Sudan Deep South
- In the south of Sudan you have the chance to see something very special. Reefs like Seil Ada or Barra Musa Kebir are known as the cradle of turtles. With a little luck, you can watch turtles slowly crawling onto the sandy islands to lay their eggs.
- But also manta rays, silvertip sharks and big tunas are not rare. Sudan offers a breathtaking variety of species. Huge schools of snappers, groupers, surgeonfish or groups of bumphead parrotfish can be observed.
The south side with the southwest plateau
The most dives are done on the southwest plateau.
The south side forms a vertical reef wall down to a depth of 10 meters and changes into a sloping hillside below. The upper area is craggy and forms numerous small caves and crevices. Above forests of leather coral, one encounters porcupinefish.
The southwest plateau follows to the west. On its base, at a depth of 10 to 15 meters, there are large table corals. Numerous whip corals rise from the bottom, some of them forming entire forests. With such an abundance of species, it is difficult to decide in which direction to continue the dive. On the one hand the pulsating life on the plateau attracts, on the other hand in the area of the edge, as also at the whole outer wall of the reef, grey reef sharks, black tip and hammerhead sharks can be encountered. With a little luck, sea turtles or passing manta rays can be spotted.
The outer edge of the plateau starts at its base at 10 meters and drops to about 33 meters at the extreme southwest tip. At this point, the very craggy outer wall runs almost vertically and forms overhangs. A number of small coral columns, some of which are beautifully covered with purple soft corals, invite you to observe and photograph them. A large swarm of barracudas, which is loyal to its location, makes its circles. It is so trusting that a careful diver can swim up to arm's length to individual animals. A huge school of spiny mackerel is also common. Vermillion seabass occur in this coral garden in limitless numbers. A variety of sponges, leather corals, gorgonians and fire corals settle on the bottom. At the foot of the upper reef wall, a sandy strip runs along the plateau, where large green giant triggerfish have dug their nests into the sand. Caution is advised there as they aggressively defend their nests. The reef wall above the plateau base is so crevassed up to 10 meters that canyons have formed. They are easy to dive.
Directly adjacent to the northern tip is an elongated plateau.
The approach to the plateau starts at a depth of 4 meters. Due to the swell and the often stronger currents, it is rarely suitable for diving. However, from its outer edge you can beautifully observe the many small reef fish swimming around in the play of the waves.
Below the first step there is a beautiful slope covered with soft and hard corals. It flows into a channel at a depth of 25 meters. The often strong current makes it impossible to swim against it.
To the north, the plateau rises again to 20 meters and then becomes a steep drop-off. Along the outer side shoals of spiny mackerels, fusiliers and copper snappers pass by. Below them soft corals sway in the current.
The slope offers a magnificent sight. It is covered with numerous soft corals and fan corals that stretch their bodies into the open water.
In the shallower area you may encounter a shoal of barracuda or large groups of double spotted snappers....
Wingate Reef with Umbria
Despite the dangerous situation in the harbor entrance of Port Sudan, the "Umbria" is not salvaged. A no-go zone is declared around the wreck with some of its davits still sticking out of the water and it is then left to its own devices.
Nine years after her sinking, the "Umbria" arouses the interest of Hans Hass, then 30 years old. His contacts with the governor of Port Sudan finally enable him to dive on the "Umbria".
His photo and film material contributed considerably to the myth of the wreck. In the meantime, the "Umbria" is one of the most famous wrecks in the Red Sea.
Located within sight of Port Sudan, it usually marks the beginning or end of a diving safari. Even though the collecting madness of many a diver has left its mark here, the old lady with the explosive cargo has lost none of her charm. The sinking site can be easily identified by the four davits sticking out of the water on the starboard side. The sediment-rich bottom, the immediate location to the harbor entrance, and the low currents often contribute to reduced visibility.
The wreck lies at an angle of 75° to the port side. The three forward holds adjoin the intact bow. Amidships are the crew quarters and the bridge. Towards the stern, two more holds and the aft deck follow. Both the cargo holds and the midship superstructure can be comfortably explored.
