The morning after the England match we got the map out and decided on a route round SA all feeling a little depressed and hung-over. We decided to boot it to the famous Pilanesburg National Park near Jo’burg to give our visitors a taste of what a Safari should be like. A large safari park which housed the Big 5 was a great experience for all, the highlight being watching lions feed on a dead elephant whilst getting up close and personal with a Rhino! We then proceeded east to the coast and onto to Durban, for a night with a visit to the aquarium and a few beers and Brais here and there!
We then charged down the coast to Mosel Bay. Mosel Bay is a wonderful seaside town that has one feature that makes it even more special – Great White Sharks! The shark encounter was something that was top of the agenda for all. We started the day with the usual briefings, safety warnings before walking down to the boat to then out to moor up near a small island which was home to a small seal population. The skipper called this island a mini – mart for the sharks as the larger island of Dyer Island off Gainsbaai was home to the supermarket. Within minutes of mooring up we saw our first beautiful Great White. There are many arguments for and against chumming for sharks (which I won’t go into great detail here) and although I do not believe it is an entirely good process as long as it educates people about the future they hold for our planet then I can live with it. The sharks were already there and chumming is only a way of bringing them closer to the surface. I don’t think that sharks necessarily associate humans with chum as if this was the case the number of shark attacks would have risen dramatically over the last 15 years. They haven’t, so education is now the key to help these sharks survive and restore the proper balance to the food chain. There is something unknowable and primordial about them, and something timeless and graceful, too. They are the top predator in the ocean and the Great White is considered the most ferocious of the lot.
We climbed into our wetsuits and into the cage and into the cold water full of fear and anticipation. The cage was closed above us and we waited. Within a few minutes we had female cruise past us to check us out. Being so close to them was both incredible and terrifying! This was heightened even further when one of the sharks bit onto the cage, got stuck and thrashed around for a few seconds. It both shook the cage and the us vigorously and left us in no doubt why these beasts are so revered. After some cold 30 minutes in the cage we all were left with big smiles and some great shots but most of all a great highlight of SA.
Full of adrenaline we headed to Bloukrans and home of the world’s highest bungy jump for some more thrill seeking. The night before and the morning of the jump was filled with talk of nervousness, expectation and dread! We were one of the first jumpers of the day and we hoped that we would not have to wait too long as fear was building all around us. The jump is set in impressive surroundings under a bridge in a massive gorge. The walk to the jumping platform was one of the scariest walks I have done with the gorge getting deeper and deeper as we headed to the jump platform. We had all been weighed and numbered so we when we arrived at the jump spot all they had to do was hook us up and push us off! A couple of guys went before us and after about 20 mins with nerves jangling it was our turn. The fear was building, but as they kept saying, Fear is temporary, regret is forever!
There is something very unnerving stepping out on a platform some 300m above a gorge and throwing yourself off! Knees shaking and, stomach churning, head dizzy my legs finally obeyed me and I jumped. 8 seconds of freefall is a long time to scream and like a girl I did just that! What a thrill though, totally worth all the hype and tension and nerves and something that I would easily do again! The month had flown by and the World Cup was drawing to a close and it was almost time for Mark and Ian to depart.
We ventured back to Cape Town and for some R&R, more Braais, campfires and boxed wine and good times! At this point we had traveled around 13,000km since Sarah and I had first picked up the motor and it was almost time to hand it back. After the guys went up table mountain, we said goodbye to Mark and then took Ian on a wine tour before celebrating Sarahs birthday back in Stellenbosch were it had all started. Our last big journey was up to Jo-burg to watch the World Cup Final in the Fans Fest before everyone went their separate ways. Sarah and Ian were going back home and I was heading back to Asia. It had been an epic month and the 6 month tour of Africa was over. It was sad to say goobye to all espically Sarah as we had shared some amazing times together in Southern Africa. Africa had been life changing as people had told me it would. It is like no other, some of the most beautiful landscapes ever witnessed, vast unimaginable distances and in some places the warmest and happiest people alive. From the very poor of most of Africa to the rich SA Africa holds so much potential yet is fraught with corruption, poverty and racial tension. The experience though was worth every penny and I hoped I would be back to Africa in the near future.