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 dessert, especially for us scuba divers, it is Egypts Red Sea. And the Red Sea is home to some of the best diving destinations in the world.
Scuba Diving Egypt & The Yolanda Wreck
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 Red Sea diving. Especially, Yoland Wreck and Shark Reef.
The History of The Yolanda Wreck
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 en 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 shipwreck was a very popular Red Sea 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 when it was rediscovered by two divers Leigh Cunningham and Mark Andrews at a depth of 145 meters (476 feet).
Nowadays, cargo from the wreckage is visited by recreational divers from all around the world. The cargo includes bathtubs, pipes and even British toilets.
Diving Shark Reef and The Yolanda Wreck
This Red Sea scuba diving 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, the technical level of dicers, speed and direction of the currents, etc.).
The most popular Egypt scuba diving experience, which is also the complete and most classic diving in Egypt, will allow you to visit the beautiful Anemone city, the Yolanda wreck, and the Shark Reef in just one dive.
This Red Sea 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 meters deep and sticks out like a balcony over the dark blue ocean.
At a depth of 14 meters on this plateau, you will be able to note a large metal post which has been placed 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 meters you will arrive at the Shark Reef, which is clearly recognizable, as there is an unmistakable profile of gorgonians staggered around the reef.
Along this reef, you will find a wall that descends vertically to more than 700 meters 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 meters, you will arrive at a sandy, shallow saddle that connects the Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef.
The dive will usually end after you have explored this whole area, 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 scorpionfish, giant napoleon fish, blue-spotted stingrays, and even crocodile fish.
An alternative dive, people visit and explore to the 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.
Diving Conditions at Yolanda Wreck
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 of these red sea dives it 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.
Marine Life Around Shark Reef and The Yolanda Wreck
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 to 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, colonized within the majestic plateau. The light color 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 contrasting color, the great schools of different fish, spotted whilst swimming in circular formations. Snappers, emperors, large Malabar groupers are spotted alongside the Yolanda shipwreck, 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!
When is the Best Time to Visit Egpyt?
During the summertime, this dive location offers an exceptional concentration of marine life and fauna. As you may know, Egypt during the summer is not for cool weather lovers.
It does get extremely hot during the summer months. Undoubtedly, in order to enjoy this location in all its splendor, 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, from 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.