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Zoe & Celine’s Blog – Red Sea Northern Reefs and Wrecks

We have been asked to let you all know about the recent Orca Scuba Diving Academy trip to the Red Sea.  Prior to us leaving the UK we got an update from Scuba Travel that our liveaboard had been upgraded.  We were all very excited to see our upgraded vessel, Mistral.  For many of us this was our first liveaboard, so we didn’t quite know what to expect.

After travelling for what seemed like ages, we finally arrived in Hurghada. We collected our cases and went to find our Scuba Travel representative, where we had a short coach journey of about 20 minutes to Hurghada Marina.  We stepped off the coach and were amazed with what we saw; Mistral was stunning!  There was a warm welcome from Reda, Yasser and the crew. To be able to climb aboard Mistral, we had to walk the plank.  Once we were allocated our cabins and settled in, dinner was served.

We spent our first night in the harbour.  The journey to our first location was very rough; we felt awful.  This wasn’t the best start to our trip, but after having breakfast we all felt fine and we were ready for our first dive.  Sha’ab Elerg was our first dive site; it was a nice chilled dive.  We travelled to The Barg which was our first wreck dive.  During the briefing we found out that we were mooring up for the night, as we were doing three dives in this location. The Barg dives were amazing as there was so much marine life. We saw George and Georgina the huge moray eels and there was a very curious wrasse that came close to check us out.  Our third and final dive in this location was Gubal Island, we had to do a zodiac entry.  For some of us this was our first time doing this entry, Celine was nervous to begin with but once we done it she decided it’s one of the best ways to enter the water.  We were surrounded by trigger fish for the entire dive.

Ulysses was our next wreck dive and our first negative entry.  Once again there was a lot of marine life; lyretail anthias, red sea bannerfish, masked butterfly fish and a shoal of Sargent majors.  This ship had been sunk many years ago.  After lunch the next dive was at Shark and Yolanda Reef, where we saw napoleon wrasse, fantail stingray, blue spotted ray, shoal of red snapper, unicorn fish and lyretail anthias, then followed by The Temple for our night dive.

Ras Umm El Sid commenced our third day of diving leading on to two dives on Jackson Reef where we saw Longnose Hawkfish, Tuna, Redtooth Triggerfish, Arabian Boxfish and Clownfish.  Our night dive was on Gordon Reef which was filled with new experiences as soon as we entered the water. We saw a free-swimming moray eel which was quite spectacular to see.  We then came across a couple of African Lionfish who decided to follow us and our torches for the entire dive.

Day 4 started with Thomas Reef and Dun Rowen and ended with two dives on the SS Thistlegorm. This is the wreck everyone had been waiting for, and it didn’t disappoint.  The ‘Blue Flower Steam Ship’ has lots to offer.  We started with the external areas, engine room, and exited through quite a small hatch. The night dive on the SS Thistlegorm didn’t disappoint either.  As soon as we started the dive there were blue spotted stingrays, lionfish, and then a turtle!

The next morning, we did two more dives on the SS Thistlegorm, but this time we got to penetrate the wreck. There were many tight spaces we had to squeeze through, while looking at the cargo of world war bikes, jeeps and guns.  There wasn’t much marine life living inside the wreck but the fish who were living there were emperor anglefish, broomtail wrasse and blotcheye soliderfish. After lunch, our next wreck was Chrisoula K, which was an Italian tile merchant ship.  As we entered the water and descended we saw a garden of red sea garden eels. Throughout this dive we saw cresent-tail bigeye, freckled hawkfish, gold dotted flatworm, arabian tiba and pufferfish. As we were surfacing there was a red sea needlefish just swimming underneath the zodiac.  Our night was at Abu Nuhas Reef where we saw two spider crabs, a Spanish dancer, a nudibranch, hermit crabs and lionfish.

Carnatic was our next wreck dive, this was an amazing dive.  At the end of the dive when everyone was back in the zodiac, we saw a pod of dolphins while heading back to Mistral.  Everyone was excited because we got to jump back in and snorkel with them!  Giannis D was our next wreck in the same location; the wreck had very small spaces to swim through. The highlight again had to be swimming with the dolphins while we were still diving.  This had to be the best experience we have ever encountered!  Our final dive of the trip was at Sha’ab Elerg also known as dolphin reef. This was a good dive to end on as it was very chilled.

We moored up in Hurghada Marina for the night and ventured out along the marina to find a bar to have some drinks. It was very weird walking on solid ground after spending a week on a boat. It felt like we were drunk but we were completely sober. The next morning, we had breakfast and before we knew it the coach had arrived to take us to the hotel. We said goodbye to Reda and the crew after an amazing week that they provided for us.

We arrived at the hotel and to our amazement we were staying in a Hilton Hotel! This hotel was huge, you could easily get lost. We checked in, dropped our bags off in the room and headed down towards the pool. It was very weird swimming in a pool because we were so used to having our dive gear on. After a few hours in the sun and pool, we went for lunch. This day seemed to drag as we were waiting around for our flight. It was finally time to check out and leave the hotel and head to the airport.

We managed to get through all the security, have something to eat and catch the second half of England play in the World Cup. We headed towards our departure gate and climbed aboard our EasyJet aircraft.  After a long flight back to the UK we finally arrived.

This week had been the best experience we have ever encountered, and we can’t wait to go back and experience it all over again!