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Your Guide to Marsa Alam and the South

Photo Courtesy of Francis Le Guen

Your Guide to Marsa Alam and the South! Egypt’s Best Kept Secret!


The Team C.E.O. and Sales & Marketing Director Yasmine Ezzat


The Team How to Use This Guide Welcome

02 03 05


Business Development Director Abdelrahman Abdelmoneim Design Shantel Seoane


City Maps Diving Sites Classifieds

13 17 29


City Maps Diving Sites Classifieds

35 39 41 Dear diver’s – nature lover’s – explorer’s & thrill seekers, It is with great eagerness that we release the first ever travelers guide to Egypt’s secluded south. Our team has collected nearly 20 years of research from many of the pioneering individuals who explored these remote areas beginning in the late 1980’s. Together with these individuals, we have compiled what is now “Your Guide to Marsa Alam and the South.” Take this publication as your personal guide and the key to unlocking the treasures of Egypt’s best kept secret – Marsa Alam and the southern Red Sea. The Sea Ad Team

Marsa Alam

City Maps Wadi El Gemal Diving Sites Classifieds

46 49 51 61 69

Ras Banas to the South
Diving Sites


The Red Sea

Marine Life Highlights Red Sea Topography

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Special Thanks to;
Red Sea Desert Adventures Karen van Opstal Thomas Krakhofor Egyptian Chamber of Diving & Watersports Hesham Kamel Red Sea Diving Safari Team Hossam Helmy To all the individuals who’s pictures were used in this publication. Your contribution made this possible. Continue to dream and explore!

The Eastern Desert
Bedouin Tribes


Survival’s Guide

Common Arabic Words


Dear Reader, The information contained herein is factual to the best of our knowledge. The publishers cannot accept responsibility for any consequences arisi i ing from the use of this guide. © Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

How to use this Guide
Your Guide to Marsa Alam and the South will open the doors to the treasures awaiting you in Egypt’s southern Red Sea. This region is broken down into 4 main cities running south along the Red Sea coastline. These cities are; 1. Safaga 2. El Quseir 3. Marsa Alam 4. Ras Banas South A brief history and cultural background about each city is provided at the beginning of each chapter. A detailed directory is also provided in each chapter which includes hotel listings, restaurants, dive centers and other retail businesses. Dive site maps are also provided which include information about each cities unique dive sites. A “survivor’s guide” is offered in the final chapter that includes information such as emergency procedures, Arabic phrases, etiquette and local customs, and much more. Get ready to explore the southern Red Sea with Your Guide to Marsa Alam and the South.

Classifieds Section Icons
Private Beach Sports and Activities Diving Center Baby SItting Kids Club Desert Safaris Star Rating PADI SSI CMAS Wind & Kite Surfing Accomodation Liveaboard

Diving Map Icons
Above Sea Level Shore Area Coral Reef Caves/Canyons Sea Grass Oi30 Meters 30+ Meters 3

Current Direction Dive Profile Mooring Area Depart Zodiac Table Coral Wreck Zodiac Route


Welcome to Marsa Alam!
Sea and desert horizons as far as the sight can perceive, pristine coastal beach fronts, infinite sea life, mountains and landscapes of all shapes and forms, pleasant weather conditions year round, historical and archeoi i logical sites, and the list goes on and on. This region’s fascinating environment of “desert meets ocean” makes it one of our planet’s most exotic destinations. Anybody who travels to Marsa Alam is immediately captivated by the magic and mystery of this treasureipacked wonder. Traveler’s fortunate enough to have explored these regions will unanimously tell you that a magical energy permeates the atmosphere. Of all the things that this region has to offer it is this singular force that keeps visitors returning time and time again. Marsa Alam’s coastal region is a crystalline aquarium that dazzles with the pure reflection of the sky. Intriguing in the stunning design of its coral reefs, this ecoisystem sustains an overwhelming variety of marine flora and fauna. Cruising pelagic species like hammerheads and whale sharks always make a plunge into these waters exciting. Clouds of fish swarm over the reefs in a perpetual dance that creates an incredible illusion of majesty and colors. In this unique region of our earth’s planet, these two diametrically opposed environments come together in harmonious union. The Sea Ad team welcomes you once more to Marsa Alam and the south. Through this publication we hope that you will come to cherish this amazing place of adventure and mystery. It is truly one of the last remaining frontiers with so much yet to be discovered. Get ready to explore the southern Red Sea with “Your Guide to Marsa Alam and the South.”

“In the hillsides all sorts of rocks are mingled in confusion; grey-green limestone cliffs run down sheer for hundreds of feet, in tremendous ravines where faces are medley of colors wherever crags of black porphyry and diorite jut out, or wherever soft sandstone, washed down, has left long pink and white smudges on the lighter colors.” Lawrence of Arabia’s famous quote about the Red Sea region

Traveling to Marsa Alam has been described as exploring a historic time vault uncovering ancient mysteries and forgotten trade routes, sunken wrecks, Pharaonic and Roman historical sites i ruins of ancient civilizations and their people all awaiting to be explored. It is one of those very rare places where coral reef gardens, desert adventure, and cultural and historical exploration combine in the get away experience of a lifetime.


When the sharks die, the oceans die


Shark your senses!
Many divers have seen a shark or two. But who knows what the intention of the animal was when it approached, which factors affected the situation the most, or how its swim pattern should have been interpreted? Sharki School™ focuses on the behavior of sharks with special emphasis on interacting with them. SharkSchool™ brings divers, snorkelers and swimmers closer to sharks, with the intention to show the true nature of these incredible animals. SharkSchool™ is headed by Dr. Erich Ritter Ph.D., shark behaviorist and the world’s only field scientist specialized in the study of shark – human interaction. We teach courses in many destinations all over the world, like the Bahamas with lemon and bull sharks and South Africa with white and tiger sharks. In the Red Sea we teach courses on liveaboards and at land based locations like Ecolodge Shagra Village, Marsa Alam, with a focus on hami merheads or oceanic whitetips. Please visit our website for more information. –

Sharks are probably the most misuni derstood creatures on this planet. Feared by most, these magnificent animals lack the much needed lobby to stop their onigoing slaughtering. The killing of sharks is one of the biggest ecoi logical time bombs. A bomb that will go off if not defused quickly. Sharks have been around for more than 400 million years and their extremely efficient design has proved highly successful. It is estii mated that more than 90% of the world’s shark populations have been killed for their fins or just because people think they are dangerous and deserve to die. But without sharks, the most important marine controllers, the oceans die. The protection of sharks is crucial for the balance of the marine ecosysi tem, the planet’s biggest oxygen provider.

Humans do not protect what they fear
A crucial step i if not the most important one i towards protection of sharks is the elimination of this unsubstantiated fear. It is human nature to only protect what is loved, but not what is feared. However, this irrational fear of sharks needs to be destroyed and all the erroneous information corrected. The way for a better understanding is the active interaction with sharks. There is no such thing as dangerous sharks, just dangerous situations, created by humans knowingly, unknowingly or by third parties! SharkSchool™ teaches how to detect and avoid such scenarios.


60 kilometers south of Hurghada is the secluded town of Port Safaga. Once called Port Philotera, Safaga was built during the reign of Egypt’s King Ptolemy II. Regarded as a Phosphate export center, Safaga was a merchant port for many years. Today it gains its popularity for its wide azure bay, secluded islands, and miles of sandy beach. Safaga has recently become very popular among kite surfers and windsurfers and was the host of the 1993 Red Sea World Windsurfing Championships. Fishing in Safaga is also very popular with frequent day trips to the nearby islands for friendly fishing competitions. A number of fishing boats are regularly departing for day trips around the neariby islands and reefs. A special route from Safaga leads visitors on a 180 kilometer journey to Luxor and the ancient capital of Thebes. The QenaiSafaga road was for many years the only route to Luxor from the coast. A dayitrip to Luxor can incorporate any number of activities that include the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, followed by a felucca ride across the Nile to the West Bank and the Valley of the Kings and Queens. About 40km west off the Safaga-Qena road can be found an ancient Roman granite quarry called “Mons Claudianus.” Safaga is home to some of the most outstanding diving of the Red Sea. The chain reefs of Tobia Arbaa and the impressive walls of Panorama and Abu Qifan, offer eni i counters with pelagic species such as sharks and mantas. A World War 2 wreck located near the port is also an exciting dive. The ship belonged to the British army and was outfitted as a complete workshop for repairing and maini taining war equipment and vessels. The allies used the port of Safaga during the war and the ship was subsequently sunk by German Air Forces in 1944. Safaga acquires its unique character from both its tropical beach atmosphere and secluded town. Night entertainment consists of traditional Bedouin themed dinners in the small town or near seashore. A holiday in Safaga is mainly about watersports and sightseeing. You can expect a rei i laxing holiday lounging on the beach and soaking the desert sun, but lots of adventure does wait with a variety of activities to choose from.




