As part of their spring tourism campaign, I was invited by the V&A Waterfront to enjoy a leisurely boat trip this past Sunday. Luckily the weather cleared up just in time and it turned out to be the perfect day to fill my lungs with some fresh sea air.
On the cards was a 90min Marine EcoTour on a 40 foot, custom-built, environmentally friendly catamaran run by the lovely folks of OceanAdventurer who’s created a really cool partnership with the Two Oceans
Aquarium who now trains all their on-board guides (who already are marine biologists) to make sure they’re like walking Wikipedia pages for the Western Cape waters.
My partner in crime for the trip was my friend Darryn who not only is a great boat companion but also happens to be a great photographer. I knew he would be the guy to get the best shot in case we saw free Willy or something.
Our mode of transportation, quite the sporty looking honey, was actually originally designed as a high-performance sailing catamaran, but it’s since been modified to minimise its environmental impact and to also be nice and comfy for passengers…
Yes, that’s me on my phone above… Tweeting pics and such of course. All in a day’s work, so it’s totally acceptable.
Our marine eco-expert was Jared – he took his time to carefully explain things like the Benguela current, the oceanic food web, our kelp forests and some interesting facts about the ocean wildlife we were likely to see.
Heading out from the Clock Tower you get to take in a really nice view of the V&A. One your don’t normally get to appreciate as (if you’re like me) you’re power walking from one shop to the other with short refueling breaks at coffee shops in between.
I got slightly nervous when I spotted a pirate ship following us…
Then as you leave the V&A harbour, you look back at the most beautiful view of Cape Town – best showcased by this photo Darryn snapped with his pro camera (me & my little “click and go” which I’ve dropped on several occasions just had no chance in hell to compete):
Pretty soon into our journey we spotted some dolphins! They came up quite close to the boat, but they’re sneaky buggers and move way too fast for you to get a decent shot.
But Darryn luckily got a great shot of one of them breaching:
These guys are called Heaviside’s dolphins and they are only found off the Namibian and Cape West coasts. They are quite small, with blunt heads and their bodies are a mix of dark & light grey with cute little white underbellies. They were very pretty up close and also very playful. Showing off and stuff… the ocean’s version of a show diva I’d say.
We also saw some Cape Fur Seals, penguins and various sea birds. But these guys really don’t know how to schmodel, they just wouldn’t sit still. Sooooo unprofessional… Unlike me, who’s a total pro by now:
The only great animal pic I got was of this big stinky boy as we docked again:
This was really such a great way to get out, get some fresh air, do something different and also learn a few things. I guess if you’re a Capetonian, you might see this as more of a “touristy thing”. Yeah, tourists will love this I’m sure, but I don’t think we as locals should shut ourselves off from seeing our city through tourist eyes. It’s kinda like having a great sea view at home. You see it every single day and after a while you barely notice it anymore. Then someone comes over to visit and is all “Oh my word, you are so lucky, this view is insane”. All of a sudden you look at it with fresh eyes again. That’s kinda how I felt on this outing and I think that’s pretty damn cool.
Now let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:
- Cost: R180 for adults, R90 for kids under 12 yrs
- 3 Marine EcoTours a day: 11am, 13:30 & 16:00
- All tours last 90min
- They depart from the jetty in front of the Clock Tower (also used by the Robben Island ferry), but tickets are sold on the Pierhead side (just on the other side of the swing bridge). You can also do group/individual bookings in advance if you contact David de Villiers on 021 421 5565 / 073 216 6447 / email@example.com
- There is a cash bar on board with beers, soft drinks & snacks
- They can also do sunset tours (R220 for adults & R110 for kids under 12 yrs) as well as special rates for school groups.
- Oh and ladies: wear flat, comfy shoes and bring something warm. The sea air gets a bit chilly.
ALSO they have been spotting whales recently, so if you can’t make the trip to Hermanus, this might be a much easier option.