Bluewater Travel and Eco Dive Center Trip Recap

Bluewater Travel and Eco Dive Center Trip Recap


Red Sea Diving and Topside Egypt

with Bluewater Travel and Eco Dive Center

Written By Lisa Walsh

Pictures by Tim Yeo and Adam Martin

 

Red Sea

The beautiful Red Sea Aggressor docked in Port Ghalib, getting ready for diving the Red Sea

 

Red Sea Aggressor Liveaboard Day 1: Saturday, July 25, 2015 – Arrival Day

There was sand on the runway when we touched down at Hurghada Airport. Our prearranged shuttle transfer brought us to Marina Lodge Hotel in Port Ghalib to enjoy a breakfast buffet and rest in our day rooms before an afternoon boarding of the Aggressor.

Port Ghalib was beautiful—white desert sands next to blue, blue waters. By dinner time, all passengers had arrived on the Red Sea Aggressor — even the traveler who nearly didn’t make it because an airline delay made her miss her connecting flight. We were elated when she arrived in time, albeit without her bags.

We slept on board the boat that night and prepared to leave port early the next morning.

 


Red Sea Red Sea

Left: The scenic drive to Port Ghalib included a stop to watch the sun rise over the Red Sea. Right: Master Cabin on the Red Sea Aggressor.

Red Sea Red Sea

Left: Deluxe Cabins on the Red Sea Aggressor. Right: The spacious two level dive deck.

 

Day 2: Sunday, July 26, 2015 – Check out dives

Breakfast was a made-to-order affair with eggs, sausage, potatoes, French toast, and pancakes. The vessel motored out of port while we were eating. After arriving at the first dive location, Marsa Shoona, our guides Peter Boutros and Gorana Nastasic (whom we fondly called Nasty), delivered the first dive briefing of the trip. We divided into two dive teams to go separately in the two zodiac dinghys: Red Team and Blue Team.

The first dive was our check out dive to confirm our gear was working and we were all properly weighted. We had two dives in this location, glimpsing hawksbill turtles, titan triggerfish, a crocodilefish, blue spotted ribbontail rays, and a massive green turtle with a remora attached on top of her carapace. Visibility was 60-80 feet, which is what we experienced for pretty much every dive in the Red Sea.

The next dive location was Ras Torombi. We did two dives at this site, one night dive—the only night dive of the trip—and it was spectacular. Cuttlefish, feather star, cleaner shrimps, lionfish, octopus and scorpion fish were all on display under our dive lights.  

 

Red Sea Red Sea

 Left: A massive Green Turtle cheks us out. Right: Nice hard corals with lots of lifeeven on our checkout dives.

Red Sea Red Sea

 Left: Crocodilefish. Right: Blue Spotted Ribbontail Ray.

 

Day 3: Monday, July 27, 2015 – Small Brother

Another day of great diving, and we were already getting used to the pleasant pattern of eat, sleep, and dive. We spent the day diving Small Brother, where we saw a 6-7 foot thresher shark, an 8 foot scalloped hammerhead shark, a gray reef shark, lots of needlefish, large gorgonian fans, a Napolean Wrasse, swimming moray eels, Red Sea bannerfish, and a ton of butterfly fish.  

 

Red Sea Red Sea

 Left: Needlefish. Right: Moray Eel were out and about even during daylight hours.

 

Day 4: Tuesday, July 28, 2015 – Big Brother

The Red Sea Aggressor motored over to Big Brother, about 30 minutes away and we did 4 dives on her reefs and wrecks including the Numidia and the Aida. 60-80 foot viz again. Napolean Wrasse, gray reef sharks, barracuda, dogtooth tuna, and another thresher shark.

The Numidia was a particular treat offering opportunities to penetrate large portions of her steel structure.  

 

Red Sea Red Sea

 Left: The lighthouse at Big Brother. Right: An emergency regulator at 15ft was set up during every dive.

Red Sea Red Sea

 Left: Divers exploring the wreck of the Numidia. Right: A Napoleon Wrasse patroling the Numidia.

