Sharks In South Africa & More

Location
South Africa

I’m very sorry for the delay, our internet has been very few and far between and to be honest I have been having such fun it has been hard to find the time. Anyway, here is what I’ve been up to since my last post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

24th December 2010

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. I thought as a present I would let you know how I’m doing and what I have been up to since I last updated the blog.

150 Miles Left

Well on Monday morning we set off to Hermanus. This journey follows the garden route which is a great road and a great tour of South Africa’s southern coast. There are definitely some worthwhile sights to see and great places to stay for very little. At the time we still had a rent-a-car which was really useful as we could go where we wanted, and so we did. We went all the way down to the southernmost tip of Africa which was great for a short stop off, but for longer I could imagine it to be a bit of a bore. I wouldn’t recommend it as a must see, but if you have the time it’s worth it.

The journey took us 3 hours to the southernmost tip, and then another 1 ½ to Hermanus. On our way down there were lots of smaller quite little towns, that would take you 10 minutes to get through, and entering Hermanus seemed the same but we were soon proved to otherwise. The town centre was reasonably large with many festive events, restaurants, a great walk all along the coast (where whales are often spotted between May and November) and many different shops.

Two Oceans Meet

Our Hotel, Lavender Manor, was a converted house which was 2 minutes walk from the sea, and it had a great terrace where you could enjoy a drink, and look out and spot whales (which I did, a Southern Right whale and its calf 300m out which was a spectacular sight to see). The room was spacious and the staff were very accommodating, but I think relitively, it was a bit on the pricey side for what you get.

We also booked Great White Shark cage diving for me for the next day. I couldn’t wait and quite rightly. Even if I had to get up at 5:45 the 45 minute car journey to Gansbaai was completely in silence (to be fair, at this point I was much more interested in sleeping) I couldn’t wait. The idea of being in the water with a great white shark was daunting yet truly exhilarating. I dived with the White Shark Project who were superb, they gave an excellent spread for breakfast, the instructions were very detailed and informative, and the people were all very helpful and friendly yet very professional. Also, as I was a student the price was reduced from 1350 Rand to 1100 Rand, and it had free pick up from Hermanus which was a very helpful bonus.

The actual dive was fantastic. You leave on their boat and arrive at shark alley after about 15 minutes where they brief you on the dive, and then they attract the sharks using bait and when a shark arrives the cage is lowered in and the first 5 people get in, which is what I did. The experience was out of this world. The sharks swim around the cage when the bait is lowered in. Also when you’re out of the cage you can stand on the top deck and watch the sharks in the water which gives a better view of the sharks without the “danger” if you only want to watch, but the “danger” is what makes it fun.

The best part of the whole thing was when a great white shark swam at us and brushed up against the cage and then swam off after. The teeth coming towards me and being that close as well as the force you felt when it swam off was out of this world. I would recommend it to anyone. The only problem I have with it is a little ethical; they bait the shark, which is thought to make them associate the smell of the bait (which is the same as they eat) with humans which could increase the number of shark attacks on humans. Apart from this ethical problem, it was fantastic.

Unfortunately as soon as I got home we all had to leave for Camps Bay. I say unfortunately, but in reality it was great. The hotel, Primi Royal, was situated just off the beach, and again the staff were very helpful (a common trend in South Africa?) and the food and drinks were reasonably priced for a hotel. Camps Bay is, as I would describe it, the LA or Beverley Hills of South Africa so it is full of rich, beautiful people but this didn’t mean that it was incredibly expensive. I would say the prices were similar to British prices at an ok restaurant, which for South Africa is relatively expensive.

This was a perfect location for people who want to sun bath, drink and go out at night but personally I don’t really enjoy this as I find it a waste of a country and time. My family agreed with me so we travelled around instead. We went down to Hout Bay which is famous for its seals, and as my sister is a keen wildlife watcher, we decided to take a tour. This was very interesting but unfortunately we jumped at the first one we saw, Drumbeat Charters. This was a little more expensive than the other places and also it didn’t have some of the benefits which others did, such as a glass bottom boat or an upper deck, which really does prove that you should always look around the competition and compare each for the best deal. But after a nice meal on the Camps Bay coast and a well needed sleep all was good.

The next day, Christmas Eve, we decided to go out to a wine tasting as my parents are keen wine drinkers and I wanted to learn more. The wine country is in Stellenbosch, which is not far from the Cape Town/Camps bay area. There are lots of different South African wines but we decided to go for a make called Delhéim which is a fairly priced (around 60 Rand for tasting and cellar tour) considering some can get up to 100 Rand Per Person. If you are interested in your wines, you will realise that this is not a brilliant wine and the cellar tour is not in great detail, but for what I wanted, and for a good price this was perfect, it gave a comparison between Reds, Whites and Pinks and explained how each was made. It’s a good day out for any wine drinker.

After this we quickly returned to check into our next accommodation. We stayed in a “Village & Life’s Waterfront Village” apartment which was self catering and perfect for either a group of friends staying in Cape Town for a couple days, or a family who want to reasonably priced, well placed accommodation with a lovely view of the bay. This will be ours for the next 3 days and it’s going to be a great place to spend Christmas.

I hope you all have a great festive season whatever you may be doing with all your friends and family.

I should hopefully be able to upload my next blog just after New Year if I am lucky as I won’t be able to have internet for the next week or so. Hope you all have a great New Year as well.

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