Picture this scene. A piece of golden desert fringed with mangroves on the edge of the beautiful blue sea. An enclave of tented and chalet accommodation a short distance from the restaurant which had a constant free supply of cold water, tea, coffee and soft drinks and was itself a short distance from a covered kitting up area. This was Wadi Lahami Village where we were going to spend the week.
‘We're riding along on the crest of a wave and the sun is in the sky’
Our first day’s diving was in Zone 1, close to the launch site in order to check us out. We had a more leisurely start since it was the first day, but the schedule would become breakfast at 06:30 to leave shore at 07:15 for two dives with a short interval. Back to shore for lunch and out again to dive at 14:00 followed by a night dive at 17:30. We all opted for only three dives a day, only one being a night dive.
'Rolling In the Deep'
It was windy most of the week and so we certainly did some of this in the water when we were affected by the swell. But when we went to Zone 2 or Zone 3 dive sites, which were further away from base, we were rolling on the surface, and pitching and slapping into waves in the rough seas. Most of us ended up standing in the RIB to save damage to our backs! It meant we couldn’t get good photos of the small bottlenose dolphins that raced alongside us leaping the waves.
‘It's lovely, bobbing along, Bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny sea.’
And indeed it was. We all spent about 15 hours bobbing along in exceptional visibility enjoying the marine life. We didn’t see much in the way of ‘big stuff’, just a couple of turtles, one white-tip reef shark, a couple pf morays, a few Napoleon wrasse and a huge black-blotched stingray, but the smaller fish life was prolific. Eventually we even managed to find a few nudibranchs, including a couple of Spanish Dancers on the night dive.
‘I'd like to be under the sea, In an octopus' garden in the shade’
We only saw one octopus and it was well hidden in a hole in the coral but it was certainly octopus territory. The best feature of the dives on the outer reefs was the spectacular hard coral formations full of holes, and our favourite dives were ‘Claudia’ where we explored a labyrinth of tunnels underneath the coral and ‘Stairway to Heaven’ where we ascended a narrow valley in the coral which opened up to a coral bowl and a fantastic coral arch.
‘Coming up for air, God knows where’
Afternoon dives were unguided. We were briefed on shore and then left to our own devices. For our last dive we were to keep to the right of three reef outcrops then go through a channel to find the boat moored on the other side. Well, as you all know, we like to go slowly looking in every nook and cranny. Counting one then two reefs we seemed to be going a long way beside the third. Was it the third, or had we missed the channel? It turned out to be irrelevant because we were all too short of air to go further. Fortunately the boat spotted our DSMB and came to fetch us. We hadn’t gone far enough!
‘When you come to the end of a perfect day’
The best thing to do is have a beer. Wadi Lahami Village is made up of little enclaves, the main one being the restaurant and dive centre. Others included the tented accommodation, the chalet accommodation, the kitting up and dive gear washing area and the boat staff and bottle store. A short way away was a privately owned bar enclave and that’s where we spent the early part of most evenings. Hence the single night dive. After dinner, we sometimes had a round of “Stop the Bus”, a card game that you can even play whilst dropping asleep!
‘Someone's rocking my dreamboat, Disturbing a beautiful dream’
The diving came to an end all too soon and, although we had a free day to explore, visit the local hotel and shop for postcards and tea, sunbathe and relax, it seemed like a countdown to departure. No sand storms arrived to give us an extra day in Egypt, so flights were confirmed and packing done. At least the atmosphere was so dry that dive gear dried in next to no time.
I've still got sand in my shoes....
I want to see you again’
And we will. We are off to the Red Sea again in May 2018, and we can’t wait.