However, due to the extreme inclination and the dangerous cargo, extreme caution is advised when touching objects. If you approach the bow of the "Umbria" from the open water, the steeply rising bow with the flagpole stands out mystically in the greenish water.
The two anchor chains run to the bottom, as the "Umbria" was at anchor when she sank. The anchor winch and the railing are covered with coral.
Some of the deck planking is still in surprisingly good condition. The small cargo hatches are an indication of the ship's age. The first hold, accessed from the foredeck, contains the omnipresent munitions, wooden crates, electrical equipment and aircraft tires. The second, somewhat larger hold contains bombs, grenades, and stick grenades. The detonators, which are stored separately from the explosives, are scattered in almost every hold. The third hold is one of the most visited.
Besides cement bags and other building materials, wine bottles and jam jars are found here.
Through a narrow passage on the port or starboard side, the first cargo level leads to the midship area, where three vehicles are parked.
The Fiat 1100 Lunga were specially designed for off-road use in the Italian colonies. Unfortunately, several divers have already left their marks on the vehicles. The fine sediment makes visibility drop to zero after only a short time, so if possible this part of the ship should be visited with small groups at longer intervals. The midship section with the bridge and its superstructures can easily be explored by snorkeling. On the starboard side 4 empty davits protrude from the water. On this side is also a single bathroom with toilet, bathtub and an enamel sink.
The massive engine room is accessed either through one of the open skylights behind the funnel or through the workshop accessible from aft. The multi-level room is easy to dive in the upper sections, while the lower ones are reserved for experienced divers.
Grates border the numerous aggregates. On the seabed toward the port side of the superstructure are wind scoops, cargo booms, the broken chimney, and a lifeboat. Towards the stern, two more cargo holds are connected. They are partly covered by the fallen derricks. As in the front holds, munitions, construction material and various war equipment can be found here. The single-story superstructure between the fourth and fifth holds houses the galley and some stores. The stern is now without planking. The red soft coral on the railing as well as the deck strutting provides the necessary color. The steering gear and the exposed steering chain are clearly visible. Below the railing, the huge rudder blade and the starboard propeller are impressive. The port propeller has sunk into the floor. Beneath the rudder blade is a huge artificial cavern that can only be exited through two exits. The twilight contributes to a mystical atmosphere..
Over 360,000 bombs and 60 boxes of fire bombs and other explosives are stowed in the 5 holds. Furthermore cars, airplane parts as well as cement bags and other building materials.
The Umbria's route takes it via Messina in Sicily to Port Said, from where it is to sail through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to East Africa.
After entering Port Said on June 3, she bunkers another 1000 tons of coal and 130 tons of water. Here 23 British Navy soldiers as well as 2 pilots board the ship. In view of the imminent entry into the war between Italy and England, the Channel passage is deliberately delayed. So the "Umbria" leaves Suez with her explosive cargo only 3 days later.
From now on, the gunboat "Grimsby" pursues her. It stops the freighter at Port Sudan, claiming that she is in British territorial waters. As a result, the "Umbria" drops anchor at Wingate Reef on June 9.
Under the pretext of searching the ship for smuggled goods, 22 soldiers from the New Zealand cruiser "Leander" are brought on board under the command of Lieutenant Steves. They immediately occupy the strategically important points and begin a time-consuming search.
In the afternoon, Captain Muiesan learns over the radio in his cabin that Italy will declare a state of war at 7:00 p.m. and that the first acts of war are to be expected from 0:00 a.m. the following day.
Muiesan realizes that he cannot lose any more time, so that the strategically important cargo does not fall into enemy hands. Together with first officer Radolfo Zarli and flight engineer Carlo Costa, he plans the sinking.
They have difficulty evacuating the crew without attracting attention.
Finally, Muiesan suggests to Lieutenant Steves to carry out a rescue exercise, which the Lieutenant approves in the hope of being able to detain the "Umbria" even further. While the Italians begin the exercise, news reaches Steves on the bridge of severe water ingress throughout the ship. After a few minutes and with the increasing list of the ship, he realizes that he can no longer prevent the sinking.
On board the "Gimsby", Muiesan informs him of Italy's entry into the war and that he had given the order to sink the ship himself.
He then goes with his crew to India as prisoners of war before the outbreak of war.
