North – Wrecks & Brother Islands incl. Elphinstone

 

 




Overview of tour / diving spots

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An unforgettable combination of wrecks and big fish awaits us on this tour.

It starts either in Hurghada or Port Ghaleb, anyway it goes directly to the highlights of the Red Sea.

In the north there is a lot of “junk” to visit – including the legendary Thistlegorm and Abu Nuhas with its 4 wrecks.

The Brothers and Elphinstone is famous for regular large marine life, Longimanus, hammerhead sharks, thresher sharks and other fellows you can find regular here.

 

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                     Some impressions of what there is to see on this tour:


Possible dive sites on this tour:



After 90 minutes drive from Hurghada, you can reach Shaab el Erg, the first dive site on the Safari. Shaab el Erg is an extensive reef, in the shape of a horseshoe. This formation is open to the south with a shallow lagoon, which is full of ergs. The whole lagoon can be dived.

Very popular are the northern tip, the eastern wall or the southwestern tip - Gota Shaab el Erg.

Between Gota and the main reef is a small canal; on the south and west side is a large sandy plateau with innumerable towers and coral heads. The domiciled dolphins pass several times a day this channel. They can be seen all year round here.

Mantas can be observed from January to March on the northern tip.

On the plateau that surrounds Gota, you can find scorpion fish, groupers, snowflake moray, blue spotted stingrays and many triggerfish. .

Under the table corals you can see from time to time white tip reef sharks.
In the sand you find cone snails, shells and sole. Along the shallow reef you find frolicking nose unicorn fish, angelfish, bream, snapper and turtles.

The diving on Gota Shaab el Erg is dreamlike.
For photographers especially the coral heads are likely to be interesting. They are not part of illustration and are in a southerly direction at 16m depth.



The reef extends around the Island Siyoul (Big Siyoul) and is very different.

Sometimes sandy valleys (wadis) interrupt the reef, or you can explore overhangs and clefts.  An excessively rich coral growth and countless fish put the diver in amazement.

The dives with an almost rapid current is leading you to the northern tip.  Here you can find a gentle  slope to around  10 - 30 m.

In the depth you often see sharks and large stingrays, in the shallow water schools of grunts and Bluecheek Butterflyfishes.



This wonderful dive site offers a variety of hard corals and soft corals.
It's a fantastic, colorful dive, where you can discover all kind of reef fishes of the Red Sea.

If you are blessed with very good eyes, you can discover stone and scorpion fishes. In the sand there are lying often well camouflaged crocodile fishes, besides you can be lucky to spot Napoleons, giant groupers and turtles.

 

  

The reef Abu Nuhas is famous for its wrecks and is also called "ship graveyard".
At this reef 4 ships have declined, which are an attraction for divers from all over the world.

Who has not heard of the 4 wrecks lying on the north side of Abu Nuhas on sandy seabed?

 



The Thistlegorm is probably the most famous wreck in the Red Sea.

The British ship was on its way to Egypt, to supply the English Africa Corps with reinforcements, when she was attacked on 06/10/1941 by a German bomber and sank.

The wreck lies at a depth of 30 m upright on the seabed.
Especially interesting is the cargo: Tanks, trucks, guns, motorcycles, railway carriages and a locomotive.

The SS Thistlegorm is a must for every Red Sea diver. It is a pleasure for wreck friends, not least because of its spectacular charge.

And also offers a variety of fish, schools of barracudas or big tunas and snapper are not uncommon here. As an artificial reef, it also attracts countless coral fishes.

Worth seeing are the stern with its cannons, the midship and fore ship, the bug and the charge, as well as the vehicles, the two locomotives, the tender and the water truck.

The current on the wreck is moderate, sometimes strongly. Visibility is generally moderate and often are a lot of boats on site.



Ladies and Gentlemen, may we ask for your attention. A diving spot belonging to the world's top ten (!) will soon be ours to discover. Located 60 kilometres east of the coastal town of El Quesir, the Brother Islands (Big Brother and Little Brother) are home to two large cargo ship wrecks and up to three metre-long large thresher sharks with long, lance-shaped tails which can almost always be found here – a true rarity!

