“Join four friends as they embark on a trip of a lifetime traveling thru large parts of the country to their final destination in Mozambique”
Whilst warming up next to a Snoek braai after the Western Province successfully defeated the Blue Bulls again, it was unanimously decided that the ‘87 model Cruiser had enough lead in his pipes to take us to unfamiliar waters. Being stationed in the Mother City, we had no alternative as to scuba dive the waters around Cape Town. Together with three friends, we set out from Cape Town and headed for Ponta Do Ouro on the Southern Coast of Mozambique.
As usual, my Land Cruiser ran like a dream. Upon arrival at our overnight destination, a game farm in the Maluti Mountains near Ficksburg, we realized that the Eastern Freestate offers us a unique opportunity to experience a 4×4 bush adventure our Capetonians aren’t familiar with. We instantaneously decided that our trip will be prolonged and that our diving gear will have to stay dry for an extra day or so. After showing the true power of the ‘87 Cruiser on the challenging 4×4 trail, Will reminded us of our primary reason for the trip, which were scuba diving tropical waters. As one, we moved down the mountain, passing a daring looking hiking trail on our way to a couple of cold refreshments, sympathising with the few individuals who attempted it.
The rest of the road trip exceeded all expectations. An early departure ensured that the pre-booked accommodation in Hluhluwe Umfolozi National Park allowed adequate time for some game viewing in this unique wildlife sanctuary. Armed with a Hunters Dry and Swarovski CL compassion 30, James was more interested in bird viewing than spotting the notorious Big 5. All the excitement of what was and what was to come made it fairly difficult to get a good night’s rest.
The only obstacle between us and a memorable diving holiday was the border post at Kosi Bay. Being law abiding citizens, we breezed thru the border post and made our way to our final destination, The Whaler in Ponta Do Ouro. After unpacking and settling in at our rooms, we reflected back at what was already a truly African Safari. The expectation of finding myself with my newly acquired Lontra Wetsuit from Cressi, submerged in a new underwater world the next morning made for excitement unrivalled.
Our accommodation at The Whaler exceeded all our expectation and contributed in making the trip a memorable experience. Early the following morning, the final checks on our equipment was complete and we headed down to the beach at the break of dawn. The protected bay made for a very comfortable launch and after a short 2 km boat ride, we reached our first reef of choice. We decided to ease into our scuba diving holiday by diving Doodles. This is a reef with breath-taking caves where a variety of reef species like potato bass, paper fish and parrots fish but to name a few can be observed. It is a fairly easy dive with depths ranging from 15-17 meters.
The tropical warm waters of Mozambique were a far cry from the icy water of the Cape which we were use to. We were blown away by the abundance of reef fish and the array of colours of the coral. After the quickest 45 minute of our lives, it was time to head back to the surface.
The second dive proofed to be a lot more challenging. Atlantis takes you as far down as 57 meters and the boulders and intimidating rock overhangs reminded us of the waters back home, with one noticeable difference, visibility. We were amazed at the visibility that range up to 23 meters allowing us to spot a large school of giant Barracuda in the distance. On closer investigation, we were astounded by the variety of aquatic live seen on these reefs. Encountering a Mantis Shrimp was truly a unique experience, seeing this featherweight boxer scampering around in search of its next victim left me breathless, so I had to return to the surface. On our boat ride back to shore, we were accompanied by a pod of Dolphins and spotting a giant Leatherback turtle darting for cover is memories I will treasure for years to come.
Driving thru the small Karoo town of 3 Sisters was a tell-tale sign that we had to dive its namesake reef in Ponta. So with our trip drawing to a close, our last day dive was scheduled at a reef called 3 Sisters. However, with dreadfull weather conditions, it proofed to be quite the challenge.
The rough boat ride out was something our Capetonians were comfortable with, but it sure as hell influenced visibility. Finding myself submerged 26 meters below the turbulent waters above, I observed a different city life. The hustle and bustle of the reef was something our city dwellers can relate too. However, I was truly flabbergasted to see Manta Rays, Potato Bass, Whale Sharks and several other fish species congregate and patiently waiting their turn at the cleaning station. Not intimidated by our presence, it was remarkable to see these cleaner fish go to work removing parasites from these gentle giants after which I hitched a ride with a Whale Shark back into the deep blue. On my return, I spotted Will and Adam fascinated with a Moray Eel’s ability to become one with the reef. With the currents picking up, we were forced to end this truly remarkable dive.
Back at The Whaler, all of us tried to speak at once, trying to articulate our emotions and experiences of the past 3 dives into words. This proofed fairly challenging as the Oxford dictionary does not comprise of words with enough meaning to share this unforgettable journey.
Like it started, this remarkable adventure concluded around a fish braai. We were in complete agreement that this has been a trip of a lifetime and is highly recommended for anyone with a love for the ocean.