Egypt was the first place I ever went abroad, on a Scuba trip in I think around ‘94. I fell in love with the relaxed atmosphere, the warm sun, the distinct colours of the mountainous background, the food, the people, the bustling stalls all selling the same items, the sunsets and most of all, the clear water teeming with life. It has meant I have gone back 8 or 9 times since, I have lost count. It is widely recognised in Europe as the closest destination to travel to for truly beautiful exceptional reefs.
Many amazing memories have been created for me in this place over the years. Listing them doesn’t fully do them justice, but I’d like to share. I’ve stood and looked up in true awe, and entered the great pyramids and wondered how they were ever created all that time ago, I have been humbled by the size and stature of the sphinx at Giza
I have been mesmerised by the treasures and artefacts within the halls of the museum in Cairo, placed my hand on a sarcophagus in complete darkness alone and listened to absolute silence in a tomb within the Valley of the kings, stood aback at the greatness of the Queen Hatshepsut’s temple in the midday sun and climbed the steps to turn and see the vista of the Nile delta, I’ve watched the bright orange glow of the setting sun, amongst the hieroglyph-lined Karnak Temple, pave way for cold dark millenia old stone
I’ve attended two World Freediving Championships, I’ve laid back on a moonless night and stared at the milky way and glimpsed shooting stars for hours, I’ve been relaxed enough to dive my deepest Freedives in Sharm el Sheik in a cool evening breeze, put fallen plates back on the table inside the Thistlegorm, I’ve swam with dolphins, sailed between the land of the living and dead across the Nile and driven through the towns watching everyday people go about their lives. There is so much more I can’t begin to explain. I still watch social media posts from my friends living and travelling there with a true fondness of the place.
My most recent trip was in November 2015, my wanderlust getting the better of me again, and despite recent tragedies in the area I’m a firm believer in travelling your path no matter what is put in front of you. It isn’t possible to plan to avoid all of the tragedies in the world, in fact another tragedy unfolded in Europe whilst we were abroad. At home I returned to some madness in the news about an incident in the tube in my own capitol city that earned its own hashtag. For anyone reading, do you know what, whatever will be, will be.
This latest trip saw our small group fly into Hurghada, and stay at Makadi Bay which is a very sheltered area from the rest of the hustle and bustle of Egyptian towns and cities. It is a horse shoe shaped bay with shallow reefs, but access to deep water after only a short swim out so we used buoys to dive from the shore to Freedive. Makadi Bay hosted the AIDA World Championships in 2006, a competition of which I was proud to be a part of. We stayed at the Hotel Fort Arabesque which is a fantastic hotel with attentive staff and good food.
Some of the fondest memories from the trip were visiting the El Fanous reef by boat over slightly choppy seas, and having a wild Dolphin encounter, a very wonderful and emotional experience, I’ve swam in the vicinity of dolphins a few times, but these ones really interacted and stayed with us for quite a period in time.
The reef at Makadi Bay has a fabulous house reef which we dived every day apart from the one day we visited Luxor. The reef is home to all sorts or wonderful underwater life, the colour change Octopus, squid, moray, lion fish and all of the usual suspects. We also took our own underwater life too, some mermaids to swim the reefs.
Having returned home and showed this video of Octopus swimming and changing colours, one of my spearfisherman friends vowed never to eat one again!
All is well in Egypt, although a little quiet, the people of Egypt just want to go about their business. I dedicate this article to my friends who still reside and work in Egypt trying to earn an honest living, Insha’Allah I will be back in due course with more friends, until then, raise a glass of cold beer to the next sunset for me.