Scuba Diving Sudan
Red Sea diving without the crowds! The diving is some of the best in the Red sea.
Sudan may not be a high profile tourist destination, thanks to its history of political unrest. However, Scuba diving in Sudan is very much on the rise as the word spreads of beautiful, colorful, pristine reefs, healthy shark populations. Sudan, a remote and untouched destination, offers Red Sea diving away from the crowds!
Sudan is the third largest country in Africa, a vast desert land, where it feels as though time has almost stopped. It is as though nothing has changed for centuries, holding out against the ever encroaching demands of the modern world.
This has helped to maintain a strip of coastline of 500 km in length that offers an excellent underwater environment. Here the warmest waters of the Red Sea boasts spectacular coral reefs and pinnacles. There are frequent possibilities for encounters with large marine life of all kinds.
At the end of the diving safari tour there is a chance to visit Suakin, the ancient main port city in the Red Sea. Today gentle winds blow through the blindingly white walls and building remains that were made of coral “bricks”. It is easy to imagine the beautifully built houses with their mashrabeyas and the bustling city it used to be…
Therefore, it is becoming one of the most exciting destinations for an outstanding and unforgettable dive vacation.
SCUBA DIVING SUDAN
Sudan is famous for its sharks! Scuba diving in Sudan is one of the most beautiful and adventurous in the world. Dive sites in the Sudanese waters are untouched and can be reached only by zodiacs. The pristine sea hides some of the most amazing coral formations and underwater life in the world. Hundreds of metres deep drop-offs, the wildest variety of marine life make diving so exhilarating here. Sharks are a definite drawing force for scuba divers.
Sudan is very much a live aboard destination. Live-aboard operates out of Port Sudan and some boats are allowed to travel down from Egypt. The diving is some of the best in the Red sea. There are wrecks, such as the Umbria just outside of Port Sudan, The Blue Bell at Sha’ab Suedi.
The best dive sites in the Sudanese section of the Red Sea are spread out over quite a large area. Realistically a Sudan liveaboard is the only way to fully appreciate the wonder of this intrepid destination.. The diving is some of the best in the Red sea. There are wrecks, such as the Umbria just outside of Port Sudan, The Blue Bell at Sha’ab Suedi.
Sudan usually attracts more experienced divers and those who may have been to the Egyptian Red Sea before. As such it is considered a bit of a step up from Egypt. Some of the dives may offer challenges in terms of depth or wreck penetration that would be a little too much for beginner divers in places like Sharm El Sheikh. To those in the know, it is simply the best diving in the Red Sea.
Dive Highlights: shark action, dolphins, schooling fish & big pelagics, reefs & wrecks.
Diving environment: healthy reefs, wreck diving, drift diving, advanced divers, off the beaten track…
HIGHLIGHT DIVE SITES
Shaab Rumi – This reef lies 48km from Port Sudan and surrounds a gorgeous lagoon which can be accessed through a narrow strait having been blasted by Cousteau himself. Outside of the lagoon, just 100m from its entrance is where in 1963, Cousteau built Precontinent II – his futuristic world. Here he conducted his underwater experiments and today the Precontinent provides an insight into the lives of those who had lived under the water in futuristic looking buildings and conducted research on marine life. The cages used for shark feedings still lie where they used to in Cousteau’s time. Sharks still come here as they did decades ago.
Wreck – Since Port Sudan used to be one of the most important ports in the world, there are numerous exciting wrecks waiting to be discovered. One of them
The Umbria wreck – one of the most famous sunken ships in the world, still has a cargo of 360.000 bombs that makes the exploring of the wreck still more exciting. A large Italian vessel that lies on the sea bottom about 1 ½km from Port Sudan. She lies in the shelter of Wingate Reef, at 25m at about a 45-degree angle and in low tide the tips of her two masts even peek out of the water for an easy dive. About 18 tons of ammunition and explosives lie still in her cargo holdings along with half a million of Maria Teresa coins. Originally she was on her way to Eritrea with her cargo but she happened to set anchor in Sudan when Italy proclaimed war with the country. So the Sudanese occupied the boat and they were about to order the Italians off Umbria when they got the news that she was sinking. Largely unaffected by currents and tides, it is within easy reach of Port Sudan harbour. Shallow enough for snorkelers and with plenty of light and good visibility, entering most of the ship is easy. The hull itself is completely intact, heavily encrusted with marine life and has access internally and externally along its entire length.
Sanganeb – The Sanganeb National Park is made up of 124 coral reefs. Its lighthouse, resembling a smaller version of the Eiffel Tower, emerges in the middle of the sea. A few Sudanese soldiers are always on duty here for 3-4 months at a time, welcoming every visitor with joy. Upon descending, as if an Asian temple city had sunken to the bottom of the sea with sprawling vines in multitude of colours over its ruins. Vertical gorges slice through the rocks and lush colt corals spread out like blooming plants in the rainforest. Scores of fish swim among the rocks and grooves as schools of sharks glide by peacefully.
