Blog I live under water
Sudan - nasza wyprawa z Activ Tour

Sudan – expedition with Activtour

The underwater beauty of Sudan captivated us. We had been dreaming about a trip to this region for many years. And luckily, we finally had the opportunity to see for ourselves the richness and extraordinary potential of this country which offers superb diving experiences and is in relative close proximity to Poland.

Landing at the airport in Port Sudan was like landing in a military base somewhere in a remote area. The airport hangar is reminiscent of a military base, equipped with a single runway, and surrounded by nothing by sand and a few rusty antennas. When we got off our airplane, we were immediately surrounded by several military men, which proceeded to guard us closely. Among other things, they made sure we did not take any photographs of this their military fortress. The Visa and immigration procedure took us approximately 30 minutes. We were gathered together in a small room with other passengers of the airplane and customs officers took us one by one through the local customs procedures. It was a mess, but it worked. Customs taken care of, we continued on… this time to collect our luggage. And here we were met with a great surprise! The airport in Port Sudan does not have the same modern system of baggage conveyor belts to which we were all accustomed… Here, everything is done by hand! This meant that the last person from our group had to wait for over an hour to get their luggage.

We finally left the airport building and got to our cartoonishly decorated taxi, and 30 minutes of northbound driving later, we finally reached the port where our boat was waiting. Along the way we spotted a small petrochemical processing facility, fuel storage tanks, small, extremely poor settlement Bedouins, and camels grazing on the expanses of Krzewina. The landscape of Northern Sudan is much more green than that of Egypt, for example. There is a lot more bush, grass and acacia trees.

Port Sudan has been Sudan’s main link to the outside world for almost 100 years. Huge container ships arrive and depart from here from countries like Saudi Arabia and Singapore, among others. These vessels transport products to Sudan, and after unloading they return to their home port empty, not taking any goods on their way back. This is because Sudan is very underdeveloped in production and export. Prices of food and basic products are much higher than, for example, in the neighboring Egypt. Residents of Egypt are are much better off than residents of Sudan. This unfortunate reality exists because virtually everything in Sudan is imported, including food.

Out of the taxi, started to make our way to the dock where our boat was prepared for our departure. The dock was built in the shape of the letter L. To one side, we had a view of the the port’s monumental ship bays, where the world’s largest container ships dock and get unloaded. Since it is early in the evening, the waterfront is so congested that we feel like we are on a promenade in a popular resort! All around us are families with playful children, men playing cards and billiards, etc. Everybody is resting from the heat of the sun that relentlessly berates them every day. There’s a carefree atmosphere of relaxation and fun. Everybody speaks English – no matter whether they are young or old. In Sudan, there are 2 official languages: English and Sudanese. Thank to the former, things are much easier for us.

At last we get to the waterfront and can see our boat with our own eyes! We are extremely happy with our choice of yacht: large, stable, modern, and comfortable. Seven days aboard this will be a pleasure. Choosing a good, fast, powerful and spacious motor yacht for safari adventures is very important. Your choice in vessel will directly translate to your comfort and convenience.

Our boat drifted first to the remotest reefs — we had only seven days to make our safari tour, where other boats usually take 10! For the first two days we were not accompanied by anyone, it was just us and the Red Sea. The sea tried to rock our boat, but we did not feel any discomfort … Our boat and its crew proved themselves 100% capable.

The third day and the first dive were nothing above average. We reached the northernmost point of our route – the Shaab Seudi reef. We felt slightly disappointed… depths of no more than 20m, not a particularly characteristic place, our guide watched us very closely, checking everything, following us… For the second dive and third night we were on the Gota Shambea reef. We liked the spectacular formations of the hard corals – to true fans of coral, this is the real deal. This second dive was easy, quiet, and without any spectacular occurrence. But it was only a small taste of what awaited us in the next days! For that and the 2 consecutive days we remained the only boat floating in depths of the water. There was no competition on the horizon, no unwanted travel companions. It was just us and the best dive sites in the world.

