We sent our Amanzi detectives to check out two of Bucketlist’s water-focused adventures packages.
Bucketlist is a Cape Town based adventure business. The team members are local and lekker – kind, supportive and patient guides who made us feel comfortable and safe wherever we went. Most importantly, the Bucketlist team is genuinely passionate about their water-job and delivering the best quality service.
First, we did: KAYAKING IN HOUT BAY
Then, as the temperature rose towards midday, we did: SEAL SNORKELING BY SEAl ISLAND.
Kayaking was our first water activity – we met by Ground Up cafe around nine in the morning and the weather couldn’t have been better.
It was the perfect kayking morning:
- There was no wind. When kayaking in the ocean, a naturally windy ‘platform’, it is important to know the strength of the wind and the direction in which it blows.
- The ocean was calm, which is partly due to the ‘absence’ of the wind, but not only. Waves can be caused by other factors, other than winds, like tidal waves, for example. However, as a general rule of thumb, waves are shaped by:
- Wind speed, its duration, and its direction
- Fetch – the distance of wind travel over open water – essentially, the wind constantly blowing in one direction over a given radius of water.
- Depth of water
- The crew made the experience easy and enjoyable – from the start, they gave a little run-down of the activity, what to expect and of course safety procedures. Once that was done, they gave us each a life vest, snacks, a bottle of water and we were good to start.
We walked to the jetty, where a bunch of kayaks waited for us. Once we positioned ourselves in the beautiful, modern and lime green kayaks, we were ready to paddle away across Houtbay’s beautiful coastal line.
Our first pit stop was by the Seal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center – a marine wildlife rehabilitation center, for sick and hurt seals of all ages. There are various reasons why seals can get end up in the rescue center – but the biggest problem of all, for which we (as the general public), can also be held accountable for is water pollution. Ranging from chemical substances to plastic waste there is just too much of it and it keeps endangering the livelihoods of thousands of sea creatures.
Garbage in our ocean not only affects seals – it affects other aquatic animals, which in turn affects the ecosystem as a whole and ultimately, humans as well.
Then, we paddled across the bay, where the guides gave us some insight about what was around us, some interesting facts – including narratives behind shipwrecks, old cannons and the iconic leopard statue that stands amongst the rocks, at the beginning of Chapman’s Peak road.
After that, we paddled back to the harbourside, and snuck in between columns and next to fish boats, under the pier. There we witnessed different types of mollusks and other invertebrates like as starfish, crabs and sea snails.
“Seal Snorkeling is one of Cape Town’s most popular adventure activities to do while you are visiting the Mother City.”
And we understand why! Out of the two experiences (whilst them being completely different) snorkeling with seals is enriching at a much more personal level.
The whole experience from the very start is unlike anything else we had ever done – from putting on a full body ( head, hands, and feet) wet suite, to getting onto a boat with the intention of jumping off in freezing water, by a rock inhabited with over 15000 cape seals, and a gigantic Elephant seal, an alien seal species, originating from Antartica, that comes back every year for holiday.
Our snorkeling affair began around 11:00 am. At the Boat Yard, just behind the Atlantic Boat Club. Before getting into the water, they asked us a few questions in order to grasp an idea of what our experiences and concerns were. The space they created also allowed us to comfortably ask all types of odd, relevant and irrelevant questions – which is always nice. After that, we zipped up our wetsuits and got into the boat.
After about 10 minutes, we had arrived. So we adjusted our masks, snorkel and jumped in.
The tranquility we experienced, amongst the wind, freezing waters and hundreds of wild animals was unexpected and awe-inspiring. Plus, seals are ridiculously cute and playful underwater.
Here are some real seal facts:
- Cape fur seals are found as far north as the southern tip of Angola, with colonies occurring all along the coastlines of Namibia and South Africa, up to Algoa Bay near Port Elizabeth.
- In South Africa the Cape fur seal is the only seal species that breed here, however, there are other species such as Elephant Seals( the gigantic seal mentioned above), Subantarctic Fur Seals, Leopard Seals occasionally occur along our coastline.
- A male seal is called a ‘bull’, a female seal is called a ‘cow’. Males have a large chest and a thick mane and the smaller females have a silver-grey fur. Newborn pups are velvet black but after their first molt ( shedding of skin and hair) at 3-5 months of age, they change to an olive-grey colour. After a year their coat turns silver-grey.
- Cape fur seals feed on shoaling fish, squid, octopus, sharks and rays.
- They can dive to depths of over 200 meters and hold their breath for up to 7.5min.
- They are very active and social in the water and territorial on land.
- Their main predator is the Great White Shark – although, by Duiker Island (Seal Island) Great White spottings have been extremely rare (they also don’t like kelp). Seals are also hunted by brown hyenas and black-backed jackals on land.
- They are generally curious, playful and relaxed animals, and an absolute pleasure to snorkel with.
To book a kayaking or seal snorkeling trip check out their website – https://www.capetownbucketlist.co.za/.