The reef wall drops vertically to 15 meters. It is covered with crevices and small caves, which are home to numerous reef dwellers. It is followed by a shallow plateau where some wreckage of an unknown ship is scattered. The bottom is covered with colorful soft corals. Schools of barracudas are swimming above whip corals. On the outside the plateau drops steeply into the deep blue. Remarkably large fan gorgonians grow on the wall and offer underwater photographers attractive motives. Often one encounters whitetip and grey reef sharks.
The south plateau is characterized by its step-like structure. The first step is at 3 to 5 meters. Countless small reef dwellers populate the shallow water area which is flooded with light. They include yellow-brown boxfish, surgeonfish and several species of goby. In 13 and 20 meters there are more steps. These are covered with numerous small coral blocks. Stony corals, with whip corals rising between them, dominate the bottom. Shoals of spiny mackerels swim above them. Occasionally white tip reef sharks can be encountered, too. At the approximately 300 meter long plateau, as well as on the north side, stronger currents must be expected.
This coral tower drops steeply into the depths. The largest known school of scalloped hammerhead sharks in the Sudan Sea gathers here. Grey reef sharks and silver tip sharks are also often seen here.
On the eastern side, at a depth of 30 meters, there is a large cave where whitetip sharks often rest.
During the ascent of the wall you will see a large number of holes, which especially offer photographers a spectacular view of this habitat.
It is a massive reef system that stretches for 5 km, with a lagoon in the middle that is ideal for night dives and overnight stays.
At the southeastern end is a very nice plateau, where on the sandy flats, in moderate currents, surgeonfish, hunting barracuda, large tuna, sand eels and small whitetip reef sharks can be found.
At the drop off, if the current allows it, you can see schools of hammerheads and gray reef sharks.
The reef is colored with pink, yellow and red soft corals. The whole coral block is full of marine life wherever you look. During the safety stop you can admire a few anemone stocks in the 5 - 6 m area.
Golden banded fuseliers attract predators such as tuna and due to the usually strong current, this site is a meeting point for hammerhead sharks, whitetip reef sharks and gray sharks.
During a detour into the blue water you can meet single specimens or even schools of hammerheads and gray reef sharks. After returning to the plateau, we continue the dive with the reef on the right side.
We are now on the eastern ridge of the reef, where we swim through clouds of fish that are absolutely unconcerned about our presence. On the bottom at a depth of 45 meters is a series of small plateaus richly covered with soft corals and gorgonians. Also here you can find different species of reef fish and schools of large bumphead parrotfish nibbling on corals. The reef wall drops steeply into the blue.
Diving on the northern side of the reef, one directly encounters an infinite number of whip corals and fan gorgonians. At 20 meters you will find a series of coral blocks that reach a depth of 60 meters. The reef has beautifully vegetated drop-offs and even in the blue water it can offer pelagic .
Seil Ada Kebir
At the northern tip, the reef drops to a plateau in 20 - 25 meters - it is overflowing with fish that live here permanently.
The area is also inhabited by various species of reef sharks.
On this island the powder-white sand creates a perfect ground for different kinds of turtles. At the right time of the year you can watch the turtles slowly crawling out of the sea to lay their eggs. Turtles are almost always guaranteed at this dive site.
Barra Musa Kebir
Barra Musa Kebir is covered with green bushes in the middle. Sea turtles use the beach to lay their eggs. On the south side there is an extremely attractive plateau. On the west and east side there are drop-offs that will delight any wall diver.
The reef wall is rugged and drops off vertically for the first 10 to 15 meters. Lionfish wait in the reef crevices or under ledges for the night to catch prey. Small longnose hawkfish hide in the branches of fan gorgonians. Below the wall begins a two-step slope covered with coral heads. One notices the numerous soft corals that populate the slope. As on the other sides, various species of sharks can be encountered.
From the water surface to the base of the plateau, the reef wall drops almost vertically. It forms numerous crevices and small caves populated by various marine life. The plateau slopes gently downward from a depth of 23 meters. It is covered with small coral heads covered with soft corals. From diadem sea urchins and Feather stars to surgeon fish and giant moray eels, many interesting things can be observed in a very small space. With a bit of luck, you may spot a stonefish lying in ambush. At the edge, at a depth of 26 meters, the visitor reaches an almost vertical drop-off, which has large caves in places. Especially at the southern tip, large fish are encountered.
