Swimming With Wild Doplhins on The Sataya Reef
Is swimming with wild dolphins on your bucket list? If so, this article is for you. This June I took my mom to Egypt to fulfill her biggest dream: swimming with wild dolphins. Additionally, it was her birthday so it was a perfect gift.
The place we went to is called Sataya Reef. It is situated in the south of Egypt, close to Marsa Alam, a few hours away from the famous tourist destination Hurghada.
We spent one week on the boat, snorkeling with dolphins, diving, doing yoga, aqua aerobics and tubing behind the boat.
As this was my first time in Egypt and my mom wanted to join a group of open-minded, spiritually oriented people, we decided to book a tour.
I never book a group tour just for the sake of being more flexible – but this time it made sense and I would do it again.
That way all of the logistics were taken care off and we did not have to hassle with booking our own transport, accommodation or the boat ourselves.
In this article, I will share our experience with the dolphin tour as well as the swimming with wild dolphins.
How to get to Sataya Reef?
The best way to get yourself to Sataya Reef is to fly to Marsa Alam and use a minibus to the harbor where the boat will be waiting for you. There are two harbors from where the boat to Sataya Reef departs – Marsa Alam and Hamata harbor.
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We were picked up at Marsa Alam airport and drove two hours to the Hamata harbor. The roads in Egypt are often unpaved and bumpy. You will drive through the desert and if you get lucky you can spot some camels on the way.
We boarded the boat and check in into our cabins. From here we drove two hours to the Sataya Reef, where we docked for the next five nights.
Snorkeling with dolphins – an incredible experience
We woke up every day at five to board the small speedboat (zodiac) and drove to the place where the dolphins were currently swimming around.
The lagoon is quite small and you can spot dolphins from the boat. The drive usually takes no more than 10 minutes by zodiac.
We jumped into the water and started swimming towards the dolphins. They usually swim in groups and stay in one area for a few minutes. Sometimes we saw up to 50 dolphins swimming right next to us.
Looking at dolphins, swimming around you, playing with you and showing you their way of living is incredible. You will be filled with joy and gratefulness.
Dolphin is one of the most intelligent animals. For centuries dolphins are enjoying a very positive reputation. In antique Greece, dolphins were seen as gods. They are symbols of freedom, intelligence, friendship, empathy, happiness, and joy. Swimming with dolphins will likely lead to some of those emotions.
There are several scientific studies that prove that electromagnetic signals can have a positive influence on human bodies and minds.
Dolphins are very social beings and in many ways, their moral behavior is above people’s. They hunt together, play together and take care of each other. They accept any other dolphin to join their community. Dolphins are also known for helping swimmers in need.
Usually, we went swimming with dolphins twice or three times a day, depending on our mood and the mood of dolphins. After breakfast, there was a second snorkeling with dolphins and in the afternoon you had the chance to board the zodiac again. In most cases, the dolphins weren’t as playful after lunch as in the morning.
On several occasions, I was just enjoying myself on the inflatable swan while dolphins were swimming under me.
This was just amazing – where else can you have such an experience?
Swimming with dolphins – what do you need?
Anyone who can swim will enjoy swimming with dolphins. It does not matter if you are old or young. There are no real limitations unless you have a special medical condition.
It is good to have a mask and some fins with you. You can not rent them on the boat due to hygienic reasons. We had the full-face snorkel masks, Cressi fins, and a UV protection shirt.
The full-face mask has a broader field of view as a regular dive mask and it comes with a snorkel, however personally I prefer to have the dive mask and snorkel separated. As I am a certified diver, having both separated makes it more flexible for me. You cannot dive with the full-face mask.
When it comes to the fins. Few days snorkeling resulted in quite painful blisters on my toes. I would definitely suggest wearing diving boots or fins with a closed front.
My picks for snorkeling with dolphins:
Medical Care – Get a proper travel insurance
Everyone should have travel insurance. You never know what happens and you want to be on the safe side. Swimming with dolphins isn’t dangerous. I never felt uncomfortable however there are other risks, you can slip on the boat and an injury can happen very fast.
There is a first aid kit on the boat and some medication against sea sickness or stomach issues. If you, however, should visit a hospital, it can get quite expensive.
The boat will be docked in the lagoon, there are basically no waves so the chance of you getting seasick is quite small. Furthermore, the food on the boat was excellent and I never had any problems with my digestion.
What’s the best time to visit Sataya Reef?
The dolphins live on the Sataya Reef all year long, they do not migrate. However, the sea is quite cold in winter.
The main season goes from April to November. Most popular months are from May to September.
During the summer break, many tourists stay at the coast of Egypt which makes it the perfect time to visit the Sataya Reef as there aren’t many boats around.
Sataya Reef is not the Dolphin House
Be aware that Sataya Reef is not the same as Dolphin House, although it is marked that way on Google Maps.
Dolphin House is located north of Hurghada, while the Sataya Reef is south of Marsa Alam. You can spot dolphins in the Dolphin House quite often, they are however not as present as in the Sataya Reef.
If you happen to be in Hurghada and want to go snorkeling with dolphins just for one day, I suggest booking a day trip here to visit the Dolphin House. It is only around €25 per person.
How much does one-week swimming with dolphins cost?
If you want to experience swimming with wild dolphins as we did, I suggest booking a dolphin snorkeling tour.
The cost for one week per person was around €1.200 without travel insurance and the visa fee.
The price includes:
- Flights from Prague to Marsa Alam
- Transport to the boat
- All inclusive (food and soft drinks) – also suitable for vegetarians
- Daily snorkeling
- Two dives
- Tubing and wakeboarding
- Optional: Exercises, mediations, etc. which depends on the group
The visa on arrival cost $25 and you should pay in USD. Travel insurance costs around $10 for 7 days with Safetywing.
Be aware that the price depends on the destination from where you will be flying from. You can also book the tour without the plane tickets.
Your stay on Sataya Reef
The yacht we stay in had everything we could wish for. It is made so it can stay several days on the sea. There are two generators, plenty of drinking water, fresh water, compressors, etc. It is often booked by divers, who are exploring the Red Sea. It has all divers need.
You will be accommodated in cabins with double-bed or twin-beds with private bathroom. There are two decks which you can use to relax.
Food is served three times a day. There are also some snacks in the afternoon. You can bring your own alcoholic beverages, as they are not sold on the boat.
Swimming with Dolphins in Egypt
There are multiple places to swim with dolphins in Egypt. You can book a safari tour on the Red Sea, which is more suitable for divers, book a one day trip from Hurghada or book a boat and go explore the Sataya Reef for a few days. It all depends on your budget and time schedule.
Go snorkeling with Dolphins – book your trip in advance
My boat was called Diamond Explorer and the snorkeling tour’s name is Samara Cruise. Usually, you have to book the boat for at least 18 people for one week.
The maximum capacity is 30 people. I would advise booking one year in advance as the capacity is limited and most of the weeks for 2020 are already booked now.
There are however a few dates left, if you are seriously interested in swimming with wild dolphins in Egypt, drop me an email to email@example.com and I will help you setting it up.
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Do you like my post? Read more about my recent trip to Iceland here.