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iGeek therefore iTrek
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Hi all, We got back yesterday absolutely whacked out after arrriving back at Gatwick at 00:15 followed by a 3 hour drive home - still that was the only down side the rest of the trip was superb.

After a very pleasant flight on Astraeus (take a good book!) we arrived at Marsa Alam international airport and went through the ususal scrum which is passport control we got to the MY Excel which was about 30 minutes by coach from the Airport. This is certainly the largest boat I've ever dived from, and it is definitely the most luxurios with an excellent crew and, most importantly, superb food.

After the first dive (the checkout) at Ras Torombi (Sandy bottom and lots of coral pinnacles) where there was lots of stuff to see - Turtles, Dolphins, Morays, the usual stuff then we set off on the 4 hour crossing to Little Brother (now John G is going to hate me for this) which is absolutely amazing! The amount of life is unbelivable. You can hardly see bare rock for soft and hard corals, sponges and marine life. The diving was even better. We did 2 days here and saw lots. Large pelagics (Grey reef sharks some Tuna, Barracuda and other big stuff) patrolled the blue waters whilst millions of reef fish swam over the reef. There is a huge gorgonian fan garden on the eastern point being fed by the nutrients brought in by the strong currents which were hard work to say the least but very fast when you went with them!

Big Brother is just as good plus there are 2 wrecks on this island. The Aida 2 lies against the reef and goes from 25 metres to 60 metres and is covered in soft coirals. It was difficult to tell where the reef finished and the wreck started! Whilst the Numidia which starts at 15 metres and goes down to a dizzying 80 metres (one for the trimix boys if you want to see the prop) is also superb. We couldn't and didn't spend too much time on this one as the current (being influenced by a new moon) was too strong as well as the reef walls. Still I'll have to go back to do it again. Here we saw Grey reef and Hammerhead sharks cruising past us as well as massive shoals of Barracuda and lots of  Tuna. Whilst on the surface interval you could generally see Dolphins coming past and we had a large Silky shark circling the Excel - wonderful. We did 2 days here then moved on to Elphinstone reef a cigar shaped with deep plateaus at the north and south tips. Huge Napoleon wrasse were everywhere as well as plenty of shark action. On one dive we saw a schoal of 20 Hammers below us. On another we saw 2 grey reef sharks attacking a bait ball hollowed by another 2 hammers one of which passed me about 10 metres away and he was very big but thankfully quite chilled out about having some nutter take lots of pictures of him. Dawn had a grey reef investigate a little closer which was exhilirating and as you can imagine we were all hyper on the boat afterwards.

The last dive was at Shouna North which, similar to the check out dive until we found another wall which was fantastic. No sharks on this one though but masses of Unicorn fish, lion fish, Indian mackrel with mouths distended, Scorpion fish and a few puffers.

We did 16 out of the 18 dives on offer and had an excellent week and I could heartily recommend it to anyone (if you dont mind deep diving with strong currents) and I can't wait to go back. Grant and Sonia were there usual excellent selves with detailed briefings and tips of where to go and what to look out for on the dive. We booked through Tony Backhurst (which is worth it for their pre paid visa service alone) and as soon as I get my piccies back from the lab (I still run 35mm film, I have yet to convert to digital - if ever) I'll post some up if that's OK.

Cheers all,

Noel.
 

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<font color='#0000FF'>Thanks for the info Noel nice report, Marsa alam is on my do in the next six months list. Sounds like a nice boat what is ball park cost for the trip

My next outing Maldives end of September. After that Marsa Alam....

Dive safe Risk Assess

TOG Diver  
 

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iGeek therefore iTrek
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we paid £850 +visa, bar bill and tips for the week. Get out there soon though as there looks to ba an awful lot of development on the go. Still if everyone goes south it'll give the north more chance of recovery.
 

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Hi Noel,
Glad to hear your trip went so well. No, I don't hate you, but I AM a little envious. I don't think there's much risk of everybody going south as there are only a couple of boats licenced to sail from Marsa Alam and the number of boats with permits for the Brothers is strictly controlled. We're still waiting for some sort of compensation for our trip but it is supposed to be in the pipeline. Although it was a great trip, we paid more than anyone else on the boat and didn't do the itinerary we had paid for, as you know. If we get a voucher for a decent sum, we'll have another try (my fourth!!) to get to the Brothers next year. Personally, I'd be happy to spend most of the week diving the Brothers.
 
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