Middle East

Southern Egyptian Red Sea: Safari to the Deep South & Remote Islands

Soft corals, Rocky Island, Red Sea, Egypt. Photo by Scott Bennett
Soft corals, Rocky Island, Red Sea, Egypt. Photo by Scott Bennett

“WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG?” I repeatedly asked myself during a recent trip to the Red Sea. One of the globe’s most iconic dive destinations, its spectacular coral gardens, prolific fish life and legendary visibility is beloved by divers the world over. Yet, despite nearly 30 years of diving experience, I somehow had not gotten around to it—definitely on my radar, but inexplicably regulated to the “someday” file.

Aqaba: Diving Jordan's Artificial Reefs

C130 Hercules aircraft, Aqaba, Jordan. Photo by Wolfgang Riess.
C130 Hercules aircraft, Aqaba, Jordan. Photo by Wolfgang Riess.

My relationship to the Middle East is like a long-running but complicated love affair. I keep being attracted to it and keep coming back. Each time I step out of the airplane when I arrive there, I am embraced by a pleasant, complex, and—dare I say—almost sensual scent so full of notes, most of which I have never been able to identify.

Soma Bay in Egypt

Arabian Picasso triggerfish with bluestreak cleaner wrasse, Soma Bay, Egypt. Photo by Lawson Wood.

I first visited the Red Sea as part of a marine biological expedition with Dr Paul Cragg back in 1973. After having run safaris out of Israel and ending up living there for several years working on the legendary liveaboard dive boats Lady Jenny III and Lady Jenny V, my love for the Red Sea has never diminished. Now, some 45 years later, a return trip to the Red Sea was increasing my heartbeat in anticipation.

Hurghada: Red Sea Wrecks

The Red Sea, its reputation precedes itself. The beautiful red-orange desert mountains stand over the unexpected and contrasting blues of the water. The calm and clear waters hide much below. Under the water is a rainbow of colors, and among the fish and corals, are the remains of many ships.

Israel: Journey Beyond the Three Seas

On my first flight to Israel, I stretched out in a comfortable chair on EL AL Airlines, enjoyed a kosher meal and reread notes by the famous Russian traveller and pioneer explorer, Afanasiy Nikitin (circa 1466-1472). Only on the approach to Tel Aviv did I suddenly realize how small a country Israel was, and that it bordered three seas.

No Secret for Victoria!

Victoria stands up vertically, with the bow rammed into the seabed.

What does a fish exporter from Norway, a Chief Information Officer and diving instructor living in the Netherlands, a renowned lawyer based in Cyprus, a Project Manager working in Sweden, and an expat French Technical Diving Instructor have in common?

Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is just soaked in this special ambience that dreams and adventures are made of—the air scented with traces of spices, desert flowers, charcoal and tobacco smoke from the water pipes and where the past and the present seamlessly weave together. It’s a mystic place that seems to exist in a time and dimension of its own.