XPLORA Tours - South Africa
Shark Cage Diving & Whale Watching
  for SHARKS & WHALES
Xplora Tours South Africa

Cell: +27 (0)82 309 0457
xploratours@hermanus.co.za
 

    
South Africa is without a shadow of a doubt, the best and most productive destination for experiencing GREAT WHITE SHARKS and WHALES at close quarters anywhere in the world.

Not only is the large population of whales and sharks unparalleled elsewhere, but the locations are so accessible and in close proximity to land, that you are virtually guaranteed to witness numerous animals engaging in what they come here to do – the sharks to feed, the whales to mate and to calve.

Our competitive pricing and the favourable South African exchange rate make it even more affordable and irresistible. Are YOU ready to experience the greatest moment of your life?


GREAT WHITE SHARKS

These feared yet magnificent predators inhabit all of the world’s oceans, but nowhere else are there so many of them, so close to shore and so readily observed as here, near the southern-most tip of Africa.

A number of islands supporting huge seal and pelagic bird colonies, and waters rich in fish, undoubtedly are the major factors in attracting and maintaining such large numbers of great white sharks throughout the year. The water is “chummed” with a liquid mix of fish ingredients; designed to attract but not to feed the sharks.

The best time to view sharks here is between April and October when these stealthy hunters are primarily focussed on feeding on the seals and fish around Dyer Island. This behaviour changes quite significantly during the summer months from November to March, when white sharks here seem to be less interested in food and are not that readily attracted to the bait. Latest research indicates that their suppression of appetite at this time would prevent both serious injury during mating and cannibalising on their off-spring after birth. Still, even during summer great white sharks are encountered 95% of the time and many superb days are spent at sea. On a good day upwards of a dozen different great white sharks ranging between 1,5 and 4,5 meters may be encountered, with heaps of action around the boat.

For more information on great white sharks click here

back to top


SHARK CAGE DIVING & SURFACE VIEWING

DYER ISLAND

This is a strictly regulated industry, with only a few operators having been granted a license to engage in this activity. The trip to the diving grounds at Dyer Island is only six nautical miles from the launch site at Kleinbaai (see map).

Once the boat is anchored, the "chumming" commences with a liquid mix of fish ingredients; designed to attract but not to feed the sharks. Great care is taken not to interfere too much with the natural behaviour patterns of the great white shark and the feeding of sharks is strictly prohibited, to prevent them from associating boats with an easy meal. Just as soon as there are fairly active sharks in the area, the cage is lowered into the water.

The cage floats on the surface and is moored right next to the boat, to make the diving and diver-exchange comfortable and safe. No diving experience is required, as sharks can be viewed from within the cage on breath-hold. For those who are familiar with SCUBA gear, air is supplied from cylinders on the boat. The duration of the dive depends mainly on the level of shark activity and the temperature of the water.

All passengers will be given the chance to dive, providing the water and weather remain favourable. The visibility around the stormy Cape is seldom that of a tropical paradise and diving is sometimes significantly impaired by murky water. However, throughout the 4-5 hour trip passengers can enjoy the various vantage points from deck or from the viewing platform to observe and photograph the great white sharks only a few feet away. Surface viewing here is as great and exciting as the dive itself. During the winter months (April to October) operations mostly take place at Dyer and Geyser Islands, in and around “Shark Alley”, as this is where the sharks come to feed on primarily seals.

The islands also provide some shelter from the rough winter seas. During summer (November to March) the location shifts closer to the beach, where it appears that sharks go to mate and give birth. This time is regarded as the “low-season”, as great white sharks are clearly less interested in feeding and are seldom are as numerous and active as during winter.

FLYING SHARKS

The fabulous images of great white sharks in mid-air have made the "flying sharks" of False Bay quite famous. Typical for the deep-water hunting behaviour around Seal Island, great white sharks patrol along the ocean floor, waiting to ambush any unwary seal at the surface. Oftentimes the momentum of the vertical, upward attack sees the shark clearing the water’s surface by several feet.

Much like the more commercial "Dyer Island" shark trips, False Bay offers a healthy population of great white sharks, that can be observed at close quarters on a daily basis. More protected from the elements and surrounded by the spectacular Cape mountains, this setting is truly amazing. "Seal Island" is home to a huge colony of Cape fur seals and like the one on "Dyer Island" constitutes a substantial part of the white sharks' diet. It is here that we can be witness to natural predation much better than anywhere else, and due to the particular combination of the oceanic geography and the sharks' hunting technique, they can be enticed to breach by towing a rubber seal decoy. The cage diving and "chumming" or baiting of sharks only commences after these ancient interactions between predator and prey have been observed, which adds a whole different dimension to the experience. The adjacent image is the result of one of these trips with the picture being taken by Lars Svensson in False Bay at Seal Island on a trip that was offered by Shark Adventures operating from Gordon's Bay.