Habili Seil Ada
The zodiac drops you off directly above these ergs, as this is the interesting part of this plateau.
At a depth of 10 - 15 meters, whitetip reef sharks are swimming and large barracudas are standing in the current, but also slugs and scorpion fish can be spotted if you look closely.
If you leave the blocks, a sandy area follows for about 30 meters, which then turns into a steep slope. This area can be skipped, because most of the life is between the coral blocks.
Habili Seil Ada can only be approached in good weather conditions, as the coral blocks are about 5 - 10 meters below the water surface and offer no protection from wind and waves.
Habili Qab Isa
Depending on the current, the zodiac will drop you off in the west or east over the south plateau, which gently slopes down to 40 meters from about 22 meters to the southern edge. Here you should look out for the big hunters - hammerhead sharks swim around in the deep blue.
If you start the dive on the east side of the plateau you will find two big gorgonians and cross this plateau to the west side in a zigzag course between the blocks of stone corals. Above the plateau are schools of barracudas, bumphead parrotfish, longnose hawkfish and whitetip reef sharks are on the watch for prey.
Even from a greater distance, Dahrat Abida can be recognized by the three wrecks lying on the northwest side. The one to the south is a former sailing boat. In the middle lies an unknown motor ship and to the north of it a rescue boat.
The dive is usually started at the southeast end of the island and continued to the west. The craggy reef wall drops steeply and forms small overhangs. F Pairs of masked butterflyfish also reside there. The entire wall is overgrown with various corals. To the west is an extremely colorful and species-rich plateau. It is completely covered with coral heads. Underwater photographers will find numerous interestin motives. At some distance from the wall, which is overgrown with soft corals, shoals of spiny mackerels or single barracudas move along the reef. From the outer edge of the narrow plateau, patrolling gray reef sharks or schools of tuna can be spotted.
At the northeast end of Dahrat Abida a plateau extends into the open water. Its approach starts in 4 meters and continuously descends to 14 meters. It is covered with colorful vegetation. Whip corals rise from the bottom next to stony corals and stretch towards the light. Throughout the area, the diver can observe numerous reef dwellers: blue and yellow wrasse and groups of blue-striped snappers swim above guardian gobies peering out of their burrows. Above them, individual napoleons and large groups of barracudas swim around. The outer wall of the plateau forms a drop-off along which whitetip reef sharks and gray reef sharks move. If the view is directed into the open water, a school of scalloped hammerhead sharks can be spotted with a bit of luck. Sometimes more than one hundred animals. Other pelagic inhabitants, such as silvertip sharks, schools of spiny mackerels or tuna, also enhance the dive. Not infrequently, sea turtles pay a visit to the island.
Masamirit is about 0.8 nautical miles long and covered with green bushes. On the south end stands a 29 meter high lighthouse. At night its light can be seen up to 15 nautical miles. On the west and south sides, the reef drops steeply to great depths. At the north end and on the east side there is a plateau where the underwater life can be observed in all its glory. Due to the predominant north current, the west and north sides are more interesting for diving. Near the island, the seabed reaches depths of more than 350 meters.
At a depth of 3 meters, a shallow plateau joins the northern side of the island. On this area covered with coral heads there is a lot to discover: Parrot fish and tobacco butterfly fish sway to the beat of the swells. On the outer edge there is a steep slope. It is beautifully overgrown with stone and soft corals. Schools of banner fish pass over the corals. The outer wall offers the opportunity to encounter a variety of pelagic marine life. Schools of tuna as well as single blacktip or scalloped hammerhead sharks make appearances from time to time. Large fan gorgonians grow on the steep slope, catching plankton from the water with their polyps.
The outer wall is slightly curved inward and drops steeply to great depths. The upper area is craggy and crisscrossed by many small caves and crevices. Small reef dwellers seek shelter in these. Schools of various snappers and spiny mackerels move along the steep wall. Schools of vermillion seabass are gathered around small ledges. In the middle of the eastern side, a plateau stretches into the open water. Its base begins at a depth of 20 meters and quickly descends to 40 meters. A coral garden has developed on the plateau.
