As a lonesome female visiting South Africa the dangers of sightseeing alone were conveyed to me more than once by more than one person before coming out here. In retrospect it seems safer than in my small Somerset town of Yeovil where on most days of the week I can pass angry looking youngsters with can of cider or lager in hand as I make my way gingerly to the local shops. So relinquishing the notion of renting a car and going on the great tour of South Africa alone I have made do with local tours.
The Cape of Good Hope is on most people’s “must do” list as its the end of Africa and we all like to visit the extremities of countries though what logic there is behind it I don’t know. There were other stopping off points on the way and plenty of stunning countryside between. I made friends with another lone traveller, Sebastian who as a member of Emirates Airlines had just flown 400 or so passengers from Dubai. Sebastian preferred the escapade of a tour rather than sleeping off his journey in a Cape Town hotel room before heading back up to Dubai.
My second major trip was far more remarkable and one I would do again in a flash! Diving with great white sharks was never on my list. As a keen photographer and one who has in interest in whales and the like, the idea was to do the trip, take some shots and stay in the boat. I had not reckoned with Doug and Jane from Durham (sorry Jane I kept calling you Liz!). When the captain asked for three to make up the numbers diving in the cage Jane grabbed me and shouted “we’re a three!”
Wet suits were donned and into the cage we went. A large female great white had already been spotted so we knew there were sharks around. Instructions were given about not putting hands outside the cage......easy on land but when you are trying to stay under water to see the creature your hands tend to grab anything! “DOWN DOWN” was the call from above; we submerged and saw looming through the murky water, with jaws open, the great white shark of our dreams or more likely nightmares! This didn’t just happen once but around five or six times in a couple of hours on the boat, quite remarkable, and reportedly one of the only places in the world where this phenomena can be frequently seen. My photographic attempts on the boat were far better than underwater although I am happy to have records of both.
As an aside, this tourist attraction is strictly regulated here in South Africa, both from the safety aspect and the conservation aspect so there are minimal risks. As my Mother said, “you were probably safer in the shark cage than walking around Cape Town by yourself”.