Place Category: Safaga
Panorama Reef is also known as ‘Abu Alama’ meaning ‘Father of the Mast’. This is a reference to the concrete pillar which once marked its northern shores but has now been replaced by a hi-tech automated beacon. It lies 60-90 minutes (weather dependent) outside Safaga. It is an elliptical shaped reef on a northwest-southeast axis. On the north end is a dramatic plateau (15-25m) and drop-off. Down the east and west sides runs a narrow sloping ledge at the same depth.
The Journey across can get very rough, especially since your boat will be taking it on the beam and will, therefore, roll a lot. Once you get there, however, the reef gives ample protection for several boats. The current conies (95% of the time) from the north. It can get very strong, howling across the north plateau (beware of up-currents and down-currents) and ripping down either side of the reef. The south plateau is usually calm.
A drift dive of the north plateau offers some of the best diving in this book. However, to get there you’ll need very calm weather or alternatively a zodiac. After investigating the plateau, you can head down either wall to your boat, now moored in the lee of the reef (south). This is a long swim if unaided by current. The western wall of the reef is best. The south end of the reef can also be dived from the moorings. The southeast corner boasts many Gorgonians.
North plateau – if it’s big and lives in the sea, you can see it here. Surgeonfish schools, Unicornfish schools, Barracuda schools, Giant Trevallies, White Tips (especially on the west side), Grey Reefs (especially in the afternoon), Eagle Rays, Dolphins, Silver Tips, and even Longimanus, the Oceanic White Tip Shark. Everywhere are Turtles. South plateau – there is a family of three Napoleon; they live alongside Morays, Crocodilefish, Scorpionfish and a Turtle with a deformed shell. Also, there is a large colony (50-60) of Anemones.