Angarosh – The name means ”Mother of Sharks” in the local language and it is deserving as grey reef sharks regularly turn up along the outer walls. The tip of the reef lies 10m beneath the water surface and it is made up of 2 plateaus, one at 25m and the other at 45m where mantas swim in the deep and barracudas swirl above the plateaus.
Blue Bell – Toyota wreck The Blue Bell (sometimes spelled Blue Belt) was sailing from Jeddah to Port Sudan with her cargo of Toyota vehicles and spare parts (hence her other name, the “Toyota wreck”) when she struck the reef in 1977, about 75km north of Port Sudan. The huge, 103m long wreck lies overturned on the reef wall at a 30° angle, her keel facing upwards and her bow pointing toward the reef
DIVE SEASON: All year, but best time is from October to June.
Best time to see hammerhead sharks: December – June. Best time to see Manta Rays: October
VISIBILITY: Usually clear, visibility can range from 15-170 metres/50-230 feet. Best visibility: February – March – April – May
WATER TEMPERATURE: Depending on the season, water temps range from the low 70s in winter to the low 80s in summer
WEATHER: Sudan’s climate is hot and dry, however, in the winter the north is quite cool. The air temperature ranges from 21-40°C/70-104°F. Diving is always good, year round.
ACCESS – The best way to diving Sudan is from live aboard dive boat.
MARINE LIFE: The shark-populated southern plateau at the Sanganeb Atoll Marine National Park. Abingdon and Angarosh reefs with the schooling Hammerheads. At Mesharifa, which is in the Dungonab Bay Mukkawar Island protected area, there are a multitude of manta rays.
Sudan is bordered by Egypt, the Red Sea, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, the Central African Republic, Chad and Libya – and the newly independent South Sudan. Sudan has only recently been developed as a tourist destination, and communications and facilities are still limited outside Khartoum. Travel restrictions are also in force in parts of the country owing to civil conflict. The ongoing fighting and resulting humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region has, for obvious reasons, has negatively impacted upon the recent attempt to kick start touristic growth in the country.
CLIMATE: Extremely hot (less so November to March). Sandstorms blow across the Sahara from April to September. In the extreme north, there is little rain but the central region has some rainfall from July to August. The southern region has much higher rainfall, the wet season lasting May to October. Summers are very hot throughout the country, whilst winters are cooler in the north.
LANGUAGE: Arabic is the official language. English and many local dialects are widely spoken.
ELECTRICITY: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Round two- and three-pin plugs are used.
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: Sudanese Pound (SDG) = 100 piasters. Notes are in denominations of SDG50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1 piasters. The Sudanese Pound has replaced the Sudanese Dinar, which was phased out on 30 June 2007. 1 Sudanese Pound = 100 Sudanese Dinars = 1,000 old Sudanese Pounds. Credit cards: Due to recent conflicts, it is recommended to bring plenty of cash rather than rely on card transactions in Sudan.
GRATUITIES: Tipping isn’t customary, however if the service in a cafe or restaurant is good, feel free to leave spare change or round up the bill.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Mobile phone coverage is good in urban areas. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your carrier if you wish to use your phone. Internet cafes can be found in most cities but may be expensive and slow.
Passports: To enter Sudan, a passport valid for at least six months.
Visas: Visas for Sudan are required. Entry Visa information
Visa note: The Sudanese authorities refuse entry and transit to holders of passports that contain visas for Israel (either valid or expired).You must register with the Aliens Department within three days of arrival for a fee of around £35 (payable in local currency). You need to bring two passport-size photos. Special permits are required for overland travel outside Khartoum. You can obtain these from the Aliens Department.Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.
Types and cost: Visit visa (covers all types of visit): £55. A letter of introduction is required.
Validity: Visit visa: 60 days from the date of issue and valid for a stay of up to 60 days from the date of entry.
CUSTOMS: According to the Sudan’s law, you are not allowed to import more than 200 cigarettes (or 25 cigars, or 200g of tobacco) and 2 litres of alcohol. It is also illegal to bring in drugs, firearms, and cotton.
On the other hand, it is considered illegal to export narcotics (drugs), firearms and cotton. Locally purchased gold and silver can be exported if for personal use or in small quantities.
Egypt’s strict laws control the import and export of antiquities and artefacts that are more than 100 years old. You will thus need to apply for a license to export any item of the sort.
There is no limit to the amount of currency you can bring in or out of Sudan. However, the traveler is requested to declare all amounts brought into the country.
GETTING THERE: Travel in Sudan outside Khartoum, Omdurman and the Northern State is considered dangerous. Two borderline civil wars continue to see violence, in Southern Sudan and particularly in Darfur. Travel to the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states and the Darfur region is extremely dangerous and highly discouraged, including overland travel to/from Chad & South Sudan as the Government of Sudan has an extremely limited capacity to provide protection and to determine crime in these areas especially in Darfur. Bandits and terrorist groups have targeted foreign visitors for attacks and kidnapping, particularly in the Upper Nile regions and near the Ethiopian border. Therefore non-essential travel should not be made in the rest of Sudan.
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