Showing posts with label Red Sea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Red Sea. Show all posts

Diving in the Red Sea

Situated at the southern most tip of Israel on the Gulf of Aqaba of the Red Sea, Eilat nestles between jagged red mountains and crystal clear waters, ruffled by nothing more then a gentle northerly breeze. 
The year-long hot, dry climate attracts not only tourists from colder reaches, but also provides a haven for myriad coral and fish species endemic to the bay.

The city of Eilat is a great choice as a dive holiday destination. The Red Sea is a narrow and elongated stretch of blue water, bordered by mountains with an average height of 1,000 – 1,500 meters, with peaks over 2,500 meters above sea level. It is connected to the Indian Ocean at the strait of Bab el Mandab – the gate of tears and to the Gulf of Aqaba at the straits of Tiran. The shallow depths of the straits at only 134 meters are avoiding the accesses of cold waters from the deep Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. 
Although the Gulf of Aqaba is very narrow, with 23.5 km at the widest point, it is very deep with a maximum of 1,829 meters at the deepest point – a fact that creates a very steady water temperature of between 22º to 28º Celsius all year long. 
The coast of the Red Sea is bordered by coral formations with more than 1,200 species of fish and more than 250 species of corals. The desert climate of the area provides a long summer with many sunny days needed by the corals to maintain themselves.

At Eilat you can find world class diving. The local nature reserve hosts a reef of more than 1,200 meters long. It is the northern point at the world in which corals can be found. Divers from all over the world arrive to Eilat to view its wonderful underwater wonders. 
Diving is very popular at this region, with more than 10 dive centers at Eilat and over 20 different dive sites, almost all of which are accessed from shore. Eilat is vary often used as a home base to divers traveling to the city of Aqaba at Jordan, or the Sinai peninsula at Egypt, but you will find no safer and diver friendly dive destination all around the world!
Eilat offers the best environment for dive courses and a few thousand certifications are issued every year. If you're interested in diving, there are a few options.

 As a certified diver you will be asked to show the following documents:

  1. Diving certificate – a card with name and picture from a known dive organization (such as PADI, CMAS, NAUI, SSI, IANTD, TDI, ACUC, and others).
  2. Divers log book – indicating you have been diving in the last 6 months. Divers who haven't been diving more than 6 months will be asked to join a refresh dive before they participate in other dive activities.
  3. Divers Insurance – specific divers insurance which covers recompression chamber treatment or any other necessary medical treatment for diving incident. One can be purchased at every dive center, or by the internet.

Certified divers can join the daily guided dives to one of the many dive sites in Eilat. Experienced divers with more than 20 dives can rent dive equipment and go by themselves for a dive in the area.

Eilat, Israel's Red Sea Riviera

Visitors so look forward to their arrival at Israel’s Red Sea Riviera of Eilat that many dash straight there without realizing that along the way lie some of the most interesting sites in southern Israel. One of these areas is the Uvda Valley, west of and high above the main Arava Valley road linking the Dead Sea with Eilat. The road to the Uvda Valley (road 40) ascends from the Arava, past Kibbutz Neot Semadar, whose vineyards are beautiful green splashes against the wilderness, about 60 kilometers north of Eilat.

The Uvda Valley’s claim to fame is that despite its seeming bleakness, its soil is surprisingly rich, having flowed down from the surrounding mountains over countless millennia. That is what made it prime land for settlement going back to prehistoric times. Experts have found over 150 settlement sites dating between 10,000 and 6,000 years ago. One interesting site is located very close to Road 40, near the turnoff to the small community of Ma’aleh Shacharut. It’s called the Leopard Temple – a 9,000-year-old enclosure with stones bearing mysterious carvings of feline figures. Just south of the temple, about 500 yards from the road, are smooth, gleaming sand dunes just perfect to roll down and let off energy pent up during the ride.

The ridge of Ma’aleh Shacharut affords a magnificent view of the Arava Valley and across to the mountains of Edom in Jordan. This is only one of the area’s more visible highlights; its many hidden delights have made it a favorite for camel treks, hiking, jeep and cycling tours of varying durations, which can be arranged through tourism service providers in Eilat and elsewhere.

South of Ma’aleh Shacharut you’ll see Uvda Airport, where charter flights bearing visitors to Eilat land straight from Europe. Try to plan the remaining 40 minutes or so of your journey to Eilat to get your first glimpse of the Red Sea at the magical moments just before sunset. It is then that the rugged rose mountains that frame the sea, with their gold, black and blue-green stripes, are at their most dramatic. Before finishing your drive to Eilat, look for the road sign to Mount Yoash, with its incomparable four-country panorama: Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia!

This is the area of the Eilat Mountains Nature Reserve, which offers fabulous hiking trails. One is the Red Canyon, which hikers can explore by climbing up and down ladders. Unusual geological formations are the stars of the Shechoret Canyon, Ein Netafim is a spring in the desert. These and other trails require good orientation skills and detailed maps. Make sure you stop before your hike at the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel’s Eilat Field School, where you can get maps in English, recommendations and advice.