that there will be no day boats down there and therefore the diving sites will be better.


Diving guide books describe the area thus:

Daedalus Reef, (Abu El Kizan in Arabic), is the foremost offshore amongst all the reefs in the Egyptian Red Sea. With walls surrounding its entire perimeter, it is famous for its huge hard coral formations, schooling hammerheads and sightings of thresher sharks and whale sharks. Big napoleon wrasse are also frequent and interact with divers and the shear walls are covered in soft coral. Its anemone garden guarded by swarms of clown fish offer the diver and underwater photographer an experience of memorable beauty.

Rocky and Zabargad islands lie close together and are located to the southeast of Ras Banas. Rocky's shear walls are covered in stunning forests of soft and fan corals. Juvenile white tip sharks can be observed sleeping under huge and very scenic overhangs. Mantas, hammerheads and grey reef sharks often visit the island, and napoleon fish dance in your bubbles.

Zabargad island, amazing in its spectacular beauty, was exploited by ancient Egyptians the Romans for its special mineral semi precious stones, the olivine. Along the Island's southern face a shallow shelf displays a mounts of high pinnacles, completely adorned in soft corals and clouds of antheas, offering amazing dives. The drop-off allows for fleeting hammerheads, grey reef sharks and mantas sightings. A small, shallow wreck can be dived upon just off Zabargad's north eastern side.

Having been to the Red Sea with a number of different dive companies, I have vowed to stick with Tony Backhurst in future because I have found them to be the best in terms of organisation, knowledge and reliability.

The official itinerary is:

  After arriving in Egypt, you are transferred to the boat where the first night is spent.
Day 1 The check dive starts the diving off, followed by 2 dives in and around Marsa Alam. The boat then sets sail for Daedalus
Day 2 Dives at Daedalus, visiting the north plateau, anemone city and south plateau. Night dives are prohibited in this area.
Day 3 Staying at Daedalus for a second day you can revisit the north plateau, drift the west wall and drift the east wall. Night dives are prohibited in this area and after the third day dive the boat will set sail for Rocky.
Day 4 Dives Rocky island twice before making the short cross to Zabagad island. A day dive is made at the south plateau or at the wreck. After the third dive the boat will sail for Fury Shoal
Day 5 Diving in Fury Shoal starts at Shaab Claudia, Abu Galawa Soraya and Shaab Buhar before a night dive. The boat then sails for Wadi Gamal.
Day 6 Starts at Shaab Sharm before finishing the week's diving at Shaab Marsa Alam. In the afternoon the transfer is made to a hotel for the night.
Day 7 Is spent at the hotel until the transfers are made for the return flight to the UK.

So in theory, there will be about 18 dives (enough for me in my aging state), plenty of fish and maybe hammerheads (if seen, that will be for the first time)

As usual, I am staying overnight at a hotel very close to Gatwick airport but this time the Marriott Courtyard because they have a good “stay and 8 days parking” deal. Hopefully the Marriott will be better quality than the Travelodge where I have stayed on previous occasions. Postscript – it was better although a noisy air conditioning unit meant a fitful sleep.

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