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Scuba Diving in Safaga, the Red Sea
Dive Site: Abu Kafan (The Deep One)
Description: Offshore Reef
Depth: 0 - 60 metres (0 - 200 feet)
Visibility: 25 - 30 metres (80 - 100 feet)
A very nice wall dive on an offshore reef that emerges up from the deep. There is an extra erg stuck on the southern end of the reef which is good to explore around or you can be dropped by zodiac further along the reef then drift back with the current. There is quite a current between the erg and the main reef, but only a slight current elsewhere. As well as all the usual reef fish you can see blue-spotted rays and I also swam over a free-swimming giant moray. In the gap between the erg and the main reef a large shoal of what might have been herring came in out of the blue and engulfed us before swimming off again. I played with some trumpetfish who were cleaning my fins for me and got chased off by a few angry clownfish.
2 dives can be done here - the north and south. The currents can whip over each end off the reef so be careful of depth and air at this site. Look out into the blue for occasional big stuff. Similar in appearance and length to Elphinstone but with less big fish action. Excellent site if you like offshore reefs and walls.
Ian Higgins, PADI Assistant Instructor
Abu Kafan apparently gets its name from the large gorgonian fan corals which grow here. Abu is Arabic for father and in the absence of a translation for "Kafan" and some very "reliable" information from several boat captains this site is "Father of Fans". Whatever the source of the name, the site itself has been one of my favourite dives off Safaga since I first dived here in the early 90's. With occasional strong currents, vertical walls, and the ever present chance of pelagic shark action there is something here for all.
Essentially a large elongated reef sliver, Abu Kafan rises from depths in excess of 400m and its size and diversity means you need to dive both the northern and southern sections (conditions allowing) as at least two separate dives. To the north is a sloping plateau which starts at around 15m at the reef and slopes to 30m before dropping away into very deep water. There is a large erg (reef piece) on the northern plateau close to the main reef which forms at 12m channel between it and the reef. Here there is prolific soft coral with the upper parts of the reef are teeming with antheas and all manner of smaller marine life. The plateau itself can be swept with current (normally coming from the north) so ideally get dropped here by zodiac or RIB, if your dive vessel comes equipped, and then head down the northeast wall (reef to your right shoulder) where you can get picked up or meet your dive boat to the south. Turtles are often present in the shallower areas on the north plateau and ensure you spend plenty of time looking out into the blue where schools of barracuda hunt and white-tip sharks can come in closer to the reef with the larger grey reef sharks tending to stay further out in the current.
The northeast wall is quite literally a vertical drop down to 110m where a 10m wide ledge protrudes insignificantly before the wall continues into the abyss. On the wall huge gorgonian fans undulate in the current and although more barren at 30m, purple and orange soft coral, black coral and long whip corals protrude from the reef. As you reach the southern end of the sliver the reef splits forming another separate erg (very similar in topography to the one on the north plateau). This forms an 18m deep channel about 10m wide between the erg and main reef. If the current is running it tends to pick up here and sweep you though the channel. Rather than head south around the main reef and back to the more sheltered area, its well worth a swim back around the outside of this southern erg. Again the reef wall drops away impressively and large pelagic sighting are possible with tuna and trevally often present here. This tends to be the end of the dive as you head around the south point and the shallows here are also teeming with life at 3m. Here the reef forms small fissures and crevices which actually go back into the reef for quite a distance in places and the careful diver can explore these to the surprise of resident marine life. The southwest side (as with the southeast side) can be dived by performing an "out and back" dive from your dive boat which will moor on the south end. If the current is running it will tend to be more sheltered on the southwest, but with both options will normally be coming towards you on your outward swim. A great dive; generally for the more experienced diver, but depending on conditions suitable for all.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor