Elba Reef & Abou Fendera – The Sudan Border.
Heading further south to the Sudanese border is an unexplored region which has a few surprises in store for divers. This is the true deep south and is virgin territory. The charts are fairly inaccurate and many non-marked reefs suddenly appear out of nowhere, making navigation particularly hazardous. Virtually guaranteed are Pristine hard coral, notably cone coral (Merulinidae) and yellow waver coral (Dendrophylliidae), Red anemones in large aggregations, tuna and bumphead parrotfish. Unlike St John's Reef to the north, they tend to be relatively shallow, bottoming out at around 25m. Anthias are prolific on most sites, providing the stunning orange and purple contrast to the blue backdrop that has become synonymous with the Red Sea. Unfamiliar species are not uncommon.
The first immediately noticeable fish are the huge bumphead parrotfish. More than a metre long, their physical ugliness contrasts with the obvious grace with which they move through the water. They tend to patrol at shallow depths against a backdrop of hard coral, which is utterly pristine in this area.
Among the hard corals are a profusion of brightly coloured chromis and damselfish. Every now and then a huge expanse of hard coral is broken by clumps of red-footed anemones and the attendant clownfish. In deeper water there is the usual Red Sea life, with nothing particularly different. A noticeable exception, however, is the sea bed, where cone shells appear to be thriving.
The main dive sites are about a day's steam away from St John’s Reef with the season virtually all year round, but the challenge lies in persuading a like-minded group to join you on a trip with so few certainties.
The presence of sharks in this region is unique with encounters of some species not usually seen in the Red Sea such as the Mako. It shows that this unexplored region still has a few surprises in store for divers.
Day 1 Arrive Mersa Alam, transfer by road to Hamata 1 ½ hour. Check in with dinner and overnight on board.
Day 2 Sail from Hamata to Fury Shoal
Day 3 Rocky and Zabargad Island
Day 4 Elba reef and Abu Fendera
Day 5 Abu Fendera. Sail to St John’s reef
Day 6 Diving at St John and Fury Shoal
Day 7 Last day at Fury shoal then back to Port