Sodwana Bay, South Africa, February 2005

Actually it should go to Thailand in the winter of 2005, booked was a Liveaboard to the Similan Islands, but due to the tsunami in December 2004, we had to reschedule at short notice. Our choice was South Africa, because here we wonderfully could combine shore excursions with a week of diving.

The flight with South African Airways brought us to Durban via Johannesburg, of course on the stopover once again our entire luggage had not made the connection. Hooray! After an endless time of waiting we picked up our rental car then drove off and about a 350 km long highway (we would call this a regional road at maximum) north. There - in the province Kwa Zulu Natal - is one of the most famous dive sites in northern South Africa: The Sodwana Bay. Currents from Mozambique bring the warm waters of the tropics to this region, so that here the southernmost coral reefs of the world have arisen. The corals do not form a continuous reef, but make a number of smaller reefs parallel to the beach run. Getting to those reefs sometimes needs very adventurous boat rides through the onrushing waves.

The main inhabitants these reefs are stingrays, groupers, turtles, moray eels, parrot fish, surgeon fish, shrimp, mussels - they are actually all there. Depending on the season you can even see the famous "Reggie" (sand tiger sharks).


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In the Sodwana Bay trips with the Zodiacs require extensive preparations: The equipment is loaded fully setup and packed. The boat is pushed by a tractor from behind, all divers are helping until all are standing in water up to their bellies. Then everybody jumps (crawls)into the boat, first the Captain, then nothing for a long, eventually the women, then only the remainder. Then, everybody put his life jacket on, tighten clip on his feet on the ground and the hot ride will start through the surf. After ashort first time, the ride mostly gets quiet. Travel time is 10 to 30 minutes, just before the dive site, the boat is stopped. Everybody rigs up and is ready. With backward roll all fall backwards, you dive together with the Guide. The dive sites are very nice but the reefs usually start only beyond the 10-m limit, so are not interesting for snorkelers.

After the dive the boat comes to the divers, divers "undress", hand everything on board and must now somehow get on board (this is a subject in itself, because the boats are quite large). But we always had the good fortune because of our air lasted longer so we always have been last and had accordingly more helping hands aboard.

The return trip in full speed is again quite exciting, by skillful surfing it goes back to the beach - Yes the beach. Shortly before the skipper is again efficient gas and you shoot unrestrained to the sand. Who's not securely fixed - flies. In the beginning everything is quite unusual, after a few days it's just fun, especially when newcomers are on board.

We have stayed in the Sodwana Bay Lodge, not far from the sea behind high sand dunes. This rustic resort features several bungalows, a restaurant, a swimming pool and a bar. During the weekend it is often quite noisy as South Africans seem quite happy to celebrate extensively, also the diving operation on these days was much stronger.

Incidentally, we have taken the extra service of 10 Rand per dive (about 1 Euro), but our equipment after each dive was rinsed, hung to dry and in the afternoon brought to the base. The next dive day it was back at the Beach.

After a really busy week on the coast part 2 our holiday began. After an extensive visit to the Hluluwe Imfolozi Park we drove back towards Durban to our next goal - Thula Thula. Here we had booked the Thula Thula Safari Lodge ( and the pleasure of twice a day, early morning and late afternoon game drives with experienced rangers. In between: relax, walks in the area, swimming in the pool and excellent cuisine.

South Africa is really an ideal travel destination. For our next visit we have made clear to us, to get more aquainted with Cape Town and Western Cape.

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