Sudan Liveaboard Scuba Diving Safaris

Suddenly feeling the urge to get away from it all? Get away to Sudan for some winter sun and some of the best scuba diving to be found in the World. Get far enough south in the Red Sea and you won’t see other safari boats, or overdived reefs – just marine life, and lots of it!

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Perfect shark statistics

Turtle escort, small caves, drift dives and surprise! – this week again perfect shark statistics! The guests took over the kitchen on the last night of the tour and invited the crew to a scrumptious dinner.

Tour date: April 28 – May 5, 2012
Itinerary: Sudan-North
Air temperature: 30-35 °C
Water temperature: 27 °C
Visibility: 20m

The group arrived onboard Andromeda relatively early, at 1:30 Sunday morning. We followed the usual route for our check dive the same morning. Our first dive was at Shaab Suedi Fasma, followed by Gota Shambaia.

Monday morning Angarosh was waiting for us, where in the big blue at 35 metres we saw the first bigger school of hammerheads. The water came to life, flashes and cameras started to work. The second dive here was almost the mirror image of the first one. Then we somersaulted out of the zodiacs at the southern side of Merlot for a nice, cinema-like dive. We difted by beautiful tiny caves being escorted by a curious turtle. The rays of sunshine shimmering through from above mesmorised us all. Our night dive was at Shambaia Reef.

On Tuesday the south winds picked up, so we turned back. Our morning dive at Quita el Banna was made perfect by the sight of another group of hammerheads, surprisingly. Then came Shaan Suedi and Blue Belt, or better known as the Toyota wreck. Under the water it becomes clear why the name. There are numerous Toyota cars and parts scattered around the sea bed. It would be no use removing the cars from the water as the Blue Belt cargo ship sank in the 1970s, so these cars would be quite useless these days on the roads. The deepest point of the wreck is at 90 metres. The beauty of the dive was just enhanced by the gorgeous soft corals.

Then came Shaab Rumi and Cousteau’s Precontinent – the dive site with the hundred faces but with quite a bit of current this time. There were things from over 40 years ago that Cousteau and his team had used, underwater scooter garage, their underwater quarters and the shark cages. Because of the strong currents, the night dive was cancelled.

On Thursday at Shaab Rumi the currents made the team sweat but thanks to numerous grey reef sharks, nobody was bothered by it above the plateau. Some of the divers in better condition and with more stamina, swam out into the blue to see about 50 hammerheads cruising by.

Friday morning was spent at Shaab Rumi with hammerheads and grey reef sharks then we were off to Sanganeb. Visibility was not the best because of the currents, so we continued on to Umbria after the first dive to dive this wonderful reef which you can see in our video shot this week.

Reporting from Sudan 5.

Last week we were off again to roam the wonderful northern reefs of the Red Sea’s Sudan region. We invite you to an exciting boating during which you will see what we saw, where we were, where we drifted… Posseidon was generous again as there was plenty to see and plenty of currents and our weekly harvest was quite diverse and rich in sharks!

Tour date: April 7 – 14, 2012
Destination: Sudan-North
Air temperature: 30-33 °C
Water temperature: 25-26 °C
Visibility: 20-30 m

The guests arrived at around 1 o’clock in the morning on Sunday and boarded Andromeda. We quietly left the harbour of Port Sudan early in the morning and headed for Shaab Suedi. The day was bright and the sun scorching which enabled us to sail all the way to Gota Shamaia following the check dive.

We did the first 2 dives on Monday at Angarosh in hair-raising currents. But we were able to catch the sight of a hammerhead and a couple of grey reef sharks too with our hair blowing in the current. We can say that pretty much the whole diving week was quite sporty like this along with some underwater flying but as you will see, all in all it was worth it. J We continued our exercises at Gota Shambia the same day.

We started our Tuesday at Angarosh in even tougher currents than the day before, not even being able to swim out towards the deeper plateau. The second dive was at Quita El Banna which was kind of like watching a movie in a current. We easily drifted motionless over the reef watching the show. The third dive was at Shaab Rumi’s Precontinent.

On Wednesday we jumped into the water over Shaab Rumi’s south plateau where the currents put us to the test once again but by the fourth day we got the hang of it J and reached the end of the plateau. And voila! Countless grey reef and hammerhead sharks awaited the sweaty team. There were some who fell behind while taking in the sight of the first sharks but most of us reached our goal and we could not get enough of the huge schools of sharks.

For the second dive at Shaab Rumi’s south plateau we trained beforehand onboard because we expected even stronger currents this time but we were able to dive with lots of sharks again. During the third dive we had it easy. We drifted weightless with the currents from Precontinent towards north. Our night dive was in a lagoon.

