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Balule and Kruger on a budget and a week in Tofo Mozambique


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21st October - Hogwarts


The last dive I did was to Hogwarts. The ride out was so rough that at one point Val and Lucas our dive guides were debating whether to turn back. At that stage I wouldn't have argued with them and not even the sight of bottle nosed dolphins could raise my spirits. I don't get seasick but the waves were just so rough and I was getting so much spray in my face the it just made the whole ride out really uncomfortable.


Nevertheless we pressed on to Hogwarts, it turned out to be a good dive for Mantas!


Hogwarts is 2 kilometres further South from Manta Reef. Hogwarts has a long wall that runs from East to West for around 100 metres then makes a sharp left turn to the South. The top of the wall varies between 22 and 28 metres, and the drop off goes deep, down to 35 metres, it also gradually slopes off deeper and deeper. It is best to follow the top as this is where most of the marine life is found, it also means you can have a little longer bottom time. At the start of the dive, 5 metres from the wall, Hogwarts has two huge boulders that come up to the same level as the wall itself, these are covered in Green tree corals. Where the reef turns left, there is a small amphitheatre and caves to explore. There are also at least two Manta Cleaning stations along the wall.


The leader of the dive was Val. We made a negative entry and I followed her straight down. The other dive leader was Lucas. The visibility was very patchy, up to 10 m at best. As we arrived on the bottom I could only see Val. We spent the first part of the dive trying to find the rest of the group! They eventually appeared out of the gloom.


We found a huge green turtle asleep under a ledge in the amphitheatre.



P1014220 adj by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

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A pink frogfish tried to imitate a piece of soft coral as it clung to the side of the wall.



P1014221 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


Huge potoato groupers hung around in swim throughs while african groupers swam about the reef. Another crocodile flathead skulked on the seabed.



P1014223 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1014224 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Trumpet fish, emperor angelfish and moorish idols added some colour to the reef.



P1014216 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


Then we started to see the mantas. First, one reef manta drifted in over the top of the reef. Then another flew overhead. In the distance a smaller devil ray glided lazily in the water column. Finally, a huge pale bellied giant manta dropped down to the reef. This dwarfed the reef mantas and had easily a five metre wingspan.






P1014227 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



P1014228 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr

Edited by kittykat23uk
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P1014230 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



Although the ride back was a lot calmer than the ride out I called it a day with that dive. I spent the afternoon with a few of the other divers and we planned to head to a marine life talk later that night, followed by dinner. We agreed to meet Chris at Dinos, believing the talk was there. I decided to brave the market and do a bit of souvenir shopping. I spent half the afternoon haggling with one of the vendors over a couple of batiks. Eventually we reached a price that we were both satisfied with, although I was surprised that the prices were so steep compared to some other African countries such as Kenya. I suppose that is the influence of the more western influences of South Africa.


One of the vendors I spoke to was keen to know how many languages I spoke. I must confess that, as a well-travelled Brit I have very little in the way of foreign language skills, just a smattering of French. It was interesting that he knew so many languages but I suppose in the tourist industry it is much more important than many of the skills I need to get on in daily life back home. I tried to impress him with a bit of Portuguese that I picked up in Brazil but I was very rusty and rather self conscious and I think it caused more amusement than anything really.


I also enquired as to better places to bird, he suggested that the next cove over was better than here and offered to guide me but unfortunately time was getting on and I didn't expect to have time the following morning either so I had to pass on that. But it was useful gen in case I ever decide to come back.



P1470299 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr


I met up with the others later that afternoon to discover that the talk was at Casa Barry and not Dinos. We had no way of letting Chris know so we stopped off on the way in the hope that he would be early. He wasn't and so, despite my misgivings we headed on to Casa Barry which was actually closer to where Chris was staying. We split up en route, two of us covering the beach and the others taking the road in case we found him en route but there was no sign of him and we had to press on as the talk was due to start. I personally felt very uncomfortable that we weren't going to be at the planned meeting point. But I didn't want to sit in a bar on my own either.


The talk was on general marine life. It's one of three talks given every week, with the other two focusing on mantas and whale sharks. It was interesting and lasted about an hour. I was keen to get the group back to Dinos in the hope that Chris would still be there. But by the time we got there, he was long gone. So we decided to eat. I chose a pizza. It was okay but nothing special.


22nd October home time



P1470412 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



I had a pre-arranged transfer to get back to the airport and so had offered Chris a lift. So early morning we met up over breakfast and he went to get his stuff, while I went to the market again. I was expecting to be collected at 12.00 and we'd planned to get some lunch at the bread shack. They serve a loaf of bread stuffed with a spicy meat filling called “Bunnychow” and I was hoping to give that a try. However, I was handed a note by the cleaner which said that I would actually be collected at 11.00. So we decided instead to go to the bar at Tofo Scuba next door as it was already 10.00 and we needed to eat quite quickly. The Bread Shack was closer to town and service was reputed to be quite slow.



P1470430 by kittykat23uk, on Flickr



As we got into the taxi, Chris was hit up for an additional fare. Bit of a sneaky tactic but never mind. As it happened I think if we'd have left two hours later we'd still have been at the airport in plenty of time as we were waiting with nothing to do for hours. We hoped to get our bags transferred to our onward connections but at Johannesburg this proved not to be an option despite early signs to the contrary. So after we collected our bags we parted company as we were connecting through different terminals.


My flight wasn't until 21.15 so I had a long wait at the airport. After exhausting the shops and stopping for a cuppa it was finally time for check in. I was surprised to find a familiar face in the queue in from of me. It was my friend Leigh from Norwich who was over visiting his wife. It was funny because I knew his brother was going to be in South Africa at the same time as me but that we wouldn't be able to meet up. But I had no idea that Leigh would be there. He was just as surprised as me and we headed to the bar for some food and a drink before going through to departures.


We got our connection early the next morning in Cairo and were shocked to see the cabin crew literally pour a very drunk passenger into a seat in between two young ladies. They quickly decided to move to vacant seats elsewhere and a gentleman in my row complained to the cabin staff that he shouldn't be let on. The passenger promptly fell asleep so wasn't likely to cause much disruption, but after take off two of the crew decided to move him, one grabbed his legs and the other took the weight of his shoulders and they carried him further down the plane towards the back. The people in our cabin settled down at that point.


Leigh and I parted company at Heathrow as he'd booked the train back to Norwich and I was on the coach. I arrived home at about 8 pm on the Sunday night, tired, but happy that I'd had such a wonderful trip.

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