I am working on a self-drive itinerary for a Belgian family of 5 (the 3 children are all girls, aged 10 11 and 12) visiting SA this April. They would like to include snorkelling (the dad has snorkelled Red Sea; for the kids it would be the first time) at either Kosi Bay (mouth?), Sodwana Bay or Cape Vidal. Do you operate in these areas and which would be the best for snorkelling?
Where we dive mostly, Barra and Tofo, our diving is year round; different times of year can offer us different sights, above water and below. Because Mozambique is in the southern hemisphere, our summer is from December to February and our winter is July to September, though because we are not too far from the equator our winters are not extremely cold.
From December 15th until January 15th it is the South African school holidays and because Mozambique is close to South Africa, all seaside resorts tend to be quite busy during this time, so if you would like to come and visit us during this period, you need to book early! It can get very hot during this time (temperatures can get up to 40 ˚C) and quite humid. Water temp: 27 ˚C-29 ˚C.
From February until May: February is considered cyclone season in this part of the world. Most years this does not affect us and we have gorgeous calm weather, but if the conditions are right for it, cyclones can form out in the channel and send us big waves. At Easter, because of the South African school holidays, the dive resorts are very busy, so if you would like to come during these two weeks you need to book early. Outside the Easter period, it tends to be fairly quiet so it’s a great time to visit us if you want to escape the crowds. The days are still nice and hot but the evenings are getting a little cooler. Water temp: 23-27˚C
From June until September: The whales are here, it’s sunny and warm during the day, and the evenings are cool enough to wear long sleeves. If you come in late June, it is possible to see both the humpback whales and the whale sharks! Water temp: 20-25˚C. This is however the main windy season so be prepared for some choppy sea conditions.
From September until December 15th: It’s starting to get a little warmer at night, the dive resorts varies between very busy and not busy, though these times are unpredictable, so book early or check with us.The water temperature is rising steadily from 23-27˚C.
Visibility, wind and sea conditions: You will need to remember that this is Africa! It is impossible to compare our conditions to other parts of the world. The sea conditions can range from lake-like to very rough with swells sometimes reaching over 5 meters and wind speeds up to 30 knots. We will not launch our boats and take you diving if the sea conditions are too rough (decided by our experienced dive and boat staff) or unsafe. You will find, that if you have never dived here, or along the south-eastern coast of Africa, that the conditions can be quite challenging one day, and very easy the next. Visibility can range from 1 meter to 30 meters and none of the conditions are predictable. We can also get very strong currents on our deeper dives and this is why all our deep dives are considered drift dives and done with negative descents. Having said all the above, we can also experience very calm and pleasant sea and diving conditions.
Do you guys think there is any evidence that the contrast in colour poses any risk diving with sharks? Let me know because the customers just want to know if they need to buy different fins for this trip. I don’t want them to spend money and then turn up to find the dive center has yellow rental fins!
Here is the answer from Brett, a very experience shark addict who runs the Aliwal Shoal Operation:-
I have the same people here. On my dive today was a guy in a yellow wetsuit - he is still alive!!!
Personally I would not buy new fins.
Worst case scenario, we can lend them some fins if they feel strongly about it.
And from Kym, who runs the Protea operation:-
lol. yes yum yum yellow. The sharks are more interested in yellow, white and silver fins. We have never had an issue but if the diver is a bit more nervous of sharks coming close them another choice could be better. Some of our rentals fins are yellow...lol.
Really, I would not worry!
I am traveling to cape town the first two weeks of January. My dream has always been to dive with great whites. I am a qualified Dive master and looking for a more private experience. I will be visiting cape town with 6 others. out of the the 6 people 3 have diving experience and would also like to go. my question is i understand the factors that are out of your control ie. weather, shark activity. We only have one day January 9th to do this. I'm praying for the right conditions. any information would be appreciated. I would like a private adventure for 7 people total. 4 divers..
Having been on our Website you might have noticed that January month must be the worst time to cage dive with the Great Whites. From the end of October, after the Cape Fur Seals pup, till mid-March, is “closed season” for the Great White’s. They predate mainly on seals, and during the pupping season there is just so much food about that they simply gorge themselves full. The Great White stores its energy in its liver, which can weigh as much at 60% of its total body weight. With a result they are not hungry and not interested in hunting its prey, which is the seal. They are in the area, but are very lethargic and lazy, so sighting are poor, and are fleeting. So much so that we cease our Great White shark operations out of False Bay, off Simon’s Town, but we still operate out of Gansbaai.
