Archive for the ‘South Africa’ category

Dive with Great White Sharks

March 15, 2010
Great white shark. Photo by Terry Goss, copyri...
Image via Wikipedia

Cue the theme to Jaws: volunteer travel specialist, i-to-i has launched a new research project for volunteers to help research Great White Sharks in South Africa.

Volunteers are needed to help monitor Great White Sharks and the rest of the ‘Marine Big Five’ – whales, seals, dolphins and penguins – on a new, two-week project based in Kleinbaai, 180km southeast of Cape Town.

The Western Cape is known as the best place in the world to see Great White Sharks in their natural habitat. Working with local ecotourism operators, volunteers will have the chance to see the sharks from both boat-side and from a submerged protective cage.

Their primary task will be to record data and observations on the sharks and other marine animals, learning how to identify individual animals through dorsal fin markings and other measurements. The aim of the project is to collect and collate data to inform efforts to arrest the decline of this threatened species.

Shark education is a prominent part of the project, with lectures by marine biologists, and volunteers will also gain insights into the workings of ecotourism, as they will be assisting the ecotourism operators during their daily shark-viewing tours.
The project cost of $2549 includes airport pickup, orientation, training in ecotourism operations and data collection, 24-hour emergency support, services of an in-country co-ordinator and a contribution to the project. Additional weeks cost $800, up to a maximum of four weeks.

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South Africa an eco-friendly travel destination

February 12, 2010
Fynbos
Image via Wikipedia

Thinking about a trip to South Africa? One travel expert has commented that the country is one of the best for its drive towards eco-tourism, something that could please people intending to visit the region.

Jeremy Smith, author for Rough Guides, described the way South Africa has embraced eco-tourism as “amazing”.

“When they do it well, they do amazing engagement there, you really connect with South Africa and meet the communities,” he explained.

Mr Smith pointed out that exploring off the beaten track is the best way to truly discover the spirit of a country and have memorable experiences while travelling.

He added that eco-tourism does not need to be expensive, noting that opting for a home stay rather than a hotel is just one cheap way that holidaymakers can give something back to the community.

According to a report released by the Co-Operative Bank in December, spending on eco-travel has increased nine-fold since 1999, reaching £1.7 billion in 2008.

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Death and Scuba Diving in Cenotes

October 23, 2009

As a scuba diver, Cenotes fascinate me.  I’ve always been intrigued by these freshwater deep caves, which seem somewhat mysterious.  And it didn’t fascinate just me – the ancient Maya believed that cenotes were pathways to the afterlife and would sacrifice humans and items of value to the cenotes.

The cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico still have the skulls and bones from ancient sacrifices, as you can see in the amazing video below.

Scuba Diving in Mexico at Clint's Wedding
Image by Mark Busse via Flickr

Several years ago, I read the fascinating story of diver David Shaw, who made a cenote deep dive (almost 900 feet) to retrieve the body of Deon Dreyer, who had died there 10 years before.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Shaw_%28diver%29

Amazingly, David Shaw videotaped his descent and the attempted retrieval of the remarkably preserved body, and ended up videotaping his own death.

WHAT IS A CENOTE AND HOW WERE THEY FORMED?


Millions of years ago, the Yucatan Peninsula was a giant reef set under several feet of ocean water. During the last ice age, the ocean level dropped, exposing the reef to the surface. The coral died, and jungle grew over the mile thick limestone platform created by the coral reef. Fossils found far inland are proof of this and are commonly seen during a “cenote dive.” In time, the rain filtered through the organic jungle soil, carving tunnels through the softer limestone creating a giant network of caves and tunnels. This filtering of rain water continues today, forming stalactites, hanging from the vaults, and stalagmites, projecting from the floor, which often join to create columns. These stalactites and stalagmites number in the millions and range in size from that of a pencil to the size of a big tree.

When the ice age was over, the ocean rose back to today’s current level, partially submerging the cave network with crystal clear fresh water and sometimes collapsing the limestone creating sinkholes. A “Cenote” is a natural sinkhole created where a cave ceiling has collapsed, a window to this spectacular world. Cenotes were the only source of water in the jungle for the Mayan civilization and are considered sacred by the Mayan people. The Mayan consider cenotes to be an entrance to their “underworld” where their gods live and their spirits reside after death. The Mayans first called these sinkholes “Dznot” or sacred well. A word which had been perverted into “cenote” by the Spanish “conquistadors.”

EXPLORING CENOTES:

There is a very strict protocol of conservation for Cenotes, and visitors should take it seriously: Nothing is to be touched or removed. Take only memories, kill only time, and leave nothing behind, but bubbles. One can enjoy the beautiful cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula through a relaxing swim or snorkel or for the more adventurous by diving.

Cavern Diving. If you are a certified diver, you can visit the natural light area of the cavern safely, under the guidance of a local cavern diving instructor.

Cave Diving is different from cavern diving and means further penetration into the area beyond the natural sunlight. Extensive training and special equipment is required to enter these areas. A Full Cave Diver Course and Certification is required.

The amazing story in Outside Magazine you can still find here.  It’s really a good read – highly recommended:

http://outside.away.com/outside/features/200508/dave-shaw-1.html

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