Little is known about Sudan in this country, and he is not necessarily considered one of the safest travel destinations. Nevertheless, divers are always attracted to this country. I wanted to get to the bottom of this phenomenon and embarked aboard the Royal Evolution for a seven-day safari into the deep south of Sudan.
The necessary formalities (visa in advance) are done by employees of the safari organization on site. The journey is currently quite complex, either with “Emirates” via Dubai and then on with the low-cost airline “Fly Dubai” to Port Sudan or via “Air Egypt” via Cairo to Sudan.
Note: Starting in the year 2019, the tours in the Sudan start again in Port Ghalib (Egypt) around the complex tour to Port Sudan. The small disadvantage of a longer journey to Sudan is more than compensated by the really easy journey to Port Ghalib.
As difficult as the journey may be, on-site everything is perfectly organized by the organizer: from assistance with the entry through the transfers to the briefings on board the “Royal Evolution”.
The 39 meter long safari boat sleeps up to 24 passengers and usually leaves Port Sudan on the first night. The larger travel sections are almost always held at night to allow divers as many dives as possible during the day.
The usual check-dive will take place on the first morning. This is primarily about determining the correct amount of lead. The only compulsory exercise required is the placement of a buoy. A measure that makes perfect sense considering that you will not see the mainland in the coming days.
Dive, eat, sleep
If the following dive sites of the first day are more for beginners, the tour picks up speed the next morning at the latest. “Habili Miyum” can safely be counted among the top spots of the Red Sea. Right after diving there we are greeted by a small white tip reef shark, but it has only briefly caught the attention of divers as the actual target is usually at greater depths. That’s why our small group of divers can descend on the endless sloping walls to the target depth of 40 meters to sight large schools of bow-shaped hammerhead sharks.
Quickly turns on the safari boat the usual routine. Dive, eat, sleep and start over. Speaking of food: The times when you were on the safari boats only supplied with the essentials are well known long gone. But what the crew here conjures up delicacies, is really worth a mention.
The food is varied, varied and were crowned on the last day with a sensational good BBQ. Also beer and other spirits are available, not a matter of course in a strictly Islamic country.
The huge guest cabins of the “Royal Evolution” are also great. In the course of time I have already seen some safari boats and cabins, but never at a similar space.
The two dive guides Khaled and Linus do not see themselves as watchdogs. During the first two dives every day, the guests are accompanied.
It is dipped into the blue water and tries to find the hammerhead schools. Back on the reef, every buddy team can choose their own path or follow the guides to complete the afternoon and eventual night dive on their own.
The fact that the two guides still enjoy diving is reflected not least in the fact that they are often seen in the water during the afternoon dives.
On the following days, hammerhead sharks are spotted only occasionally and not very close. Nevertheless, the dive area offers a variety of species native to the Red Sea: We have frequent encounters with shark encounters, buffalo head parrotfish, blue spotted stingrays and turtles.
Especially the encounter with a small Manta at “Abidan Island” remains in memory. He also does not want to play with us, but then turns with respectful distance a round about my buddy and me.
All dive sites have in common that they make a totally untouched impression. Hard and soft corals at all the complete ecosystem makes a healthy and stable impression, no trace of human intervention.
Large swarms of sweetlips are seen every day. At the dive site “Habili Dibsel”, the water darkens in one fell swoop and a huge swarm of barracudas crosses our path.
At “Shaab Jumna” there is one last chance for big hammerhead schools, again they are there and again they “refuse” the photographers and a close-up by disappearing into the blue of the open ocean. Instead, at the end of the dive, we have an encounter that is neither desired nor expected: for the first time since the beginning of our tour, we see other divers in the water.
It has become so used to the peace and solitude that this other group – although not disturbing – stands out. The afternoon dive will take place at “Shab Jumna”. Again, foreign divers are in the water again. However, I am compensated for the hesitant behavior of the hammerheads in recent days.
Out of nowhere, a small hammerhead shark emerges and turns two to three laps around me. My buddy looks at me in amazement and the guide does not want to believe this encounter. Hammerhead? Here to Shaab Jumna?
Finally, there are two more dives at the “Umbria” instead. Again, the guides are back in the water and show us the hidden “treasures” of the wreck. The Umbria was sunk by her crew at the war entry of Italy in 1940.
The Italian captain wanted to avoid that the cargo gets into British hands with 6,000 tons of bombs and other war materials. The bombs and three Fiat 1100 are still in the wreck and can be admired.
Without the guides but probably no diver would penetrate far enough into the winding wreck to find the car.
After these dives, the “Royal Evolution” returns to Port Sudan. If you want, you can translate into the harbor at the end of the tour and explore the city by TukTuk.
A journey through time?
Yes for sure! When older divers talk about Egypt 30 years ago, the words “untouched reefs,” “dive alone,” and “huge fish stocks” keep cropping up.
So in this respect, one can call the Sudan quite a time travel. The impression on land reinforces this feeling even further.
There was nothing to complain about on the tour. Almost nothing. Next time I will book a ten-day tour – and for sure – to explore the northern part of the Sudan underwater and to enjoy the relaxing time on this magnificent ship longer.
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