So, having said all that, if you are still interested, we can book you and your group on Tuesday, January 09, 2018.
The cost is ZAR 1 980 per person, diver or non-diver, excluding transfers from a central location in downtown Cape Town / Gansbaai, return.
If you require transport from a central location in downtown Cape Town to Gansbaai, return, the cost is ZAR 2 380 per person, diver or non-diver.
Our boat is licenced to take 36 people, but we limit the numbers to 20 clients and 5 crew, thereby enabling us to provide our clients with more comfort and space, as well as a more intimate experience.
If you would like an exclusive charter, the cost is ZAR 32 670 for the dive boat, excluding transfers from Cape Town to Gansbaai, return. If you should require transfers, please add ZAR 400 per person to this amount.
Chuck, I think I’ve given you all the basic information about a Great White Shark cage diving trip. If you would like to take a chance, and if you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Out of Mpame its 5 sea days / 6 nights.
Out of Port St John’s its 9 sea days / 10 nights.
You can arrive any time suitable to yourself on the first day, ideally before dinner, so that you can meet the crew and you fellow participants. The first day of the Sardine run then starts the following day. Then depending on which Expedition you chose, you then have either 5 sea days with one reserve day (East London,) or 5 sea days out of Mpame, or 9 sea days out of Port St John’s.
Payment is a 10% non-refundable deposit on booking, and the balance, 30 days before the start of the Expedition you chose to join, subject to availability. They are filling up very fast as it’s not long now before the first Expedition date out of East London, on Sunday, May 21.
Hope this answers your questions.
Please understand that the Sardine Run is a natural phenomenon, meaning nothing is guaranteed, and no one location, East London, Mpame, or Port St Johns, is better than another. In order to help you decide where to be based, let us explain as best we can.
The only known fact is, that unless the water temperature drops below 19°C, the Sardines simply don’t “run.” The shoals of Sardines prefer cold water, and if the temperature does not drop below 19°, they simple stay far out to sea, and deep, where the colder waters are, and don’t venture close to shore. This is when they don’t “run, and it has happened often in the past. So, as you can appreciate, no-one can guarantee the Sardine Run. The other known factor is that the sardines start their “run” (migration) south of Cape Town, and work their way north, up the east coast of South Africa. They first reach offshore East London about now, end-May. As they work their way up north, the next best place to be based is Mpame, which is north of East London, but south of Port St Johns. About mid-way between East London in the south, and Port St Johns in the north. That’s the safe bet where to be based. Then as the shoals migrate north, they leave the East London area in the south, to Mpame. Then towards the end of June to mid / end July they are in the Port St John’s area. Then they send to head out to sea, and follow the Agulhas current all the way back to the Cape where they start the whole process again next year. But please remember, if the water temperature along the coast is not below 19°, is does not matter where you are based – they will not come close to land. So, in a nut shell, and assuming the water temperature is right, they first reach East London towards the end of May to mid-June. Are in the Mpame area, mid-June to mid-July. Then, in the port St John’s area, mid-June to the end of July. That’s simplistically put, but nothing is nature is simple, so please don’t hold us to the above.
Sharon, if you are thinking about joining this year’s Sardine Run, we urge you not to leave it too late, as they are due off East London any day now.
For example, sardines group together when they are threatened. This instinctual behaviour is a defence mechanism, as lone individuals are more likely to be eaten than an individual in a large group. Sardine bait balls can be 10–20 metres in diameter and extend to a depth of 10 metres. The bait balls are short-lived and seldom last longer than 10 minutes.
However, bait balls are also conspicuous, and when schooling fish form a bait ball, they can draw the attention of many other predators. As a response to the defensive capabilities of schooling fish, some predators have developed sophisticated countermeasures. These countermeasures can be spectacularly successful, and can seriously undermine the defensive value of forming bait balls.
Please Note: When on the Sardine Run, diving on bait balls is extremely rare. The sardine sun relies on the coming together of many different variables: weather and currents, predators and of course, the sardines! Some days are going to be quiet and some days will be very busy. We will do our utmost to get you into the best position to appreciate this event, either from the boat or in the water.