Photo Courtesy of Francis Le Guen

The Eco-diving Adventure
Red Sea Diving Safaris Eco-diving Program
Eco-diving is what we refer to as an environmentally friendly and educative diving program. This is a rare and unforgettable experience where nature lovers engage in exciting team work and learn about marine biology and underwater eco-systems. RSDS not only believes in enforcing environmentally friendly diving practices, but also the need to generate awareness about the threats that reef eco-systems and marine life are facing.

Our Eco-diving Programs: - Eco-diving Certification - Reef Check i Marine Biology Workshop i Fish Watch Workshop i Sharkschool i Dolphins Watch i Introduction to RSDS Ecoidiving Program


Safaga Dive Sites

Ras Abu Soma Ras Abu Soma is a protruding cape draped with fringing reef. A jetty atop a large lai i goon on the back reef makes the site accessible from the shore. The reef wall drops to a sandy bottom at approximately 15m. An abundance of hard coral formations, table coral and large boulder coral litter the sandy bottom. The sandy bottom slowly slopes to approximately 25m and then drops off to 50m+. Current is not very common here but if present will be running from north to south. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Tobia Arbaa Tobia Arbaa is one of the Tobia dive sites approximately 2i3 nautical miles off the Sai i faga coastline. These pillars rise from a sandy bottom of approximately 15i25 meters and feature beautiful canyon swim throughs. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Angel Antenna Fish

Bat Fish

Barracuda 17

Big Eye


Safaga Dive Sites

Tobia Saghir Tobia Saguir is an offishore dive site, which is one of the well known Tobia dive sites. The site is approximately 2.5 nautical miles from the Safaga coastline. It is popular for its natural and shallow tunnel ways. This dive site is fairly shallow reaching approximately 15m. The reefs are oriented north to south and collectively form a “Y” shape, which allow for an interesting dive profile. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Gamul Saghir This is an offishore site at approximately 2i3 nautical miles from the Safaga coastline. It features beautiful coral towers, which are rising from approximately 15i20 meters. The towers to the south are the most interesting part of this site and near the largest coral tower can be found a garden of eels. Small caves towards the northern towers featuring glass fish are a scene not to be missed. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Bird Fish

Blue Fish

Black Tail Butterfly Fish

Blue Spotted Ray



Safaga Dive Sites

Gamul Kebir A horseshoe shaped offishore reef at approximately 2i3 nautical miles from the Safaga coastline. The depth of the interior lagoon is approximately 14 meters, and towards the outside of the reef on the northern side the depth reaches 25m. On the northern side are a number of ergs with lovely soft coral growth and a myriad of small marine life. The interior sandy floor bottom features patches of seagrass and a small eel garden. Blue spotted rays, black sand rays and even eagle rays are commonly seen near the sea grass. Large groups of blackfin barracuda are commonly present to the north east where there can be a mild current, normally running from north to south. Suitable for all level of diver but can be less accessible in rough conditions.

Panorama Reef One of the most popular off-shore reefs of Safaga approximately 4.5 nautical miles from the coastline. This reef features stunning walls, plateaus, and drop offs. Jacks, barracui i das and reef sharks are common encounters. Many grottos and overhangs, gorgonians, soft corals and a dramatic array of purple soft corals can also be found here. The northi i ern and southern plateaus begin at approximately 15m and slowly slope to 30m before dropping to the blue. Numerous clown fish decorate the southern end. A south bound current offers a thrilling drift dive. Suitable for intermediate level diver.

Box Fish

Crocodile Fish

Clown Fish 21

Crown Soldier Fish


Safaga Dive Sites

Middle Reef Another very popular off-shore dive site, approximately 4-5 nautical miles from the Sai faga coastline. The northern side slopes to approximately 30m and then plummets vertii i cally to 40+. Occasional white-tip and grey reef sharks are cruising by. Hard coral growth and large gorgonian sea fans can also be found on the northeastern end. The east and west corners feature hard corals with acroporas, as well as brain and salad coral. The southern side features a shallow labyrinth of caves, tunnels and passages. An occai i sional north south current makes Middle Reef suitable for intermediate level diver.

Shaab Queis/Hal Hal Hal Hal is composed of two adjacent pinnacles rising from approximately 20m and feai i turing both hard and soft corals. The site is approximately 4-5 nautical miles from the Safaga coastline. Canyons cut through the middle of both reefs which allows for a very fun “8” shaped dive profile. To the east the reef slowly slopes then drops offs and there is a chance of seeing pelagic species here. Goatfish and bluelined snapper often cruise the reef in large numbers. An occasional north south or northwest to southeast current makes Hal Hal suitable for intermediate level diver.

Damsel Fish

Electric Ray

Eagle Ray

Emperor Fish 24


Safaga Dive Sites

Shaab Sheer Shaab Sheer is an offishore dive site approximately 3 nautical miles from the Safaga coastline. The site is made up of many large coral boulders and features two small wrecks. In 2001 a small boat called the M.V. Hatour sank just beyond the channel and in November 2005, Shaab Sheer also became the resting place of MY Dadealus. M.V Hatour is located on the eastern side and MY Dadealus on the southern side. Schooli i ing jack, snapper, and tuna fish are common here. Occasional pelagic species are also visiting the reef. The inner lagoon is approximately 15m deep and the outer sides drop down to 25m depth then slowly sloping to 40+. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Abu Kifan Arguably the best dive site in Safaga, this 300m long reef rises from 400m+ and features a ‘plateau’ on both the north and south ends. It is approximately 4-5 nautical miles from the Safaga coastline. It takes at least two dives to fully enjoy the entire reef. The north plateau begins at around 15m and slowly slopes down to 30m before dropping off into the blue. The northeast wall features a vertical drop off to 100m+. The south plateau begins at 15m sloping down to 27m and then dropping off into depth. Frequent sightings of jacks, tuna, barracuda, reef sharks and the occasional hammerhead are the highlights of this reef. The plateau can be swept with a northerly current. Wall drifting and sheer dropioffs make this a very exciting dive, suitable for experienced divers.

Garden Eel

Goat Fish

Giant Green Turtle

Gold Fish 26


Safaga Dive Sites

Shaab Humdallah Shaab Humdallah is an offishore dive site made up of various ergs, which are spread apart forming an oval pattern. The outer side reaches approximately 20m and the ini terior approximately 15m. The site features plenty of soft coral and an abundance of marine life. Within the interior lagoon is a sandy bottom lagoon featuring blue spotted rays and other sand dwelling critters. The largest erg situated northernmost features a very slim tunnel. The southern and eastern ergs feature large gorgonian fan corals, as well as pink, purple and orange soft coral. An occasional north south current makes this dive suitable for intermediate level diver.

The Eco-diving Adventure
Grouper Marine Biology Workshop
The RSDS Marine Biology Workshop is an ideal starting point for people who are new to marine biology and the eco-diving concept. This is a very fun and interactive program that was developed by Mr. Stephan Moldzio. Most of the workshop is hands on activity followed by lecture portion in the evening. The best part of the workshop is all the diving followed by observation of specimens under the stereomicroscope.