Our early morning dive on the fifth day was not without any difficulties but aside from the promising sight of pelagics, our underwater hair-raising speeding journey was exciting on its own. We saw plenty of hammerheads and reef sharks. For the second dive we jumped in at the southern part of Sanganeb as the wind was picking up. We drifted from the east to the west with the strong currents and our third dive was at the south plateau with some hammerheads and grey reef sharks. Night dive was at Umbria.

Exploring a bigger wreck can be a challenge for even experienced divers. Thankfully we were able to roam around the wreck of Umbria in calmer conditions for our last 2 dives. These were kind of warm-down dives after the week’s challenges.

This past week in Sudan can be really described as a training camp where we had to fight and struggle if we wanted to see anything but in the end everybody got to see what they expected to see in Sudan.

Due to the lack of video footage this week, we are sharing with you our best videos. And our next report will be 1 week later as we are having a 2-week adventure tour at the moment.

Reporting from Sudan 3.

The underwater world in Sudan this past week was full of excitement and adventure, to say the least! There were plenty to see and lots of surprises! The weather was also co-operating this week and we were able to adhere to our original itinerary. The guests arrived onboard at 4:30 Saturday morning and after getting all unpacked and settled, we were getting ready to start our trip.

Tour date: March 24-31, 2012
Itinerary: Sudan-North
Air temperature: 26-28C
Water temperature: 24C
Visibility: 20-30m

Check dive was at the usual Shaab Suedi site, thankfully in calm waters. Taking advantage of the great weather, we were off to Gota Shambaia after the dive, to get closer to the dive sites further North. The second dive was in the afternoon at Shambaia. On the way there a live dolphin show caught the attention of the divers which you can see in the video here.

The following morning we started at Angarosh where, to our delight, we met up with 10-15 hammerheads and a school of grey reef sharks right away. After the second dive, the following dive in the afternoon and the night dive was at Merlo Reef where we were able to marvel in the grey reef sharks hunting in the area.

On the third day at Angarosh we ran into hammerheads again then at Qita el Banna we met a manta as well. Our dive at Precontinent was at dusk.

Shaab Rumi’s South plateau provided the site for our next dive on the fourth day early in the morning where again about 20 hammerheads welcomed the group. During the second dive 20 grey reef sharks and of course, the hammerheads were circling around us. Night dive was at Precontinent.

On the fifth day we saw the usual hammerhead clan on the South plateau of Shaab Rumi then we did 2 dives at Sanganeb. This time instead of sharks we swam with schools of barracuda and jackfish so large that they made up for the lack of sharks. At the end of the day, the night dive was at the wreck of Umbria.

The final 2 dives on the sixth day were at Umbria which was again breathtaking!

The attached video is a testament to all the great things we saw this week! We have had a fantastic week and every dive has brought us unexpected surprises. The smile has remained on the faces of the group throughout the week.

Reporting from Sudan 2.

Sunday, 4 o’clock in the morning. The group arrived on the boat. The same morning Andromeda sailed out towards Shaab Suedi in windy and choppy conditions.

Date: March 17-24, 2012
Destination: Sudan North
Air temperatures: 28-33C
Water temperatures: 24-26C

At 11 o’clock in the morning the briefing took place and after detailed and complete instructions, we started our first dive at Shaab Suedi then the second dive in the early afternoon. The Sudan coral reefs along the shores are home to a swarming marine life, so already during the check dive we had the chance to be awed by the sight.

The second day began at Shaab Rumi. This is the cherry on the cake for divers with its irresistible underwater bustling and the ever present large fish species. If diving had its own Mecca, Shaab Rumi would be it.

The reef proved itself once again. Already on the first dive a large school of hammerheads showed up on the south plateau. And while we were swimming towards the southern part of the plateau, we met up with grey reef sharks too on the reef’s south-eastern part. We stayed by the reef for the next 3 days. Whether for luck or for the weather, we were able to meet at least half a dozen grey reef sharks every day above the plateau along with hammerheads stationed in the area.

Above the reef hundreds of barracudas entertained the group in the pristine coral world. In the mornings the humphead parrotfish showed their presence. On occasion we were able to see 20-30 of them! And at one time we could clearly hear 2 males fighting somewhere in the distance. Even the windy weather did not hinder visibility. We were able to monitor the fish in the distance of 30-40 metres.

In 1963 Shaab Rumi became home for Cousteau’s legendary underwater experiments which tried to find out whether man can stay underwater for days at a time. Divers were able to retrace the steps of these unforgettable experiments. Today only the hangar of the flying saucer, some cages and tool sheds remain on the sea bottom. Seeing them helped divers imagine the lives and memories of those who had been the first to brave the underwater world.

The buildings have long been overgrown by corals but despite this, nothing has really changed. There is still an abundant marine life here and we were able to see plenty of species that live near the reefs and in the open seas. Mackerels and snapperfish are still present in large numbers.

