So let me tell you something first. Not only is South Africa one of the most stunning countries you should ever lay your eyes on. Deserts, mountains, ocean coasts and so much more. There is an endless array of adventures to take part in. I was fortunate enough to go to this great nation. Who knows, if I am lucky, I may make it back some day. On my trip there I only had a certain amount of time to do side trips and see things. As I was there for work, I tried to use my time the best I could.
So I found myself with a few days off in Cape Town. I had read about it, heard stories from friends and read articles online about being in waters with sharks. I knew this was one of the places in the world to do it, so put on my swimsuit I did and ventured into the depths.
Things were prearranged for me, but it would not have been too difficult to figure it out on your own. Only a short 165km away in a town south of Cape Town lays Gansbaai. A small see side town with not much going on, but just off its coast are two small island, Dyer and Geyser. These two small islands are home to thousands of seals, which in these waters, make it dinner time for great whites. This is what is know to the locals as shark alley.
In the small town there are numerous little companies, most with fishing boats, that use there time to fill them up and send them out full of brave tourists. They go thru a safety meeting with everyone of course, about boat safety and where to keep your hands and feet when inside the cage. Let me just point out now that I am a licensed scuba diver. However, this experience I am writing about does not involve deep depths and scuba gear. These cages are fully attached to the boat and your head is bobbing above the water.
So once you do your meetings and safety we all board this fishing boat which has a lovely second deck for sunbathing (burning…), and take to the seas. It is about a 2 hour ride off the coast to the islands, and if you are a seasick kind of person be prepared, it is a bit rough. I saw several folks holding there mouth as they hurried to spew over the side. If you research the different companies in the Gansbaai area, check out how big their boats are. Typically something smaller with perhaps just one level would cause more motion sickness whereas ours was two levels and had a bit less movement.
Once we arrived, there were already a few boats watching the beasts. So we anchored down, strapped on the cage, donned our wetsuits, and in we went. I was there is July, which is winter in the southern hemisphere, so the water was not exactly the beaches of Thailand kind of temperature, but not artic either. Our boat crew then proceeded to play with the sharks to lure them to us. If you can imagine using a string with a snack on the end of it to play with a cat, this is what they began to do. The only difference is they had half of a cut tuna weighing about 20 lbs. on the end of a fishing line.
Well this must have been fine dining for great whites. Within minutes we counted at least 6 of them circling our boat, I can only assume smelling that tuna. They were in different sizes, we were guessing from 600-1200 lbs. I happened to be lucky enough, if you watch my link below, to be in the cage when one of the big guys attacked us in search of that tuna. My heart may have stopped for a second as you can hear his teeth scrap the front of our cage. It is an image I will not soon forget.
I thoroughly enjoyed the country and especially my day floating around with some hug fishes. I would challenge anyone if you get the chance to visit this country, take time to do some swimming. I am sure you can get a good rush from doing the full scuba experience also, but this showed me you don’t need all that to enjoy these massive creatures. Besides, who needs it when some people can reel them into your cage with shark ‘catnip.’