Dahab (2 – 9 August 2008)
Okay, so it seems we just cannot escape the overnight buses. It took a nine hour overnight bus to get from Luxor to Dahab. Our backs are so messed up by now, that one more overnight bus might just do some permanent damage. We arrived in Dahab, looked at a couple of hostels and settled on Jasmine Hotel right on the beach. For an extra 10 Egyptian Pound, we even got a balcony with a sea view. We planned on having a cold beer on the balcony at sunset, but could not find any beer in this Muslim country, so we had to settle for a cold drink.
Dahab is the Egyptian version of a Thailand beach – just a lot warmer, filthier and without the beer :) Its main attraction is the snorkelling and dive spots in the Red Sea and the accommodation is much cheaper than its neighbour, Sharm el-Sheikh. Therefore it attracts more backpackers than the packaged tour groups. The Lonely Planet states that most people plan three or four days here and then end up staying over a week.
Our motivation to visit Dahab was purely the diving. Both Eon and I are Padi Open Water divers and we could not wait to get to the Red Sea to explore this underwater haven. We did some research on the prices of various companies and after very careful consideration (mostly financial considerations) decided to do our advanced diving certification. The course included a little bit of studying and homework, as well as five qualifying dives.
The first dive was on Peak Performance Buoyancy – during this dive we had our first view of the stunning soft coral in the Red Sea. The second dive was on Navigation – wow, I really suck at compass work! We had to swim in a perfect square, using only a compass and it took me a while to grasp this :)
Day 2 of the course was more relaxed. We started with a Deep Dive (30 meters) in the Canyon and did some pretty cool tricks underwater. We cracked open two eggs and played hand-tennis with them as the pressure kept the egg compressed. The second dive was a drift Dive in the Blue Hole – a gaping sinkhole that drops straight down to unfathomable depths. It was a little bit daunting with all the horror stories of fatal accidents in this spot – the sight has claimed several lives in recent years, mainly thrill seekers diving well beyond the sport-diving limit.
Our last dive was the one we were looking forward to the most – a night dive. So with torches in hand, we took to the dark depths of the Red Sea. And on completing this dive, we were now Advanced Divers! We found a shop that sold beer and we celebrated only a little bit. Drinking is really frowned upon in Egypt :)
Besides the diving, we did not do much. We used the week in Dahab for relaxing: reading, snorkelling or sleeping. I have to mention that the men in Dahab were more reserved than the men elsewhere in Egypt – there were hardly any comments or harassment. So this also added to the relaxing environment. It is no wonder people end up spending more time in Dahab than they have planned!
Gallery for Dahab: