SOUTH AFRICA GROUP TRIP
with Bluewater Travel and Eco Dive Center
WORDS AND PICTURES BY TIM YEO
A three-part trip with great white cage diving, the famous Sardine Run and an open vehicle land safari with Africa's Big 5.
Daily river launches from the sandbar where our resort was located out to South Africa's wild coast ofd Port St. John's.
After 30 months of planning and eager anticipation, our once in a lifetime trip to South Africa finally arrived. The four part trip consisted of two days of cage diving with Great White Sharks in Gansbaai, one day of reef diving at Aliwal Shoal, five days of the annual sardine run from Port S. John’s, and four days of an open vehicle safari in St. Lucia.
It was incredible to witness first hand how the dolphins work together as a team to trap and catch the sardines.
This journey entailed a total of 5 flights and about 75 hours of flying with a 9-hour layover in the modern metropolitan city of Dubai. We had to pack for scorching 110-degree temperatures in Dubai and 40 degree nighttime temperatures in Cape Town.
Great white sharks and ragged tooth sharks we 2 of the sharks we were in the water during ths trip.
African penguins and gorgeous landscapes greeted us as we drove from Cape Town to Gansbaai.
Weather was always going to be an unknown variable on this trip, but we were extremely fortunate to encounter amazingly cooperative conditions at all of the locations.
The reef off Port St. John's were covered in colorful coral as far as the eye can see.
Known as the “Wild Coast of South Africa,” we were warned to expect the unexpected. Living up to its reputation, the trip’s main disruptor was a top marine predator and not the weather.
Humpback whales were constantly putting on a show while we were in the RIBs (rigid-inflatable boats) chasing bait balls.
Arriving in Gansbaai and eager to get into the water with great white sharks, we were informed that a pod of orcas had attacked and killed a number of great white sharks just 4 days prior—resulting in a mass exodus of sharks from the Gansbaai area. Not to be deterred, we drove a few hours each day to Mosselbaai and Simon’s Town to where the sharks were and we weren't disappointed at all.
Great white sharks attacking a tuna head on the surface.
Seal Island is a little rocky pinnacle that supports a healthy population of over 60,000 cape fur seals.
We swam with a superpod of common dolphins numbering in the thousands.
Even during the sardine run, the orcas were creating a commotion. For the first time in many years, orcas were spotted at the sardine run and we even managed to get in the water with a couple of male orcas right in the middle of a fresh humpback whale kill with chunks of whale blubber floating up toward the surface. We were also lucky to be able to spend an hour with a couple of female orcas with two juvenile orcas cruising along the wild coast.
We were treated on our last day to a rare pod of orcas in the area.
Two males had just killed a humpback whale and 2 females with two juveniles were hunting dolphins.
The open vehicle African safari was also quite an experience as most of us had never been on one. Everyday started off with a bright red sunrise over the savanna, followed by an endless stream of wildlife encounters. Whilst this wasn’t the Serengeti, Ngorongoro crater or the Masai Mara, St. Lucia presented her own unique safari experience, especially the nightly parade of hippos strolling along the city streets.
Undoubtedly the most memorable experience of the safari was spending an hour observing the behavior of a pack of 14 wild dogs slumbering after feasting on their kill.
The African wild dog is the most efficient hunter in Africa with an over 90% kill rate.
Unfortunately they are also one of the world's most endangered mammals with a little over 6,000 left in the wild.
We were very lucky to spend over an hour with 14 wild dogs and view their social behavor up close as they were resting after a recent kill.
Our trip to South Africa exceeded all our expectations and left us dreaming of how our next trip will top this one.
More photos of our trip below ...
2018 JULY GROUP TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA
ONLY $3,650 FOR A 13 NIGHT TRIP
Start by spending two days diving Aliwal Shoal, home to Oceanic Blacktip Sharks, Ragged Tooth Sharks, Dusky Sharks, occasional Tiger Sharks, Whales, Dolphins, Turtles, Rays, Eels, Game Fish, and more.
Then you'll spend 5 full days witnessing the epic sardine run where you'll be surrounded by dolphins, sharks, diving birds, whales, game fish, seals, and of course millions of sardines that make this one of nature's most awesome events. You'll likely witness passing humpbacks as well.
Then spend 3 days on an open vehicle safari in a wildlife preserve to see the "Big 5" - Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhino, and Buffalo. Finally, you'll finish off the last day of the trip with a morning hippo and crocodile cruise before heading home.
There is also an option to add on 2 days of cage diving with great white sharks
HOW TO BOOK A TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA
Bluewater Travel can book you at any resort or with any operator in South Africa for the same cost or less than booking any other way. We know the diving, resorts, operators and when to go better than anyone else!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us that you read this article to get a special price for your next dive trip.