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Untouched Sands and Stunning Reefs in Eritrea
Words by Pelorus
At 7am a beat up Mitsubishi pulls into our hotel car park – it’s already impossibly hot, in the high-20s. We make a short drive to the Eritrea Dive Centre to try on buoyancy compensators and flippers and load mountains of gear into a skiff. We then climb in and around the cargo and the driver sets his compass northwest for the Dhalak Archipelago; a group of remote sandy islands lapped by impossibly blue water.
Our first dive sets the standard for the next three days. We start at a reef that surrounds a protruding rock streaked in guano and instantly the health of the coral and fish is clear – it is truly world class. We see surgeonfish, butterflyfish, puffer fish and longrakered trevally, among hundreds of others – there are more than 600 species in these Red Sea waters. The snorkelling is fantastic, too.
In the afternoon we follow a long reef that runs parallel to the island and experience more remarkable sightings, including a number of turtles – they rise up slowly from the sea bed, hold steady in the water column to inspect us and then in one smooth motion inject a turn of speed and disappear into the dark depths. Each one stops us in our tracks.
The sun is starting to drop as we turn for camp, kissing the hills with a golden-pink hue. As the light fades, thousands of small crabs in temporary shells scuttle across the sand; while larger ones creep cautiously from burrows, checking that the coast is clear before heading for the water’s edge to feed. The sea is mirror calm and we sit on the sand with a local Walia beer watching the moon rise high into the sky. We have found Paradise; only here it’s pronounced ‘Eritrea’.
While in Eritrea, we met with numerous tourism ministers and senior officials to discuss the scuba diving potential in the country. We shall be using the knowledge obtained to work with superyachts passing through the Red Sea.
Planning your experience
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