Sanganeb: Grey reef shark visible right at the drop-off, smaller grey reef sharks on the plateau along with hundreds of barracudas and jackfish that welcomed the divers here. The second dive, although several hours later, pretty much brought the same experience, making this a very satisfying experience. Photographers and videographers were sharing their photos and videos happily after the dives.

Umbria: Again, Andromeda was the only liveaboard in the area, so there were no worries about sharing the 60-year-old wreck with any other divers. The night dive and the 2 daily dives the next day were also a great success. We managed to cover all the nooks and crannies of the boat, starting with the Fiat cars, through the pizza ovens all the way to the bombs and wine bottles.

This was our second week. Stay tuned…

Reporting from Sudan

This season we are keeping a safari log about every diving safari onboard M/Y Andromeda in Sudan. We will tell you what we saw, where we went and all kids of interesting information to get your Mondays started and to give you a chance to read our stories and to marvel in the gorgeous underwater photos.

Here is our first week’s report:

M/Y Andromeda arrived in Port Sudan in the beginning of March. She did not have to wait too long in the harbour as within three days the first diving group arrived from Cairo and the boat had been filled with life again. And a few hours later, she departed for her first voyage towards Shaab Suedi, the usual spot for our check dives.

There were a couple more dives in the afternoon and at night at Gurna Reef which is a quiet, quaint reef, a perfect start to the promisingly exciting Shaab Rumi where the group descended the following morning.

Shaab Rumi did not disappoint, as usual. Sizeable grey reef sharks added to the excitement of every dive and in the early mornings the hammerheads also showed up. The only thing missing was the humphead parrotfish but the “big fish” made of for it. The afternoon and night dives were at the Precontinent – Cousteau’s famous underwater headquarters.

On the third day we headed for Sanganeb – which now we can say – was the most beautiful dive of the first safari tour!

The Sanganeb South plateau is a completely healthy and splendidly colourful reef. The dives were made unforgettable by schools of jackfish, barracudas and reef sharks. Seeing them 1-2 metre close was an amazing sight! Right after the dive the boat continued South in the direction of Shaab Anbar. The night was spent in the lagoon and a dive at dusk was the warm-up for the adventure-filled day that followed. Dives were at the north-eastern side of the reef and in the end, divers were even witnesses to a turtle couple fighting which was so engaging that they even forgot to take pictures of the whole event. J

After sunrise it was time for the Jumna reef, two dives, both with hammerheads. On the first dive there were only a few of them but on the second dive – everybody was blown away! An actual hammerhead curtain with at least 50 sharks passed right before the divers…

Too quickly but the week was coming to an end the direction was the harbour. The last night dive and the last two daily dives were at Umbria. Luckily Andromeda was the only boat at the wreck, so divers were able to discover her every corner undisturbed.

This is it for now from the first week. To be continued…

Diving the Wreck Umbria

The wreck Umbria has a cargo of 360.000 bombs that makes the exploring of the wreck still more exciting. The Umbria is one of the most famous sunken ships in the world. The Umbria was built in Hamburg in 1912 and started life as a freighter. It’s big enough to give you plenty to explore but small enough to cover in one dive.

The central part of the ship can even be explored without breathing apparatus and there is much to be said for getting a general impression of the wreck with just musk and fins. Corals and fish are plentiful in this area. The fish which have made the Umbria their home are use to divers and let them come to close quarters, almost posing for photographers.

The depth it lies in means you get plenty of bottom time and there is plenty of easy penetration to be done. For those who want to, it is possible to get to the engine room, in the holds, the bakery and thoroughly explore the interior of the wreck. The cargo of fiat lagunas, wine bottles and munitions provide interest and the wreck is festooned with coral and fish life. Even just swimming the length of the wreck and observing the holds from a distance is an excellent experience.

Be sure to head around the stern of the wreck to the propeller, and there is a nice swim through underneath the large rudder, which is home to lots of snapper and some featherstars. On one of the gangways towards the collapsed funnel midships live some tiny cleaner shrimps, and if you put your fingers on the handrail they will come up and begin to ‘clean’ you, which is very entertaining. We did 3 dives on the Umbria whilst in Sudan; I could have happily done three more. It really does deserve its reputation as one of the world’s best dives.

Diving in Sudan

Szilvia Gogh and Hilaire Brosio dive The Red Sea courtesy of the Andromeda. Here they explore Jacques Cousteau’s underwater village Conshelf II, The Blue Bell and The Umbria. The Blue Bell sank in 1977 and was packed full with Toyotas bound for Sudan.

The Umbria was scuttled by it’s Italian Captain one hour before Italy entered into WWII. This kept the English from capturing its 6,000 bombs, 36,000 detonators, rifle ammo and 3 Fiat Lungas. Oh yeah, and several thousand bottles of wine.

Umbria Wreck in Sudan

UMBRIA, an old italian freighter that provided war material for the italian troops in Eritrea in 1940. When the British entered the vessel, the Captain decided to sink his own ship. Now it´s a terrific place for diving.

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