 

Day 5: Wednesday, July 29, 2015 - Daedalus Reef

After an overnight motor in calm conditions, we arrived at Daedalus Reef early in the morning and experienced the best dive of the trip on the North Wall. We had a close encounter with a scalloped hammerhead, with a number of photographers getting within photo range. But soon after, we were exceptionally lucky when a juvenile whale shark emerged out of the blue!

Nasty and Tim booked it to the whaleshark, swimming alongside it, snapping photos and taking video footage. This dive also happened to be Tim’s 1000th dive! So the staff “made him a cake” in the Aggressor tradition, cracking eggs over his head and powdering him with flour and sugar to celebrate the momentous occasion with everyone on board.

The rest of the dives included glimpses of hammerheads, gray reef sharks, a school of barracuda, trigger fish, swimming morays, masked butterfly fish, scribbled leatherjacket filefish, royal angelfish, and Red Sea anemone fish.  

 

Red Sea Red Sea

 We were lucky to have an 18ft Whaleshark swim with us 60ft underwater.

Red Sea Red Sea

 Left: A school of Barracuda. Right: Tim was made a cake in the Aggressor tradition.

 

Day 6: Thursday, July 30, 2015 - Daedalus Reef

We continued to dive at Daedalus Reef, its striped lighthouse always floating on the shallow reef in the background. We saw more hammerheads (three in a group that swam up right between the divers), and spent the afternoon at “Nemo City” where row after row of anemones were occupied by Red Sea anemone fish along the reef wall.

In the afternoon, we took a short break from the dive activities and hopped on the zodiac and headed over to visit the Lighthouse. There we walked down the wooden pier adorned with rusty train tracks and climbed all the way to the top of the lighthouse for elevated panoramic views.

This was also a great opportunity for us to buy Daedalus Reef t-shirts, which many of us did.

 

Red Sea Red Sea

 Left: Scalloped Hammerheads we often sighted off in the blue. Right: Nemo City lives up to its name.

Red Sea Red Sea

 Left: Aerial shot of Daedalus Lighthouse. Right: Topside tour of the Daedalus Lighthouse.

 

Day 7: Friday, July 31, 2015 - Elphinstone

We had only two dives scheduled at Elphinstone our final day on the Red Sea Aggressor, but they did not disappoint. The first dive yielded a huge hammerhead, two Napoleon wrasse, a swimming moray, a moray eel in his cave, butterfly fish, Royal angelfish, and a swirling school of fusilier.

But it was the second dive of the day—the last of the trip—where Blue Team spotted a 15 foot ocean manta ray! One moment we were going down a plateau, the next moment this huge black and white manta was soaring in and out of our group of divers for over 5 minutes. The excitement in the group reached a fever pitch. What a way to end the trip!

Later that evening, after a cocktail sushi party, Tim showed a slideshow compilation of photos taken by all the divers, and the Red Sea Aggressor gave out awards. We had TEN Iron Divers on board! The Iron Diver Award goes to any diver who does all the dives offered on an Aggressor trip. With 22 dives offered, that was no small feat. Other awards went to our fellow divers for First Wreck Dive, First Night Dive, 100th Dive, 1000th Dive, Advanced certification, and more.  

 

Red Sea Red Sea

 

Left: Our dive guide nasty on one end of a swim through. Right: A Manta Ray waving us goodbye on our last dive of the trip.

Red Sea Red Sea

 Left: The crew of the RSA serving up drinks during the cocktail hour. Right: Award ceremony after cocktail hour.

 

Watch a video recap of our trip put together by our Divemaster Nasty


 

 

Land Tour of Egypt Day 8: Saturday, August 1, 2015 - Luxor

What trip to Egypt is complete without a land tour of some of the most historic sites on Earth?

On Day 8, our Land Tour guide Mohamed Rashwan arrived at the Red Sea Aggressor to greet us. We boarded an air-conditioned shuttle towards Luxor. Lunch was at El Hussein Restaurant, where the lentil soup was an instant favorite. We next checked-in at the Sonesta St. George hotel, then had the afternoon free to spend as we chose.

Some of our fellow travelers went to enjoy the pool overlooking the Nile, while others took a tour of Luxor city via horse-drawn carriage.


Red Sea Egypt

Left: Saying goodbye to a fabulous trip diving the Red Sea. Right: Luxor City Tour on a horse driven carriage.