Guitar Shark 27

Soma Bay Hotels

Safaga Hotels
Amira Safaga Hotel

Coral Garden Resort

El Corniche Road Tel: 3253821 / 3822 E-Mail: Website:

Km 22, South of Safaga Tel: 3262020 / 2021 E-Mail: Website:

Holiday Inn Resort Safaga Palace

Lotus Bay Resort

Safaga, Red Sea Tel: 3260100 E-Mail: holidayinnsafaga@holidayinnsai Website:

Safaga Tourist Center Tel: 3260005 / 0006 E-Mail: Website:

Menaville Village

Nemo Dive Club & Hotel

Safaga Tourist Center Tel: 3260064 / 0065 E-Mail: Website:

Corniche Street Tel: 3256777 E-Mail: Web-site:

Shams Safaga Village

Sharm el Naga Camp

Safaga – Hurghada Road Tel: 3260044 E-Mail: Website:

Km 20, South of Safaga Tel: 0101112942 - 0101513615 E-Mail:

Sol y Mar Paradise Beach

Sun Beach Village

Photo Courtesy of Francis Le Guen

Km 8, Safaga Road Tel: 3260016 / 0024 E-Mail: Website:

El Corniche Road Tel: 3260055 / 0056 E-Mail:

InterContinetal Abo Soma Resort

La Residence des Cascades Resort

Tuoubia Hotel

Abu Soma, Km 12 Safaga Road Tel: 3260700 / 0748 E-Mail: Website:

Soma Bay, Red Sea Tel: 3542333 E-Mail: Website:

El Corniche Road Tel: 3251294 E-Mail: N/A Website: N/A

Robinson Club Soma Bay

Sheraton Soma Bay Resort

Soma Bay, Red Sea Tel: 3549854 / 9859 E-Mail: Website:

Soma Bay, Red Sea Tel: 3545845 / 5915 E-Mail: reservationsomabayegypt@ Website:

Graphic Design and Advertisement


telephone: +20233371833 / 9942 mobile: +0122112395 e-mail: 30

Safaga Diving Centers
3 Turtles
Yasmine Hotel Tel: 0653253581 Website: E-Mail:

ABC Dream Divers
St. Elokby Village Tel: 0653252116 - 0124127549 Website: E-Mail:

Barracuda Lotus Bay
Lotus Bay Village Tel: 0653253911 - 065451041 Website: E-Mail:

Diving World Safaga
Sakala Trafkom Tel: 0693660065 Website: E-Mail:

El Yassmin
El Yassmin Hotel Tel: 0127430638 - 0653258531 Website: E- Mail:

Extra Divers
Makidi Bay Beach Tel: 0121563305 Website: E-Mail:

Deep South Mini Safari -St. Johns

Freedom Divers
Nefertari Hotel Tel: 0124369878 - 0107578175 Website: E-Mail:

Mena Dive
Menaville Safaga Tel: 0653260060 Website: E-Mail:

The Eco-diving Adventure
Red Sea Diving Safari is always striving to deliver the best diving that the Red Sea has to offer. It is with great delight that we bring to you our new mini safari programs, “Deep South i St. Johns” and “Fury Shoal Explorer.” Spend 3 adventure-filled days diving through the labyrinth of coral canyons known as the Fury Shoals. Explore the many splendid sites that St. Johns has to offer aboard our luxurious boat M/Y Patriot.

Mermaid Divers
2 Youth Street Tel: 0105405982 - 0103647430 E-Mail:

Orca Dive Club
Orca Village Tel: 0653250111 Website: E-Mail:

Paradise Divers
Solymar Resort Tel: 0122633073 Website: E-Mail:

Sea Dream Divers
Topia Hotel Tel: 0123135676 - 0653252116 Website: E-Mail:

Shams Safaga
Shams Safaga Tel: 0653260044 Website: E-Mail:

Soma Bay Tel: 0653545915 - 0653545004 Website: E-Mail:

Sub Aqua
Meridian Makadi Hotel Tel: 0653590600 Website: E-Mail:

United Divers
City Board in front of Youth Camp Tel: 0122267426 - 0653252687 Website: E-Mail: N/A


Fury Shoal Explorer Mini-safari



Located 205 kilometers south of Hurghada, this 5,000 year old Egyptian city was called Leucus Limen (white harbor) in the Ptolemaic era. Until the 10th century Quseir was the largest Red Sea port in Egypt. In the Islamic period it was given the name “Al Quseir,” which means fortress. The 16th century Ottoman fortress of Sultan Selim, which was rebuilt by the French in 1798 sits overlooking the small town. Quseir’s main street runs right through the center of town and features many bazzars and souvenir shops. Near the port inibetween the main street and a small boulevard can be found remnants of Islamic architecture with masharabea wood lattices, as well as other restorated buildings. Mosques as old as 300 years such as Al Farran, Al Qenawi and Al Senousi are all key highlights of the bustling little town. “Al Quseir Al Kadima” is an old Roman port where hundreds of amphora, old pottery, and other such artifacts were found. An ancient caravan trail to Qift in the Nile Valley leads from the town through the mountains passing several Pharaonic and Roman sites. Graffiti dating from pre-historic times to the twentieth century can also be found in the towering walls of Wadi Hammamat. Quseir is the launch pad for diving trips to the famous Brother’s Islands, ranked among the top 10 dive sites in the entire world. The Brothers Islands are situi i ated 67 km offshore just east of El Quseir. The Brother Islands are world-fai mous for real “thrill diving” that include up close encounters with many different shark species including Hammerheads and Oceanic White Tips. Miles and miles of reef, colorful fish, and untouched corals make Quseir a very popular dive destination. The small but bustling town gives the feel of a real historical tour of Islamic culture and traditional Egyptian life. A typical evening consists of horse or camel ride into the desert. You can expect to be greeted with traditional folkloric entertainment such as fire-eaters and dancing horse shows.





Photo Courtesy of Francis Le Guen

Photo Courtesy of Francis Le Guen


Quseir Dive Sites

Quseir Dive Sites

Big Brother The brother islands are considered the greatest dive sites in the Red Sea. They are made up of two small islands approximately 36 nautical miles from Quesir. Big brother is approximately 400 meters long and is easily recognized by its lighthouse. The 2 Isi lands feature coral draped walls and plunging drop offs. The sheer walls are covered in soft and hard corals along with huge sea fans. Big Brother features two wrecks on its north side; the Numidia and the Aida. The Numidia begins at 10m and vertically drops to approximately 50m. Aida begins at approximately 15m and descends to about 45m. The southern tip features a plateau at 30m then abruptly dropping to depth. Rarely a dive goes by without seeing a pelagic including hammers, silkies, threshers, oceanic whitetips and grey reef sharks. A strong northerly current makes this site suitable for advanced divers.

Little Brother Little Brother is located less than 1km from Big Brother. On the northern side the first plateau begins at 10m and slowly descends to another plateau at approximately 30m before dropping off to depth. On the southern side the plateau begins at 30m and abrupti i ly drops off to depth. Fish usually range from hundreds of orange anithias to snappers, tuna, barracuda and trigger fish. Pelagics including hammers, silkies, threshers, oceanic whitetips and grey reef sharks are commonly seen. Whale sharks and manta rays can also be seen during the plankton season beginning in March. A strong northerly current makes this site suitable for advanced divers.

Hawksbill Turtle

Lion Fish

Lemon Butterfly Fish 39

Lizard Fish 40

Quseir Hotels

Quseir Diving Centers

Photo Courtesy of Francis Le Guen

Carnelia Beach Resort

Cinderella Beach Resort

Km 26, South Quseir Tel: 3334833 - 0122484300 E-Mail: Website:

Km 26, South Quseir Tel: 3334536 - 0127388003 E-Mail: Website:

Dreams Beach Hotel

Fanadir Beach Hotel
Quseir Tel: 3331414 E-Mail: Website:

Km 30, South Quseir Tel: 0127859069 - 0127859072 E-Mail: Website:

Flamenco Beach Resort

Mangrove Bay Resort

Extra Divers
Radisson SAS Resort Tel: 010 6026099 - 065 335260 Website: E-Mail:

Marina Divers
Flamenco Hotel Tel: 065 3350200 - 012 3732780 Website: E-Mail:

Km 7, Quseir-Safaga Road Tel: 3350200 / 0210 E-Mail: Website:

Km 29, South of Quseir Tel: 3395026 E-Mail: Website:

Movenpick Resort El Quseir

Radisson SAS Resort - El Quseir

Sub Aqua Dive Center
Utopia Beach Club Tel: 010 1397900 - 065 3390014 Website: E-Mail:

Subex Diving Center
Movenpick- Resort, Sirena Beach Tel: 065 3332100 - 065 3350036 Website: E-Mail:

El Quadim Bay Tel: 3332100 E-Mail: Website:


Safaga Road, Quseir Tel: 3350260 E-Mail: reservation-elquseir@radisi Website:


