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      20.12.2012 21:44
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      Ras Mohamed

      When on holiday recently in Sharm el Sheikh, myself and my boyfriend completed our Open Water Diving course. After completing the course, we decided we would like to have a couple of dives where we could just chill and take in our surroundings rather than worrying about what we were meant to be learning. The Dive School we learnt with offered trips to Ras Mohamed so we booked ourselves up for the trip. What Is Ras Mohamed? Ras Mohamed is the only Egyptian National Park and was given this status in 1983. The Ras Mohamed National Park actually includes areas of land as well as water, meaning it is highly popular with divers. Today the Ras Mohamed National Park covers 480km². The Ras Mohamed National Park is great for all animal lovers as there are many species to be seen both on land and underwater. Where Is Ras Mohamed? Ras Mohamed is located about 25 km southwest from Sharm el Sheikh. It is very easy to get there, either by taxi or on an organised excursion. Once in Egypt, you will find many places offering trips here. How Much Do Trips Cost? We took part in a trip which was arranged by the diving school in our hotel. The trip itself was free, we just had to pay for all our diving equipment which ended up being around £20 for the day which I thought was very reasonable. One very important thing you must remember if you plan to visit here is that you do need a visa. With it being a National Park they are very strict with this rule and you will not be allowed to enter without the visa. The Visa You can obtain a visa from the airport and as far as I am aware, this is the only place you are able to get one. If you plan to do this dive site, then make sure you get the visa at the airport otherwise you will have to make a trip back to their airport during your holiday. The visa costs £10 and you can pay in either English or Egyptian money. The visa is basically a postage stamp which they stick in a page of your passport. What Can I See? The Ras Mohamed National Park is described as being one of the top three dive sites in the world. Ras Mohamed does not contain the best corals in the world but the amount of and the variety of fish and sea life that can be seen is like nowhere else in the world. There are literally hundreds of different species of aquatic life for you to see. Included inside Ras Mohamed National Park are six main dives sites that I know of and which I will describe. Shark Reef and Yolanda Reef This is actually where two reefs (Shark and Yolanda) merge together. The seabed is 25-30 metres deep and here you can see some beautiful marine life. This dive site actually runs in line with Hidden Bay and if your lucky you might actually get to see some sharks here, unfortunately we didn't though. Shark Observatory This area can also be reached from land for those people not too keen on water. Here, there is an observation platform called 'Shark Observatory' where you get the chance (again if your lucky) to observe sharks in their natural habitat. You can swim right underneath the platform and experience a great variety of fish. The coral reefs here are stunning and drop down as far as ninety metres. Anemone City This reef is located about 120 metres from the shore. This is literally Anemone City, hence the name and there are many different species to be seen. This reef is particularly stunning because the corals have a slight slope to them and then suddenly drop away. Eel Garden / Yolanda Bay This site is also accessible by land so again its good for people who are not divers as well. Many Eels are seen at this dive site, they lay on the sea bed which is 10-15 metres deep. This site also has a wreck. The name Yolanda Bay comes from the wreck itself, a boat called Yolanda (a South African ship) sank and in doing so, dropped its load which was hundreds of toilets and sinks which can still be seen laying on the sea bed. Unfortunately the wreck itself cannot be seen because the boat was made from timber and in 1986 a large storm smashed the remains of the boats against the corals. Here we saw all the usual fish such as the clown fish, banner fish, the blue spotted ray, the stone fish and also the giant Napoleon fish who was massive. Seeing the toilets at the bottom of the sea bed was an experience. My boyfriend had a funny tummy on the day we dived here and the diving instructor made a joke by sitting on one of the toilet at the bottom of the sea bed and holding his tummy! Fisherman's Bank / Jackfish Alley This site gets it name from the fact that there are so many Jackfish to be seen. Here there are beautiful coral walls, we were instructed to swim fairly close to the coral as there is a strong current here and keeping close to the corals means you wont get caught in the drift. I really liked this site for its sheer beauty, we were literally swimming alongside the coral wall and on the other side of us was a massive drop, it went so deep that it just looked black. There were a few caves here which you can go in and explore. Another part of the site I particularly liked was the fact that there were so many little nooks and crannies in which fish lived meaning we got to see some species that we had not seen before. The Dun Raven The Dun Raven is a wreck dive and it situated right on the border of Ras Mohamed National Park. The Dun Raven was a British ship that sunk in 1876 on its way back from India. As it sunk it turned upside down and landed on the sea bed in the same position. The ship actually broke in two when it landed on the sea bed at a depth of 60metres. In total the wreck is about 80 metres long and 10 metres wide. You can enter both sections of the wreck and some beautiful marine life live here. Apparently it is quite common to see the Napoleon fish as well as Lionfish. You can still clearly see the large brass propeller which was fascinating. I really enjoyed this dive as it was the first wreck dive I have done. It was amazing to see how the corals have grown over the wreck and all the different species of fish and coral which have now made this boat their home. Summary I would highly recommend the Ras Mohamed as a dive site. Some of the corals and fish were absolutely breathtaking and I saw sites that I will remember for the rest of my life. My favourite being a baby clown fish who was absolutely tiny and so cute! His overprotective Mum came out as we swam over them to make sure that we didn't hurt her little baby! Sharks and Turtles are also permanent residents here but unfortunately we didn't see either of them. The Ras Mohamed National Park caters for divers and non divers and really does have so much to offer. Through the years, over a thousand species of fish have been spotted in the Ras Mohamed area. This is due to the underwater currents providing lots of nutrients which attract all the fish. There are over 130 different species of corals and some of them are so beautiful. I think its an absolute privilege to be able to experience these beautiful untouched and natural surroundings. I did not list all the fish we saw during our dives as I didn't want to bore people reading my review with a big list!

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