Last leg in Africa [for now]: Great Whites & the Garden Route

Knowing that our trip in Africa would be coming to an end soon, we have been determined to soak up  as much as sun, scenery, and experiences in South Africa as possible. We spent a wonderfully relaxing day after Christmas with George visiting “The Map of Africa”, watching paragliders, and eating homemade pies and ice cream with a view of the coast. From Sedgefield, we cycled along the coast to the Knysna Heads, Plettenberg Bay, Bloukrans Bridge, Storms River, and Jeffreys Bay.

 

There is so much to see on the garden route, so we didn’t need to cycle huge distances everyday. Instead, we prioritized getting off the bike and stretching our legs with coastal hikes in Tsitsikamma National Park, Robberg Nature Reserve, and surfing lessons in the Mecca of surfing (Jeffreys)!

We ended up spending New Years Eve in Jeffreys. At the time, we were both tired from months of cycling and ready to climb into our tent for bed. I woke at 11:55pm to the sound of fireworks exploding over the beach, with just enough time to drag Simon out of the tent and ring in the New Year with a kiss. In retrospect, this was the perfect place for us to celebrate the end of 2017, because this would be the furthest East we would cycle in South Africa. We’ve been through so much in the past year – from leaving our amazing friends and jobs in Ottawa and driving our belongings across America to cycling through 7 countries in Southern Africa!

It was a very unusual feeling for us turning around and heading back to Cape Town. Although we’re sad this leg of our adventure is coming to an end, we don’t normally get to revisit areas we enjoyed, or see familiar faces again! South Africa has spoiled us and we feel grateful to be ending the trip with so many new friends!

 

Making our way back to Cape Town, there was one last activity we really wanted to do – a trip to see the powerful Great White sharks in the wild. The morning started with a 45 min boat ride from Mossel Bay (usually they take you a short distance to “seal island” but they are not allowed to chum the waters so close to the swimming beaches during peak tourist season). When the boat finally anchors they lower the 6-person cage into the water and start pouring in buckets of watered-down fish guts. They use a seal-shaped floaty on top of the water to attract the sharks from deep waters. When a shark surfaces, they use a tuna-head to attract them closer to the cage. We saw 4 sharks in total! The largest was about 4 meters, but adults can grow up to 6+ meters. We were surprised by how much coaxing it took to actually get the sharks near the cage – they weren’t interested in us at all! We learned that the population is threatened, because despite adults living to 90 years old, they don’t start having babies until they are around 30. Also, despite having a large population in this area, Mossel Bay, South Africa has very few attacks per year. So there you have it – we may not have seen a lion on our journey through Southern Africa, but we saw endangered sharks. Out of our five months on the continent, this will always stand out as a highlight!

 

 

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