Marsa Alam

Marsa Alam
220 km south of Hurghada is the still small fishing village of Marsa Alam. The town consists of a few oriental cafes and supermarkets, a bus station, and a fuel station. Despite its small size keen observers believe that Marsa Alam is destined to become as popular a destination as Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada. Marsa Alam has the appearance of a tropical paradise with its palm trees, mani i groves, and coastline fringed with coral reefs. It has gained a very strong reputation amongst scuba divers because of its pristine dive sites, both along the coastline and offshore. Sightings of spinner dolphins, dugongs, turtles, mantas, and sharks are a frequent occurrence for those who venture into its waters. While offishore boat diving is the most popular, the nature of the coastline equally lends itself to fabulous shoreibased diving. Fringing coastal reefs are split apart by small “Marsas” and “Sharms.” “Sharm” means a shape being like a camel’s lips, and “Marsa” means area with anchoring possibilities. These are two forms of natural bays that allow easy access to their outer walls. The back reefs contain swim throughs and tunnel systems, which provide for interesting profiles to start and finish your dive. These coastal reef “walls” are in shallow water rarely exceeding 35m. Beyond the coral walls is a sandy seabed bottom, which after a distance drops off to 100 meters+. Marsa Alam’s dive sites are spread over approximately a 200km stretch of coastline with over 50 dive sites to choose from. The best known offshore reefs are probi i ably Elphinstone, which features (seasonally) Oceanic White Tips, Hammerheads, Mantas, and sometimes whale sharks. Other popular offishore reefs include Dolphin House and the Fury Shoals. The Fury Shoals is a multitude of reefs hosting some of the best examples of hard and soft coral worldwide. Much of the history of the Marsa Alam region is still being discovered, but we can trace its history to both the Egyptian and Roman empires. By the Pharaonic era Marsa Alam had become vital to the economy of ancient Egypt. The surrounding coastal area was rich in deposits of copper, lead, gold, emeralds and semiiprecious stones. The mines are said to have been the only source of emeralds for the Roman Empire, and the first emerald mines anywhere in the world. Some of the gold mines were recently reopened by foreign investors using the latest mining technology. These mines, together with some marble and granite quarries provide employment for some of the population. Long ago several ancient Roman caravan routes ran between the Nile to ports along the Red Sea. These ancient ports included Apollonopolis Magna (Edfu), Coptos (Qift) and Caenepolis (Qena). The main purpose of these roads was to take emeralds and other precious stones and metals for shipment across the Red Sea.



Marsa Alam
While these roads were used for the gold mining trade, Archaeologists believe that the main use was as a trade route between the Nile Valley and the Red Sea. Very important ancient ports were located along the Red Sea coast in ancient days. The main port is said to have been Berenice just south of Ras Banas. The ruins of one of these ancient ports can still be found in Marsa Nakari just 18km south of Marsa Alam. Other historic sites include the Emerald Mines of Wadi Suket, which also hosts a small Ptolemaic rock temple dedicated to Isis and Serapis. A newly opened road in Marsa Alam is linked to Edfu, which is situated along the Nile River at about 230km inland. A wealth of rock inscripi i tions from as early as the preidynastic periods can be found on the road leading to Edfu. The ancient markings depict animals including giraffes and cattle, as well as many hunting scenes. Off of the Edfu road can be found an area called Wadi Baramiya. Wadi Baramiya extends into another larger Wadi called Wadi Miya. Where the ancient caravan route crosses the Marsa Alam i Edfu road at Wadi Kanais, about 40 km from Edfu, a temple was build by among others Seti I. It’s hard to find words that rightfully describe the wonder that is the Marsa Alam region. The abundance of tourist attractions both marine and terrestrial would take months to fully explore. Much still remains to be discovered about the region, but a recent influx of tourism and development will change that very soon.


Marsa Alam

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Wadi El Gemal

Wadi El Gemal National Park
Approximately 50km south of Marsa Alam city begins the Wadi el Gemal National park, which has been nominated as a Biosphere Reserve. The Reserve Area encompasses the segment of the Red Sea coastal plain and mountains extending roughly between 24°51’N in the north and 24°06’N in the south; and between the Red Sea shoreline in the east to about 34°28’E in the west. The Reserve area includes marine and terrestrial components. Wadi El Gemal and its delta are the central theme of the terrestrial reserve area. The marine component of the protected area encompasses a strip of coastal marine waters featuring patches of mangroves, as well as a number of marine islands (the Hamata archipelago and Wadi El Gemal Island). The presence of mangroves on the islands makes it a perfect habitat for hundreds of shore and sea bird species. In addition to the bird populations, two species of turtles use the Island for nesting grounds and dolphins are commonly seen swimming around the Island. Daily boat excursions to the Qulan islands for sunbathing and snorkeling is a favored excursion. Land based excursions to the Wadi el Gemal delta and desert for trekking, bird watchi i ing, and Bedouin encounters is also very popular. The local Bedouin Ababda who ini i habits the Wadi el Gamel reserve and eastern desert offers cultural based excursions. The eastern desert’s spectacular scenery and wildlife are also a popular attraction. Animals that inhabit the wadis include many rare species like the Nubian Ibex, Capra Ibex Nubiana, and the Hyrax. Wild donkeys, camels, and gazelle are also abundant in the region and feed on the vegetation of the desert.


Marsa Alam Dive Sites

Sharm Abu Dabbour A shore based dive site unique for its small passage that leads to a fairly shallow cavern and canyon. A rope is used to guide divers through the canyon as sometimes current is present. Snappers and schools of fusiliers are commonly taking shelter inside the cavern. Near a large pinnacle in front of the opening between the north and south reef is an eel garden. The northern and southern reef feature lots of hard coral formation. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Marsa Abu Dabbab Marsa Abu Dabbab is an expansive bay famous for its resident dugong and big green turtles, which are feeding on the sea grass bed. Commonly sighted near the sea grass are also cuddle fish, jacks, guitar ray, and box fish. The north and south reefs are also rich in colorful corals and fish. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.


Napoleon Fish

Moray Eel 51



Marsa Alam Dive Sites

Sharm Abu Dabbab Sharm Abu Dabbab is a shore based dive site featuring a unique tunnel system within the back reef, which connects 3 small pools. The pools are shallow not exceeding 15m. Towards the outer walls is an abundance of porite corals and reef fish. The north and south walls drop down to a sandy bottom at approximately 15m. Black and white dami i selfish, bat fish, groupers and parrot fish are dwelling among the corals. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Shaab Abu Dabbab This is a large and shallow offshore reef chain approximately 1.5 nautical miles from shore. The site is based around two large reefs and in between is a small wreck resting at about 14m. A very beautiful chain of coral mountains on the east side connects both larger reefs. An abundance of pristine corals, reef fish and the occasional white tip reef shark and barracuda make this a very popular dive site. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Parrot Fish

Picasso Fish

Peacock Angel Fish 53

Puffer Fish


Marsa Alam Dive Sites

Marsa Shagra One of the most beautiful house reefs in the southern Red Sea operated by Red Sea Diving Safari. According to the author of Collins Reef guide, Marsa Shagra is home to 15 endemic fish species, about 300 other species of fish, and 100 types of corals. The bay is frequented by dolphins and manta rays during certain seasons. The north and south reefs feature walls that slope down to a sandy bottom at about 15m. The sandy bottom is littered with hard coral and extends approximately 8i10m, before sloping down to 50m+. White and black tip reef sharks, different ray species, resident turtles, barracudas, groui i pers, mackerels, nudibranches and a lot of very colorful coral patches are just some of the highlights. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Elphinstone A 375m long offishore reef with dropioffs descending to over 100 meters+. Elphinstone is ranked among the top ten dive sites in the entire world. It is located approximately 2 nautical miles from the coastline. The reef is angled slightly to the north, which causes a constant current over the northern and southern plateaus. These plateaus are an ideal location to catch a glimpse of different shark species like Oceanic White Tip, Scalloped Hammerhead, White Tip Reef, Grey Reef, Silver Tip, and Thresher. Elphinstone features Oceanic White Tip (Sep. i Nov.), Scalloped Hammerhead (June i August.), and Mantas (March i April). A current makes this site suitable for advanced level diver.