By their very nature these trips are dependent on fairly favourable sea and weather conditions. It is therefore a good idea to set aside an extra day or two, to be able to postpone. For those with a propensity to seasickness, we suggest the prophylactic use of a "Stugeron" or similar motion-sickness tablet, at least an hour before departure.

Any speculation that shark cage diving has contributed to an increased shark attack statistic over the past decade, is adamantly denied by an independent research team which monitors and records white shark behaviour here.

 back to top


DIVING EQUIPMENT
For the dive all equipment, including all size wetsuits in pristine condition are provided. If you bring your own pair of goggles, you can be sure of a perfect fit. The diving cages are designed to float and are made of a sturdy galvanized steel mesh protruding above the water’s surface to allow the divers to come up at any time. A lid prevents sharks from slipping in at the top and the use of surface air supply or SCUBA is optional. All diving equipment is well maintained and regularly inspected by the dive-master.

PERSONAL EFFECTS
Warm clothes, bathing costumes, a hat and sunscreen, plus photographic equipment should be part of your personal effects. Having these items packed in a small, easily manageable bag will save space and make them readily accessible. A breakfast and a light lunch are provided and refreshments are available throughout.

back to top


SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALES

Every year in July, southern right whales arrive in numbers on the South African coastline, to calve and to mate in the relatively warm and sheltered bays. As they congregate in close proximity to the shore, and since they are slow moving and spend most of the time on the surface, they can most magnificently be observed, both from the shore and from a boat. Behaviour such as mating, calving, breaching, lob tailing, sailing and spy hopping are commonplace and hugely entertaining. Specialized filter feeders, southern right whales do not find substantial nourishment along the continental shelf, and after 4-6 months migrate back to the cold, ant-arctic waters where they find sustenance in the form of massive shoals of "krill". The best time to view whales from the shore is during the months of August, September and October. However, they can be spotted with some certainty from July onwards, until well into December. The boat-based whale watching industry is particularly geared at making close encounters possible, even during those months in which there are few to be seen from the shore.

For more information on southern right whales click here.

back to top


BOAT BASED WHALE WATCHING

Although southern right whales are easily spotted and can superbly be observed from the shore during the peak whale-watching season (August-October), close encounters are not always possible. Boat-based whale watching puts these enigmatic ocean dwellers within touching distance and into anyone’s viewfinder from July until well into December every year. This industry is strictly regulated, only allows a few boats close access to the whales, and only within very limited areas. This legislation is designed to protect whales along the South African shore from excessive disturbance. The whale watching boats have in fact proven to be a most effective form of policing the inshore waters and reporting illegal activity.

A number of boats conduct these 2-3 hour trips, each offering a substantially different package. All boats are absolutely magnificent and regularly surveyed craft, with on-board toilets

back to top


BOATS & EQUIPMENT

BOATS
All boats used by us are new, stable, sea-worthy (“South African Marine Safety Authority” inspected) and comfortable craft, with all required safety-equipment and toilets on board. The vessels are in the 30 ft plus range, are spacious and equipped with a large cabin, toilet and basin, have sheltered seating and generally sport a viewing deck to provide a great perspective from above. Powered by large outboard engines the ride is fast and fume-free. To provide stability while conducting the shark diving, the boats are twin-hulled catamarans, which minimize the rocking motion of the ocean. Trips are only conducted providing the weather and sea allow for a safe operation. While none of the boats we use get crowded, being on a trip which accommodates a smaller client contingent will cost a little extra and provide you with a little more room, cage diving time and a slightly more personalized ambience.

back to top


DYER ISLAND

This small, 20-ha island is situated about 5 km offshore near the towns of Kleinbaai, Gansbaai and Hermanus. Its satellite island, Geyser Island, is inhabited by one of the largest Cape fur seal colonies in the Western Cape. This resident population of seals is what attracts a large contingent of great white sharks here particularly during the winter months to feed. The channel between the two islands is popularly known as “Shark Alley”, and is well frequented by the shark cage diving boats from April to October. Not only are great white sharks plentiful here at this time, but an additional bonus is afforded by Geyser Island, which shelters the channel from the worst of the Cape winter storms.

In the 1970s, this island supported the largest colony of African penguins, about 25000 pairs. By the year 2000, the population had plummeted to around 2000 pairs. Scarcity of food in terms of fish, and interestingly, predation on chicks by seals not sharks, are listed as the most likely causes of this decline. Penguin fledglings from Dyer Island are thought never to return here to breed.

The endangered roseate tern, which formerly nested on Dyer Island, had clearly discontinued breeding here between 1975 and 1995, and it is likely due to human disturbance being kept to a minimum today, that these birds have returned.

A host of other seabirds breed on the island, amongst them Leach’s storm petrels, white breasted, Cape, bank and crowned cormorants, kelp and Hartlaub’s gulls and swift terns. Huge roosts of common and Sandwich terns occur in summer. Antarctic terns, which breed on the sub Antarctic islands, roost here in winter.

