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World | Red Sea | Diving Sudan:

Sudan overview



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Scuba Diving in Sudan, the Red Sea

Water temperature:

28 - 29°C in November (82 - 84°F)


3mm or 5mm wetsuit


10 to 30 metres (30 to 100 feet)

Type of diving:

Walls, pinnacles, coral gardens, wrecks and the unique Conshelf underwater habitat

Marine life:

Hammerheads, manta rays, turtles, bumphead parrotfish, tuna, barracuda, jacks, trevally, moray eels, all the usual Red Sea reef fish and some excellent coral

When to go:

If you are after mantas it is best to visit Sudan during late summer from August to October. Hammerhead season runs from December through to April while the water is colder.

How to get there:

Fly into Cairo airport in Egypt from where the weekly flight to Port Sudan airport departs. You will need an Egyptian visa which you can pick up from the airport as you land costing US$15. Sudanese visas will have to be pre-arranged and cost US$260. Your liveaboard agent will retain your passport whilst you are at sea. Passport-holders with evidence of visits to Israel are disqualified from entry into Sudan.

Sudan, Red Sea

Sudan is Africa's largest country and saying it is not a tourist destination is an understatement. Political unrest, the genocide problems in Darfur and a reputation for terrorism and violence don't make it high on the list of most people's places to visit. If you are a diver however, it is a must. Imagine the best diving you have done in the Egyptian Red Sea then improve on it and you might get a glimpse of what to expect.

Getting to Port Sudan is not the easiest business. Liveaboards leave from Port Sudan to coincide with the one flight a week the goes to Port Sudan airport. Reliance on this lone flight can lead to problems as any delays or cancellations have a serious knock on effect on your trip. This may even lead to you abandoning your holiday altogether, as friends of ours have experienced. For us thankfully, it was straightforward and problem free. We spent a day and night in Cairo, in Egypt so that we could catch the flight from Cairo to Port Sudan which got us in the holiday mood. The whole of Cairo is yours to do what you will with so we visited the pyramids but you could also head to the Egyptian museum or the Cairo market Khan el-Khalili or whatever else takes your fancy.

Sudan, Red Sea

On landing in Sudan I finally allowed myself to get excited - we were there! Our police escort took us with sirens blazing to the port where the liveaboard awaited. The diving did not disappoint, the reefs are all in excellent condition, grey reef sharks are everywhere and white tip reef sharks were frequently sighted too. Other big encounters included big shoals of barracuda on a regular basis, the occasional tuna and dozens of jacks and trevally. On top of that there was an abundance of reef fish, the occasional turtle, dolphins on the surface, good vis and luxuriously blue, warm water. The wrecks in Sudan of the more famous Umbria and less well known Blue Belt are both outstanding and if all of this wasn't enough, Jacques Cousteau built his second underwater habitat at Sha'ab Rumi where you can still see the tool shed and submarine docking station. Jacques and his 'underwater he-men' spent 4 weeks on the reef, mostly getting their hair cut, smoking and avoiding 'man-eating' grey reef sharks we gleaned from his film!

We visited Sudan in early November and were hoping to see hammerheads but unfortunately didn't get to see any as we were a bit early in the year. We did see a manta ray, but we were a bit late for them really - not good timing! If you are after mantas it is best to visit during late summer from August to October. Hammerhead season runs from December through to about April while the water is colder. Whale sharks are not unknown to visit Sudanese waters but you'd be very fortunate is you did see one as our dive guide has only seen one in two years of working in Sudan.

At the end of the week I was immensely disappointed to be leaving Sudan - even more so than I am after all my dive trips - as I write this a month on I am still daydreaming about being back there. Each dive was consistently good and if you missed out on some of the bigger action it didn't always matter as the reefs themselves could hold your interest for the whole dive anyway. Also in all likelihood you'd see the same big stuff on the next dive. A thoroughly excellent dive destination, you simply must go.

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