Adventure Africa #11: Watersports in Africa
Watersport option 1: Scuba Diving and Snorkeling:
South Africa boasts a wealth of colorful underwater fauna and flora with a phenomenal variety of 1500 different species of fish. The immensely long coastline offers a huge range of diving environments and experiences. The Cape is characterized by extensive kelp forests and Cape Town is the only place in the world where all three major genera of kelp are found growing together. As well as these fascinating underwater forests, the icy water is also home to pretty cold-water cords and a range of colorful invertebrate life.
As you head East and North, the water temperature increases and the underwater flora and fauna changes. Once past Cape Agulhas, the kelp peters out and tropical and sub tropical fish may be seen moving southwards with Agulhas current. It is due to this vast, fast flowing body of warm water that South Africa boasts the most southerly coral reefs in the world at Sodwana Bay, where water temperature never drops below 20 degrees Celsius.
Further South, near the resorts of Umkomaas and Margate, rocky reefs support a large variety corals and a whole range of tropical fish. From here more experienced divers can see a fascinating variety of sharks. The migratory ragged tooth shark mates here in late winter and early spring and can be seen at Aliwal Shoal or Prote Banks. The latter is a deep, open-ocean dive, where as well as ragged tooth, divers may see Zambezis, Tiger Shark, Hammerhead and Great Whites. Other options include dives in the predator tanks at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town or Bay World in Port Elizabeth.
Close encounters with Whales and Dolphins are also possible. Because of it’s fantastic diving opportunities, South Africa has a good infrastructure of diving schools and resorts. As well as viewing undersea flora and fauna, interesting wrecks can be explored, particularly off Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban.
Watersport option 2: Sailing:
Professional yachtsmen can take visitors in day trips from key centers, like Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Knysna and Durban. Sailing conditions along the South African coast are some of the most challenging in the world.
Watersport option 3: Surfing:
South Africa has some of the least crowded and best surfing beaches in the world. Surfing is possible along most of the Coastline. For beginners, Algoa Bay and Silvic Bay near Port Elizabeth have relatively light waves while breakers of up to three meters pound the beaches of the West Coast near Cape Town. Water temperatures of the Atlantic do not exceed 18 degrees Celsius while the Indian Ocean in contrast, reaches temperatures of 24 degrees Celsius. This is Durban, the center of surfing, is situated. From October to April, near perfect winds prevail. There are Surf Schools all along the coast. Surf boards can be rented in most coastal cities, and have many second hand shops. Alternatively bring your own surf board along. You must enquire from the airline about transportation costs and should consider taking a roof rack along as car rental companies are not geared up for the transportation of surfboards.
Watersport option 3: White Water Rafting in South Africa:
This activity can be as challenging as you choose, depending on the river. The Orange Is the most popular river, offering gentle, family style canoe-trips near Augrabies and Vioolsdrif or some exciting white water rafting near Onseepkans. Other rivers for fun paddling trips include the Vaal and Sabie, not too far from Johannesburg; the Breede, near Cape Town and the Umkomaas Umgeni Rivers near Durban. There are some great white water challenges on the Tugela Rivers and Buffalo Rivers in Kwa-Zulu Natal in summer, on the Blyde River in Mpumalanga and the Olifants River in Northern Province all year round and on the Doring, near Cape Town in winter. Sea Kayaking trips are offered along the coast and in the St. Lucia Estuary.
::: Sample Watersports Itinerary :::
8 day Multisport Adventure
Greater St. Lucia Wetlands
A multisport adventure rolls the most exciting experiences into one playtime package. Clients can have it all as this package includes scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and microlighting. Accommodation throughout is in semi-luxury lodges.
Transfer to Cape Vidal, situated on the north coast of the Eastern Shores area in the Greater St Lucia Wetlands park, well known for snorkeling and fishing. After lunch, enjoy a guided game walk, learn how to surf paddle or spend time snorkeling.
Morning guided paddle at either Lake Bhangazi or Catalina Bay, experiencing one of Africa’s greatest wetlands and birder’s paradise. Indulge in a short walk along the Easter shores of Lake St. Lucia, After lunch leave for Hluhluwe Game Reserve, one of the better known game reserves in South Africa, Besides the ‘Big Five’, animals to be seen include: giraffe, nyala, blue wildebeest, warthog, eland, hippo, impala, kudu and other smaller antelope. Rare species occurring in the reserve are cheetah, hyena,, suni and leopard
Morning game drive, After lunch head for the Sodwana bay, a scuba divers playground, Afternoon microlight flight over Sodwana Bay’s reefs and along the coastline.
Two scuba dives at Sodwana Bay and late afternoon at beautiful Lake Sibaya.
Two morning scuba dives at Sodwana bay. The reefs off Sodwana bay are very extensive ensuring that divers explore different reefs on each dive. After lunch, travel to the third lake of the Kosi bay Lake System and relax for the rest of the afternoon.
Spend most fo the day where the three lake Kosi bay lake system feeds into the azure blue waters of the Maputoland coast. The trip to the first lake is an adventure in itself, while some rough roads are negotiable by off road vehicles. This beautiful area truly epitomizes a blend of the African bush, wetlands and beaches. See the unique system of fish traps that local fisherman have used for 700 years, using the tide’s ebb and flow to catch their prey. Besides relaxing and enjoying guided walks in the area, clients can snorkel at the ‘Aquarium’ at the mouth of the lake where a profusion of fish life can be seen.
Spend the day boating around lakes two and three of the Kosi bay lake system. Bird life here is prolific and with luck the majestic Fish Eagle hunting for fish may be seen. Guided beach walks are also available
Travel to Durban hotel or International Airport