Details

The name Brother Islands comes from the company which did the electrical work for the lighthouse on the larger island. Both islands are of volcanic origin and sit atop a mountain ridge which plunges well over 1,000 metres in depth from the west side to the east side. The volcanic history can still be seen today: namely on the basalt rock, which is significantly darker than the reef structure itself.

Big Brother is 650 metres long and 180 metres wide. With the exception of the eastern plateau, we encounter a steep-faced reef in all directions. There's usually the chance for you to stretch out your legs on the island, smoke a shisha with the lighthouse keepers and purchase small souvenirs or simply to enjoy the view from the lighthouse! Depending on the mood of the military, this can quickly change however.

At the western end of Big Brother, we usually have to take large waves and a stronger current into account. Should the conditions allow us to dive in the afternoon, we may quite possibly have the chance of seeing grey reef sharks and hammerhead sharks swimming between the wrecks.

On the eastern plateau, the thresher shark says 'Good night' to the spotted sea hare and encounters with grey reef sharks also occur here all the time. Beautiful depressions in the reef, which are covered in soft and hard coral, can be identified further down the north side. Mooring points are also located in the east area and around the boots there's a lot to see – from whitetip oceanic sharks to silky sharks.

Just as squirrels in the park learn to trust, so do Napoleon wrasse in famous diving sites – two specimens of this fish already accustomed to divers can be found west at any time of the day. Gigantic shoals of fish can be found in the south, near the jetty, which is used to supply the lighthouse. Mackerel, tuna and barracudas on the hunt usually rush past us in the water. Silky sharks or whitetip oceanic sharks as well as turtles top off this spectacular underwater picture.

Planning the Big Brother route is simple, as the current points us the way. For some, this dive – which must progress very quickly from the Zodiac due to the currents – is anything but a walk in the park. Many tour operators offer the use of SART or other similar devices. Especially at the large outer reef, it makes sense to buddy dive using such an electronic search and rescue system. Should we come across the countercurrent after exiting the Zodiac, it's best for us to resurface and then drive a bit further out and try once again. Safety first!

Hotspots

Numidia: The Numidia lies directly on the reef between a depth range of 18 and 80 metres. After making a navigational error in 1901, the general cargo vessel laden with train rails and railway engine wheels ran aground on the west side. The Numidia is one of the most beautifully covered wrecks around the world; the vegetation however suddenly stops at 40 metres.

Aida: The Aida, which is nestled against the south side of the reef at a depth range of 30 and 65 metres, has been there since 1953 when it hit the fringe reef whilst sailing in rough waters. It was meant to bring personnel to the lighthouse and supplies to the island. The wreck has been slightly damaged by storms which occurred at the beginning of 2010.

Eastern plateau: Big Brother's eastern plateau is the right place for anyone wanting to catch sight of thresher sharks and explore and dive an impressive steep wall. It's worth it to continually hone your own diving skills in order to be ready take on this challenging dive one day.

Facts

Current: N/W in the mornings, N at midday, N/E in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 30–50 m; M, J, J, A: 30–40 m; S, O, N, D: 50–60 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 22–24°C; A, M, J: 23–38°C; J, A, S: 28-30°C; O, N, D: 28-23°C

Depth: 100 m

Tour 1 – thresher sharks in the morning

The best spot in the morning is the eastern plateau with its hills located at a depth range of 36 and 45 metres. Here we will encounter thresher sharks. Should the diver leader allow, we should take advantage of our no-decompression limit, diving in the no current zone, all the way to the small hill on the spur of the reef in the east and then heading west with the current along the beautifully covered steep wall.

Tour 2 – Aida at midday

If the waves allow, we travel there by Zodiac. The Aida starts around a depth of 30 metres. The upper area is brimming with glassfish and the cargo bays are open to explore. Afterwards, we return by diving above the scattered cargo and along the jagged reef wall heading east.

Tour 3 – Numidia in the afternoon

If the waves and current allow, we travel by Zodiac to the Numidia. It has very gorgeous soft and hard coral growing on the north side and it is one of the most beautiful wrecks in the Red Sea. The south side looks as if only two days have passed since the sinking of the ship. Countless colourful fish additionally sweeten our view. In this area, the current varies in strength and it usually flows from the north around the bend to the west.

