Shark Cage Diving

Trip Start Sep 21, 2009
1
5
213
Trip End Apr 28, 2010


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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Thursday, September 24, 2009

Article for review website

Out of all the organised trips this was certainly the one I was looking for the most and I can tell you that I was not disappointed. I think that ever since I saw Jaws, I developped a sense of uneasiness once in water but also became fascinated or rather intrigued by Great White Sharks.

If you decide to go ahead and do this you have 2 options, you can either have a very early start (4.30 pick up) or a more normal start (8.30 pick up). People (including me) have a tendency to believe that an early start will give you more chance of seeing the Sharks but it is, in fact, not true according to the skipper we had that day. You can go early morning and struggle to encounter a single shark and go later and have a lot more luck. As a matter of fact, this is what happened the day I did it.

There are a lot of different companies that offer this service. After searching for while and very carefully (after all you might be doing a life threatening experience here!!), I opted for a company called White Shark Ecoventures, and I have no idea how the other companies run their day but this company did a remarkable job and has certainly made this an unforgettable day for me.

So, I got picked up by Wiehann at around 8.30 and it took us around 2.30 – 3 to get to Gansbaai. At first I wanted to get there by my own means but if you are travelling on your own this is the cheapest and easiest way to get there, if you are in group then renting a car would probably work out cheaper.

Everyone on the bus was very quiet – was it out of tiredness or was it out of fear of being a few hours away from mingling with one of the world's most dangerous predator. Surprisingly, I was neither nervous nor apprehensive, I just wanted to get there and do it!

On the way to Gansbaai, Wiehann, give us a bit of history of the area, nothing too heavy, just the right amount actually and it was very interesting.

When we finally arrived, we were given a lunch pack and a short security briefing. The only thing I did not like was having to sign a disclaimer that I clearly had no time to read. I think this should be sent to you when you make a booking so that you are clearly aware of the risks because let’s face I wasn’t going to back down now.

Once on the boat, it was very bumpy. It took us roughly 15 minutes to get to the chosen spot and luckily, there was already a shark there waiting for us! This is apparently unusual - A sign we were bound to be lucky!

Very eager to get started, I was one of the ones to get changed and part of the first 4 who went in first. So there I was in a wetsuit tiptoeing into a large steel cage knowing a potential man-eater is merely a few feet away. Strangely, fear could not be further from my mind. I was overcome with a sense of total fixation. Nothing else in the world mattered at this stage, just seeing the sharks.

My first dive, although amazing at the time, was actually not that good. Indeed, I did not realise you had to wait until they shouted "Down" to go into the water - I was just diving in randomly. It might seem obvious but when you are in a cage surrounded by sharks, trying to find your grip without putting any limbs out of the cage and diving to see sharks, it all becomes a little bit more complicated!

On the first dive, I saw 2 sharks fairly closely - about 2 to 3 yards away and I thought that was great. It’s not until I came out that I understood exactly how it worked. All I wanted to do was to get back into the water and see the sharks really closely. When I was waiting, I witnessed some impressive “attacks”. I put attacks in inverted comas because they are not really attacks - The sharks are not coming for us, they are simply trying to grab the bait which is thrown at sea and then dragged towards the cage so you can get a good view of them coming towards you with an open jaw.

This is what happened to me the second time I went in. The shark was literally half a yard away from me with its jaw wide open. It was absolutely amazing but like I said, I was not scared - In fact, I felt nothing which is probably a sign of shock :-). The experience was that unbelievable that it almost did not feel real - like I was watching it on a TV screen or something - but that is until you actually remind yourself that you are in the water with Great Whites.

We then went back to shore which was a relief as the swell was quite high and a few people had to throw up. I came fairly close but was okay in the end.

The day finishes off by watching the day’s video footage which you could buy for 350 Rand (29) - a bit pricey but it is a once in a lifetime experience. We had more food and drinks and then headed towards Hermanus to watch some whales. We were once again lucky as we managed to see 2 of them swimming along with a seal and also jumping.

The company White Shark Ecoventures really took care of us and it was truly an amazing experience, one of those that you can’t describe but simply have to do. You have to bear in mind though that we were lucky to see both sharks and whales very closely because as they are dealing with wild animals, it is unpredictable and therefore not guaranteed to see them. However, according to the cameraman, they have a 95-97% success rate.

The standard price for this activity is 1,500 Rand although I managed to get a discount when I booked from the UK and paid 1,150 Rand so you might want to try your luck.
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Where I stayed
Gansbaai

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