Like many islands south of Port Sudan, it is covered with green scrub. On the eastern side there is a large plateau. An extremely lush and colorful underwater fauna and flora flourishes at this dive site. Experienced Sudan divers consider this island to be the most beautiful dive site in the entire Red Sea.
From 3 meters depth the craggy reef wall drops steeply into the deep blue. Snorkelers also get their money's worth. In the numerous small crevices and caves there is a lot to discover. Pairs of masked butterflyfish stand under the ledges. Spotted porcupinefish move along the reef, as do the flutefish, which mostly swim under the water surface. The entire outer wall is beautifully covered with stony and soft corals. Various sponges give the steep wall a colorful appearance. Below 25 meters the outer wall drops steeply to great depths, there begins the empire of the deep sea fish.
Below the ledge, there is a steep slope. At 26 meters, at the base of the plateau, it opens into a channel. The slope is magnificently covered with stony and soft corals. In the channel, the north current that usually occurs can become so strong that "swimming against it" is almost impossible. A large group of bumphead parrotfish often stays here. But also large groupers and sometimes manta rays can be encountered. East of the channel the bottom rises again to 22 meters and drops steeply to about 60 meters from the plateau. At the top various species of sharks and pelagic schooling fish such as spiny mackerels and tuna can be seen. Only a few meters from the plateau top, the bottom disappears beyond 100 meters.
The boat parks at the north-western part of this reef and the zodiac takes you to the south-eastern side.
Here it is essential to check the usually very strong current and you start the dive with the reef on the right side.
If the current is extremely strong, you hook in with the reef hook already close to the reef above the first plateau. If there is less current, you can drift to the end of the plateau in 25 - 30 meters and hook in there. From there you have a view of the 2nd plateau, which gently slopes down to 45 meters. No matter which option you choose, the current attracts all the big fish and hunters.
At Shaab Loka you will find a slope gently sloping down from the island. A container ship ran aground here about 50 years ago and has been rotting ever since. The reef is fantastically covered with all kinds of corals and an incredible variety of swarming fish.
Loka - North
The dive starts at the northern corner of Loka island - dropoff and infinite depths.
Along the wall you will find a beautiful balcony platform. It is not very big, about 50 x 25 m, with a huge coral block, which in turn is surrounded by barracudas. The entire platform is covered with so many fish that you can only guess the corals.
The reef has a slightly rectangular shape. It slopes gently downwards and creates a beautiful coral garden (at a depth of 15 m) with large, coral heads.
Immediately after jumping off the boat, you will see two slender pinnacles standing a few meters apart with a shape resembling a mushroom. They are almost completely covered with colorful soft corals.
This is a great place for a check dive: similar to an aquarium, you will be prepared for the following dives.It is also worth exploring the northwest side of Tamashiya. The abundance of life found here, as well as the weak current is perfect for exciting night dives.
The long island in the deep south of the Suakin archipelago has a plateau with a fantastic coral garden on the north side. The plateau continues to drop off behind the hillside to 35m to 40m before sinking into "infinity". Large red mouth groupers seek refuge in the garden which is punctuated with small caves. Swarms of black spotted sweetlips, bicolor chromis and other damselfishes captivate the view here over the "Garden of Eden".
ATTENTION: The tour description is only a suggestion. Which dive sites are dived on the tour depends on many factors, including wind and weather.
After arrival in Port Sudan transfer to the boat.
Check in, dinner and spending the first night on board in the marina.
Departure in the morning.
Familiarization of the boat,
Diving, safety and equipment briefing.
Dive at Preserver reef and Tamashiya
Night dive at Tamashiya
Two dives at Dahrat Abida
One dive at Daraka
Night dive at Daraka if possible
Night dive at Tamashiya
Night dive at Shaab Ambar
Two dives at Jumna Reef
One dive at Sanganeb south
Night dive at SS Umbria
Two dives at SS Umbria
Return to the port.
For safety reasons you should not dive 24 hours before your flight home.
Breakfast and check out
Transfer to the airport