The Canyon and the Gulf

7th September 2010

Loaded up with just enough diving equipment, two cameras and our emergency equipment 'just in case', we drive off through Dahab 2010, an emerging Mecca for Red sea diving in our JEEP Just Enough Essential Parts.

Goats blanket themselves across the road, potholes crunch already destroyed suspension on the side road and car horns resound all around as we drive across the sea of 'Desert wind' strewn plastic bottles, bags and the goat's staple diet of cardboard boxes. An occasional camel blocks one lane of the 60 degree Tarmacadum and casually chews as we drive around it, oblivious to all, aware of everything.

The road takes us though the Dahab suburbs of increasingly Bedhouin existences, mind numbing heat and increasingly stunning coastline of turquoise and sand. The hotels and dive centres dwindle as we travel through Sinai desert to the heavily manned checkpoints and onto our destination - The Canyon.

The Canyon is one of the most beautiful dive sites in the world and as such attracts a constant stream of world tourists. A lot of divers. So many divers, but not so many American or Israeli!
The procession constantly streams into the water in buddy pairs, the whole debacle only missing one tall man with a long white beard and a huge wooden boat - after all this is the Red Sea.

Russian Divers, are the majority this morning, with their big metal sticks and gloves so they can handle, poke and touch things. Things that are meant to be left untouched by man and left untouched as dictated by local law.

Such beautiful things reveal themselves as we float at a few metres over and around the small coral ridges to see strange streams of diver's bubbles rising from the apparent sea bed. We glide through the curtain of bubbles and descend deeply into a canyon passage choked with varying degrees of incompetent tourists, flapping and floundering, gliding and hovering in unison in the narrow passage that makes up this underwater nirvana. At 30m we leave the masses behind into a silent wonder, the fish enquire as for the first divers, why we are there. We, however, need no explanation and revel in the joy of it all.
Climbing out of the depths and resurfacing at a mere 10 metres we are greeted by spectrums of colour and entire reference book listings of fish.

Our photographic expedition, one of the slowest of all time, drifts at a sea slug's pace... Not much goes unmissed, the baby octopus that carefully hid himself from the Russian probes sneaks a view and our gentle glide encourages all manner of curious fish to come look see who see sensitive tourists are... Every colour imaginable reveals itself as do the baby clams, urchins and bottom dwelling camouflaged creatures of the sand. It's a labyrinth of intricate detail and ecosystem complexity the creation of which leaves us in awe and uncertain as to our God and just how all this came to be.

Trance like, breathing calmly, slowly and in rhythm with the gentle current we emerge to the hectic hurly burly of the global visitors, transient and confused.

The gulf that separates us, the differences between those in tune with their world and those who merely see it as a list of rushed snapshots was all here to see today - at the Canyon in the Gulf.

Sinai Gulf Diving