As any scuba diver knows, the Red Sea is one of the best places on earth to discover the beautiful underwater world. Most Red Sea dive tourists tend to travel to Egypt, with Hurghada and Sharm el Skeikh as the most popular destinations. Entrepreneur Iman Osman has given them a wonderful alternative that is at least ‘off the beaten track’, 30 kilometres north of Port Sudan, Sudan.
Thirteen years ago, Iman Osman started her own unique Red Sea diving camp resort and operation, just 30 kms north of Port Sudan. Her Sudan Red Sea Resort is the first eco lodge resort on the Sudanese Red Sea. The place, known for its beautiful location, peacefulness and serenity, was built on a coral plateau. With accommodation for 43 persons, plus camping grounds, a sea view restaurant, a picnic and an events area and a fully equipped diving center, the resort is a one of a kind enterprise, at least in Sudan.
Built step by step
“We have built it all up, from scratch, in phases”, Iman explains, as she offers a tour. “The cosy, artful bungalows and en-suites are simple but comfortable. They have been made and decorated with a local touch, according to the colourful culture of Eastern Sudan. The furniture and decorations that I designed, were inspired by simplicity and the ethnic tribes and made with local wood. The food we serve at the restaurant is what I like to call Sudanese Fusion, with ethnic Sudanese dishes and dishes inherited from the Egyptian and Turkish influences.”
The diving: “superb”
The diving is what the guests come for. “Believe me, it is superb. The Shub Rumi lagoon, not far from the resort, has been declared one of the top 10 lagoons in the world. We also enjoy the proximity of Sanganeb Light Tower lagoon, a breath-taking, beautiful place. There are many other smaller lagoons such as Abo Adila, our favourite next to the SRSR. Additionally, we take our guests to local wrecks of the Umbria, Blue Bell”, says Iman, adding that the resort offers daily diving tours, accompanied by a guide diver and a packed lunch, different from the known ‘livaboards’ which operate now in Sudan: multiple-day diving trips on the Red Sea, including food, accommodation and drinks. We have the equipment, but we also hope to add a new boat for daily tours with more comfort.”
A pilot project – next steps
Iman is known in Sudan for starting this project. It is considered a pilot project for Sudan to enter tourism, the eco way. “This is a very new business and idea of tourism, it certainly was not on the Sudanese agenda. The Sudanese people travel to see the world, but tend to forget the wonderful Red Sea in their back yard”, says Iman, who initially had trouble funding the project.
The enterprise is now ready for next steps. Though a lot has been accomplished, Iman Osman is eager to go forward – with the help of investors and tour operators.
More specific: “We could do better and specially if we get a share in the international market. Most of my diving and guests come from the expat communities in Khartoum and the diplomats. Sometimes someone comes from abroad and once in a while we also accommodate small groups. One challenge is to attract more international tour operators that bring groups or individuals to the resort.” Another step is to offer diving courses – instead of just trips – in the diving center of the resort.
The eco-focus of the resort becomes clearer, step-by-step. “We generate our own energy from our hybrid. Water, two underground tanks for 35 tons of water, 35,000 litres. We use water tanker trucks. We hope soon to develop more on the green energy side and a desalination plant. So that we become more green and self-sustained. Also the surrounding villages depend on us. Since we came we provide water to the village next to us. We hope to produce our own drinking water to cut on plastic waste. We dream to go as eco as we can and be a model for our country. The local government has us on their priority list wants to view and promote us as a successful pilot project for the diving tourism experience in Sudan.
How to get to the Sudan Red Sea Resort:
- Airco bus travel, 12 hours to cover the 800 kms trip from Khartoum.
- There are two daily flights from Khartoum, two weekly from Dubai, two from Cairo and two from Jeddah.
- Airport transfer to the resort is 1 hour.