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Liveaboard Diving in Elphinstone
What to expect on an Elphinstone Reef Liveaboard
Liveaboards to Elphinstone Reef take divers to one of the best loved dive sites in the Red Sea. Around 30 km/19 miles North of Marsa Alam the reef is named after the British Admiral, George Elphinstone due to his time spent in Egypt in the time of Napoleon. It lies just under the surface with only a few small waves to indicate it is even there. From the surface it looks like a long, yellow is oblong in shape under the surface, with a shallow reef and then deep drop-offs to the sides.
Elphinstone is a very popular site for liveaboards running dive safaris in the Red Sea. There will normally be quite a few dive boats here during the day although not too many as this site is really only for advanced divers. Choosing an Egypt Liveaboard to visit Elphinstone will allow you to get the first dives of the day in before anyone else arrives.
The site offers crystal clear waters, coral and gorgonia just meters under the surface as well as a host of beautiful tropical fish. As for the bigger aquatic life, down on the plateaus at either end of the reef you can encounter oceanic whitetips and hammerheads in the winter months. Mantas and the fierce tiger sharks are more common in the warmer season. Whatever the season though, Elphinstone is teeming with life and makes a fantastic dive.
Daily Schedule (example)
Morning - To make the most of the peaceful early mornings the first dive will be early around 6 am. The dive briefing will be before breakfast but you should be able to grab a quick coffee and snack while the guide fills you in on the reef. The dives will be from a small tender boat which will drop the divers according to the current direction.
Afternoon - After lunch there will normally be another two shallower dives. Divers should be careful with their profile since they can be doing five dives a day which leads us onto the night dive! In many of the best dive sites in Egypt there is no night diving but at Elphinstone it is allowed. Liveaboards can offer sunset dives on the walls and reef. This is only for those who feel comfortable though the depth and currents are not for inexperienced divers.
The reef consists of two plateaus at the North and South and one Eastern and one Western wall each good for seeing different life. The Northern plateau drops down like a set of steps only a hundred meters wide. They begin at 5 meters/16 ft. and sloping down to 20 meters/65 ft before a sharp fall to 40. This is a great place to see smaller pelagics such as giant trevally and reef sharks.
The South Plateau starts around 25 meters/80 ft and slopes gently to 40 meters/130 ft before dropping off at around 45 meters/150 ft. This is the place to see oceanic whitetips which are passing by with their Pilot fish followers. These beautiful sharks come surprisingly close making this a unique opportunity for stunning photographs and close encounters. For technical divers with the right training around 60 meters there is a tunnel that passes between the two walls called the Elphinstone Arch. The arch is home to an intriguing old fable that a sarcophagus shaped outcrop of coral contains the remains of an Egyptian pharaoh!
The two walls on either side start at 1 meter and go down into the abyss with hundreds of little ledges and hiding places for all kind of creatures. Beautiful corals, trigger fish, napoleon wrasse and great barracuda are just some of the inhabitants here. Elphinstone seems to have it all between the four sides and if luck is on your side there have been sightings of hammerheads and whale sharks there too.
Top Tips for Elphinstone Reef
- The current here is fairly regular North to South but that isn't guaranteed and it is strong around 2 knots or more so be prepared.
- The site is very popular and later in the day it can get a little busier, a liveaboard is best as you will get in the water before anyone else.
- Set a depth warning on your computer. No one knows how deep the waters around Elphinstone go and the clear water makes it easy to go deeper than you intended.
Getting to Elphinstone
Egypt Liveaboards that go to Elphinstone normally depart from either Port Ghalib near Marsa Alam or Hurghada. Both of these have international airports with flights from most major European airports and connecting flights from further afield. Transfer between the two is normally around four hours and will be an additional charge.
Itineraries vary depending on the departure and length of sailing but there are certain sites the majority visit. If your trip includes Elphinstone and other sites most likely you will also be heading to Daedalus and the Brothers as well. In some cases, you will transit to Elphinstone overnight and arrive early morning at the site. Alternatively, there are day boat trips to Elphinstone leaving from Marsa Alam.
Elphinstone Diving Reviews
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