Rabbit Fish

Sergeant Fish

Rainbow Fish

Sea Horse



Marsa Alam Dive Sites

Marsa Nakari One of the most beautiful house reefs in the southern Red Sea operated by Red Sea Diving Safari. This is a fairly expansive bay with an abundance of coral and marine life. The north and south reefs feature walls that slope down to a sandy bottom at about 15m. The north reef features an abundance of colorful corals and the south reef is heavily piti i ted with many swim throughs. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Shabb Samadai Also know as “Dolphin House” Shabb Samadai is a national park approximately 9km from the coastline. Shaab Samadai is the home of a group of Spinner Dolphins that live in this horse shoe shaped reef. The site is protected by the Rangers who have zoned the inside of the reef to protect the dolphins. The site is large and requires two dives to be fully explored. The entire site is scattered with pillars and domes of stony coral including brain, mushroom, table and soft coral. The northieast reef features a rich landscape of mountain corals next to a sandy bottom scattered with reef patches. This area also feai i tures an eel garden and lots of anemones. On the west side is a shallow tunnel system that is open on the top and ends in a landscape of mountain corals and canyons. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Scorpion Fish

Spiny Globe Fish

Soldier Fish 57

Star Fish 58

Marsa Alam Dive Sites

Shaab Sharm This is an offshore dive site approximately 5 nautical miles from the coastline. This reef is oriented northiwest to southieast with plateaus on both ends. On the northiwestern side is a plateau that begins at about 25m. There is a chance to see Hammerheads here from spring until mid August and Oceanic white tips (Longimanus) in autumn. The east plateau begins at approximately 17m and slowly slopes to another plateau at 30m before dropping off into depth. Many pelagic species frequent this area year round. Suiti i able for advanced level diver.

Daedelus This circular island is located approximately 50 nautical miles off the Marsa Alam coasti i line. At its widest point the island is approximately 500 meters wide. A lighthouse stands in the center of the island and is the only reference point to its location. This is an uni i spoiled dive site which has become one of the favored diving destinations in the Red Sea. Its spectacular sheer walls are carpeted in soft corals, hard corals and enormous sea fans. There is a plateau on the southern side that begins at approximately 35m. All other sides feature steep vertical drop offs. The east wall features spectacular caves and overhangs and the west wall features spectacular hard coral formations. You can expect to see barracuda, jacks, tuna, rainbow runners, grey reef sharks, hammerheads, threshers and occasionally dolphins. Mantas and whale sharks are also common during the plankton season. Suitable for advanced level diver.

Stone Fish

Surgeon Fish

Striped Butterfly 59

Trigger Fish 60

Marsa Alam Hotels
Badawia Beach Hotel

Baraka Sons Hotel
Km14, South Marsa Alam Tel: 012 2488062 E-Mail: N/A Website: N/A

Address: Kilo 90 Marsa Alam Road Tel: 0102505560 - 0102505564 E-Mail: Website:

Blue Lagoon Hotel

Blue Reef Hotel

Km 20 South Marsa Alam Tel: 0123245792 - 0123245793 E-Mail: N/A Website: N/A

North Marsa Alam City Tel: 012 7676728 – 012 7676729 E-Mail: N/A Website: N/A

Brayka Bay Hotel Reef Resort
5 Km 18 North Marsa Alam

Cataract Resort

Tel: 0121004401 – 0121004406 E-Mail: Website:

17 Km North of Marsa Alam Tel: 0127343071 - 0127343072 E-Mail: marsa@cataractmarsaalamrei Website:

Coral Beach Diving Hotel

Dream Lagoon Hotel

Port Ghalib Tel: 0653700222 E-Mail:

Km 20 South Marsa Alam Tel: 0122295791 i 0122295792 E-Mail: Website:

Ecolodge Shagra Village
Km 113 South Quseir Tel: 0122449073 - 0122449075 E-Mail: Website:

El Zabarget Hotel

Photo Courtesy of Francis Le Guen

Hamata Tel: 0122152775 E-Mail: N/A Website:

Abo Nawas Resort

Abu Dabbab Diving Lodge

Equinox Resort

Flora Beach Resort

Km 20 North Marsa Alam Tel: 0122439950 - 0122439951 E-Mail: Website:

Km 33 North Marsa Alam Tel: 0102339271 E-Mail: Website:

Marsa Alam Tel: 0122106217 - 0122353475 E-Mail: Website:

Km 112 South of Quseir Tel: 0123342080 – 0124755435 E-Mail: Website:

Akassia Swiss Resort

Amaraya Resort


Iberotel Coraya Beach Resort

38 Km of Marsa Alam Airport Tel: 012 2307718 – 012 7455049 E-Mail: Website:

North Marsa Alam Tel: 0127458802 – 0127458799 E-Mail: Website:

North Marsa Alam Tel: 3380107 i 3380108 E-Mail: Website:

Madinat Coraya Tel: 3750000 – 012 3912055 E-Mail: Website:



Marsa Alam Hotels
Iberotel Lamaya Resort

Jaz Solaya Resort

Madinat Coraya Tel: 3750030 E-Mail: Website:

Madinat Coraya Tel: 3750015 E-Mail: Website:

Kahramana Resort

Lahami Bay Resort

Marsa Alam Tel: 3380008 – 3380009 E-Mail: Website:

Km115 South of Marsa Alam Tel: 010 009266 – 012 3173300 E-Mail: Website:

Pensee Royal Garden Resort

Resta Reef Resort

Km 22, South Quseir Tel: 3390022 i 33900023 E-Mail: Website:

Km 65 Quaseir MA Road Tel: 3750090 – 3750099 E-Mail: Website:

Shams Alam Resort

Sol y Mar Abu Dabbab

Km 45 South Marsa Alam Tel: 0122444931 - 0122444932 E-Mail: Website:

Madinat Coraya Tel: 010 0096002 E-Mail: Website:

Solitaire Beach Resort

Sun International Port Ghalib

Km 81 South Marsa Alam Airport Tel: 3380100 – 33380102 i 3380103 E-Mail: Website: N/A

Gabal El Gezira El Haram Center Tel: 3700100 – 3700101 E-Mail: N/A Website: N/A

Three Corners Fayrouz Plaza Resort

Tulip Resort

Port Ghalib Tel: 010 0095561 E-Mail: Website:

Km 17 South Marsa Alam Airport Tel: 010 1617002 – 010 1617003 E-Mail: Website:

Vera Club Elphistone

Wadi Sabbara Hotel

The Eco-diving Adventure
- Diverse Accommodation Styles (all-inclusive) - Unlimited Shore-based Diving / Boat Diving - Unique and Diverse Diving Program - World Famous Dive Sites

Km 25, North Marsa Alam Tel: 3380031 - 3380034 – 012 2271127 E-Mail: Website:

Km 25 North Marsa Alam Tel: 02 37605950 – 02 37603877 E-Mail: N/A Website: N/A


Marsa Alam Diving Centers

Akassia Resort Tel: 012 241 67 39 Website: E-Mail:

Awlad Barka Tel: 010 5056644 - 010 6460408 Website: E-Mail:

Zabargad Village- Hamata Tel: N/A Website: www.orcadiveclub E-Mail: N/A

Orca Dive Club
Abu Dabbab Diving Lodge Tel: N/A Website: E-Mail: N/A

Marsa Alam Tel: N/A Website: E-Mail:

Blue Heaven Holidays
Tondoba Bay Kilo 14 South M.A. Tel: 012 3131157 - 065 3415121 Website: E-Mail:

Pioneer Divers
Kahramana Hotel Tel: 012 1607326 Website: E-Mail:

Red Sea Diving Safari
Ecolodge Shagra Village Tel: 012 2449075 - 065 3380021 Website: E-Mail:

Coraya Divers
Km 65 El Quseir MA Tel: 010 7670808 Website: E-Mail:

Deep South
Baraka Sons – Camp 6 Tel: 012 3258869 - 012 7923336 Website: E-Mail:

Sea Fari
Safir Hotel Tel: 012 1020196 - 010 1013816 Website: E-Mail:

Sea World
Address: Tel: 012 7747018 Website: E-Mail:

Diving Ocean New Project
Tulip Resort Tel: 012 7484335 - 065 3854738 Website: E-Mail:

Emperor Divers
Coral Beach Hotel Tel: 012 7372126 Website: E-Mail:

Equinox Resort Tel: 012 2106217 - 012 2353475 Website: E-Mail:

Abdel Aaty Abou Zaid Villa Tel: 012 2454128 Website: E-Mail:

Equinox Divers
310 A Sudan Street – El Naba Tel: N/A Website: E-Mail: N/A

Extra Divers
Aquarius Beach Village Tel: 016 5529293 - 010 3071247 Website: E-Mail:

Wadi Lahmi Divers
Ecolodge Wadi Lahmi Village Tel: 023 3371833 - 02 333749942 Website: E-Mail:

Wadi El Gemal
Camels Valley Tel: 012 2444932 - 012 7677009 Website: N/A E-Mail: N/A