Egypt Egypt

Left: City Tour included the local produce market. Right: Luxor Temple at night on the way back to our hotel.


Day 9: Sunday, August 2, 2015 – Valley of the Dead, Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, Colossi of Memnon

We spent the morning at the Valley of the Dead, the site of Royal burials during the New Kingdom period (1550–1069 BC). The intense sun beat down upon us in the middle of a 120°F heat wave as we scurried from tomb to tomb. Our guide Mohamed educated us about each one as we went. The highlights of which were Ramses VI, for its intricate and well-preserved hieroglyphics, and Tutankhamun, where we could view King Tut’s well preserved mummy.

The next stop was the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut. Hatshepsut came to the throne in 79 BC, and was the first queen to rule Egypt. She was not the legitimate heir to the throne, temporarily stealing the throne from her stepson, Tutmohsis III. In order to legitimize her rein she built this grand temple, which depicts Hatshepsut in full regalia of a pharaoh—beard and all.

Afterwards, we made a quick stop at the Colossi of Memnon—so named because in Graeco-Roman times, the statues were attributed to Memnon, the legendary African King who was slain by Achilles during the Trojan War. The Colossi were actually built by Pharaoh Amenhotep III, and are set in front of the main entrance to a huge temple in Egypt, which is slowly being excavated.

After lunch, we had a free afternoon to ourselves again.


Egypt Egypt

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut.

Egypt Egypt

Left: 60 foot tall Colossi of Memnon towers over everything else. Right: View from our hotel of the lit up Valley of the Kings and the Nile.


Day 10: Monday, August 3, 2015 – Luxor Temple and Karnack Temple

First stop of the day was Luxor Temple, a striking monument in the center of town built primarily by Amenhotep III and Ramses II (aka Ramses the Great). However, the temple was also enhanced or added to by Hatshepsut, Tutankhamun, and Alexander the Great. Covered over by the desert sands, a mosque was built on top of the temple in the 14th century that remains to this day. Children yelled down “Hello!” at us from its parapets.


Egypt Egypt

Left: Aveune of the Sphinxes. Right: Entance to the Luxor Temple.

Egypt Egypt

Left: Intriciately carved hieroglyphs in the Luxor Temple. Right: Impressive columns of the Luxor Temple.


Our second stop was Karnack: the largest place of worship in Egypt and the world. They are still digging, excavating, and jigsaw puzzle piecing the stones back together at this massive complex that extends all the way to the airport. We only had the opportunity to see 10% of it in the blistering Luxor sun, but even that was impressively huge. Highlights included the obelisk of Hatshepsut and the 134 towering stone columns of the Great Hypostyle Hall. In the evening, we boarded an overnight sleeper train to Cairo.


Egypt Egypt

Left: Entrance to the Karnack Temple, the largest place of worship in the world. Right: Great Hypostyle Hall.

Egypt Egypt

Statues adorn the Karnack Temple.


Day 11: Tuesday, August 4, 2015 – The Pyramids of Giza, The Sphinx, Sakkarra

After a quick stop at the Movenpick hotel to drop off luggage, we arrived at the Pyramids at Giza—a dream come true. From afar the sky was hazy, but the massive monuments towered above everything: triangular dark shadows on blue-gray sky.

We started out by going inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu (built in 2570 BC), which remained the tallest artificial structure in the world until the building of the Eiffel Tower in 1889. The hunched climb through the shafts of the Great Pyramid, up into the top of the dark stoned tomb of Khufu was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We sat in the great chamber, and peered into Khufu’s cracked sarcophagus.

We then walked our way to the second-tallest Pyramid of Khafre, where we embarked on a camel ride out into the desert sands where we could look back on all nine pyramids on the Giza Plateau.

This was followed by a bus stop at another panoramic view of all nine pyramids. The bus kept dropping us off from one pyramid to another, and we quickly termed the journey our “pyramid drift dive.”

Then came The Sphinx—the crouching lion with the face of the king that acts as warden to protect the royal tombs.


Egypt Egypt

Left: Modern Cairo with the Great Pyramid of Khufu in the background. Right: Camels in front of the Pyramid of Khafre.