Great white pelicans discontinued nesting on Dyer Island from the 1930 due to persecution by guano collectors.

Strangely enough, even though there are scores of Cape gannets feeding in the area around the islands, and in spite of the fact that there is ample space for a breeding colony here, these birds clearly have not been recorded nesting here.

African black oystercatcher breed prolifically on the shoreline of Dyer Island, and Kittlitz’s and white fronted plovers nest in the open areas of the interior.

Little egrets and Egyptian geese have also recently started breeding here.

Dyer Island also lies closely to some of the most important “southern right whale bays” along the southern Cape coast, with lots of whale traffic between July and December. Occasionally humpback and Bryde’s whales are spotted too.

Bottlenose, common and Indo Pacific humpback dolphins are also regularly sighted around the islands.

back to top


MICRO-LIGHT-FLIGHTS

Do not miss this once in a life-time opportunity to soar like an eagle. Leave everything behind and open your senses to a quite different perspective of the world. From the safety of the "Bantam B22J" and in the hands of a most competent pilot with over 2000 incident-free flying hours, see the world from above. Magnificent views of Hermanus, the vineyards, the mountains and the whales at play in Walker Bay will simply take your breath away, as you are strapped into the open cockpit and literally fly like a bird. An unforgettable experience for young and old!"

back to top


KAYAKING

Framed by spectacular cliffs and inshore kelp forests, Hermanus has one of the most picturesque coastlines in the world. Join our experienced guides in safe and stable sea kayaks for an hour’s exploration in this unique environment, spotting whales, dolphins and seals en route from the old fisherman’s harbour to the new one. Take time out to see the world from a completely new perspective. No previous experience required.

back to top


 ANGLING

The tuna fishing grounds off the Cape of Good Hope are renowned throughout the world. Test your skills against the longfin tuna (albacore) on light tackle or do battle with the mighty yellowfin tuna, which abound in this area. The average weight of the yellowfin that we catch is from 45 to 65 kilograms whilst fish in excess of 80kg are common. Last season a number of fish over 90kg were taken with two being over 100kg. The longfin tuna average from 10 to 20 kg whilst up to 30kg fish are regularly taken. We can also cater for trips to catch the "gladiator of the sea", broadbill swordfish. These are overnight trips and are arranged specially for anglers targeting this awesome fish. All angling and tackle conforms to IGFA standards and records may be claimed. 10, 15, 24 and 37kg tackle is provided. Rods are equipped with Penn International and Shimano reels. Anglers are welcome to provide their own tackle should they prefer to do so.

back to top


SKI BOAT ANGLING

The inshore waters of the Cape coast offer great bottom fishing and light tackle gamefishing. During the summer months, yellowtail, kabeljou and Cape salmon are common whilst during the winter, good sport can be had with a variety of bottomfish and the local Cape snoek.

back to top


ACCOMMODATION

Find the right accommodation for your taste and budget immediately. There is no need to pay an arm a leg for this aspect of your trip, and cheap here does not imply low standard.

There is a great availability of wonderful accommodation in the Hermanus area, ranging from basic self-catering to Backpackers, from affordable Bed & Breakfasts to up-market Hotels. We shall gladly assist you in finding something suitable for the duration of your stay.


GOLF RETREAT

Luxury living on the exclusive "Arabella Golf Estate" near Hermanus. The ultimate combination of golfing and relaxation in spectacular surroundings on one of South Africa's most prestigious golf estates. Living right next to the fairway of a world-class golf course in private accommodation, with the "Arabella Sheraton Hotel" providing the finest cuisine and a magnificent health and beauty SPA, is surely a dream come true. Located so close to Hermanus, you can also enjoy arguably the world's best whale watching and shark cage diving a few minutes away, engage in endless beach walks, horse rides and numerous other activities listed above, and simply revel in the holiday of a life-time. T


he two-storey accommodation offers 3 en-suite bedrooms, modern kitchen and spacious living areas, barbecue facilities, double garage, golf cart and spectacular mountain and fairway views.


MISSION STATEMENT

In an industry littered with illustrious advertisements and promises we endeavour to provide you, the visitor, with the bottom-line on what is available in terms of shark cage diving, boat based whale watching, accommodation and several other adventure activities. We try to match budgets and expectations with the many services provided, so that your experience here is based not on a hunch, but on an adequately informed decision. Seasons, weather, supply and demand, as well as the services provided create a somewhat complex scenario in which unbiased “navigational” aid can make the difference between the ultimate thrill and a great disappointment.


Click here for map of the area.
Click here for more information on veiwing Southern Right and Humpback Whales, Sharks and Dolphins in Southern Africa.

 

back to top

 

© 2005 - MAXITEC Internet Services. Western Cape, Hermanus, South Africa.  All Rights Reserved.