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From 11/4 till 18/4/2009 I was on the safari boat ...

From 11/4 till 18/4/2009 I was on the safari boat MSY/ Elegante, for a Sudan-south trip. Partially privately booked (flight Milan-Cairo), the rest organised by Redseaenterprise, run by Uwe and Regula, as a very attractive last-minute offer. They provided a perfect service, right from arrival in Cairo on the 11th (from assistance for the flight Cairo-Sudan and all paperwork for visa etc, all through till the flight back Cairo-Milan). This made travelling a piece of cake, even when I decided to go out to Cairo between the flights in stead of waiting 6 hours in the airport for the next leg.

Once aboard the Elegante the next set of (near-)perfect assistents was waiting, from the Captail, to the waiter, to the air supply supervisor. Very professional, unobtrusive, kind and helpfull during the whole period.
The boat itself is starting to show some wear and tear after all the years of service (so you should not expect a standard as high as in the Sherezade or Royal Evolution) and this summer a major overhaul seems to be planned for her, before possibly going to Gibuti.

Apart from diving, relaxing, sunbathing, reading and sleeping there was also the possibility of fishing (underway or while at anchor), which added to the menu some very nice and fresh fish dishes (carpaccio di tonno, grilled tuny steak, barracuda sushi and so on), excellently prepared by the cook, who served every day various dishes in different styles, not only Italian, but also spicy Egyptian and Sudanese. I have been on several (7 sofar) safari boats , but the food on this boat was the best of all in every aspect. The staff also follow strict procedures on hygiene, so not a single participant suffered any kind of intestinal problem or in fact any problem.

The diving: we were only 6 guests this week, which was quite relaxing. The diving itself was sometimes a bit tough, with at least 5 dives having deco-times longer than 10 minutes (out in the blue between 35-50+ meters, looking out for hammerheads easily gets you there).
Briefings, safety procedures and supervision by guide Marco were OK, while dive-buddies were given plenty of room for their own planning of the dives.

Though Sudan is praised as THE shark region for hammerheads, grays etc. (it was not the season for manta-rays), we saw relatively few hammerheads, around 40-50 m. deep (only once, in Jumna, a group of more than 20 came close), some gray sharks and white tips, like at Sha´ab Rumi (where a group of 7 gray females is more or less stationary, also thanks to the practice of feeding by the guides during the dive. But they sure offer superb video material).
From the various boats we encountered (Don Questo, Royal Emperor and some others) we got similar stories about disappointingly few big fish. Are the increasing numbers of boats and divers having a negative effect on shark sightings? It it caused by increased commercial fishing (we saw at the Port Sudan fish market huge numbers of cernia´s and that was right during their spawning period, which could lead to a rapid decline of the population, with consequences for the bigger fish)?
Equally unfortunately, at Turtle Island only one diver saw a turtle.
But the corals are still stunning and every now and then groups of dolphins came playing around the boat and sometimes while diving. We did not visit the Umbria or Precontinente II, which will be stuff for the next trip...

But maybe my expectations were too high, by all the exciting stories and pictures of Sudan? Or was it the (even for the guide surprising) absence of strong currents , which normally bring big fish? Or maybe the north/classic trip does offer more?

One thing is certain, I will be back in Sudan, most probably through Redseaenterprise (no, they don´t pay me for this article, they just deserve the praise), probably on the north or the classic tour. And I sure do hope the same cook will be aboard whatever the next ship will be.

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DivingharryDM122 TGs

Hallo Leute,ich war in der zweiten Märzwoche bei ...

Hallo Leute,
ich war in der zweiten Märzwoche bei der Shark Research Expedition im Sudan, organisiert von der Cousteau Gesellschafr, und zwar auf der MS/Y Elegante. Dies war wirklich ein taucherischer Höhepunkt. Es war eine Expedition, die Haizählung und Hairegistrierung beinhaltete, und dies alles verbunden mit einem Kurs über Haie. Hauptsächlich Grauhaie, Hammerhaie und Weissspitzen-Riffhaie. Unglaublich schön und abseits vom Massentourismus. Allerdings muss dies mit erheblichen Hindernissen in Kauf genommen werden (sprich Air-Sudan, Visa usw.).
Alles in allem wirklich empfehlenswert, allerdings sehr schwere Tauchgänge (immer gegen die Strömung, und immer zwischen 50 und 60 Meter Tiefe), und die MS/Y Elegante ist nicht gerade ein Platzwunder. Wie der Name besagt, ist es ein Segelschiff, dass zwar sehr schön ist, aber wirklich wenig Platz bietet.
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