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This exciting tour takes you on an ocean safari to see Great White sharks, Southern Right whales and the elusive Humpback dolphin and common dolphin. Apart from sightings of these incredible creatures, the Marine Big 5 safari tour is an opportunity to experience the great blue wilderness of the Indian Ocean.
The ocean safari boat leaves the quaint seaside village of Gansbaai and takes you on a 2-hour tour of Dyer Island and Geyser Rock and the infamous Shark Alley. The Southern Right whales arrive in the bay every year from June to December to mate and calve; and if you’re lucky, you’ll see a shy pod of Bride’s whales.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||Pick up and drop off available at no extra charge from various hotels in Cape Town CBD. Pick up and drop off from hotels in other suburbs in Cape Town available on request at an extra charge. Tour duration and collection times may vary depending on route taken and traffic. Minimum 2 guests per booking.|
|DEPARTURE TIME||6:00am – Daily (except 25-26 December and 1 January); depends on weather conditions|
|WEAR||Comfortable athletic clothing, hiking boots, hat, jacket and sunscreen.|
Gansbaai is the Dutch/Afrikaans world for “bay of geese”; it’s a quaint fishing village in the Overberg District Municipality, about a 2-hour drive from Cape Town City Bowl. It is world-renowned for its dense population of Great White sharks and as a whale-watching destination. Since 1995, Gansbaai has been a solid feature on the tourism map for cage diving with Great White sharks which conveniently congregate in large numbers at Shark Alley.
Close to Gansbaai in the Walker Bay Nature Reserve (next to De Kelders) is Klipgat Cave (stone hole cave) which is one of only three places in South Africa where ancient remains have been excavated and showcase the earliest evidence of the presence of sheep-herding Khoi people (San bushmen tribe) in the area.
This nomadic tribe inhabited the region for a long time before the arrival of the first White settlers who landed on the east coast of South Africa in the late 18th Century. The first permanent settlement erected in the Gansbaai area was a cluster of fishing cottages which were built under the dense Milkwood Forests in 1811.
The troopship HMS Birkenhead was wrecked off Danger Point in 1852. The great ship hit a rock which was barely visible some 2 kilometres from Danger Point, which is now known as Birkenhead Rock. The troopship was carrying young Welsh and Scottish soldiers and their officers and families to the Eastern Cape to fight the Xhosa. Women and children on the ill-fated ship were saved but almost all the soldiers perished in the icy waters. Most of the horses swam ashore and were the ancestors of a feral herd that roamed the plains east of Gansbaai until the late 20th century.
The Danger Point lighthouse was built in 1895 and provided some security for the ships in the dangerous waters. More than 140 ships have been wrecked and thousands of lives lost between Danger Point and Cape Infanta.
Gansbaai’s economy revolves around its fishing industry and tourism; having developed a reputation as the “Great White Shark Capital of the World”. Whales are protected in South Africa and can only be “shot” with a camera. Gansbaai attracts thousands of tourists to its spectacular shoreline every year as a whale-watching and shark diving destination as well as film crews and marine biologists. There is a lookout point at the site of an old whaling station.
Another drawcard is Gansbaai falls within the Cape Floral Kingdom and, although the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms; it is regarded as the richest.
Dyer Island, Geyser Island and Shark Alley
Dyer Island is the largest of a group of islands some 8 kilometres from the Gansbaai shoreline. It is named after Samson Dyer, an emigrant from the United States to the Cape Colony in 1806. Dyer lived on the island for many years, collecting guano which he sold to mainlanders as fertiliser. The island is home to a large colony of African penguins; 5 000 individuals recorded in 2015.
Geyser Island is a smaller island close to Dyer Island and home to approximately 60 000 Cape fur seals. The shallow channel between the two islands is known as Shark Alley. Hundreds of Great White sharks hunt for Cape fur seals in this narrow channel, particularly when the young seal cubs venture out to sea for the first time.
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