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Hurghada update

by Jan Siedlecki

Reproduced from in focus 34 (Sept. 1989)

I had originally intended to go to Hurghada in 1985 after reading an article about the diving there in our newsletter. By the time I actually got round to going earlier this year, Rudi Kneipp had been established there for 12 years and I looked forward to a trouble-free time, particularly if his adverts 'Rudi Kneipp + Hurghada = No problem' were to be believed.

I opted for a two part package, diving and sightseeing. My aim was to film big fish such as mantas and somehow relate them to the local fishing activity.

I flew to Cairo in the middle of the night, where somebody was supposed to meet me. Nobody did, so I spent a miserable four hours in the airport café , unable to visit a toilet for fear of losing my luggage. My flight to Hurghada was from another terminal and a taxi driver asked for $10 to take me there, although he eventually settled for LE10. This left me short of my limited quota of Egyptian money, but I consoled myself with the thought that somebody_would meet me at Hurghada. No such luck. Again I had to take a taxi but this time left Rudi's outfit to settle the bill. Sensibly, the first day I decided not to dive. I was billeted at Ali's house, in the alley (it couldn't be described as a street) just round the corner from the Red Sea Diving Centre. This is a three storey concrete house on the main port street. Hurghada itself is a few kilometres away, very different from the compact holiday 'village' in Sharm.

I spent the first day doing a 'rekki' along the shore, looking for boat building activity and the fishing port. There were signs of boat building, but no fishing port. Not exactly an auspicious start.

Several good boats take divers out to the reefs an hour away. My first impression was that the reefs were probably as good as those in the Gulf of Aqaba, but then the magic wore off. Much of the coral was dead or dying and more broken than I remember. Was this due to the large numebr of boats are anchoring there each day? I was also disappointed by the marine life because most of the creatures I saw were already on celluloid.

However, I did see mantasl The most majestic sight I have ever seen. Like an emporor with an entourage of courtiers, although these courtiers were pilot fish, ramoras and a huge solitary body_guard. Mackerel, Shark, King Jack? Nobody_could tell me. And why is it at moments like this you always have the wrong lens - I had a telephoto which gave me only detail, whereas a wide-angle would have been more appropriate. The mantas were close and the visibility was not good. Plankon everywhere. That's why the mantas were there. Despite their 'slow' movements, I only managed 7 seconds and the holiday cost me £1700.

The routine was as follows:- Breakfast at 7.15 a.m. with coffee and tea, 'arabic' bread, butter, cheese and an egg. On shore by 8.15 a.m. for departure at 8.30 a.m. First dive at 10.00 a.m. Lunch on board consisted of fried fish, rice or spaghetti plus salad and plenty of oranges. Second dive at 1.30 - 2.00 p.m., then back to port before 5.00 p.m. That's the law.

Back at my digs, time for a hot shower and writing up my log book. before dinner at the Centre at 6.00 p.m. This usually consisted of good soup, a buffet salad and a main course of steak or schnitzel with potatoes and vegetables, desert and tea or coffee.

By 7 - 7.30 p.m. its all over, unless you speak German. Out of the 50-70 divers at the Centre I was the only one from England (and I'm not an Englishman). In addition, the electric light at my digs was so bad that after writing 2-3 postcards, my eyes packed up and I resigned myself to bed by 9.00 p.m.

Rudi Kneipp also offers boat safaris of 2-3 days duration. You live, sleep and eat on the boat for an extra £45-00 extra per person. As my diving was limited to five days, I did not try one.

In conclusion, the food and diving were good, but unless you go in a group you might as well spend less money and go elsewbere. Thank God I had the Karnak temples, the Valley of the Kings, Queens, Nobles and Artizans to look forward too.

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