Shark boy

Posted: September 26, 2010 in Africa
Tags: , ,

So we got to Cape Town after an arduous 19hr bus trip with miserable border guards to welcome us to South Africa. We arrived at the bus station to be greeted by the usual army of hawkers and bag carriers. We had booked a hostel just up the road so politely told them to leave us alone and marched up the road. 10mins later, almost passing out in the scorching afternoon heat, I wished I had paid for a cab!

We got to our hostel to be greeted by the most laid back surfer dude but the room was rubbish – facing the main drag of Long Street, a rather long street crammed with bars and drug addicts, and right above the late night bar in the hostel. Given my light sleeping issue, I was instantly Mr Grump. Luckily they had a sister backpackers down the road with a few spare rooms, no bar and less of those pesky youngsters. Finally settled we asked about a few of the tours we had earmarked, left the requests and went for a walk.

Cape Town is beautiful. From most street corners you can see the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain and in the other direction, the abyss of the sea. Top that with sunshine and you can see why the place has a good reputation. Within a few minutes of exploring the town, some crazy Indian dude with no teeth pulled a knife on us whilst explaining that we were in danger of being mugged if we walked around on our own. To be honest, I’d have felt safer with the muggers than Toothless Tamil and his homemade shiv. Needless to say our walk ended swiftly and we headed back to the hostel to make dinner. When we got back we were greeted with good news – both tours were booked for the next day, Sunday, leaving at 08.30 – me on the great white shark hunt and Muneeza chasing penguins. We decided to crash early following the schlep from Namibia and for once, surrounded by noise, I entered blissful oblivion.

So today was the adrenalin day. I waved Muni jani goodbye and jumped on the minibus to sharkland. Nearly 2hrs later, following a lot of excitement fuelled banter with my single service posse (really cool group luckily, mix of Aussie, English, Canadian & Indian), we were in the White Shark Ecotour office getting the lo-down. 30mins later, we were boarding our boat for the day and heading out to sea. Our skipper, a weather worn man with the dryest of humoour, gave us a 10min safety briefing before we got suited and booted ready to and eager to become shark bait.

I waited as the first group of nervous punters descended into the cage and embraced the ice cold water. From above I sat and watched with a local dude. As some chump was cat to attract the sharks I waited eagerly. After a few minutes, El Capitan shouted to look left. I saw the grey shadow emerge from the depths – my first spot of a great white shark in the wild. It was only 4ft but it was a wonderful sight, especially when it surfaced and I could see its face, gills and fins. I almost wet myself with excitement, coupled with awe and a little bit of dread. I waited for what seemed like an eternity for my time in the cage as the waves got increasingly big and the boat rocked like Iron Maiden.

Finally El Capitan told me to get in the cage. I plunged into the water and after the initial cold soon forgot about the temperature and waited for sharks. 10mins and nothing. I was gutted but patient. Then suddenly I heard the cry – I held my breath and pushed myself as far down in the cage as I could. A huge grey shadow loomed. Then this beast of a shark glided past the cage, literally 1ft from my hand. It was a beautiful and incredible sight. It turned and looked right at us with those dark eyes of death. I could see its markings but it didn’t open its mouth to go for the bait, alas. We stayed in the water for about another 25mins and the big beast and another slightly smaller shark kept circling.

When we got out, El Capitan told us the bigger of the 3 sharks, the one I had been lucky enough to see close up, was about 14ft. Alas when I got back on deck it had disappeared, so I didn’t get the birdseye view which would have netted me an awesome photo. The trip was quite short (we only spent 2hrs on the boat because the weather turned nasty and the waves were getting dangerous) but it was money well spent. I have now seen great white sharks as nature intended and can safely say they are impressive creatures. Perhaps I will do it again someday.

I got back after a painful rain filled journey with holiday traffic jam thrown in for good measure. Luckily the van was stocked with beer. Muneeza was waiting at the hostel and I was gutted to find out her penguin trip never happened – the hostel had given the wrong time, so they went without her. Luckily, as she is so chilled, she didn’t let it ruin her day and picked up the tourist bus and went sight-seeing, taking in areas like the Botanical Gardens. That’s one of the reasons I love traveling with my jani – she is far more chilled than I and just gets on with life and doesn’t let setbacks ruin her experience.

We’ll be in Cape Town for 2 more days. Tomorrow we are going to hit Table Mountain by cable car and then visit a vinyard in the afternoon for some wine tasting, then we’ll kick back and chill on Tuesday as I try to hire us a car to drive the Garden Route and Sunshine Coast – if we can’t get a car for a reasonable price, we’ll be stuck with buses.

So au-revoir for now and hope all is good with everyone.

Love jamer & muneeza x

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