Egypt Egypt

Left: "Pyramid Drift Dive" on camelback. Right: The Sphinx watches over the Pyramids.


The afternoon was spent in Sakkarra, where we saw the mummy of an ancient King at the Imhotep Museum. Next was Titi Pyramid, where inside we glimpsed one of the most stunning specimens of hieroglyphic inscriptions we’d seen yet. Tight vertical rows of tiny hieroglyphs etched in white alabaster. Just outside was Mereruka’s Tomb, a one-level mastaba—a wonderful example of a non-royal tomb.

This was all topped off with a visit in the afternoon to the Step Pyramid of Sakkarra. Built by Imhotep for King Djoser in 2700 BC, this is the oldest pyramid in Egypt and the oldest stone structure on Earth.


Egypt Egypt

 

The Step Pyramid of Sakkara, the first pyramid and the oldest stone structure in the world.


Day 12: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 – Egyptian Antiquities Museum

We passed the burned out shell of the Democratic National Building and Tahrir Square—two important sites during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011—on our way to The Egyptian Antiquities Museum. There we spent the morning looking at the most important pieces, where our guide Mohamed meticulously explained the significance of each one.

We also saw the royal mummies of Ramses II and Hatshepsut (among others), as well as the treasures found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The most stunning of which, was the death mask found on King Tut’s mummy.

Lunch was at Le Pacha 1901, a luxurious dining boat on the River Nile.

The afternoon was spent at The Saladin Citadel, an impressive stone structure high on a hill that contains the Mohammed Ali Mosque. Our group took in beautiful vistas overlooking the city.


Egypt Egypt

Left: Mohamed Ali Mosque in the Saladin Citadel. Right: Views of the city from the highest point in Cairo. 


Day 13: Thursday, August 6, 2015 – Coptic Cairo, Old Market

The morning was spent in Coptic Cairo, visiting first The Hanging Church, a 9th century structure so named because it is suspended over the Water Gate of Roman Babylon.

Next we walked to the Cavern Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus—the oldest church inside Coptic Cairo’s walls, built over a cave where Joseph, Mary, and the infant Jesus are said to have taken shelter after fleeing Israel to escape persecution from King Herod of Judea.

Afterwards, we visited the Ben-Ezra Synagogue where baby Moses was reportedly found, and where Moses later came back to pray for the pharaoh to let his people go.

The afternoon was spent at the Old Market near the Mosque of Sultan Hassan. Our guide Mohamed showed us the old gates and a beautiful minaret on the mosque before we wandered the atmospheric market buying jewelry, statues, pashminas, and other trinkets.

The afternoon was capped off with hibiscus juice, mango juice, and/or mint tea at El Fishawy, the oldest café in Cairo (200 years old).


Egypt Egypt

Left: Inside the Hanging Church. Right: The Cavern Church where baby Jesus hid after fleeing Israel .

Egypt Egypt

 

Left: Shopping for trinkets in the Old Cairo Market. Right: Taking a break at the oldest cafe in Cairo, the 200 year old El Fishawy.

 

Day 14: Friday, August 7, 2015 – Free Day

Our last day in Cairo was a free day. Some of us stayed back, soaking in the view of the pyramids from our hotel, while others took a taxi back to the Old Market to shop more. Transfers to the Cairo Airport for flights back to the U.S. began that night and continued into the following morning.


All-in-all it was an unforgettable trip filled with fun, friendly times and momentous memories.   



BLUEWATER UNDERWATER PHOTO WORKSHOP IN THE RED SEA

Join Bluewater's Underwater Photo Workshop int he Red Sea September 2 - 9, 2017 with an option to extend another week touring the topside attractions in Egypt.

Email us at info@bluewaterdivetravel.com for more details and to sign up. 

 

HOW TO BOOK A TRIP TO THE RED SEA AND EGYPT

Bluewater Travel can book you on the Red Sea Aggressor or any other resort or liveaboard in the Red Sea for the same cost or less than booking any other way. We know the diving, accommodation and when to go better than anyone else!

 

Email us at info@bluewaterdivetravel.com and tell us that you read this article to get a special price for your next dive trip.

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