The next day was amazing. We visited the reefs Angarosh and Merlo. Angarosh translated means “Mother of Sharks.” And as it turned out, the name exactly matches the attractions it offers. The first dive began just after dawn. We dove to 40-45m and there they were! Sharks – many diving enthusiasts come to Sudan just to see them … We meet gray sharks and hammerheads. Also in the scenery there were circling shoals of barracuda, tuna and jackfish. While we swam between reefs, were are accompanied by a pod of dolphins. It felt as though they were trying to race with our boat. It was an amazing experience.

On the following day, in the morning we decided to once again visit the reef of Angarosh. In the afternoon, we dove at a place called Gota Abbanna. In the evening, some of us took the night dive off in favor of accompanying our captain in fishing for crayfish. We spent two hours at the top of the reef, where crawfish hunt in the moonlight. Dinner that night was a real treat. Our Sudanese cook cooked up what we were able to catch… and our efforts were certainly worth the taste of the freshest crayfish!

The next day we took a trip back in time and moved on to famed Shab Rumi reef and the base of Precontinet II, which are the actual remains of experiments conducted by JY Cousteau in the early 70s (the experiment was to prove that man can live under water). Diving in such an iconic place was an amazing experience for us. Although most of the construction of the underwater city was dismantled, what does remain is tangible evidence of the historical accomplishments of the famous Frenchman and his research team, and also the background for the events of the film “World Without End”.

The fifth day was filled with diving in the reefs around the first Marine Park created in Sudan – Sanganeb. The most famous place in this area is the south-western edge of the reef. Jumping into the water, we fell on a plato at a depth of approximately 30m, and in front of our eyes appeared very colorful coral formations, embellished by soft corals. We were met with forests of anemones, gray sharks, shoals of barracuda and other sea travelers and what particularly impressed us – hammerhead sharks and dolphins. Sanganeb was made famous not only by the great diving, but also by the picturesque landscapes which extend from the top of the lighthouse built here. Our ship anchored at the foot of a long pier leading to the British built lighthouse, which is currently managed by the Sudanese navy. The view was worthy of a postcard — gorgeous. Each of us probably took 100 shots of this fairytale-like landscape. Once we got off the lighthouse and boarded our boat again, we came up with a brilliant idea: maybe we want to try to swim in the place that we just admired from the top of the lighthouse? We went for it. We jumped into the water, and it turned out amazing! It was an absolute joy. The experience totally broke us away from reality.

The last day of our safari was crowned by a dive near Port Sudan, on the wreck of Umbria. It is regarded as one of the two best wrecks to see in the whole Red Sea, it competes only with the wreck of the SS Thistlegorm. But our group, having seen the other wreck for comparison, unanimously hailed Umbria as the best of the best in this part of Africa. At the time it sank, there were 1,750 tons of cement, 5,000 tons of explosive, 360000 bombs, bottles of wine and 3 Fiat 1100s on board. The wreck exploration was easy to carry out – we had good visibility and there was a lot of light.

Having now experienced both the Sudanese and Egyptian Red Sea, we are absolutely certain that it is worth it to pull the trigger and see go on this trip! There is no hint of the so-called “mass tourism”. Diving here, we had the impression that we were the amongst the first explorers of this part of the sea. Sea creatures were interested in us, getting so close that we could touch them. Our presence did not arouse fear in them, they clearly did have any unpleasant encounters with previous divers. We feel that the opposite is true in Egypt. The underwater world here is not yet saturated divers, corals are more likely to crumble under the force of their own weight than by being overturned by divers.

All the magic of this underwater adventure inspired us to take on the next challenge! We will most definitely also visit the farthest southern reaches of Sudan – to places where we will be true pioneers of underwater tourism… Places where Jacques Cousteau also conducted his experiments, although few people know about it.

Katarzyna Cieślawska,

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