Shark diving on the 13th and Mama Africa's

Trip Start Dec 16, 2005
Trip End Jun 12, 2006

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Flag of South Africa  ,
Saturday, May 13, 2006

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Up at 4:30am for the 5am pickup. Nobody turned up until 5:50. Oh well, it's only sleep. We were soon on the road for the 120km drive to Gansbaai for our shark dive! We drove through the seaside town of Hermanus on the way. It looked very picturesque with the mountains rising up behind it. At Gansbaai we were split into 2 groups for breakfast. We got cheese sandwiches while the other group got muesli. We found out that the other group had paid 1200 rand for this privilege. Twice what we paid!

The cage on the boat looked flimsy and battered, maybe the sort of thing that may keep a hedgehog off you lettuce patch!

The boat headed out to Dyer Island and an area known as shark alley. The puking started early and by the time we got out to where we were going a quarter of the boat had their heads hung over the sides.

We had 14 people on our boat which could take up to 40 people. I can't imagine what this trip would be like with a full boat!

This whole trip again turned out to be another amazing experience. The water was chummed with small bits of fish and oil and then they threw in some huge tuna heads. As the sharks came towards the bait they would pull it towards the boat and hoist it out of the water before the sharks could get it.

Just the views of the shark from the boat was fantastic and we saw at least 10 different ones with sizes up to 4m (12ft) long. Most of them would circle around and come for the bait on multiple occasions.

When I was in the cage we saw at least 6 sighting under water all with in 2ft of the cage. The 'highlight' though has got to be when a 3m long one came straight at the cage and jammed his head through the bars. It came in so far I had to step all the way to the back of the cage, even from the back of the cage it was inches from my chest and well over a foot into the cage. All the guys on the boat though it was so close it had actually hit me in the chest!

It I'd though ahead a bit it would have been very easy to touch it, but to be honest at the time that was the last thing on my mind. The cage is attached to the back of the boat, but unlike the ones you see on National Geographic it is not totally submerged, you only put your head under the water when the sharks come. The cage also rocks a lot with the waves, and thinking about it afterwards, I though how easily it would have been to fall into the shark if I lost my grip on the top bars! The good news was that even though the cage did look rather flimsy, it did hold out pretty well. I'm surprised they don't have any injuries from doing this in the past! Although the tour operators said to be as 'lucky' as me and have the shark hit the cage usually only happens one a month!

After a couple of hours spent baiting the sharks we went to the islands, a rocky outcrop really, and there were the 35,000 reasons the sharks liked it here. Perched all over these rocks were masses of sea lions.

Back into town and we all got split up for lunch again, the rich and the poor, before we got driven back to Cape Town. It must have been a tiring experience as I don't think one person was awake on the minibus back to Cape Town.

That evening we headed to a tourist restaurant, Mama Africa, where they play traditional music. The service was horrendous and the food was OK. I got a mixed grill that consisted of kudu, ostrich, crocodile and venison sausage. Very interesting to get to taste some of these meats. I'd been looking forward to it for a long time.
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