South Africa Group Trip

$3,950.00

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2017 SOUTH AFRICA GROUP TRIP

JOIN BLUEWATER TRAVEL'S KATIE YONKER ON AN AMAZING TRIP TO SEE GREAT WHITE SHARKS, SEVERAL OTHER SPECIES OF SHARKS AT ALIWAL SHOAL, THE FAMOUS SARDINE RUN AND A LAND-BASED OPEN VEHICLE SARAFI

 

QUICK OVERVIEW

Start by spending two days cage diving with great white sharks, followed by diving Aliwal Shoal, home to Oceanic Blacktip Sharks, Ragged Tooth Sharks, Dusky Sharks, occasional Tiger Sharks, Whales, Dolphins, Turtles, Rays, Eels, Game Fish, and more. We'll also spend 5 full days witnessing the epic sardine run where you'll be surrounded by dolphins, sharks, diving birds, whales, game fish, seals, and of course millions of sardines that make this one of nature's most awesome events. You'll likely witness passing humpbacks as well. Then spend 3 days on an open vehicle safari in a wildlife preserve to see the "Big 5" - Lions, Leopards, Elephants, Rhino, and Buffalo. Finally, we'll finish off the last day of our trip with a morning hippo and crocodile cruise before heading home.

WHY GO ON THIS AMAZING TRIP

> A chance to combine amazing marine and mammal life, above and below the water
> Small group size of no more than 16 guests, and a max of 8 pax on the Sardine Run boats
> Our home base for the Sardine Run is Port St. Johns, which has more reliable Sardine Run action than Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks, where many other operators run trips
> This trip includes 2 days with great whites, 3 days diving Aliwal Shoal, 5 days of sardine run action, 3 days of an open vehicle safari, and a morning hippo and croc river cruise
> This trip is during the peak time for the Sardine Run

WHY TRAVEL WITH BLUEWATER

> We book boats and resorts that offer the best overall value
> Fun, engaged trip leaders who care about the guest experience
> Repeat customer discounts, gear discounts and other benefits
> Great support if flight/weather issues occur

DATES & PRICES

June 17 - July 2, 2017
$3,950: 16 day/15 night Great Whites + Aliwal + Sardine Run + Safari
Rates are per person, based on double occupancy.

BRIEF ITINERARY

  • Day 1: Arrive Cape Town International Airport - Transfer to Gansbaai - Overnight in Gansbaai
  • Day 2: Great White Shark Cage Diving - Overnight in Gansbaai
  • Day 3: Great White Shark Cage Diving - Overnight in Gansbaai
  • Day 4: Transfer to Cape Town International Airport - Fly to Durban - Transfer to Umkomaas - Overnight in Umkomaas
  • Day 5: 2 x Aliwal Shoal Shark Dives - Overnight in Umkomaas
  • Day 6: 2 x Aliwal Shoal Shark Dives - Transfer to Port St. Johns - Overnight in Port St. Johns
  • Day 7: Full Day Sardine Run Action - Overnight in Port St. Johns
  • Day 8: Full Day Sardine Run Action - Overnight in Port St. Johns
  • Day 9: Full Day Sardine Run Action - Overnight in Port St. Johns
  • Day 10: Full Day Sardine Run Action - Overnight in Port St. Johns
  • Day 11: Full Day Sardine Run Action - Transfer to Umkomaas - Overnight in Umkomaas
  • Day 12: 2 x Aliwal Shoal Shark Dives - Transfer to St. Lucia - Overnight St. Lucia
  • Day 13: Full Day Guided Open Vehicle Safari - Overnight St. Lucia
  • Day 14: Full Day Guided Open Vehicle Safari - Overnight St. Lucia
  • Day 15: Full Day Guided Open Vehicle Safari - Overnight St. Lucia
  • Day 16: Morning Hippo and Crocodile River Cruise - Transfer to Durban International Airport

DETAILED TRIP ITINERARY

Day 1 (June 17): Arrive Cape Town International Airport (airport code: CPT) and transfer to Gansbaai. Your accommodation is in an upmarket lodge overlooking the ocean. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the lodge or at one of the local restaurants.

Day 2 (June 18): After breakfast, head to Kleinbaai (5 min) where we board the boat and head our for Dyer Island. A 20 minute boat ride gets us to the islands and Shark Alley where the anchor is dropped and our adventure begins. During the day we will have a number of opportunities to view the Great White Sharks from the boat as well as from the safe confines of the cage. We will also have a chance to cruise past the island to get an up close view of the 50,000+ seals that live on the islands. A truly amazing experience! Spend the afternoon exploring the area or whale watching. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the lodge or at one of the local restaurants.

Day 3 (June 19): Same as Day #2

Day 4 (June 20): Enjoy breakfast at the lodge and spend the morning relaxing before departing Gansbaai for Cape Town International Airport (code: CPT). Fly to Durban International Airport (code: DUR). Upon arrival at Durban, transfer to dive lodge in Umkomaas (about 50 miles south of Durban International Airport and about 30 mile south of Durban). You can spend the day relaxing on the beach or around the pool. In the late afternoon we will have a briefing on the shark diving at the Aliwal Shoal. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the lodge or at one of the local restaurants (transfer provided).

