The alarm went off at 0300, which was painful. At 0400, we were in the lobby of the hotel, waiting for the bus to pick us up. We told our French friends about the tour, and they decided to come too. 5 minutes later, we were on our way. The bus was really nice, with comfy seats. We followed the coast north to a town called Safaga, stopping to pick up people along the way. In Safaga, we joined a convoy of 70 tourist busses, all going to Luxor. There have been issues with terrorist attacks against tourists in the past in Egypt, so the government requires that all tour groups travel in a police escorted convoy through the desert. At 0730, the convoy pulled out, heading east towards the mountains.
The mountains are as dry and barren of life as the coast. For part of the way, there wasn’t even any scrubby little desert plants around. The mountains look very unstable, like soft rock that easily breaks apart. In some places, the mountains are large solid boulders, but in other places, it looks like the boulders have eroded into piles of rocks and dirt.
Around 1000, we reached the Nile valley and turned to follow the river. The guide explained to us that in Upper Egypt, people were still very traditional and followed the old, customary way of life. The people are still farmers, and they have very few modern tools to farm with, preferring farming by hand. Houses are made from mud brick with ceilings made of plant stalks. Houses ranged in size from one room, one story to very large three stories. Apparently, as the family grows, they just add more rooms/stories to the existing house. Despite the old fashioned ways, virtually all the houses had satellite dishes on the roofs. Few women were out, and all wore the black robes and black head scarves. There were lots of men out, and all were dressed in what look like old fashioned pajama dresses that go to the ankles and are long sleeved. The land was all farmland dotted with clusters of houses and the occasional mosque. It looks like they grow a large variety of produce.
At 1100, we rolled into Luxor. From what we could see, Continue reading
Today we were assigned to a smaller boat than the one we had gone out on the other day. It is also a very nice boat with a similar layout, and with only half as many people on board, it felt even more spacious than the first one. We went to a spot called Marsa Shoni Kebir, in the ocean just south of the Port Ghalib entrance, close to the shore. The site consists of two walls close to one another.
For the first dive, we went to the east wall. Once again, we lounged for quite a while before suiting up and jumping in. It is another nice spot, though once again, not spectacular. We saw more variety of coral, though there is still a lot of the fire and geranium looking soft corals. In one spot we saw some yellow waver coral. We also saw more fish, more variety of fish, and some new fish. Better still, we borrowed a “Red Sea” fish book and wrote down what we saw right away, while it was still fresh in our minds. The specific variety of unicorn fish that we mentioned the other day are called short nosed unicorn fish. The parrotfish with different colors we mentioned is called a rusty parrotfish. We saw both the rusty parrotfish and the short nosed unicorn fish on this dive, too.
One of the new fish is called a bird wrasse, a fish with a bird like beak. Another one is called a sailfin tang, a brown, cream and orange striped fish with a yellow tail shaped kind of like a batfish. We also saw a yellow tang, which is a similar shape but yellow color. Other new ones include hogfish and Arabian boxfish. We also saw Arabian Picasso triggerfish, which have the same markings as a regular Picasso triggerfish, but different colors.
In more familiar fish, we saw Continue reading
First thing this morning, we called to check status on our bag. Yes, they would ship it a second time. It would go out today, to be delivered tomorrow to the front desk of the hotel, where someone was always on duty. It didn’t sound like they were going to charge us for the shipping. We had the front desk talk to the agent to confirm shipping details. We went to the front desk later in the day and told the next crew to be expecting our bag tomorrow.
Thanks to guidance from one of the dive crew, we found a tour company that offered tours to Luxor. Two good things today! It is a group tour package, with bus, tour guide, hotel, food and admission to attractions. While it is no by means cheap, it is probably overall less expensive than the “limo” when you factor in hotel, food, etc. The tour leaves the day after tomorrow, so we booked another dive trip for tomorrow.
We got to work on chores. Eric gave Kosmos a Continue reading
We dragged our gear over to the dive boat at 0800. We managed to get onto the nicest of the three dive boats at the hotel, and, except for the boat in Port Douglas, is by far the nicest dive boat we have been on. It has a big cockpit area for the dive gear, a large salon with plenty of tables and seating for everyone, and an upper deck full of couches for sitting in the sun. There were about 20 divers on board.
The dive spot we went to is called Marsa Mubarak, and it is in the Port Ghalib bay, near the entrance. We lounged for 40 minutes after we were moored before we finally suited up and jumped in. We headed north. The dive spot is quite pretty, but not spectacular. The hard coral is sort of in scattered mountain formations here and there instead of in a wall type formation. The landscape is dominated by a light pink soft coral that looks kind of like a geranium, ranging in size from tiny flower tops to large ones. At several points along the dive it actually looked like a flower field more so than a coral reef. There was also a lot of fire coral, which is bright yellow and looks like distorted pieces of lattice, like something that you would see in a Dhali painting. There were two especially large hard coral rock formations that the dive master referred to as “cleaning stations”. There were zillions of tiny fish swimming about, including glass fish and some goldfish. Those two spots were very pretty.
All in all, there weren’t a lot of fish out and about. We did see a few large fish, including a grouper and a couple parrotfish. There were quite a few unicorn fish with the horn thingy on its forehead, and a lot of orangespine unicorn fish, which doesn’t have a big horn, and is pictured below:
We also saw quite a few Continue reading