We went diving with manta rays. 6 or 7 of them in total including one 5+ metres across. We were starring in our own episode of Oceans, a true Galapagos moment. At one point I was crunched down behind the reef as one of the mantas swam right over the top of us. I had to remember to breathe.
We were in Tofo, a coastal area famous for its plethora of marine life and one of only a few places in the world you can get so close to these magnificent creatures. I have to confess I knew very little about them before the trip but do now thanks to the local researchers who conduct much of their ground breaking work in Tofo itself. The research staff give lectures on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Casa Barry which shouldn’t be missed.
Travel is in the journey
A storm rolled in over the next few days putting a hiatus on all water activities and killing the power reminding us we were in Africa. As had our journey to Tofo. We took a local “chapas” which operated like musical chairs in the back of a combi van. People crammed in, legs and arms flailing, and practically pushed out again at their designated stop. We took to a dirt road and as we drove through a myriad of towns along the way the locals smiled and waved through the clouds of dust. The women carry their daily wares piled high on their heads from which we were sold an array of goodies through the windows.
Out of one bus and it was a boat ride and a another combi ride before we arrived. Sweaty, sandy and just about with feeling left in our legs we disembarked right in front of a man selling fresh coconuts. Not much can beat that coconut juice fresh from the source. I liked this sandy beach-side town instantly.
While in Tofo we stayed at Bamboozi Lodge which has a wide range of accommodation and lots of space, at the far end of the beach. The bar serves fantastic food at great value – everything from the prawns to the “peri peri chicken” deserve trying. The attached dive school Liquid Adventures looked after us extremely well and comes highly recommended.
Diving is what we had come for and as soon as the weather passed we were back in the water. Not only did we see more mantas and a small eyed sting ray (which was actually huge) but waiting out the weather also paid off for our whale shark sighting. After almost giving up our captain spotted a whale shark at the final hour and we jumped in immediately. Swimming above this serene ocean giant was humbling. We followed it for about 10 minutes, although swimming a lot less gracefully.
It was then time to leave the giants of the ocean in search of the gentle giants of the land. And as we waved goodbye to Tofo – a must for all you oceanographers – my excitement for the Elephants in South Africa mounted.