From lions to lionfish and back again

February 13, 2009 - Durban, South Africa


 We’re at a hostel with free, fast internet access tonight (and monkeys!) so I thought I’d take advantage and update the blog as it’s been a while.

 Our stay in Mafia was wonderful, if a little a bit wet at the start.  We took a small 12 seater plane over to the smallest airport we’ve been in yet, complete with sand landing strip.  After 20 minutes on bumpy sandy road (and one flat, changed while we watched the locals harvest coconuts and they watched the tire being switched) we arrived at the lodge.  We were greeted with coconut drinks by the manager and quickly became accustomed to the ‘honeymoon’ style leg of the trip.  Quite the change from camping and hostels!

 We spent the afternoon sussing out dive operations (all two of them) and wandering around the beaches and mangroves in the pouring rain.  To get warm we waded into the water  - it was 29 degrees!  The rest of our time on Mafia was largely spent in the water diving or snorkelling the amazing reefs and walls.  The marine life there is incredible and we saw a wide variety of both big and small things.  One of the highlights was snorkelling with the whale sharks one morning.  We went out with a boat that followed the whale sharks around so we could jump in and swim along side them (without harassing them of course) – it was incredible to be so close to such large animals.  We also toured one of the small islands to get a taste for local island life and also, to check out all the fruit bats that were flying from Chole Island to Mafia to eat the fruit at night.  It looked quite Halloweeney every night as they flew over at sunset.  We were sad to leave after our 5 days there but looking forward to getting somewhere that we could actually buy sunscreen.  We ran out on about our third day and were using the little we had left very sparingly.  They pretty much laughed at us when we asked if we could buy it on the island!

 After Mafia we spent a brief night in Dar Es Salaam and then headed to South Africa, straight to Sabi Sands private game reserve in Kruger National Park.  The lodge was absolutely stunning and situated in front of a watering hole.  We enjoyed 3 days of game drives and stuffing ourselves with their tasty food.  Though we had already seen many of the animals in Tanzania it was a very different experience.  Because the game reserves are private you can get much closer to the animals and the number of vehicles is restricted.  We were able to get almost uncomfortably close to lions, a leopard, a cheetah eating an impala, loads of elephants, rhinos, buffalo, zebra and the list goes on and on.  It was pretty amazing. On our final night the lodge pulled out all the stops and honeymoonified our room and gave us a private candlelight dinner on our porch – we were absolutely spoiled!  Then we moved on to a bushcamp in a different reserve where we enjoyed more game drives, excellent food and got some great local advice from the managers who grew up in the Eastern Cape.  After two more days of being spoiled it was time for the honeymoon to be over and we flew to Durban.

 In ‘Durbs’ James picked up his new board and we hung out trying to get waves for a few days and getting sorted for our trip down the coast (checked out cave rock – v. heavy wave and met some pro surfers and James’ board shaper too!).  We also checked out the city a bit (read: got lost trying to find the surf shop since they’ve changed all the street names on the signs but NOT the maps, lovely!) and ate bunny chow2 at the beachfront on the ‘golden mile/muggers mile’.  We’ve been on the south coast for a few days now trying to get out to Aliwal Shoal for dives but to no avail.  The conditions have been too rough and the wind, unfortunately is not right for surfing either (and the water dangerously brown from the rain for sharkies).  James managed to get good surf in a few days ago just before the rains and the wind is due to change on Sunday.  We’ll have to do Aliwal Shoal on our next visit!  Amidst our trying to dive we ended up at a really lekker3 hotel and met some nice diver folks, even if we never ended up diving.  Tomorrow we head to the Wild Coast/Transkei for more wave hunting and hiking.  Internet is sparse in that region so it may be awhile before the next post.  Hope everyone is doing well!

 1 – everytime someone says this I’m reminded on the dj at Dan’s wedding – Howzat Sound, it’s hard not to giggle

2 – but no bunnies were harmed

3 – look it up, people use this as a real word!



Ma & Pa:
February 15, 2009
So glad you are having fantastic adventures - enjoy yourselves - stay safe and keep on having fun

love MA & Pa
rob davey:
February 17, 2009
howzabout some surf pix then, bruh?
Joe Tyburczy:
February 18, 2009
Lions (sans tigers and bears) oh my! I'm so envious about the whale shark (and all the other cool things you've seen) -- hope you had your camera & underwater housing! Lekker: funny word, I'd never have never guessed its meaning (makes me think of a lek -- you know, a bunch of peacocks running around mating).
Dennis Morgan:
February 23, 2009
Yo - Sounds like big fun!! We had a great Hawaii trip and look forward to our respective slide shows when you return. Might even let Rob come...

shaka -
February 24, 2009
I am SO jealous of the whale sharks! I look forward to hearing more about it! :) Dana
February 26, 2009
Okay - forgive the work talk but :
2006 traps are finished!! all of them!!!
AND Megan is the new Onshore RA!!
March 10, 2009
Ruth - wow, that's great news, tell everyone I say woohoo and thanks! Looking forward to getting my hands on the data when I get back!
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