Tour 4 – thresher sharks in the late afternoon

We take the last dive of the day on the north-east tip again, because when the light of the day fades in the late afternoon, that's when the predatory fish come out to hunt. We can frequently see yellowfin tuna, giant trevally, barracudas as well as thresher sharks at the tip of the reef. Here, it's enough to simply seek a spot to watch; there's no need to swim around much. A feature film starring predatory fish!

 

 

  

The smaller of the two 'Brothers' of the famous double reef is located in visible range of Big Brother to the east. The small island measuring 360 metres is uninhabitated. Yet things look very different under the sea: there's gorgonian forests, huge overhangs and the Shark Point – a cleaning station for sharks. It's not so much the sharks we should fear here, but rather the unpredictable current.

Details

The name Little Brother sounds cute, but this dive isn't for rookies. There are mooring points on the reef's south-east side, however, most dives start off from the Zodiac. Little Brother is 360 metres in length and 160 metres in width and it runs north in the shape of a wedge. Bordered by a protective fringe reef, the reef drops steeply down. In the south-east at a depth of 10 metres, there is a small reef spur which ends with an overhang at 37 metres. A lagoon-like wall leads to a large gorgonian garden here.

Boasting massive overhangs and large depressions, the reef extends to the north-west where a small hill has been formed at a depth of 40 metres – the Shark Point. During the morning hours, we often see grey reef sharks who've come to have their teeth brushed after a successful night of hunting. From the south-east to the north, Little Brother is shaped by a steep face, which exists between a depth of 25 and 40 metres.

Hotspots

Shark Point: At a depth of 40 metres, Shark Point is the 'place to be'! Here the TV programme of the National Geographic channel is bigger, better and live!

Gorgonian garden: Little Brother's large gorgonian garden captivates with its huge coral specimens which can be found in a wide range here.

Facts

Current: N (north side) W (south side) in the morning, W & S/E (north side) N/E (south side) at midday, E (north side) E (south side) in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 30–50 m; M, J, J, A: 30–40 m; S, O, N, D: 50–60 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 22–23°C; A, M, J: 23–28°C; J, A, S: 28-30°C; O, N, D: 28-24°C

Depth: 100 m

Tour 1 – the gorgonian garden

We dive from boat to boat and in the process explore the south side. Under the nose of the reef, we may potentially see grey reef sharks and especially charming thresher sharks. Afterwards, we carry on to the gorgonian garden located at a depth range of 18 and 40 metres. Then it's back to the boat by travelling around the eastern tip.

Tour 2 – Shark Point

This tour sets off with the Zodiac on the south-west side. We are dropped off at the last lagoon here and should dive down as quickly as possible due to the crashing waves on the western tip. We descend protected by the current of the reef spur and head directly to Shark Point. When the current is stronger, we won't dive to Shark Point, but rather will stay at the reef. We dive back on the north side, running into a slight countercurrent due to some turbulence, until we reach the next inlet and then basically have the current behind us. The view into the blue is usually worth it!

Tour 3 – steep face

This dive varies: we can embark with the Zodiac towards the north and explore either the reef spur or the south. Another good alternative is to dive the south steep face from the boat and, if necessary, have the Zodiac collect us here. Warning: The spirit of the hunt can be witnessed on the south side when the light gradually fades in the afternoon.

 

  

Elphinstone was given its name from a Scottish historian who almost perished here, when his ship en route from Egypt to England almost ran aground on the reef on 18 December 1827: Mountstuart Elphinstone. The locals however call it 'Sha'ab Abu Hamra'.

Details

From Marsa Alam, the boat travels north approx. one and a half hours to the Elphinstone Reef – a great excursion! Depending on the water level, the Elphinstone's high plateau lies at a depth between one and three metres. Strong surface currents and lots of boat traffic make it impossible to snorkel here.

Divers however can plunge straight into some challenging fun! The reef is known for its extraordinary biodiversity and, of course, also for sighting large fish. In the north, we dive down a sloping plateau from 18 to 40 metres, and in the south, down the underwater terraces . The west and east wall plunge steeply into the deep. The Elphinstone Reef has a total length of approx. 725 metres and a width of 140 metres.

Hard and soft coral in a myriad of colours make us rejoice under water – if we could, we'd jump for joy. Joining us are also turtles, moray eels, Red Sea percidae, whitetip reef sharks, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and honestly just about everything the Red Sea has to offer. If we don't see it here, then where?

