The quiet times were a joy but it's wonderful to welcome back old friends

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As peak season comes to a close in Egypt, Emperor’s safari guide Sonia Goggel reflects on an 18-month period during which she’s experienced diving in near solitude before the joy of having normality return to the Red Sea.
It was with great pleasure that we saw the first planes landing in Hurghada in July 2020 and diving activities slowly starting again in the Red Sea.
In this new era of learning to live with the Coronavirus pandemic, companies suffered greatly but divers and dive guides were highly rewarded.
It was a time of half-full liveaboards and hardly anyone else on world-famous dive sites like the Thistlegorm, Ras Mohamed, Tiran, the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone. 
Even in the high season, in late autumn, we had two consecutive weeks of diving in which we did not see another boat on any site. It was a huge joy for us and our guests.
Emperor Superior by Paul Duxfield
Many dive sites visibly profited from reduced diving activities. The soft corals and density of anthias at the Brothers Islands were, and still are, absolutely extraordinary. We also had sightings of special marine life such as a couple of Mola-Mola at the north-west tip of the Little Brother in December. 
However, the density of Oceanic whitetip shark at the Brothers and Daedalus - and even at Elphinstone - was much lower at the end of 2020 than in previous years, probably due to the reduced amount of boats.
The beginning of the year is always slow with dry dock and maintenance time, but with spring a steady growth in the numbers of countries opening up to Egypt was noticeable and with it a rising amount of divers coming back to our beloved Red Sea. 
Even the most reluctant European countries had offers of direct flights by autumn and with them a sense of normality finally returned to our Egyptian Red Sea diving atmosphere.
There were full boats (except for a quarantine cabin) and dive sites with a more normal volume of boats and divers. Many friends who had been visiting us every year for as long as we can remember, and who had to stay at home for almost two years, finally returned to diving in the Red Sea. 
Seeing each other again and sharing diving experiences was sheer bliss. 
We are all in desperate need of normality and of the social interaction with dear friends - above and below the waves - we missed for such a long time.
With growing numbers of divers the Oceanic whitetip sharks also returned in large numbers, mainly to Elphinstone where we have had some superb close encounters this year but also to Daedalus and the Brothers. 
We enjoyed our schooling hammerheads at Daedalus this year through spring and summer. At Elphinstone we also had sightings of hammerheads while the Brothers, of course, had its cornucopia of hammerheads, threshers, grey reefs, oceanics and silky sharks!
Hammerhead at Daedalus
Even though some of my most treasured diving moments in the last year and a half were to dive the Thistlegorm, Ras Mohamed, Tiran, Abu Nuhas, the Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone with only five or ten other divers, seeing normality arriving back to the Red Sea is highly satisfying.
And being able to share the miraculous Red Sea diving with old friends again is an immense delight!
Daedalus by Jule

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This page contains a single entry by Peter published on November 30, 2021 1:50 PM.

Want to get away from it all for Christmas? It's not too late for the Maldives was the previous entry in this blog.

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