White Shark Ecoventures
Gansbaai, South Africa
White Shark Ecoventures Gansbaai Reviews
Memorable, Adventurous and Exciting. Jul 18, 2010
After bungee jumping, ostrich riding, cave exploration and playing with cheetah cubs (it was a busy week!) I wasn’t sure if I wanted to fork over the money for shark cage diving. Back in Durban, one person told me that they tried it and didn’t like it (not sure which company they used). While in the Drakensberg and driving along the Garden Route, two people told me they tried it and loved it. (also not sure which company they used). The day before we arrived in Hermanus, I laid awake in bed and thought about all of the money I was spending on these activities and the debt I was incurring. I thought about how the shark cage diving might not be that cool, or how I could possibly spend that money on something more worthwhile. As we drove into the town, my girlfriend and I were just barely leaning towards not diving. We had two days to kill in Hermanus, and we were going to find out all of the activity options before we committed either way.
A few things conspired to change our minds. The hostel we stayed in (Hermanus Backpackers - a great place to stay which I will review soon) gives you a R100 discount if you sign up for the shark diving trip. We had spent the last few nights in dorms, and the thought of staying in a nice big double for the price of a dorm was very attractive. That, and the fact that the other activities weren’t as interesting (sand boarding, off-road quad biking, rappelling. ehh) convinced us to take the deal. For R995 (about $135) per person, we got a cheap double and a free breakfast at the hostel, free light refreshments for lunch at the diving office, equipment and the whole diving setup, and a free dinner when we got back from the dive. Financially it was a great deal, but enough about the details, let’s get to the sharks.
IT WAS AWESOME!!!
While in the cage, a shark swam directly towards me. It was following some tasty tuna heads that were hooked to a line on the boat. The guy working the bait line pulls the bait in furiously so that the shark doesn’t actually get to eat it. It draws the shark closer, and seemingly pisses the shark off. This particular shark, upon being denied his fish heads, set his beady little black eyes upon me and opened its mouth wide. Its lower jaw set upon the bars of the cage, and its upper jaw tried to push through the gap purposely left in the cage so that you can take pictures without seeing the bars. Luckily, its upper jaw was too large to fit through, so I got to keep my life. I could have reached out and touched the damn thing, and with a clearer mind, I may have tried (we were told specifically not to do this by our guide). I swear I could see its thought process as it realized that it wasn’t going to get at me; it released its jaw, turned its head and swam away to find more interesting things.
Before getting on the boat, we were given a complete run down on how everything was going to work. We got a lesson on the habits of sharks, why they hang out in the particular area that we are visiting, how we were to safely use the cage, etc. The company does a great job addressing the ethical concerns that some people have with the industry. The sharks are not harmed and are not fed, the sharks we encounter are constantly moving through the area to other parts of the world, so there isn’t a single shark that begins to associate humans or boats with food. People are educated about sharks, especially about the endangered Great Whites, we all end up in awe and everyone comes out a winner.
The trip is professionally run. The food is decent. Everyone gets at least two stints inside the cage, 15-20 minutes each. You can potentially go in the cage more often if you have people on the boat who don’t want seconds. The boat can get a bit crowded with everyone trying to wriggle in and out of their wet suits at the same time, but other than that everything is great. Note that if you take a shuttle to get to the main office in Gansbaai, you have to pay an additional fee. You also have to have or buy your own underwater camera if you want underwater photos. There are shops that sell underwater cameras at the dock for about R180. Any other questions? Shoot me a private message. This was one of the cooler activities I participated in along the Garden Route; I highly recommend it.
Part of the Africa Summer 2010 travel blog
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