Whoever wants to see grey reef sharks in Hurghada should strike out to Shaabruhr Umm Gamar, especially in the afternoon. A great reef but rather challenging dive, due to the strong current on the east side. Shaabruhr Umm Gamar is the summit of an underwater mountain and, as is not hard to guess, it is located not far away from Umm Gamar, only one kilometre south.
Those of us who know a little Arabic know that Shaabruhr basically means 'narrow reef'. The narrow reef of Umm Gamar certainly has a lot to offer: many caves, overhangs and a sandy plateau at approx. 15 to 30 metres. There's even the remains of an ancient Egyptian patrol boat at the southernmost point.
Two other ships have also met their surmise here, a safari boat and the Colona IV – one of the first diving charter boats from Hurghada – which ran aground here at the end of April 1995 due to bad weather and which now rests at a depth of 66 metres.
The reef's sandy plateau is much wider on the west side as it is on the east side and the current in the east is also much stronger – that's why we're spot on here when it comes to drift diving and seeing large fish.
On the west plateau, we come into contact with moray eels, Napoleon wrasse, large groupers and bluespotted rays. The east is the right place for fans of whitetip reef sharks, mackerel and large tuna – and maybe even for grey reef sharks in the afternoon during snack time.
Shipwrecks are always a highlight, although only half of the ancient boat, which the Egyptian army used to cross over to Shadwan Island, remains.
Tour 1 – drift diving
Shaabruhr Umm Gamar literally cries out to be explored by drift diving. We dive from the boat and take a brief trip to the shipwreck of the ancient Egyptian patrol boat to continue diving east with the reef on our left shoulder. Afterwards, we drift north with the current, knowing that the Colona IV lies deep below us. Once we've seen enough whitetip reef sharks, mackerel and tuna, it's time to put out the buoy and have ourselves picked up – and just maybe while we're waiting, a grey reef shark might just dare to swim close to us.
Tour 2 – from the boat to the erg
We dive from the boat and first explore the patrol boat which once served the Egyptian army many years ago. Here we make sure not to dive too far north, otherwise the current will drag us with it and we can only wave goodbye to the west side. Once we've explored the wreck and outsmarted the current, we work our way across the sandy plateau with the reef to our right shoulder, heading north-west. We pass by many beautifully covered and highly populated overhangs and caves and then resurface at the mushroom-shaped erg. We have the Zodiac collect us here.