Hotspots

South plateau: The south plateau lures us in with glorious gorgonian gardens and friendly longnose hawkfish. Techies will be truly mesmerised by the irresistible archway.

North plateau: The beautifully covered reef blows us away here and so does the sight of whitetip reef sharks or hammerhead sharks. Simply brilliant!

Facts

Current: N/W in the morning, N at midday, N/E in the afternoon, Warning: sometimes from the south!

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 35–40 m; M, J, J, A: 30–60 m; S, O, N, D: 40 m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24–24°C; A, M, J: 26–28°C; J, A, S: 28-28°C; O, N, D: 28-25°C

Depth: +100 m

Tour 1 – for techies: archway in the morning

From the boat, we dive south along the edge of the plateau – with the current behind us. The archway begins at an approx. depth of 54 metres. Contrary to all rumours, the stone blocks on the seafloor fell from the top of the arch and are not hand-carved sarcophagi, although this legend does certainly have its own charm. If we dive through the arch, we reach a ravine on the left that leads back to the plateau. Behind the arch, we are usually provided protection from the current – should this not be the case, it's better to turn around and take the same way back.

Tour 2 – gorgonian garden in the morning or at midday

From the boat, we reach the east side by travelling across the south plateau and come to a glorious gorgonian garden located at an approx. depth of 25 metres. Here we will probably meet the 'Longnoses' –the longnose hawkfish! The reef edge has lots of soft and hard coral. Always pay attention to the current during the dive so that we can return in good time!

Tour 3 – the north plateau at midday

We dive north along the plateau and enjoy the wonderfully covered reef. With a little luck, we can spot whitetip reef sharks or perhaps hammerhead sharks and maybe even hit the jackpot and capture one of these rare specimens with our underwater camera as they swim by with a shoal of pilot fish. Incredibly beautiful! Warning: Occasionally, there may be undertows on the north plateau.

 
  

20 minutes west of Elphinstone Reef, we come across Abu Dabab III – a diving spot well-known because of the 'Heaven One' wreck and not least because of the dolphins which also like to frequently spend their time here. On top of this, there are small caves, wonderful coral gardens, remnants of amphorae and the possibility to experience an amazing night dive.

Details

One single block stands in the southern area of Abu Dabab III. Here we can see bright red lionfish and during a night dive even gorgonians or gorgonocephalidae which feature beguiling branched arms. Whoever wants to see dolphins, loggerhead sea turtles or sharks is well placed in this part of the reef.

The famous 'Heaven One' – a safari boat which sunk on 27 April 2003 after a fire in the engine room – lies in the north. Not far from here, we can find a colony of sea anemones and a cave system.

The west side has some blocks and coral formations as well as sleeping reef sharks that like retreating here to get a little rest. Maybe they aren't even sleeping, but rather meditating – there are supposedly even some vegetarians among the sharks. We can then look along the edge of the reef for the remnants of amphorae.

Hotspots/

Amphorae: Marvellous remnants of amphorae, transporting our thoughts to another time, can be found on the reef's edge.

Blocks: On the blocks of Abu Dabab III, we won't only find fascinating coral formations, but there are also reef sharks which can frequently be spotted taking a power nap here.

Facts

Current: N in the morning, N at midday, N in the afternoon

Visibility: J, F, M, A: 25–35m; M, J, J, A: 30–50m; S, O, N, D: 30–50m

Temperatures: J, F, M: 24°C; A, M, J: 26°C; J, A, S: 28°C; O, N, D: 27°C

Depth: 30 m

Tour 1 – the sharks in the southwest

From the boat, we travel west. There's a reef nose at the end of the reef and right next to it there is one single hill of coral. If we want to see young reef sharks or interesting nurse sharks, here's the right spot for us to do so. On the way back, we dive along the reef and keep our eyes open: in the first large depression, there are small pieces of ancient clay drinking vessels.

Tour 2 – wreck and caves at midday

Travelling by Zodiac, we reach the 'Heaven One' wreck in only five minutes. The ship is completely burnt above the waterline, showing that not much remains. You can still clearly see the keel and the engine as well as some parts of the outer ship. From the wreck, the journey continues south, across a coral hill to the entrance of the cave – the play of lights there is indescribable! Afterwards we take a right to the two lagoons with colonies of sea anemones and then go back to the ship, travelling southeast across the coral reefs.

