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Diving Marsa Alam

May 2006 saw us on a trip to the Red Sea or Marsa Alam in Egypt to be more precise. We stayed at the Kahramana Resort a hotel that caters for more than just divers - we estimated there were about 75% non-divers. We were well catered for by Pioneer Divers, part of the Red Sea Diving Safari group. Most of the diving here is shore diving from trucks but oddly there is no diving at the hotel. It's not the problem it may seem as the house reef is almost next door at Shagra Village, about five minutes by truck. Tony, Peter and myself made 13 dives. Steven made 12 while Coco made a lot less but spent a lot more time by the pool than we did. Marianne as the non-diver spent a lot of time by the two pools but only a lot of time in the heated pool. It may sound silly to have a heated pool when the air temperature is 35 degrees C but the cold pool was almost deserted while the warm was always in use.

Marsa Alam will be a busy thriving tourist area in a few years time, but now it consists of a dozen hotels spread out along miles of almost empty roads. The shore line has a lot of building work going on but not much has been finished yet. We stayed at the Kahramana Resort and we were all very impressed by the quality and service everywhere. It was not just a diving hotel, so it gave the non-divers a lot more to do.

I don't know what it is that makes Clown fish so special. This little one must have been protecting its young, as he, or she, decided to chase away my camera - and pose show me its best side.

 

Dolphin House Reef (Shaab Samadai) lived up to its name. A huge pod of dolphins passed by our boat just as we returned from our first dive so it was a dash into the water with just masks, fins and snorkels to see them.

The traditional building styles help keep the hotel in character with the local area and also keep the rooms quite cool. The air con then does the rest for those of us not used to the heat of Egypt.
We all saw some wonderful corals. Tony is by far the most experience diver amongst us and has been diving all over the world. He said that this was the best he had ever seen.

Crocodile fish. This was one of several types of fish I hadn't come across until this holiday, the Lion fish was another.

Red Sea Divers do a lot of shore diving. You ride on a truck to the dive site and while the guide gives the briefing all your kit is arranged for you on a tarpaulin at the back of the trailer. It can be a bit hot in the baking sun so no one wants wait around after kiting up. The water is always inviting.

Dugong or Sea cow at home eating the sea grass of Abu Dabbab. This gentle giant was being irritated by several cleaner fish and a few seconds after this photo was taken he started spinning around to dislodge them and disappeared in a massive cloud of silt. I was pleased I had kept my distance.

Napoleon wrasse on Elphinestone Reef. The reef was a rather bumpy RIB ride away the day we did it. It was also an early start as the trucks left at 5.45 in the morning. It was not a good dive for me as the boat dropped us too far off of the reef, leaving us with a hard 8 minute swim before we got to the reef. After all that I missed seeing the sharks. I made up for it the next day when a white tip swam by us on a much more pleasurable dive.

Eating is always a big part of our holidays. Tony and Marianne were choosing their fish in one of the restaurants that make up the hotel complex.
My favourite picture from the holiday. It was taken in a large well lit cave under the coral. The lighting and the composition just appeal to me - that and the clarity of the water.
One of many turtles we saw on this trip.
A very large Trumpet fish on Elphinestone Reef. This wasn't my favourite dive as Peter and I hadn't expected such a hard swim to get to the reef. We used up a lot of air getting there and were completely worn out. On top of that we had to get up at 5am to do it. We were hoping to see sharks. I'm told a few people saw one or two but my shark sighting would have to wait for another day.

Eating again! This meal in a Lebanese restaurant was not quite what we were expecting as the waiter misunderstood what we were asking for. It was still an excellent meal - just not what we ordered. If I could speak Arabic then maybe I would have complained.

Blue Spotted Ray. There were a huge number of these about.

Another site with wonderful pristine coral. I hope these areas will cope with the larger number of divers visiting the area but I fear it may look very different in five or ten years time.

Whirling Dervish - part of the entertainment one night. Very good he was too. So, believe it or not, were the Arabic speaking clowns which had us all in fits of laughter.

Kahramana movie1 Marianne's film.(6mins) QickTime 5Mb

Another Clown fish. Yes we all found Nemo here.

OK - just another fish

NOVEMBER UPDATE: We liked the resort so much that we - Tony, Marianne, Coco and I decided to go back for another visit. We all had some leave left and felt like a late break. The prices were fantastic but that's because the weather can be changeable at that time of year. Unfortunately, not changeable enough as a strong wind started blowing and it lasted almost the whole trip. This did spoil some of the diving as half the dive sites turned to soup. We still did plenty of diving as the protected side of the bays were OK but still suffered from poor visibility as times. Not much good for taking photos so I was able to just enjoy some of the dives for there own sake.

The weather was great if you could get out of the wind. We spent more time relaxing by the pool and this was wonderful until the sun went down. The evenings were colder and you needed a jumper to sit outside.

I also ended up spending a Non-diving day recovering from pulling a muscle in my back. We had a good day at Dolphin house (without seeing any dolphins close up) when as I lifted an empty cylinder out of the rib I found my self in a heap on the floor, in agony and unable to move. Just then I discovered that one of the divers on the boat turned out to be a nurse and had studied sports physiotherapy - what a bit of luck. Within 30 minutes I could stand and I was back diving after just one day off.

A small wreck called "Heaven" just off of the Abu Dabdab reef. We were told it was once a dive boat.

Return to Kahramana Tony and Marianne's Film. (8 mins) QickTime 2.5Mb

A pretty little Nudibranch - It was the only one I saw in the whole week.
The sight we didn't want to see - wave crashing onto the shore, stirring up the sand and spoiling a lot of the dives.
When the water was clear it was wonderful. It's just a shame we didn't see more water like this.

 

 

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