10. 9. 2013
Marsa Shagra Village Diving Base in Egypt
Marsa Shagra is spread over quite a large piece of land. The whole complex is dominated by a restaurant with terrace. It is located on a hill above the dive center that offers an amazing sea-views. Below the restaurant there is cafeteria and Oxygen bar. The “Town” and bungalows are located on the left. Marsa Shagra was built for the needs of divers and the effect works perfectly here. Given that the base has the ambition to serve up to 200 divers at a time, it simply has to. Everything here revolves around Diving.
The first thing upon your arrival to campus that catches your eye is a large diving shade - canopy under which there are rows of wooden cabinets for equipment, tanks for washing the equipment, showers, clothes dryer, storage for bottles and control room for daily diving in zone A. You will also find here the dives writing boards and helpful staff that monitors who goes diving, who is returning, organize the dives from the zodiac and help you with everything. Diving from the shore or the zodiac is unlimited. Just take a bottle, write down your name on the board with the number of your cabin, direction, time of immersion, the estimated time of emergence or possibly, the usage of zodiac, that have mooring directly in front of diving shade.
The diving options are :
- From the shore there and back
- Zodiac there - back on your own
- Zodiac there and back
The basic conditions are: min. 2 people per dive, night dive min. AOWD or OWD with guide. Maximum depth of 40 meters.
Zone A also includes trips to farther locations by speedboat or bus. Examples include a trip to Abu Dabab – a bay where you can see turtles, stingrays and dugong occasionally. For night dives and dive trips you have to follow a simple online booking system functioning through the computer in the Diving center.
The Diving Base management provides divers with a relatively great freedom in daily diving the home reef. In exchange, it is expected that everyone will pay attention to his/her and others safety as well as underwater environment protection. This model is probably successful, despite the high frequency of dives, the local corals stay in a rather good condition. At first glance, one can get the feeling that even Hurghada diving offers more fish than Marsa Shagra. But when it comes to diving the more distant locations reachable only by boat, it is incomparable, with Marsa Shagra winning completely. Still, diving from the shore offers a lot to look at and a chance to see a turtle, shark or large stingray is several times greater than in Hurghada. The indisputable advantage of Marsa Shagra base location is that the sites that are otherwise only get to by boat safari, are here in a range of speedboat.
Marsa Shagra Facilities
For most divers, the quite substantial fact is, that decompression chamber is located only about 300 m from the center. Each diver pays 7 Euro at the check-out for the operation of this chamber - an insurance in case of decompression events. According to the doctor who showed us the chamber, the local hyperbaric center has been operating since 2001. The chamber was installed in 2006 and normally from 25 to 30 divers are treated here annually. The most common cause is dehydration and the vast majority of customers are divemasters and guides. When I told our guide that we were from the Czech Republic, he smiled and said: "Our record patient with decompression sickness dive to 150-m-was also from the Czech Republic." People of one nation like to hear that they were the first to turn somewhere ...
As for accommodation and catering concerns, there is nothing to complain about. Accommodation is clean and comfortable. You can choose from living in a fully furnished bungalows, tent with or without sanitary or a private cabin with sanitary, air conditioning, TV and minibar. Showers and toilets are always perfectly tidy and clean. I have never experienced the lack of warm water.
The food in Marsa Shagra is excellent. I would say that it is one level better than in the 4-star hotels in Hurghada. Personally, I would like to see more fruits, but otherwise I have no comments. There are vending machines with drinking water on every corner around the campus, the cafeteria and the restaurant serve coffee, tea, soft drinks, beer and wine … all what you want. What was very nice on our arrival day (7am) was invitation for breakfast and our accomodating immediately. On the departure day we could enjoy bungalows until the last moment - in our case it was to 17.00. Those who has seen several hour sessions of suitcases in major hotel resorts, know well what I´m talking about…
In Marsa Shagra, I really had the feeling that the staff is there for my convenience, and being a really experienced diver, I´d loved to dive with just a buddy and in pairs, without necessary prods in the crowd of ten other divers. The feeling not to be experienced in Sharm …
I'll definitely come back here.
Text and Photos by Frantisek Pudil. (owner of the Czech Scuba Diving website Potapeni.cz)