Thursday, January 31, 2013


Great White Shark Cage Diving

January 27, 2013  

I have always wanted to be face to face (in a cage) with a Great White Shark. This morning I was able to fulfill that dream. We left Cape Town at 5:20 am for the 2 hr drive to Gansbaai where "Shark Alley" would be our cage diving spot. There were only 13 (Lucky 13) of us and usually there are at least 20 people per trip. Smaller groups allow more time in the freezing water. We wore wet suits but still very cold. When we first anchored a great white shark about 12-13 ft. started circling the boat. Our guide said that many times the sharks will leave after the cage is lowered in the water.

I quickly put on my wet suit as many were debating when to go in the cage. I was the first one in and then 4 others joined me. The Great White stayed with us for our 40 "cold" minutes in the cage. One of the deck hands kept throwing out a large fish head on a hook with a rope near the cage. The shark was interested in it but not really intent on eating it. The Great White would swim right in front of us and on two occasions it turned its head and looked directly at me at a distance no more than 1 foot away. 

The first picture, unfortunately, is not mine. Maybe one day.

Unfortunately I did not rent an underwater camera because I thought the videographer would have great footage but he didn't. But did get some nice pictures from top of the boat. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hiking Table Mountain and Devil's Peak

January 28, 2013   Happy birthday to my son, Jon.

"The first step in the journey is to lose your way."  Galway Kinnel

 The plan was simple, catch a taxi to base of Table Mountain, hike up the gorge trail to top of Table Mountain (2hrs) and then cable car down and taxi back to Amber Tree.

But the "travel gods" have a sense of humor. I asked directions at the hostel because I do have a tendency to not pay close attention to signs and other paths while walking. All around the world I have ended up on animal paths which no human should be walking because they always seemed to get very narrow and very high.  

I found the path easily but while walking, enjoying the beauty of the scenery and while taking pictures I seem to have missed the turnoff and ended up at Devil's Peak. By the time I realized that I was a long way from my intended destination I decided to go ahead and finish this climb. I had gotten about 250 feet from the summit when I was no longer shielded by the 40-60 mph winds. These were not gusts , these were constant. I actually got pushed to the ground and got behind a rock and had to put on my fleece jacket. That is when I said close enough and headed back to find the original path.

Located it with no trouble but still had ANOTHER 2 hrs to hike in addition to the 2 hrs I had just completed. The scenery was spectacular but by no means easy. Straight up most of the time. Once on top I ate lunch and then went to the cable car. The line was long and when I found out it was $10 to go down, started walking by down the gorge. Walking down is always more painful because it is constantly pounding your knees. Finally made it and then tried to walk back the 1.5 hr to the hostel. I gave up at 45 minutes and hailed a taxi, but it only cost me $3 instead of the $6. I always say I have more time than money. 

Fantastic day.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Last day at Lake Bunyoni

March 1. 2013

Last full day at Lake Bunyonyi. Yesterday 2 Overland Trucks pulled up with about 40 new people for the lodge. Definitely interrupted the peace and solitude of the lake. I called yesterday to Bwindi Backpackers Lodge where I wanted to stay for the gorilla visit to the Virunga Mountains. He is based in Kbale nearby and showed up at the lodge today to visit with me. I arranged to be picked up, driven the 3-4 hrs to the lodge, stay in a dorm with all meals included for 5 nights and then transported to Kigali, Rwanda for $150. I am thinking that is pretty good deal since most lodges charge $50-$100 a night around this location. Not only that he said there is a good chance we may see gorillas from the lodge since his property is on the edge of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. He then agree to upgrade me from the dorm to a private room. This lodge is very new and in its infant stage as a lodge. I was told about it from my new backpacker friend, Jake Stone, who I met in Kampala. Jake was one of the first ever people to stay there. Since the grounds are still being landscaped everyone gets to plant a tree there with a sign and if you return you stay for half price. (Only $5 a night instead of $10  lol)  Leave tomorrow at 3 pm.