Tour 3 – the southeast at midday

From the ship, it's only a few metres until we reach the block in the middle. More often than not we will find moray eels and lionfish there. The dive continues further east to the next blocks with glassfish and pipefish. Turtles, dragonfish and bluespotted stingrays as well as well-camouflaged carpet flatheads also come around here. Crabs live in the small coral garden and sometimes if we're lucky we might also see dolphins.

Tour 4 – night diving

The block in the heart of the southern area has everything that a night dive should have to offer – from feather stars to gorgonocephalidae and Spanish dancers, calamari, crabs, prawns and clam-diggers on the ground (slipper lobsters). Don't use much light – it's worth it!

 

  

Sha'ab Sharm is one of the most beautiful steep wall reefs in the Red Sea. It plunges over 100 metres into the deep, but it luckily has two plateaus in a depth range of 20 to 35 metres and it is a real beauty to behold. Not only can we see reef sharks, hammerhead sharks and mantas, but there are also cleaning stations for surgeonfish, various cave-like depressions, unicorn fish and, of course, countless types of coral. Mooring points are available here. There is a cave at a depth of 45 metres as well as the wreck of the Oyster – a former safari boat – which at a depth of 75 metres is sadly too deep.

Details

Sha'ab Sharm runs from west to east in the shape of a wedge and the reef's steep faces extend deeply into the world below us, which we will probably never get to know in its entirety. The two plateaus are located at 20 and 35 metres. Caution is also advised here due to the regular strong current.

On the eastern plateau, we have the pleasure of running into longnose hawkfish, lionfish under the table coral, barracudas, reef sharks, shoaling fishes and two cleaning stations: one at the centre of the plateau for young tuna, the other located close to a large block on the south side for surgeonfish. The 'cowardly triggerfish' also lives here too – however, that's a whole other story and one that is best told by the guides on site.

The western plateau is the narrower plateau where the current coincides in Sha'ab Sharm – and it's also a spot loved by hammerhead sharks and where we might just be able to get to meet them. Reef sharks, shoals of tuna, barracudas and mackerel found here make the dive even sweeter. Wow, wouldn't it be nice to have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake to go along with this view?

Hotspots

Eastern plateau: On the plateau in the east, longnose hawkfish, Red Sea lionfish, barracudas, cleaning stations and reef shark welcome us.

Western plateau: The western plateau captivates us with various larger fish: reef sharks, tuna, barracudas and mackerel.

Tour 1 – cleaning stations

The best time to dive the eastern plateau with its cleaning stations is in the morning or at midday. Since the boats usually cast anchor at the western end of the plateau, we can drift with the current along the reef's edge to the plateau and then take our time descending from there. Important for us to remember here is that the current can change as soon as we reach the centre of the plateau. At the end of the plateau, with the reef on our right shoulder, we return back to the boat.

Tour 2 – drift

We travel north with the Zodiac. From there, it's time for us to soak in the fun by diving to the north-western corner of the reef. The dive descends to approx. 25 metres and, if the current is right, we can drift along the north side. We either put out the buoy and get picked up or we challenge ourselves, try to use little air and thereby make it back to the boat on our own.

Tour 3 – large fish

This tour at Sha'ab Sharm is just perfect for all fans of sharks and mantas. We have the Zodiac take us to the northern end of the plateau and dive to a depth of 25 to 30 metres. Here, we float, take out our cameras and wait. While waiting, we can also safely turn our eyes to the fascinating life in and around the reef from time to time. After we've got all our photos, we drift west along the steep face and then ideally resurface here.

You will return in the afternoon (about 2 o'clock p.m.) to the harbor one (1) day before departure, and spent the last over night either on your boat or in your hotel. The next day you will be transferred either to the airport or your hotel.

You must be a certified diver with at least 50 logged dives for the under water National Parks (Brother Islands, Daedalus, Rocky Island, and Zabargad).

ATTENTION: The tour description is merely our suggestion. Which diving places on tour are dived is determined by many factors including the wind and weather.

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