Archive for Sharm el Sheikh
The problem with writing about all the wonderful places I’ve visited in 2012 is that I simply couldn’t do them justice in a single blog post. Instead, I’ve chosen my favourite photos I’ve taken this year.
I travelled to the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine for the Euro 2012 match between England and France. It was a beautiful summers day and I had time to look around the city and soak up the sun. The game was played in the Donbass Arena, a magnificent, modern football stadium. As it as the summer, there was still a hint of sunlight after the game and I was able to capture this photo.
Blue Dragon Nudibranch
In April, we took a family holiday to Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt, a place where I have dived many times before. I’m not sure what was different about this trip but I seem very tuned in to find different nudibranchs and slugs whilst I was diving. I found this Blue Dragon Nudibranch on the wreck of the Yolanda at the very tip of the Sinai.
Oslo Harbour is one of the main tourist areas of the city and is wonderful place to be during the long summer days. It is also the starting point for a number of short cruises around the many beautiful fjords and inlets.
There are some lovely towns and villages along the Suffolk coast. Aldeburgh is one of these places and although it is probably best known for its wonderful fish and chips the Scallop just to the north of the town has been the cause of discussion. This sculpture is dedicated to the composer, Benjamin Britten who used to walk along this stretch of beach. Some people think it should be taken down as it is inappropriate for a man made object along such a beautiful setting.
I’ve been spending a bit of time in Liverpool recently and although the city is the butt of a number of jokes, parts of the city are absolutely wonderful. One evening I took the opportunity to head over to the Wirral on the other side of the River Mersey and took this picture of the Liverpool skyline at night. It shows the iconic towers of the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building, the Port of Liverpool Building, the Echo Area and in the distance, the Anglican Cathedral.
Avebury Stone Circle
The stone circles in the Wiltshire village of Avebury contains the largest stone circle in Europe and is one of the best known prehistoric sites in Britain. It dates back to 2,600BC during the Neolithic period and today is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
I wasn’t sure whether to include a second underwater picture but I really like this picture of a Titan Triggerfish. These fish can grow up to 70cm long and are sometimes incredibly agressive. I’ve been attacked by them a few times although luckily, I’ve never been bitten. The thing I like about this picture is I was able to get so close to it head on.
When I was learning to scuba dive many years ago, I remember getting back on the boat after one of the training dives and my instructor was all excited.
“Did you see the Guitar Shark?”
I had never heard of a Guitar Shark. Since then, I’ve logged more than 200 dives and haven’t seen another one so I guess they are pretty rare. Today, I take a camera with me on every single dive and I love nothing more than spending the entire dive trying to take that perfect picture of a little marine creature I haven’t seen before. The display of colours on the coral reefs are spectacular but unless I know the names of what I’ve seen, the experience isn’t complete. Imagine going on safari and telling people you saw a massive grey thing with big ears and a long nose or a big cat with black dots. It wouldn’t seem right, would it?
Back on land, I download the images to my lapt0p and start editing the best pictures. I normally just delete about 60-80% for any number of reasons such as being blurred, bad colours or missing the shot. The best ones are filed away and then I start tracking down the names of the fish in various books. That itself is no mean feat. On my last trip to Bunaken Island, the instructor was also a marine biologist so we spent hours trawling through books to identify more than 250 images but we got there in the end.
I like to think some of my pictures aren’t too bad and I do receive a few compliments. Identifying exactly what I have taken a picture of is sometimes as much of a challenge as getting the shot in the first place. Underwater a reef may seem vast but certain types of fish can usually be found in the same place. If you want to see an Anemonefish (aka Clownfish), you need to find an Anemone. Moray eels are often found hidden in holes in the reef with just their head sticking out. Larger fish such as Tuna will be ‘out in the blue.
Generally, I take as many pictures as possible. If I know a particular reef, I may well trying to find a specific type of fish. On my next trip to Sharm el Sheikh, I hope to find a Long Nose Hawkfish on one of the large Gorgonian Fans in the Straits of Tiran. They are beautiful little fish but very hard to photograph.
I upload my better pictures to Flickr. I normally create different sets for each trip but I’ve also finally got round to grouping my underwater photos into sets. Hopefully, that will help both myself and others in trying to identifying marine life. I’ve got plenty more pictures to add and with more trips to come. I may even get to see a Guitar Shark.
If you want to browse my underwater photos on Flickr, you’ll find them here:
For several days in late 2010, the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh was in the spotlight as a number of shark attacks in between Middle Gardens and Ras Nasrani struck fear into travellers. Four travellers were injured and a 5th was killed. It was the first deadly shark attack in Egypt for a year and the 1st in Sharm for 6 years.
As with any shark attack anywhere worldwide, there is mass hysteria. The authorities shut beach locations and diving operations though some holidaymakers still ventured into the ocean. It was not very long before two sharks were caught and exhibited the world as the ones to blame. However, the Oceanic White Tip to blame for one attack was photographed by scuba divers and had different markings in comparison to the one that was captured.
Just as unexpectedly as the attacks started, they ended. Shark gurus had travelled to Sharm from just about all over the globe to try to explain what actually transpired. The behaviour definitely wasn’t natural which means the only real conclusion was that some sort of man-made intervention was to blame.
In more distant parts of the Southern Red Sea, shark feeding really does happen though it is illegal. A much more likely conclusion was that the boat carrying live sheep to Saudi Arabia threw dead livestock into the sea. The busy shipping channels close to the Straits of Tiran aren’t far away from the place where the shark attacks happened.
