You would think, wouldn’t you, that when you have been to the same location 17 times, that your 18th trip there would be pretty much the same as all the previous times. But that’s the beauty of diving such a wonderful location as the Egyptian Red Sea, there’s always something different to see, an animal you got closer to, or displaying behaviour you’ve never seen before. Perhaps it’s just that you are going back to one of your favourite dive locations. This trip on Emperor Superior’s Reefs & Wrecks Itinerary, was all of these for me.
Firstly we headed over to the famous Abu Nuhas, not for the wrecks to start with but a check dive on the reef. It wasn’t long before we were diving on the lovely Carnatic wreck, many people’s favourite. It was as beautiful as ever with the sunlight streaming through the ribs of the deck, illuminating the schools of glassfish that congregate up near the bow. A night dive on the reef followed.
The next day was a full on wreck diving day with three to explore. Giannis D, one of the most recognisable wrecks in the Red Sea, with its mast marking your descent to the wreck itself. The Chrisoula K (Tile Wreck) followed with a group of divers that decided to dive unguided also visiting the Kimon M (Lentil Wreck). Then after a change of location during the surface interval, we dived the Carnatic, slightly more broken up than on my last trip.
This was followed by a night dive on Beacon Rock. I was privileged to see and video a pair of lion fish mating, not a common sight; has anyone else experienced this? But I did have the fright of my life when I suddenly saw a huge moray eel about two feet away. I nearly jumped out of my wetsuit in surprise. Luckily, he wasn’t as surprised as me and swam nonchalantly off.
Emperor’s Reefs & Wrecks itinerary is a great way to reacquaint yourself with the dive sites that would normally be accessible from Sharm El Sheikh, namely Ras Mohamed and Tiran. I, like many, have dived Shark & Yolanda Reefs on numerous occasions but it’s still such an enjoyable dive and always a little bit different. This time there were big schools of unicorn fish all around the wreck of the Yolanda; I’ve never seen so many there.
Eventually we arrived at Tiran, a part I was particularly looking forward to especially when I heard the first dive was on Jackson. I have maintained a love of this place since I first visited in 2002 after completing my Advanced Open Water. One of my favourite places in the whole world. My initial disappointment that we couldn’t dive the coral garden due to the direction of the current but that was soon overcome by a lovely slow drift along the east wall culminating in an absolutely stunning view in the shallows on the safety stop. The water was so clear and awash with lined butterfly fish, I have never seen so many together anywhere in the world.
A dive on Thomas Reef then followed and was almost as enjoyable. Although a strong down current at the end made the safety stop a bit of a challenge, to be honest a timely reminder of the skills you have learned during training and over the years of diving. Sadly, a suggested night dive on Gordan wasn’t possible due to increasing currents. But maybe that’s an excuse to come back again another time.
Well, what can I say about the Thistlegorm that hasn’t been said before, apart from we had two lovely dives, one outside and one inside. A third dive was put to the vote and the majority voted to move on, as I did, as on my last liveaboard we dived it four times.
Two dives on the Barge were to follow, one at night and one the following day. Due to the presence of another boat it was a bit crowded on the night dive but we had it to ourselves for the day dive. Although a very small and broken wreck, it’s absolutely covered in life. Lots of loitering squirrel fish. There were a few of the more unusual carnivores like a pair of crocodile fish and the shaggiest stonefish I have ever seen. Plus, of course, the long time resident of the boat, a huge moray eel called George. He poses nicely for both photos and video, very obliging.
No Northern Red Sea liveaboard would be complete without a couple of dives at Dolphin House, one day and one night. Unlike the last time I was there, we didn’t see any dolphins during the dives. But the crew of Superior are very keen to help their guests get the best experience, so kept an eye out from the boat for tell-tale fins breaking the surface. Eventually the cry of ‘dolphins’ went up and we grabbed our masks, snorkels, fins and cameras and dashed to the zodiacs. We weren’t disappointed as we swam with with a group of four for almost an hour. A great end to the week.
So many thanks to Emperor Superior, your great guides, chefs and boat crew, plus the other guests on board for making it such a memorable week. My 18th trip to the Red Sea, but definitely not my last.
John Butland, Sales Manager