After my one week tour of South Africa was done I had to stay in the country, in Durban, for an extra day because of the flight schedule. I googled what one could do of fun stuff in Durban and up came the company Blue Wilderness who conducted shark snorkeling! Well, that didn’t take long to decide.. All the photos below are from the photo package I bought from Blue Wilderness after the experience.
We met very early in the morning – this was the first dive of the day. The waves should be calmer and the sharks more plentiful at this hour. We got a thorough safety briefing beforehand, where our guide pointed out what our behavior among the sharks should be, and which sharks we might meet out there.
And then, it was off to the beach!
Final safety briefing by the boat. It was quite the undertaking to get the boat out in the water, and several of the men doing the dive had to help. We were standing by the water’s edge, all poised to push, waiting for the captain to yell GO! when the waves were just right. Sailing out through the surf was just as fun as a rollercoaster – the waves are huge.!
It’s a 10 minute boat ride out to the Aliwal Shoal where we would be snorkeling.
It is quite surreal to look into the water, see all these fins circling around, and know that you’ll be in there with them in just a minute.!
You could choose whether you wanted to be in a cage or if you wanted to swim around on your own. The only ones on ‘my team’ who chose the cage were the man on the right and his wife because he couldn’t use his legs. And the Blue Wilderness team actually made sure he got out to swim too, they just had a team member on each of his arms. I thought that was super impressive!
You could also choose to hang on to a suspended stick in the water. As you can see, it got quite busy under the water! Lots of people, sharks, cages, boats.. I haven’t snorkeled much before this, so it all contributed to a very high level of stress for me. The fact that I was in water 30 meters deep among hordes of sharks trying to breathe under water made me completely forget to be afraid, which was probably a good thing. I only concentrated on breathing.!
That’s me and a shark! We were told to swim with our hands tucked into our armpits because apparently our hands could look like sardines to the sharks. I’m pulling my knees up because it felt like it was just SO close.!
But the sharks did get incredibly close, one of them even bumped into my legs, but we never felt threatened. Blue Wilderness has a 100% safety record, so they must be doing something right..!
There’s me again, with the red hair, pulling my knees up. Can’t count all the times I thought a shark swimming under me was going to hit me with its fin.!
So, I said that the ride out from the beach was pretty fun, which is true. BUT! As soon as we arrived at Aliwal Shoal and I started looking into the water at all the sharks and the other people, ie. stopped looking at the horizon, I got horribly seasick. Because of all the stress, I felt like I was swimming around with the sharks for most of the hour we had out there and only spent maybe 10 minutes hanging by the cage being sick as above. According to the pictures, it was the other way around – most of the photos are of me hanging by the cage. So, if you intend to do something like this, for all that you hold dear TAKE ANTI SEASICKNESS MEDS! I was NOT the only one who got sick.
After 45 minutes or an hour we got on the boat back to the shore. We all got lollipops for the ride home (I politely declined). I had had an absolutely awesome experience, even though I got sick! I don’t think I’ll ever forget the mental image of a shark coming directly toward you and breaking off at the last moment. If you’re in Durban, South Africa you should not cheat yourself of this experience – it is not dangerous and it is entirely safe as long as you follow the crew’s directions.
I paid 950 South African Rand (72 dollars at time of writing) for the whole experience and then added 400 for roundtrip transport and 250 for the photo package, which consists of about 300 photos plus a 4-5 minute video. You get coffee and tea when you arrive in the morning, and after the trip there’s sandwiches, soda and more coffee while you debrief. All the crew members are so nice and professional, and I would recommend this to anyone! By the way, I am not being paid in any way to write this – I simply had an awesome experience that I want to share.
Link to Blue Wilderness
What’s the craziest animal encounter you’ve had? Comment below!