Day 5 (June 21): Breakfast at 7:00am followed by 2 shark dives at Aliwal Shoal. During winter, the reefs are home to hundreds of Ragged Tooth Sharks as well as a number of other shark species including Oceanic Blacktip Sharks, Dusky Sharks, Copper Sharks [Bronze Whalers] and on occasion Tiger Sharks. After the diving we'll return to the lodge and spend the night in Umkomaas.

Day 6 (June 22)Breakfast at 7:00am followed by 2 shark dives at Aliwal Shoal. After the diving we'll return for lunch before transferring south to Port St. Johns (about 4 hours.) In the late afternoon we'll check in to our accommodation, situated on the bank of the Umzimvubu River in Port St. Johns. The restaurant and bar are awesome and great for enjoying a meal and drinks.

Day 7 (June 23)Breakfast at 7:00am. We'll launch from the Umzimvubu River in Port St. Johns and operate north and south depending on where the sardine run action is. We'll spend most of the day at sea, launching at about 8:00am and returning about 3:00pm. The day is ruled by the Sardine Run action. We'll follow the dolphin as they work together to create the bait balls and then the action begins - the dolphins, birds, sharks, and whales enjoy a huge feast. The noise of the diving gannets is amazing as they surround the boat, diving for the sardines. We enter the water many times during the day, sometimes just on snorkel and other times on scuba; it just depends on how fast the action is moving. The action is amazing and you are often surrounded by hundreds of dolphins, sharks, diving birds, whales and more. We also have many opportunities to watch the humpback whales on their annual migration. In the late afternoon we'll return to the lodge where you can relax, download photos, or go sightseeing in the local area. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the lodge.

Day 8 (June 24): Same as Day #7

Day 9 (June 25): Same as Day #7

Day 10 (June 26): Same as Day #7

Day 11 (June 27): Same as Day #7, then transfer to Umkomaas (about 4 hours.)

Day 12 (June 28): Breakfast at 7:00am followed by 2 shark dives at Aliwal Shoal. After the diving we'll transfer to St. Lucia Wetlands Reserve. Set in the heart of Zululand, this is a world heritage site and home to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, the oldest game reserve in Africa, established in 1895. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the lodge or one of the local restaurants.

Day 13 (June 29): We'll enjoy an early rise for a fully guided open-vehicle safari in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve. The reserve is home to Africa's "Big 5" - lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and the black and white rhino. We will have breakfast and lunch within the reserve. Viewing areas overlook pans and waterholes, enabling us to observe Africa's wildlife at close range. In the evening, enjoy dinner at the lodge or one of the local restaurants.

Day 14 (June 30): Same as Day #13

Day 15 (July 1): Same as Day #13

Day 16 (July 2): Have a relaxed breakfast at the lodge before enjoying some of the beautiful views during a river cruise on the St. Lucia estuary, home to many Hippos, Crocodiles, and many species of birds. After the River Cruise, you will be transferred to Durban International Airport for your flights.

We'll arrive to the Durban International Airpot around 2:30pm and flights need to depart after 4:30pm to allow sufficient time for transfers and check-in.
 

INCLUSIONS AND EXCLUSIONS

Included in the 16 day/15 night package:

  • 15 nights accommodations in quality lodges with ensuite facilities
  • All ground transfers between airports, lodges, and dive/safari activities
  • Daily breakfast
  • Lunch on the 2 great white shark dive days
  • Lunch on the open vehicle safari days
  • 2 days of cage diving with great whites
  • 3 day of shark diving at the Aliwal Shoal
  • 5 days of Sardine Run diving and snorkeling
  • 3 days of an open vehicle safari
  • Morning Hippo and Croc river cruise
  • Tanks, air fills, weights, and weight belt (nitrox is not needed due to the shallow depth)
  • Dive permits
  • An amazing time with a fun group of like-minded travelers!

Excluded from the 16 day/15 night package:

  • International airfare
  • Domestic one-way flight between Cape Town and Durban (cost is about $45 - $90, depending on the airline)
  • Lunches and dinners, except as specified in inclusions
  • Drinks/alcoholic beverages
  • Personal dive and/or travel insurance

FLIGHT INFORMATION 

Fly into Cape Town International Airport (code: CPT) on June 17. Though you can arrive any time, we do not recommend a late night arrival, as the transfer to Gansbaai takes a couple hours. You'll need to buy a one-way ticket from Cape Town International Airport (code: CPT) to Durban International Airport (code: DUR) for June 20. You can depart Durban International Airport (code: DUR) on July 2 any time after 4:30pm. We can assist guests in flight suggestions and booking assistance.

