Panorama Reef - Middle Reef - Abu Kafan - Salem Express - Abu Dabab - Elphinstone
Departing from Hurghada and sailing to Marsa Ghalib Port
Experience Level: Emperor requires that you have 30 logged dives for this itinerary.
The area around Safaga has some great diving, the best being the offshore reefs of Panorama Reef, Middle Reef and Abu Kafan. Some divers say this area equals the great sites of Ras Mohamed. The diving offers a combination of shallow reef dives and drop-offs, as well as the famous wreck of the Salem Express.
The Salem Express is a dramatic dive. Around 500 people perished in one of the worst marine tragedies of all times. The 100-metre ferryboat was on its way back from Mecca to Safaga after the annual Muslim pilgrimage in December 1991, when it hit the reef during a stormy night and sunk rapidly without giving the opportunity to the crew and passengers to board the lifeboats. It is now home to a thriving underwater life, including a famous resident frogfish, blue-spotted stingrays, angel and butterfly fish. The ship itself is covered in a large quantity of hard and soft corals. It is one of the largest wrecks in the Egyptian Red Sea - roughly the same size as the Thistlegorm.
There is superb wall diving at Panorama, which is in fact one of the largest reefs in Safaga, featuring numerous grottos and overhangs, where gorgonians and soft corals thrive with the frequent nurturing currents. Due to the size of the barrier, there are at least three different dives to be done here: the south plateau and the east and west drop offs. Barracudas and White Tip Reef sharks and occasionally Hammerheads and manta rays can be found. The south plateau is somewhat more protected by the current.
Abu Kafan is a 300-metre long and narrow reef offering a plateau at both north and south tips. We normally jump in the water on the north plateau and glide with the frequent strong current southwards along the impressive walls covered with soft and black coral, giant fans and gorgonians. Hal Hal (Middle Reef) is a rarely chosen dive site due to its distance from the coast, which makes it a virgin spot. The north side is a drop off going down to 80meters, and is a perfect location to spot tunas, barracudas, turtles and sharks. The southern side has colourful coral gardens along with some caves and canyons. This dive site is mostly available only from a liveaboard.
Abu Dabab is six reefs commonly known as “Fathers Steps” or “Fathers Stepping Stones” and as the name suggests a set of fairly shallow reefs ranging from depths of 25m to the seafloor. In between Abu Dabab II and III at approximately 15m is the wreckage of a small ship sunk after a fire in 2004. The reefs themselves offer colourful coral gardens and an underwater cave system to explore. Pods of dolphins have been known to frequent the area as well as blue spotted rays, napoleons, giant puffers, box fish, sweetlips, batfish, nudibranchs and more.
Elphinstone is approximately 30km from Port Ghalib, Elphinstone reef is 300m long with sheer walls richly covered in colourful pink and red soft corals and elegant red gorgonians descending to around 40m deep. Other areas of the reef have near vertical cliffs, overhangs, small caves and drop offs of up to 100m. Elphinstone is known to experience some strong currents attracting many diverse species such as; barracuda, angel fish, groupers, napoleons, morays, reef sharks and great shoals of dogtooth tuna and jacks. Occasional spottings include; dolphins, turtles, oceanic white tip, hammerheads sharks.
Please note: You are expected to be able to complete each dive with your buddy or following the guide. The guides may not enter the water and may remain onboard as surface support for some dives. As with all diving activities, the dive guide has the final decision regarding any divers competency to complete any particular dive. This is a sample itinerary and is subject to change without notice. The itinerary will depend on several factors including, but not limited to, weather, diving ability of guests & the number of other boats already present at the various dive sites.