Craig, Ross and Bryan in South Africa

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October 1st 2011
Published: October 1st 2011
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Episode 6 (1.10.11) - by Craig.
Whale, sharks and the Western Cape.

Hello to everyone back home. We are currently in the Cape Town region, in the South Western corner of South Africa. The city is beautiful - we saw it in sunshine as we arrived but the next few days will apparently be cloudy.
Well, prior to arriving in Cape Town, we picked up a hire car and drove two hours South East, to the town of Gansbaai (pronounced Huns-by ), the self professed "great white shark capital of the world". Nowhere else in the world are Great White Sharks so accessible (15 mins from shore, where they feed on a resident seal population.) They are a magnificent animal and the world's largest and most feared predatory shark. I had booked a white shark cage dive, where you don a wet suit and face mask (no snorkel or suba) and get in the cage , which is attached to the boat. Then, when the shark is attracted with a tuna head on a rope, you pop under water to view it. Unfortunately, Ross was sick on the day and did not come, but Bryan was a trooper and came with me. The seas were choppy, but we took seasickness tabs beforehand - very wisely, as most of the others on board spent some of the time chucking up from the back of the boat. But the sharks-they were truly awesome. Apparently, there were three, but we only ever saw one at a time from the cage (Rodd, you would have loved it, man). Watching as a 3.8 metre Great White glides past the cage was truly awe-inspiring. It was thrilling and not at all scary (you see, Thomas !). A guy on board was videoing the whole thing, and, back on land, Bryan bought a copy of the DVD, together with a T-shirt, proudly proclaiming that he had done the White Shark cage dive. An experience we will never forget.

A half hour drive around the bay is Hermanus, the self proclaimed "world capital of land-based whale watching". And indeed it was. The mothers come incredibly close to shore to give birth at this time of year, and mill about. We saw umpteen Right whales breaching and playing about - viewed right from the rocks above. We stayed in the small adjoining town of De Kelders, where we ate each night at an atmosperic old pub, full of maritime memorabilia, and with abalone shells stuck all over the walls. The food was cheap and plentiful, including "bobotie" - A South African speciality of spicy mince with a hardened egg-based topping, not unilke a spruiced up Shepard's Pie. However, the dessert menu caught our interest. Pointing to one item on the dessert menu, Ross said:
"I might order this - the Tipsy Tart, but I think she may have left for the evening."
Tipsy tart turned out to be some sort of cake soaked in brandy.
After the sharks and whales, we drove West towards Cape Town, stopping overnight in historic Simon's Town (a old naval town), where we saw the popular colony of African penguins (twice the size of our fairy penguins, in striking black and white tuxedos and pink above their eyes.)
Well, that's all for now. We have only about four days left - here in Cape Town - before the haul home.
By the way, a big thanks to Bryan's mum, Jan, for the luggage straps. They are great.
Craig, Ross and Bryan.


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