PAYMENT INFORMATION

$500 deposit due at booking
$1,500 due January 15, 2017
$1,950 due March 15, 2017

CONTACT INFORMATION/HOW TO BOOK

  • Email info@bluewaterdivetravel.com for more info and to book your spot!
  • Call  us at (310) 915-6677
  • Stop by our office at 3961 Sepulveda Blvd, Suite 206 Culver City, CA 90230

ABOUT KATIE YONKER

Katie is a travel advisor for Bluewater Travel and also manages the company. Though no stranger to the Southern California waters, Katie prefers to travel around the world and experience new cultures, food, and marine environments. Katie has led trips to the Red Sea, Maldives, Cocos, Guadalupe, Anilao, Raja Ampat and Komodo.
 


Katie arriving to the remote island of Kosrae.

PHOTOS

GANSBAAI ACCOMMODATION: The accommodation in Gansbaai is an upmarket lodge facing the ocean. It includes a restaurant, rooftop jacuzzi, pool table, ping pong table, free wifi, and is a short 2-5 minute walk to many shops and restaurants.

UMKOMAAS ACCOMMODATION: The accommodation in Umkomaas is a small beachfront dive lodge overlooking the Aliwal Shoal, with ocean views from every room. There's a restaurant, swimming pool, sandy beach, BBQ area, kitchen facilities, and free wifi.
   

PORT ST. JOHNS ACCOMMODATION: The accommodations in Port St. Johns overlook the river, have awesome views of Mount Thesiger, and private balconies. The property features a restaurant, bar area, swimming pool, BBQ area, and wifi access.
  

ST. LUCIA ACCOMMODATION: The accommodation in St. Lucia is an upmarket lodge located in the village. It features subtropical gardens, swimming pool, a restaurant, bar, and free wifi.
   

GREAT WHITE SHARK DIVING
  

ALIWAL SHOAL SHARK DIVING

SARDINE RUN
   

 

LAND-BASED OPEN VEHICLE SAFARI

Watch this video to see what you may encounter during the Sardine Run. Once the video starts, click on the gear wheel in the bottom right of the video and select "720p HD" for best viewing results.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: What are the passport and visa requirements?
A: You must be in possession of a passport valid for at least 30 days beyond the date of proposed departure with at least 2 blank pages. United States citizens are not required to have a visa for stays of 90 days or less.
 
Q: What should I bring?
A:The area is very casual. Evening and early mornings are cold so you will want pants, a windbreaker, fleece and jackets. During the day the weather is warm so bring shorts, t-shirts, and a windbreaker. Also bring shoes or sneakers, sandals, towels, suntan lotion, and sunglasses, medications, decongestants, shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

The Sardine Run takes place during winter so warm clothing, jackets, and sweatshirts are advisable. A warm waterproof jacket is also a good idea.

Q: Do I need my own dive gear?
A: Rental gear is available for an additional cost should you need it.

Q: Can I pay a single supplement if I want my own room?
A: Yes, for all accommodations except the 1 night spent in Umkomaas. That's because the lodge only has 8 double occupancy rooms, so our group of 16 will fill the resort with two guests in each room.

Q: What happens if we miss dives because of weather?
A: If diving is cancelled due to weather or sea conditions, local excursions will be arranged to take in some of the highlights of the area. We highly recommend trip insurance so that you've covered for any unforeseen circumstances!

Q: How many dives will we do?
A: The Sardine Run is different from a typical dive trip. It's a snorkeling, free diving, and scuba adventure, not a scuba diving holiday where you can count the number of dives in a day. When on the Sardine Run, we go out on the boat for about 6 to 7 hours each day. The main focus is to find the bait ball action and see it the best way possible. Sometimes the action is moving fast and there isn't time to kit up in scuba gear, so we snorkel and/or free dive. When the bait balls are more stationary and look like they will stay around a while, then we can kit up in scuba gear.

Q: How many people do the boats hold?
A: We will be using 2 boats for 16 guests (8 guests per boat.)

Q: Are the tanks DIN or yoke?
A: Tanks are 12L steel cylinders which are both yoke or DIN compatible.

Q: What's the average depth of the dives?
A: The depth varies from 25 - 60 feet depending on the dives. Most are drift dives and there are sometimes strong currents.

Q: What are the average air and water temperatures in June/July?
A: Day time temperature: 50°F - 77°F
Night time temperature: 43°C - 54°F
Water temperature: 64°C - 70°C

Q: What wetsuit thickness will I need?
A: That depends on how cold you get in low 60s to low 70s water. People wear anything from 5mm to 7mm with a shortie over top and a hood. You can bring a drysuit, but keep in mind that sometimes we must kit up very quickly.

Q: Do I need an electrical adapter?
A: The South African electricity supply is 220/230V AC 50 Hz. Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins. Bring an adapter with you, or they can be purchased locally.

Q: Do I need any vaccines?
A: You can check the CDC website for recommended vaccines for travel to South Africa here, and/or check with your physician.

Q: Will I get seasick?
A: If you tend to get seasick, we recommend you take dramamine, Bonine, or another seasickness medication.

Q: How much spending money do I need?
A:.The only spending money you need will be for lunches on days when it's not included, dinner, drinks, souvenirs, tips, etc. Most places accept credit cards and there are cash machines available in most places.

 

 

 

Weight: 
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