In reality, the reasons may never be known but things have to be kept in perspective. Though shark attacks are horrific, they are extremely rare. In contrast, three tourist coach crashes in October, November and December took an overall total of 22 lives yet still received relatively little coverage. Gratefully, tourism in Egypt is very strong and it has recovered powerfully in the aftermath of a number of tragedies. Sharm el Sheikh is Egypt’s most well liked holiday destination and will definitely be going strong in 2011.
Sharm is Egypt’s oldest and most in demand location. Its tremendous climate appeals to tourists from Europe and the rest of the world over summer and winter. In the daytime, tourists relax on the beach locations or by the pool and at nighttime, Sharm Old Town and Na’ama Bay come to life with countless bars, cafes and restaurants offering something for all.
During the day, for the people who really need something to do, there are quite a few tours to be had and these are generally five of the recommended excursions available. One of the foremost things that seduced folk to the area was the wonderful marine life and you can easily investigate the coral reefs with a snorkeling trip. The most in demand destinations for the day trips are the Ras Mohammed National Park or Jackson Reef in the Straits of Tiran. Irrespective of which trip you decided upon, you defintely won’t be let down.
Two hours drive is Mount Sinai and there are regular day trips taking people to the highest spot in the Sinai to witness the sun rise over the desert landscape. The scenery in and around the mountains is magnificent and anyone choosing the early start won’t be disappointed. An additional a favourite location in the desert is the stunning Colour Canyon. Travelling by 4×4 vehicles, travellers are able to look at the desirable shades and rock formations of the Colour Canyon.
Cairo is always a popular day trip from Sharm el Sheikh and regular excursions by airplane and road take travellers off to the Egyptian capital. The tour gets under way with a visit to the Cairo Museum which is brimming with ancient items which includes the famed Mask of Tutankhamen. From the museum, the next stop is lunch of a Nile river boat prior to venturing over to Giza and the Pyramids. The Sphinx is a brief bus ride away and immediately after spending time there, there is still time to pay a visit a perfume shop and a papyrus shop before travelling back to Sharm.
Not wanting to look over an Egyptian adventure, an additional well liked Sharm tour is an early evening camel ride out in the desert with a Bedouin supper. Dining in the still of the desert below a starlit sky is an ideal way to wind down following a day lying on the beachfront.
Each and every year, visitors travel to the desirable resort of Sharm from the UK. They come to chill out by the beach or swimming pool. Some want to dive and other spend hours snorkelling on nearby coral reefs. There are lots of trips available for holidaymakers and visitors to Sharm el Sheikh and among the more fantastic ones is an excursion to Egypt’s capital city, Cairo.
Cairo is home to the world famous Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx but the day outings to Cairo feature a great deal more than only these ancient monuments. From Sharm el Sheikh, day-trippers can either travel to Cairo by road or air. Either way, its an early morning start with road trips leaving at approximately two in the morning and flights at roughly five in the morning. It all means a long day ahead but it is definitely worth the effort.
Itineraries may vary on trip to trip but often gets going with a tour to the Cairo Museum or to give it’s precise title “The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo”. The majority of the morning is spent at the museum and it is packed with some desirable pieces. A number of the more impressive treasures are those that were found in the tomb of the boy Pharaoh Tutankhamen including the renowned gold and blue death mask. There are also several items of furniture and ornaments and one thing that is evident is how well the colours are preserved in a number of the treasures bearing in mind they are 1000’s of years old. Even so there is way too much to explore in the museum therefore visitors have to decide on the areas they want to view.
Coming from the museum, the group is taken down to the River nile for lunch aboard a river boat. There is a reasonable selection of food and for entertainment there are also dancers. Alternatively, you can easily enjoy the skyline as Cairo hotels and other landmarks pass by as you sail up and back to your starting point.
Next stop are the Pyramids of Giza. Looking at numerous photos, you might be forgiven for believing they are in the midst of the desert but that is not true. The Pyramids and Sphinx are just on the outskirts of Cairo. It is tough not to be amazed as you get close up to the Great Pyramid on account of the actual scale of the it. You can easlily have sufficient time here to wander round the Pyramids and there are no lack of people attempting to sell you a broad array of souvenirs or rides on their camels. There are sufficient chances for snap shots just before the tour bus takes you a bit further down to the Sphinx. Just as before, you will be offered the opportunity to purchase a wide range of souvenirs and there are further photo opportunities. Yet, the Sphinx has not worn nearly as well as the Pyramids consequently you can’t get as near to it. It is late afternoon as the group leaves Cairo’s most well-known tourist places but there is time for 2 further visits.
The first of these stops is at a scent shop where your are invited to try some of the plenty of scents the shop stocks. From here the tour bus gets under way to travel back to the airport with one remaining stop en route. Papyrus is the paper like material made by the historical Egyptians from the pith of the Papyrus reed. It was used to write on but nowadays, it is a commonly used tourist souvenir, in most cases with pictures of ancient Egyptian gods and similar images. At the Papyrus shop, there is a wide range of Papyrus available and visitors can also enjoy a display of how modern day Papyrus is made.
The tour bus leaves and the day trip to Cairo is over. The group now heads back to the airport for the flight back to Sharm el Sheikh el Sheikh or the road journey. The day outings to Cairo from Sharm el Sheikh are quite tiring but are excellent value. For travellers staying in Sharm el Sheikh, it is a pretty good way to watch several of the places of Cairo without actually staying there.