Flora Diving Center
Flora Ecolodge Resort Tel: 012 4755435 - 010 6377712 Website: E-Mail:

Marsa Nakari Divers
Ecolodge Nakari Village Tel: 022 3371833 - 022 7494219 Website: E-Mail:

Kilo 20 El Quseir Road Tel: 010 1573889 Website: E-Mail:

Ocean Pro
Lahmi Bay Village Tel: 012 2242527 - 010 0090292 Website: E-Mail:



Ras Banas South

Ras Banas South Southwards to the Sudanese border is an almost completely empty coastline, except for the occasional mangrove and herds of grazing camels. Ras Banas is a 51km penini i sula towards the end of the Egyptian/Sudanese border. The inlet of water sheltered to the south of this peninsula is called Foul Bay. At the head of this bay and approximately 145km south of Marsa Alam sits the ancient port of Berenice. The town was founded by Ptolemy II Philadelphus in 275 B.C. For many years it was one of the most important ports on the Red Sea coast, carrying on trade with India, Arabia, and the east coast of Africa. Abandoned during the fifth century AD, the site was excavated in 1818 by the Archei ologist Belzoni, who found a Temple of Queen Semiramis and other ancient ruins. Littered on both the northern and southern sides of the Ras Banas peninsula can be found a vast complex of islands and offishore reefs. These include; the Fury Shoals, Mikauwa Island, St. John’s Island, and Rocky Island. The reefs found here are intact and frequented by a host of pelagic species. The multitude of reefs on the northern side of Ras Banas is collectively known as the Fury Shoals. They offer worldiclass hard and soft coral formations and plenty of diversity from dropioffs to coral gardens. Mikauwa Island lies off the southern point and acts as a sanctuary to nesting terns, as well as turtles coming to lay their eggs. Furthest south is a 14 km group of reef tables and pinnacles known as St. Johns. St. Johns contains a staggering profusion of hard and soft corals including abundant black corals and pristine Gorgonian sea fans. These reefs are also frequently visited by a variety of sharks. Further south is the “The Hala’ib Triangle,” which is a disputed land just between the borders of Egypt and Sudan. The two major towns in this area are Hala’ib and Shalai i teen. Shalateen is the Egyptian frontier famous for its local Bedouin tribes called the “Ababda” and the “Bisharia.” Today these regions are under Egyptian rule, which has launched a program of “dei i velopment” to cement its hold on this potentially oilirich region. Anyone wishing to visit this region is advised to hire a guide. A company called Red Sea Desert Adventures will run a very informative dayitrip to the village. There are no tourist accommodations in the area, but this is likely to change in the very near future. The Camel Market is one of Shalateen’s most memorable attractions. Buyers from all across Egypt converge here to choose from the different breeds brought by herders who come from Sudan on foot. The southern most area of the Egyptian Red Sea is very much reminiscent of the African Saharas. Most of the region is desolate territory and still remains unchartered. Major tourism development agencies have already laid stake to the coastline and hotel projects are expected to begin by the beginning of 2010.


Ras Banas South Dive Sites

Shaab Malahi The Arabic word “malahi” means play ground, which is a fitting name for this extraordii nary offishore dive site. Approximately 10 nautical miles from the coastline, it features a maze of hard coral landscaping and a series of corridors (between 10 to 12 meters) inside the southern side of the reef (hence the name playground). The depth around the reef ranges between 20i25 meters and features a rich variety of soft and hard corals. The wonderful landscape makes this a very fun dive site. Suitable for any level diver.

Shaab Mansour Shaab Mansour is an offishore reef located approximately 10 nautical miles from the coastline. On the southern side is a plateau that begins at about 10m and then slopes down to another plateau at 30m before dropping off into the blue. The rest of the reef is surrounded by a drop off with beautiful coral draped walls. Many different shark species have been sighted here as well as mantas and whale sharks (beginning during plankton season). A strong current occasionally occurs here and the site is suitable for advanced divers.

Ras Banas South Dive Sites

Satayah Satayah is one of the biggest reefs in the Fury Shoals approximately 11 nautical miles from the coastline. The reef is semiioval shaped and features very large lagoons in the interior. A very large pod of spinner dolphins inhabits the lagoons, which is about 10m in depth. The east side features a drop off where thresher sharks, hammerheads, and oceanic white tips sharks have been sighted. Reef sharks and mantas have also been sighted in the area. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Gota Abu Galawa Gota Abu Galawa is a small reef approximately 9 nautical miles from the coastline. This site features a small wreck on the south side at 17m, which was an American yacht that sank 15 years ago. The hull and roof are still intact and the interior is home to a variety of sweeper fish. Surrounding the wreck are soft and hard coral formations littered around the sandy bottom. Towards the northern side is a small channel at about 16 meters, which enters into a sandy bottom area that features a wonderful arrangement of mouni i tain corals. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Ras Banas South Dive Sites

Abu Galawa Abu Galawa is located just north of its “little brother” Gota Abu Galawa. It also features a much larger and very impressive wreck, which was a Chinese tugboat that sank around 1945. The bow is just under the surface leaning on the coral reef and descending to about 17 meters. The larger reef to the north features very impressive coral gardens, which continue all the way towards the west end of the reef. The depth here is approxii i mately 20m and slowly slopes to depth towards the western tip. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Shabb Claudia Shabb Claudia is one of the most popular dive sites of the Fury Shoals located approxii i mately 9 nautical miles from the coastline. This reef is popular due to its breathtaking underwater landscape and cave system running through the southern part. Depth inside the caves range between 8 to 10 meters and around the reef is a sandy bottom at api i proximately 20m. It is common to see pelagic species cruising by just south of the tunnel entrance. Many napoleons also congregate outside the cave entrances as well as many other fish species. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Ras Banas South Dive Sites

Milkauwa Island Just south of the Ras Banas peninsula is the Island of Mikauwa, situated approximately 30km from the coastline. The island acts as a sanctuary to flocks of nesting terns and turtles coming to lay their eggs. The island is fringed with remarkable hard coral gardens. Around the oblong shaped reef is a sloping bottom that begins at about 15m and slowly descends to 30m+. Along the northern side is collection of pinnacles that featuring many fish species and coral. A very pleasant dive site suitable for any level diver.

Zabargad Island Zabargad Island is a marine park located approximately 37 nautical miles from the coastline. It is recognized as one of the most beautiful islands for diving featuring an extensive diversity of marine life. There are several yet unidentified wrecks around the island. This triangular shaped island covers about 5 square kilometers and hosts nesti i ing turtles which are readily seen in August. On the southern side is a turquoise lagoon and shallow coral reefs at depths of 18i25 meters. This then slopes to a sandy bottom covered with a wide variety of intricately sculpted stony coral pinnacles. Large and small reef fish can be seen cruising through the pinnacles and the sandy bottom hosts blue spotted and black spotted stingrays as well as crocodile fish. Hammerheads and manta rays can sometimes be encountered cruising about the island. A very pleasant dive site suitable for intermediate level diver.

Ras Banas South Dive Sites

Rocky Island Just a few kilometers south of Zabargad Island is the Rocky Island, designated as one of the underwater wonders of the world. An abundance of marine life is found all around the island. Its sheer walls draped in colorful soft corals, sponges, and sea fans drop vertically down to the first plateau at about 25 meters, then dropping down to 50+. The southern tip features several caves and overhangs where a great deal of shark and pelagics are cruising by. Strong currents make the Rocky Island suitable for advanced level diver.

The Eco-diving Adventure
Reef Check Eco-diving Certification
Reef Check is the world’s largest international coral reef monitoring program and the United Nations official reef monitoring program. Reef check is dedicated to global coral reef education, monitoring, and managei ment by involving recreational divers and experienced marine scientists in community based team work. Stephan Moldzio is our Reef Check team leader as well as a Reef Check instructor. Our long term plan is to create an onigoing network of volunteers to coni duct surveys in all the reefs of the region.


St. John’s Reef This massive reef system encompassing a 20km wide and 12km long area is located approximately 16km from the coastline. There are dozens of excellent dive possibilii ties, which would take a few days to explore. The entire reef system rises up from an underwater plateau. Some of the small circular reefs peak just below the surface and look very small. But once in the water the reef expands wider and wider as they descend towards the bottom. St. John’s contains a wealth of hard and soft corals including black corals and gorgoi i nian sea fans. Massive schools of fish congregate here such as fusiliers, angel fish, black banner fish, groupers, and surgeon fish. Turtles, napoleons, and the infamous bumped-head parrotfish are also a common sight. These reefs are also commonly visited by a variety of sharks species including Hammerheads.



