Egypt is known to be home to some of the world’s oldest civilizations. It bears testament to some of the earliest triumphs for mankind itself. Egypt is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the pyramids of Cairo and also the well-known Museum of Egyptian Antiquities housing the legendary treasure of Tutankhamen. However, Egypt is much more than sand, pyramids and ancient monuments. It is a cruise down the river Nile, hot nightlife and a luxury hotel, it is an invigorating desert, especially for us scuba divers, it is the Red Sea.
Just beyond the shoreline, you will find, beautiful coves, millions of reef fish, coral gardens, reef walls, azure waters, incredible visibility and wrecks. Everything that attracts adventure divers and marks the Red Sea as a world class diving destination.
No matter how beautiful and impressive the above water attractions may be, the real beauty and jewel in the Egyptian crown has got to be the astonishing diving.
The Yolanda wreck is a Cypriot cargo ship, built in 1964 and sank on the night of 1st April in 1980 grounded on a reed at Ras Muhammed. The ship was on route to Aqaba with containers, sanitary fixtures, cases of whiskey, wallpaper, bathtubs and even a BMW 320 that was owned by the ship’s captain on board. From the year 1981 to 1985, the ship wreck was a very popular dive site; however in 1985 it was lost during a violent storm as it fell off of the reef. For 20 years the wreck remained lost at sea, it wasn’t until 2005 until it was rediscovered by a two divers Leigh Cunningham and Mark Andrews at a depth of 145 metres (476 feet).
Nowadays, cargo from the wreckage is visited by recreational divers from all around the world. The cargo includes bath tubs, pipes and even British toilets.
This dive location offers many different dives, all of which should be drift dived. The dives are known to be varied at will, depending on different factors (weather conditions, technical level of dicers, speed and direction of the currents, etc.). The most popular dive, which is also the complete and most classic dive, will allow you to visit the beautiful Anemone city, the Yolanda wreck, and the Shark Reef in just one dive.
The dive normally begins in the northeast of the Shark Reef, on a line with the plateau known as the Anemone City. The Anemone city lies at a depth of 12 – 20 metres deep and sticks out like a balcony over the dark blue ocean. At a depth of 14 metres on this plateau, you will be able to note a large metal post which has been place in an upright position and dates back to the 1970s. It seems that this post has been placed there to commemorate a diver who died there in the past.
Shortly after having explored the Anemone City, if you swim towards the blue at a course of 150°, and for a couple of minutes at a depth of 20 metres you will arrive at the Shark Reef, which is clearly recognizable, as there is an unmistakeable profile of gorgonians staggered around the reef.
Along this reef you will find a wall that descends vertically to more than 700 metres into the deep abyss. If you dive keeping this wall to your right, you will skirt around a beautiful coral outcrop. Carrying on another few dozen metres, you will arrive at a sandy, shallow saddle which connects the Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef.
The dive will usually end after you have explored this whole are, however if you still manage to have some of your air left you are able to continue to investigate and discover the lagoon towards the back of the outcrops. This lagoon is inhabited by scorpion fish, giant napoleon fish, blue spotted stingrays and even crocodile fish.
An alternative dive, people visit and explore to south of the Yolanda or go to see a nearby satellite reef. In this area it is common to see grey reef sharks, especially in the months of December and January.
Due to its popularity, this dive site is usually overcrowded. It is advised to arrive early in the morning to get the best experience.
The currents are known to make this great for drift dives and also attract the pelagic fish which is the perfect dive for seeing the wide variety of marine life in the area.
The most popular dive would normally start at Anemone City, before drifting along towards the Shark Reef and its deep drop off. This dive will then finish up at the Yolanda wreck right beside the cargo remains of the toilets. The Ras Mohammed Park authorities regulate diving access and times. Make sure you are careful of the currents, as they can be very violent at times.
This dive location has an extremely varied marine environment. The Shark Reef is the most popular and famous dive site within the Red Sea. This is owed do its vast marine life and incredible spectacles of schools in the hundreds that can be seen. If you have the technical know-how and are able to face the strong currents along this reef, you will be lucky enough to encounter large schools of barracuda, jackfish and batfish.
The environment and above all abundance of reef and pelagic fauna is like no other. Large populations of sea anemones cover the coral walls, whose stinging tentacles are home to so many different sea anemonefish, colonised within the majestic plateau. The light colour of the sand is interrupted by the stunning coral formations.
As you look into the blue, you will be able to observe easily against the contrasted colour, the great schools of different fish, spotted whilst swimming in circular formations. Snappers, emperors, large Malabar groupers are spotted alongside of the Yolanda ship wreck, as well as the large napoleon fish and fusiliers. This really is the ideal location to take your cameras with you and get some great shots!
During the summer time, this dive location offers an exceptional concentration of marine life and fauna. As you may know, Egypt during the summer is not for the cool weather lovers. It does get extremely hot during the summer months. Undoubtedly, in order to enjoy this location in all its splendour, it is advised that the best time to visit is in July.
The desert coastline of the Red Sea very rarely sees any rain, which means that there is almost no freshwater runoff, making for great visibility
and awesome scuba diving conditions all year around. Dive conditions do vary by season, during May to October the water temps are around the mid 80s, the weather around this time is scorching hot. In the winter from November to April, Egypt hosts more comfortable air temperatures meanwhile the water can drop to about 70 degrees or even lower.
Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.
Language – Arabic
Currency – Egyptian Pound
Major Airports – Divers enter at Hurghada and Sharm el Sheik International airports. You can also fly through Cairo and connect to your destination from the same terminal.
Topside Attractions – Visit the pyramids and the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, take a camel ride through the desert or a cruise down the Nile.
Information link – egypttoursim.org