Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Week 80: Diving in Sodwana Bay

This week has been really awesome, I stayed in Sodwana Bay doing my Open Water and Advanced Open Water scuba diving qualifications. The open Water course took 4 days, three of which included diving in Sodwana Bay. On one of the days we saw a group of dolphins and went snorkeling with them on our way out to the dive site. The bay has a huge area of coral reef and is home to loads of different types of fish and two types of turtle.

I finished the course on Thursday after scoring 100% in the final exam, while I was heading back to my tent I saw a group of people stood around a tent and overheard them asking if there was anyone around who wasn’t afraid of snakes. I used to have pet snakes so I went over to see what was happening, they told me that a cobra had been found in the tent but they were all too afraid to move it out, so I offered to do it. The snake was covered with a bed sheet and they gave me a long grabber thing but told me that the snake was too big for the grabber to fit around its neck. After a few minutes I had pushed the snake and the sheet into a box and closed the lid, we carried it out to some bushes and released it. The snake was about one and a half, to two meters long and black. They then told me that it wasn’t just a cobra but a Mozambiquan Spitting Cobra. I hadn’t been afraid because I was staying far enough away not to get bitten, but spitting cobras can spit quite far.

The next day I started my Advanced Open Water course, this basically involves five adventure dives, chosen from sixteen different fields. I chose to do a Deep dive, Underwater Navigation, Peak Performance Bouyancy, Naturalist dive and Multilevel dive. The course was great and I saw lots of great fish and actually finished the course with a dive on ‘7 mile reef’, which is one of the top 10 dive sites in the world. During the course I swam with dolphins again and saw two Manta Rays. A really great experience.

Now I am heading to Durban and trying to plan what to do over the next week or so, I think I will be leaving South Africa very soon and heading to Australia. I just need to decide where I want to visit in South Africa, go there, then fly out to Australia to begin my third section of the trip.

Africa Blog Posts, Blog Posts

Weeks 78 & 79: Tofo, Mozambique to Sodwana Bay, South Africa via Swaziland

Week 78 started with New Years Eve, Tofo was extremely busy and there was lots of loud music. New Years Day was very strange, I walked through the village looking for a place to eat breakfast and the streets were full of broken glass, empty beer bottles, people sleeping and the ones who were awake walked around like zombies. Not exactly the tropical paradise that I am sure Tofo is for the rest of the year. I had met a South African guy on New Years Eve and he had offered to let me dive with him on the 2nd Jan, but unfortunately he didn’t turn up, so I headed back to Maputo on the 2nd. I had missed the shuttle bus so had to take a bus to the nearest town and then a boat to the nearest city. From there it took around 5 hours to get to Maputo.

I stayed in Maputo for the weekend with Thiago and his friends, actually I stayed for two nights at Fabio’s place. I had a great time with them, as always, we went out for meals and two house parties, then on the Sunday we actually appeared in a music video. The song is sung by two African artists, Matias Damasio (from Angola) and Valdomiro Jose (from Mozambique). The song is due for release in a couple of weeks so I will link to the video when it is available.

I started week 79 by leaving Mozambique and heading into Swaziland, staying in the best hostel I have ever visited. It is in Mlilwane National Park, but is as cheap as most of the normal hostels (around 10 Euros), but as this hostel is inside the park you are constantly surrounded by wildlife. A family of Warthogs regularly wandered about on the lawn and Zebra were never far away. You can actually wander around the park on foot to see the animals as there are no Lions in the park. This is where I met up with Nofar and Emanuel again, we originally met in Cape Maclear in Malawi and had arranged to meet again in South Africa.

From Mlilwane we drove south, into South Africa to a place called St Lucia. They had heard that this was a great place to see Crocodiles in the wild (over 90% of South Africa’s wild Croc’s are there). Unfortunately as we arrived there the weather turned for the worse, with storms and rain for a couple of days, so we didn’t see any wild Crocodiles, but did go to the Crocodile Centre to see a selection of captives. To make things worse we ended up in a hostel which had a group of 60 volunteers staying there, they were all about 18 years old and were drinking lots and listening to loud, terrible music.

On Saturday I split with the girls again and headed north to a place called Sodwana Bay. I had first heard of this place when I was staying in Cape Maclear, I was told it was the cheapest place in Southern Africa to do your Scuba Diving qualifications. I was very happy when I arrived here and found that the camp is inside another National Park, there is a really nice beach and the camp is also very comfortable and is home to lots of monkeys who are always wandering around the roof of the main building. There are a lot of Coral reefs here in Sodwana Bay so the diving should be really amazing. I start my Open Water course tomorrow, which should take around 4 or 5 days, after that I am thinking I might stay to do an advanced course which will allow me to dive to 30 meters.