Solo Diving.. freedom to discover more than the beauty of the Red Sea
As a solo traveler, you never know what to expect. However this trip I already knew
several of the guests so the in trepidation was less than last time but the excitement no less diminished.
Day 1 As the MY Galaxy was docked in Port Ghalib, the adventure started with a 4 hour bus journey from Hurghada, a chance to share several beers and get to know everyone a little better. It wasn't long before we had demolished several cases of Sakara and treating each other like family. I must introduce a special group that organized this trip. The Crazy Saudi's! For regulars of Camel dive you may have heard of them before. If you have any preconceptions of what a Saudi Arabians are then forget it! These guys are serious fun! Predominantly very experienced instructors they take their diving and partying very seriously! So the scene was set it was going to be a fun week. But I guess the social side is not what you want to hear about.. more the diving..so here goes with the weeks diving activity.
Day 2 and we travelled a short distance to Abu Dabab for the check dive, and two other dives. Abu Dabab is a great coral reef and garden with a recent wreck of a Safari boat, so plenty of interest. With all the usual suspects of clown fish, blue spotted rays, plenty of fusiliers to keep us amused. Diving with my old 3mm wetsuit was great and I was very happy with a 65 minute dive with plenty of air left on the boat. Signs were good that I could be confident. The second dive we explored the wreck and coral gardens, the reef is like following three sides of a square, reef life was much as the previous dive. It wasn't until the final dive of the day, a night dive that we saw something really special. After playing with lionfish in the light we checked out the reef to see a Scarlet Red Spanish dancer hiding under a ledge of the reef, probably about the size of a paperback book! On the way to the Safety stop, we turned off the torches and played with the bio-luminescence and enjoyed seeing the underwater world in Ultra Violet thanks to the lighting system of one of the crazy Saudi's. So overnight we travelled to Deadalus, a site which I'm sure many of you are familiar with ready for the next day. The island is dominated by a lighthouse, which unfortunately this trip we weren't allowed to visit.
Day 3, 5 am and its time for the briefing, expectations were high of sighting sharks and in all three dives we weren't disappointed, within one minute of the first dive 2 hammerheads came and checked us out. The second dive the shoal of maybe 8 hammerheads came close enough to see the shimmering silver of their skin and every detail. Above us at the same time was and oceanic White tip and there were rumors of a thresher! Dive 3 two hammerheads, so we changed plan to explore for more..unfortunately our luck was out and we had to be contented by Greenback Turtle. OK so the excitement was pretty good on the boat for the 12 hour trip to Rocky Island.
Waking up early I enjoyed the sunrise while watching a shoal of maybe12 Risso's Dolphins follow the boat and another shoal of spinner dolphins. Having never dived with dolphins before, this day was full of expectation for me. Dive one was a pretty dive with the main event being the sighting of a hawksbill Turtle (i think!). so i was a little disappointed the dolphins didn't hang around! After a short boat trip we then dived Zabargad Island, this island has some of the most impressive coral structures Ive ever seen, i didn't realize clams came in so many colours..so much reef life including seeing a large loggerhead Turtle. But the best was yet to come.. after the safety stop we ascended to the zodiac to find a shoal of spinner dolphins playing with the second zodiac.. so with the residual air we swam around watching them for a while..fantastic! Dive 3 of the day was Gotta Um Erouk, a nice sight made up of a reef a reef with multiple pinnacles to explore, although beautiful we didn't see any exceptional marine life. To finish the day we completed a night dive exploring Gotta Um Erouk in the St Johns Area or the red sea. A nice night dive, I was too busy enjoying myself with my temporary buddy, but that's another story! .
Day 4 Our first dive of the next day was the small gotta at St johns. Some nice marine life and a great reef with amazing corals with the dive ending with a swim through a small cavern to add a bit more interest. Dive 2 of the day was the aptly named Paradise Reef (St Johns) a lovely dive with a sloping reef surrounded by multiple pinnaces to explore. We spotted a couple of small nudibranchs as well as a second Spanish dancer of the week! Last dive of the day was a short trip to Satayh south reef, this is another stunning reef, with great corals. We were also treated to attempted mating by two large greenback turtles and sighted a scorpion fish, which are always satisfying to find! This reef had the highest abundance of reef fish and we found ourselves swimming through shoals of fusiliers and cardinal fish.
Day 5 started on Satayh south reef, this time we caught sight of a white tipped reef shark and another turtle then moved to Sha'ab Claudio and completed two dives. If you haven't heard of Sha'ab Claudio this is a special site. A reef with a network of small caves and caverns, Although there is plenty of marine life including Napoleons (which we had seen plenty by now) this site is about basking in the iridescent blue light that streams into the caves and sharing the space with abundance of reef fish that call it home. We enjoyed it so much we completed two dives here before the long trip to Elphinstone
Day 6 So we reached the last day, what a way to end the trip..Elphinstone has a great reputation for good reason, Hammerhead, white tipped reef sharks and thresher all in one dive. Amazing. To top it all, a white tipped reef shark joined us on the surface next to the boat as we ascended.. And so all good things must come to an end, we made the short trip to Marsa Shona in search for the much fabled Dugong. Since the start of this trip, I'd been on a mission.. my last dive of the trip my 100th dive and so it was insisted I complete it Naked! Now there is a sight under water you really don't want to see. With other boats around I preserved some dignity by borrowing a sarong, a must have garment in such occasions! So I descended with the sarong tucked up in my bcd..challenge completed.. we didn't see the Dugong only the largest Greenback Turtles I've ever seen, two of them the size of a coffee table. Thankfully visbility is low as you navigate the sea grass and as for seeing the Dugong, I have to leave something for the next trip and besides with the final dive being my 100th Dive, it was time to break open a nice 12 year old Whisky and celebrate a great trip courtesy of MY Galaxy.