The thing I was most excited for on my South Africa trip was going cage diving with Great White sharks. It was the first thing I looked into after I booked my flights. The company I booked with works out of Cape Town and because it was the summer period (and they operate during winter months) it was actually a different company that my booking was outsourced to. I thought this was a little bit sneaky on their part as the company I ended up with didn’t seem as environmentally friendly as the one I thought I was booking with. On the day there wasn’t much I could do about that though.
I was picked up from the apartment I was staying in. We were based in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town and the company would pick up anywhere around the Cape Town centre. I was second to last to be picked up, which was lucky as it seemed like some of the others had been in the van a long time. We were on our way pretty quickly and the drive took nearly 3 hours in total.
Down in Gansbaai we were dropped off at a house next to the ocean which had some limited breakfast food, coffee and tea. People were already waiting there who had driven themselves down. It wasn’t long before we were making our way onto the boat, which had an open deck as a second level. I went straight up there to get a nice view as we sped out to find a good place to see sharks. The journey wasn’t long at all, around 15 minutes then we came to the spot. You could tell because there were numerous other boats in the area doing the same thing.
When the guy asked who wanted to go first, I volunteered immediately. It was strange how few people were up for going in first. I was excited! We got fitted up for wetsuits, weight belts and given masks and made our way to the cage that was attached to the side of the boat. In the cage we stood single file, looking away from the boat. There were two bars near the bottom of the cage, the top one was high enough to stand on with your head out of the water, then the bottom one was used to keep yourself under water. You hook your feet under there to stop yourself from floating up to the surface too quickly.
There are people on the deck telling you when a shark is nearby and when to duck under the water. As it is breath hold and visibility from that angle above the water isn’t very far, this helps a lot. I have to say it’s a lot less scary than I expected, I’m confident in water so that definitely helps, and the sharks come right up to the cage at some points but it’s all over so quickly each time it’s difficult to have build up the tension it takes to be afraid. None of them are interested in humans anyway, there’s much tastier things to eat than us.
It was staggering to see the different personalities of the sharks as they were pointed out by the skipper. Noticing the ways their behaviour to the boat varies was interesting while out of the water watching the others take turns. I got in the cage two times before we went back.
It was an amazing day and experience, if I went again I would look around at other companies but they all seem to be fairly similar. I would recommend it to anyone who is able to get into the cage and can has no problem holding their breath under water. If I could I definitely would’ve been back in that cage about 5 times.
We were upsold an average DVD or download video of the day (which I bought and haven’t really properly watched the whole way through) and then it was time to head back to Cape Town. As I was the second last to be picked up, I was second last to be dropped off. So the journey back was incredibly long as the traffic in Cape Town around New Years is pretty awful. I did get to see a lot of Cape Town though, which is a beautiful city.
Seriously though, I hope this isn’t a once in a lifetime experience, but it’s definitely something everyone should experience. I’ll be looking out for other countries to do something similar in. I’ve uploaded a video to YouTube with my GoPro footage of the sharks, enjoy http://youtu.be/6KLMN6JpK-s
Would you consider going cage diving with great whites?