The Red Sea

The Red Sea’s History
The Red Sea mountains consist mainly of very old igneous rocks and sediments that have been faulted and folded. The sediments have also been affected by the heat and pressures they experienced during the intrusions of the igneous rocks. The oldest of these rock formations are thought to have originated between 1000 and 750 million years ago, during movements of the tectonic plates of the earth. During successive periods thick layers of sediments that were deposited on land and in sea covered these oldest rocks. A considerable uplift of the land bordering the Red Sea in the west took place 15 million years ago. This resulted in erosion of more than 3km of sediment cover exposing the deeper older rock formations. It was during this era that the Red Sea Mountains more or less started to take on their present shape. The Red Sea is a young growing ocean and part of a much larger body of water that forms the contact zone between two crustal plates of the earth. In the north this sea extends until the Dead Sea and to the south it continues into the Indian Ocean. About 35 million years ago forces in the earth’s crust began to separate the Arabian Peninsula from Africa. The Red Sea was subsequently formed around 20 million years ago. At the moment the Red Sea widens around 1.8 cm per year. At the same time the central part of the Red Sea is subsiding, while the landmasses bordering the Red Sea (Africa and Arabian Peninsula) are being uplifted. Up until now the uplift has been 3 km while the maximum subsidence has been 4 km. This makes a total offset of at least 7 km.

Marine Life Highlights

Oceanic White Tip

White Tip Reef Shark

Scalloped Hammerhead

Black Tip Reef Shark

Whale Shark

The Eco-diving Adventure
Eco-diving at its best! The most popular workshop in our eco-diving program, Sharkschool has been described as the ultimate diving experience.

Spinner Dolphin

Manta Ray


Developed by Dr. Erich Ritter, this workshop is for advanced divers who want to learn about shark behavior and how to be a safe diver near sharks. Key goal of the program is to make the participants aware that there are no dangerous sharks, only dangerous situations, knowingly or unknowingly created by humans because they do not understand shark behavior.



Southern Red Sea Topography
The topography of the southern Red Sea region is unique in its variety of marine and terrestrial components. Islands and offishore reefs, coastal white sand beaches, desert valleys, and rocky mountains are the four main components of the regions topography. 90% of the coastline from Safaga to the Ras Banas peninsula is made up of fringing reef. This fringing reef is supported by a “backireef,” which can extend to 200 meters in some cases. This back reef sits under very shallow water that must be crossed in order to access the open sea. Marsa open sea reef This is the Arabic word that means a place with anchoring possibilities. A marsa is a natural opening in the reef with a sandy bottom that allows for access to the open sea from shore.

beach area

Sharm open sea This is the Arabic word that means “shaped like a camel’s lip” or “V” shaped. This is in reference to the “V” shaped groove that ali i lows access to the open sea. reef Most hotels have jetties that run atop the “back reef” to the reef edge. You can then climb down stairs on the jetty to enter the water. Other hotels have dug out large lagoons in the back reef, which provides a secluded swimming area overlooking the open ocean. This is what is called a “halk,” some of them being natural lagoons or manimade lagoons. Some of these lagoons are very expansive and serve as a great training ground for kite surfing. In some rare areas fringing coastal reefs are split apart by small “marsas” and “sharms.” “Sharm” means a shape being like a camel’s lips, and “marsa” means an area with anchoring possibilities. These are two forms of natural bays that allow easy access to their outer walls. These reef “walls” are in shallow water rarely exceeding 35m. Beyond the coral walls is a sandy seabed bottom, which after a distance drops off to 100 meters+. “Shabb” is the Arabic word meaning an offishore reef. The distance of these reefs from the coastline vary from reef to reef and can only be accessed by boat. A “wadi” is the Arabic word for a valley, which is usually found some distance away from the coastline and lead into the desert. Then the mountainous terrain follows called “gabel,” or mountains. In a lot of cases you have a “shabb” located directly in front of a “marsa,” that is located directly in front of a “wadi.” Marsa Shagra for instance is located directly in front of Shabb Shagra (also referred to as Elphinstone). The wadi behind Marsa Shagra is called Wadi Shagra and the peaks behind the valley also take the name of Shagra. The same name will pertain to all the different geographical components if they are relatively near to each other. Most of the hotels in the region can organize boat excursions to visit the offishore reefs and islands for diving or snorkeling. You can visit the local marsas by car for swimming and sunbathing. If a resort is situated in front of the marsa you may be required to pay an entrance fee. Traveling into the desert should be done with a qualified guide. These excursions can include a cultural encounter with the Bedouins, visits to historical and archeological sites, and quad or camel riding trough the desert. Ras open sea A ras is a small peninsula that can sometimes be found along the coastline. beach area

beach area

Halk open sea A halk can be a natural or mani made lagoon in the back reef. It is sheltered from the open ocean and can be likened to an artificial pool.


reef beach area



The Eastern Desert
The Rock art of the Eastern Desert
When the German Egyptologist Hans Winkler started his journey through the southeastern desert of Egypt in 1936; he was rewarded with the discovery of hundreds of spectacular rock drawings dating from preihistoric times. During the dark times of the Second World War Winkler’s discoveries were lost and forgotten. Only in the early 1990´s did a group of English archaeologists retrace the travels of H. Winkler and studied the carvings once again. In prehistoric times the landscape of the eastern desert resembled more the savannas of today’s East Africa. Herds of wild game like African Gazelles, Elephants, Ostriches and Giraffes were grazing the Wadis. They provided hunting for the human population as well as for Lions and other predators. While Ibex and Gazelle still cling on in today’s harsher environment, the others disappeared from the region as long ago as the third millennium BC. During this time drastic climatic changes turned the area into a barren and forbidding landscape. Some of the oldest rock carvings are scenes with Giraffes, Elephants or Ostriches. Some drawings indicate a strong connection between the desert and the Nile valley. Others are drawings of boats transporting godlike figures. They symbolize men’s communication with the after world, a theme common in most tombs of pharaonic and preipharaonic Egypt. Different trading routes followed the Wadis connecting the Red Sea with the Nile. They produced the more recent rock carvings: caravans with camels, fighting scenes on camels or horses, men hunting with dogs, or Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. Ancient or more recent, the rock drawings of the eastern desert present a spectacular document of history. They give hints to preipharaonic Egypt, present some of the roots of pharaonic times at the Nile valley, and tell about the history of later desert inhabitation.

Ptolomeans and Romans in the Eastern Desert
Since pharaonic times the Eastern Desert was famous for its trading routes and mining resources. Under the Ptolemaic and the Romans (4th century BC until 7th century AD) trading was extended to the Mediterranean region. Caravans leaving from south Arabia, east Africa, and south Asia had to cross the eastern desert and successively follow the Nile to the Mediterranean Sea, which they then had to navigate to Rome. In the Ptolemaic times trade of elephants, gold and emeralds was very common. In the roman and early Byzantium eras pearls, pepper, general exotic spices, silk, exotic animals, medicines, frankincense and myrrh were traded with Rome in exchange for wines, fine pottery, glass and textiles. Several caravan routes led from Red Sea harbors like Myos Hormos and Berenice to the Nile. At distances of 30 to 35km (about a day-march on foot) fortified water stations were established to supply the caravans. Branch roads connected mining areas to the main routes. In the north mainly granite, porphyry and other hard rock for pillars, bathtubs, statues and fountain bowls were quarried and roughly shaped at site before transported to the Nile. In the southieastern desert gold, emeralds, and bekhen stone were mined for sarcophagi and other artifacts. Cairns of piled stones frequently marked the caravan routes and towers occasionally overlooked the road. Fire towers covered the whole distance from Myos Hormos (Quseir) until Coptos (Qift) to signal messages from the coast to the Nile. Many remains of this period are still visible today. Fortresses, wells, quarries, mining shafts and even whole villages can be found in these now deserted areas.



