I could have done more diving, I’d quite happily come back to Egypt one day and just spend 30 days diving here, but I wanted to spend some time with Tarrant in this little slice of oceanic paradise. There’s some good reef accessible from the beach too, plus a vast swathe of seagrass where the turtles hang out so we borrowed some snorkelling gear from Deep South Divers and off we fucked.
We spent about two hours staring at seagrass on day five. We saw probably four or five individual turtles, two of them were huge and had remora fish hanging off the back of them. As the turtles surfaced for air the fish switched to the bottom of them and accompanied them to the surface before rejoining them back on the seabed. It was magical to watch them.
We pretty much spent our last two days in Marsa Alam alternating between turtle bothering and drinking tea at African Tent. You can rent sun loungers next to the tent and they’ll bring your tea, coffee or soft drinks to your lounger for you so you can focus on being as lazy as humanly possible. It’s been so fucking relaxing just being here, shuffling between our accommodation, the snorkelling entry point and the café.
On our last full day we decided to go for a sunrise snorkel. Not going to lie, we were looking for the one, solitary dugong that’s known to hang out here but the seagrass is a vast area and it was very much like looking for a lumpy needle in a particularly huge, wet haystack. We didn’t find it but oh my fucking gosh, it was turtle city. We saw at least nine of the buggers. I don’t think they were as pleased to see us as we were to see them though.
We also saw a lionfish, a barracuda, some big fucker that looks a bit like a mini tuna but apparently isn’t a tuna. We also saw a ramora without a host and it tried to make friends with Tarrant who was having none of it. To be fair, it’s a bit startling when something rapidly darts at you in the sea regardless of whether it’s got designs on your extremities or not.
Well this has been incredible. We’ve got to go back to Cairo for one day before we catch our flight out and I’ve a feeling it’s going to be a bit of a shock to the system to be back in real Egypt. I’m not looking forward to wearing closed shoes again either. It’ll be nice not paying over LE100 for food but Tondoba Bay hasn’t cost us nearly as much as we thought it was going to.
Well then Egypt. You have been a blast. We came for the ancient history and were served all of that with a side of “You want a camel? Good price!” Star gazing in the White Desert, fish bothering in the Red Sea, hot air balloon rides, sunset felucca cruises, temples, tombs, and the dessicated corpses of kings and queens. From the chaos of Cairo to the relative (with the emphasis on relative) calm of Luxor’s West Bank, Egypt has been absolutely fucking amazing.
Tondoba Bay, Marsa Alam, Red Sea Governorate, Egypt
خليج تندوبا ، مرسى علم ، محافظة البحر الأحمر ، مصر
Stayed at: Deep South Eco Lodge, Tondoba Bay
Useful shit to know…
- To go snorkelling in Tondoba Bay, there’s a sandy entrance in front if where the zodiacs launch, at 24.96296, 34.935903.
- You can rent a mask and snorkel for US$5 from Deep South Diving.
- For seagrass and turtles go right. For reef, go left.
- African Tent charged us LE100 for both of us to use the sunbeds.
- Tea and soft drinks are LE20.
- The restaurant behind the tent isn’t great but if you’re hungry it does chicken, rice, tahini, bread and salad for LE200. The chicken is just three pieces of small, breadcrumbed drumsticks though.
- The seafood restaurant a bit further south did delicious prawns for LE200 with rice, salad, bread and tahini. He also does calamari and fish. I don’t think he has everything every day, just ask him what he has.
- Tarrant doesn’t eat anything that comes from the sea so he gave her just the sides for LE50.
- Fady at Deep South Eco Lodge will order you a takeaway. We were paying LE125 each for ¼ of proper, grilled chicken, bread, salad, black eyed beans and tahini. This included delivery. Much better than the place behind African Tent.
- They also do kofta as a meal or as a sandwich. The latter is, like, LE40 plus delivery I think.
- If you want beer, Fady gets them from town and sells them for LE50 each.
- To get back to Cairo we booked a Go Bus. I kept forgetting to do it so we missed out on the LE350 bus leaving at 12.30pm and instead had to fork out LE600 for an “Elite Premium” bus leaving at 3.30pm. It’s not even the cost that’s the worst thing, it’s the not arriving in Cairo until after midnight.
- It cost LE100 in a taxi to get from Tondoba Bay to Marsa Alam.