Bedouin Tribes
Bedouin Tribes
The eastern desert is inhabited by the Ma’aza bedouin and the Ababda bedouin tribes. The northieastern desert is inhabited by the Ma’aza bedouin tribe. Ma’aza means ‘Goat People.’ The tribe is subdivided into clans in which each member of the clan can be traced back over several generations to one forefather. The Ma’aza tribe has its origins in Arabia and is of Semitic origin. In the eighteen century few households of the Ma’aza tribe began settling in Egypt. The tribe comprises about 20 clans, of which the Khushmaan clan has by far the most numerous desertidwelling clan members (many Bedouin settled along the Nile). The Khushmaan build tents of thick durable blankets woven from goat hair. The blani kets are sewn together and stretched over a frame of wooden sticks from the acacia tree. Most families consider a special area in the desert their homeiland. A family will usually settle near a watering well. In winter they can move sites regularly depending on where the rain falls to alter the grazing for the animals. The southieastern desert is occupied by the Ababda tribe. They make up the Arabic speaking tribe of the Beja, an indigenous Hamitic race that occupies the southern areas between the Nile and the Red Sea coast in southern Egypt and Sudan. The Beja date from 4000-2000 BC and were most probably related to the ‘Blemmeys’ that had alternating friendly and hostile relationships with the Romans during their occupation of the area 2000 years ago. The Ababda are also called ‘The children of Abad’. Abad came from the Arabian Peninsula to Egypt around 1300 AD (around the same time the Beja converted from Christianity to Islam.) He claimed to descent from Abdellahi, the son of the famous Zubeir Ibn el Awwaam, a close relative of the Prophet Mohammed (SAWWS) and one of the first converts to Islam. The Ababda hut is built of matting woven from the leaves of the domipalm. The mats are stretched over a frame of long curved acacia sticks and fastened by wooden skewi ers. The lower interior and exterior of the hut are covered by blankets and hand woven woolen carpets. The Ababda live partly in small settlements along the coast, and partly as isolated families in the mountains. Their main source of income is their livestock of goats, sheep, and camels. Apart from strong black sugar rich tea, their most common social drink is ‘Gabena’, which is hand roasted coffee beans ground with ginger. The minimum number of rounds to drink is three. Bread makes up the main dish of their diet. It is made from flour, salt, and water and can be kneaded into a thick round shape baked into the sand with firewood, called ‘gurs’, or baked on an iron plate into thin pancakes called ‘fetir’. The bread is mixed with sour goat milk or fat for the meals. At special occasions a sheep or goat can be slaughtered and the meat grilled on hot rocks.



Survival Guide
You need four things to set about traveling in Egypt. Firstly, always allow for extra time for even small tasks. Secondly, patience i have it or you’ll learn it here. Thirdly, a sense of humor helps to ameliorate a difficult situation. Fourthly, “baksheesh” – always have small bills for tipping and don’t ask for any service unless you are sure you want it. There is a strong sense of communal responsibility especially towards foreigners. Anyi i one in distress can expect the immediate assistance of both the public and police. Egypt is one of the most liberal Muslim countries in the Middle East, but please be aware that it is still a very conservative country. Islamic and Christian values are dominant. Open displays of affection between sexes can be very offensive. Modest dress should be worn and either sex displaying bare shoulders may also be offensive. Within the resorts and private beaches shorts and swimsuits are acceptable. For most visitors to Egypt stomach problems and overiexposure to the sun are the two greatest health risks. Drink only bottled water and eat only at reputable restaurants. Peel all fruits and eat only vegetables that have been cooked or that you can peel. Never drink or eat anything from street vendors. Use sunblock and cover yourself well from the sun. Drink plenty of water. Weather Egypt’s climate consists of mild winters from November to April, and hot summers from May to October. Summer days are typically warm and it is not uncommon for temperatures to reach 45 Celsius. Important Note: You’ve not experienced a real sun burn unless you’ve sat under Egypt’s sun! Please heed this advice to avoid harrowing pain, especially children. Make sure to do the following: 1. Try to limit your time in the sun from the hours of 10am to 2pm. 2. Use sunblock with SPF 15 or above every 2 hours while in the sun. 3. No sun or sunblock for children under 1 year old. 4. Wear a hat and sunglasses. 5. Drink plenty of water.

Weather Chart Month January February March April May June July August September October November December Air Temperature 14 / 22 13 / 20 17 / 23 21 / 27 24 / 30 27 / 32 28 / 33 28 / 39 22 / 39 16 / 34 11 / 32 6 / 28 Water Temperature 22 / 23 21 / 22 22 / 23 23 / 24 24 / 25 24 / 25 25 / 26 26 / 27 28 / 29 27 / 28 25 / 26 24 / 25

Passport and Visa Information Visitors to Egypt should posses a passport valid for 6-months beyond their planed date of entry. Anyone wishing to visit the country must buy a visa. These can be obtained in advance from Egyptian consulates abroad or upon arrival to Cairo Airport, Hurgahda Airport, Marsa Alam Airport, or Luxor Airport. The 3 types of Visas that can be obtained are: 1. Tourist Visa: valid for a period not exceeding 3 months granted on either single or multiple entry basis. 2. Entry Visa: is required for any foreigner arriving in Egypt for purposes other than tourism, e.g. work, study, etc. The possession of a valid Entry Visa is needed to complete the residence procedure in Egypt. 3. Transit Visa. Emergency Numbers Ambulance: Fire Dept.: Marine Police: Hospital: Decoichamber: Tourist Police: Police: Marsa Alam Airport:

Time Egypt’s is 2 hours ahead of the standard GMT time. 2pm Cairo 1pm Berlin 12pm 7am 4am L.A.

London New York

Embassy Numbers in Cairo (02+) Australia: 575-0444 Austria.: 794-7494 Belgium: 794-7494 Canada: 794-3110 Denmark: 739-6592 Finland: 736-1487 France: 570-3916 Greece: 795-0443 Netherlands: 739i5500 Spain: 735-0047 Sweden: 736-4132 U.K.: 794-0852 Germany: 735-3687 Italy: 794-3194 Russia: 748-9354 Slovenia: 749-1771 Switzerland: 575-8284 U.S.A.: 797i3300


Survival Guide
Language Within the resorts and tourist areas you will always find English speaking staff. If you want to travel off the beaten track then learn these few Arabic phrases below. Recognizing Arabic numerals is also very helpful for getting around and dealing with money. Emergencies Police: bolice Infirmary: mashfa Hospital: mustashfa Pharmacy: ssaydaliya Doctor: doctur I’m feeling sick: Ahsaor bel taab Please call the doctor: etlob el-tabib men fadlak Common Expressions Yes: naam, aywa No: la Possibly: mumken Impossible: mesh mumken Necessary: daruri Please: men fadlak (m.) men fadlik (f.) Thank you: shukran Your welcome: ahlan beka Sorry/Excuse me: assef Good morning: sabah el-kheir Good evening: masa el-kheir Good night: tesbah ala kheir Welcome: marhaba Goodbye: salam My name Is: esmi What is your name: esmak eh How are you: ez zayyak (m.) ez zayyek (f.) Today: en-nahar da Tomorrow: bukra Yesterday: imbarih I speak English: ana batkallem englizi I don’t speak Arabic: ma-batkallamsh `arabi I don’t understand: ana mish fahem Do you speak english: int betetkalem inglizi Can you help me: mumken tsaa’dni Information: istiilaamaat What time is it: el-saa kam Numbers One: wahed Two: etnein Three: talata Four: arbaa Five: khamsa Six: sitta Seven: sabaa Eight: tamania Nine: tesaa Ten: ashaara Fifty: khamsin One Hundred: mia Five Hundred: khams mia One Thousand: alf Traveling Airplane: tayara Airport: mattar Bus: auto beas Ticket: tazkara Change: sarf or taghieer Customs: gumruk Station: mahatta Porter: shaial or hammal Train: atre or kittar Suitcase: shanta Departure: zehab Arrival: wussul Delay: taakhear Travel Agent: wikalat safar Bus station: mehatet el-outobees When does the....arrive: emta wussul When does the...leave: emta qiyam... I want to go to...: ayez arrouh ella... Stop here please: wakeff hena men fadlak At the Restaurant Restaurant: mataam Breakfast: fetar Lunch: ghada Dinner: asha Water: mayya Mineral water: mayya maadania Wine: nebite Juice: assir Glass: kas Plate: tabaq Bread: aish Butter: zebda Olives: zeitun Cheese: jibna Salad: salata Vegetables: khodar Meat: lahma Chicken: ferakh Fish: samak Dessert: halawa Fruit: fakiha IceiCream: ice cream Coffee: ahua Coffee without sugar: ahua sada Fairly sweet: mazbut Very sweet: ziada Tea: shay Sugar: sokkar Milk: labn Hot: sokhna Cold: bared