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Cradle of Human Culture, Garden Route

Cradle of Human Culture, Garden Route

What an experience we had a couple of days ago doing the Cradle of Human Culture tour( https://www.cradleofhumanculture.co.za ) in the Garden Route. All sponsored by WESGRO( https://wesgro.co.za ) arranged by Cape Tour guides association (https://www.ctga.org ) and extra sponsors like the Diamond Gallery ( https://www.thediamondgallery.co.za) .

27 tour guides, 4 Media and 1 WESGRO representative and one coach (Bus) Captain, met early Monday morning at the V&A waterfront. The original itinerary was to stop at the De kelders caves but due to some maintenance we could not go so headed directly to Stilbaai. We stopped at the Blombos museum where Izak Venter broke the group into 2 and took us in the museum. He talked about the start of Humankind or known as Homo sapiens.  It is believed 150000 odd years ago even more that southern Africa was the change from the other Homo groups like Homo Erectus. Stone tools were found in old caves like Blombos, Paintings from ochre, some carvings and even some jewellery made from ostrich shells. Thus, meaning the brain has started to develop to change some behaviours.

With being close to the ocean and the shell middens reflecting it the diet consisted of a lot of seafood which is high in Omega fatty acids which is believed to be particularly good fo

r brain development.  Thus, the believe that the coast and seafood diet was crucial for Homo Sapien development, in those early years before google and smart phones.

Lunch was served next the restaurant and interesting enough there is a Paling gat with eels living in the fresh water. Need to do another visit to get more information about them as one of the guides did do a quick share about her knowledge of the site. 11am is feeding time so kiddies will love the experience for sure, we unfortunately missed all of that.

After Lunch we headed if to the beach to look at the ancient stone fish traps dating properly from 3000 years back and can even be much much older. They are currently maintained by some local famers and interested people. Really a good look at the ingenuity of the early humans on our shores.Our next stop was Mossel Bay where we stayed at “the Point Hotel” really on the beach. Had to close the patio door to be able to sleep as the ocean was really happy to see “tourist” in the hotel, or so I think. What a wonderful view and leaning a bit over the patio I could see the Cape St Blaize lighthouse and below it the Cape St Blaize Cave. More on the cave shortly.The evening we went to “Gannet Restaurant” and started with a Gin distillery tour. The Saint Blaize distillery is based in the same building complex. Restaurant, Protea group hotel and a distillery who make their own bottles. Was super interesting to find out they make their own Bottles as well. 3 gins one the market and then you can “make” your own gin as well and bottle with your name etc. It is a 2-hour experience and I think would be awesome to do with the miniature stills and different botanicals you can decide to add. We ended the tour with a lekker tasting just before dinner ending day 1 of The Cradle of Human culture tour.

Day 2 started after a hearty breakfast with a Zip line ( https://mosselbayzipline.co.za), the longest over the ocean in the world and spanning 1100 meters.  Walk around the corner of the hotel, sign in, weigh in, briefing, gear sorted, jump in vehicle and drive to the launch site about 10 minutes up the hill. Then a short walk the platform another briefing and clipped in on the line and whooossshhhh you go ending seconds later. A quick check of your hotel room in the hotel as you whoosh past and then smile at the paparazzi at the end of the line. Definitely an awesome adrenaline rush experience.nAfterwards an uphill walk to the other corner of the hotels to the Cape St Blaize cave.

This cave was also the 1st site for scientific Archaeological studies in South Africa done in 1888 by George Leith. But here we met Christopher Jantjies and Dr Peter Nillsen of who told us the findings and stories of the area. They are part of Point of human origins ( https://www.humanorigin.co.za ) with Peter being the founder of the Pinnacle point caves in 1997. After an extensive talk by Peter and Chris we headed of the Pinnacle point golf estate. Wow what an impressive area. Then we headed off with a walk alongside the cliffs to PP13B. The hearty breakfast definitely was worked out with the up and down walk. It really was an awesome experience to stand in one of the caves with Peter and Chris explaining the details found in the middens in and around the caves. The stone tools, ochre for painting, shells etc. The believe is the Agulhas bank thousands of years ago was grass plains and the people staying in these caves then did not had ocean front as it is now.  To many words to write in this blog to explain. Best is to come on tour, and we get Peter or Christopher to tell in their own words how who and when and of course experience it 1st hand. The photos and my scribbling really do not do the experience justice. What is really interesting in the Point of human origin tour narration is the mention of Homo sapiens not the tribes or race who has been here before or after. Which give you quite a weird insight of our early ancestors of probably a 160000 years ago.

The lower down caves all with their unique PP cave numbers got damaged by the ocean and father time so the higher dryer cave is where the scientist/archaeologists concentrate their energy on. Not that they are ignoring the smaller lower down caves. My personal favourite was how the stone tools got made or thought of been made. Where even heat treatment was used to harden the stones. One of the 1sts again in the world. Def a well worth visit even can do it as full day outing walking from Cape St Blaize cave to Pinnacle Point. About 14 km.

Wow is all I can say, cannot wait to go back and hear again what I missed the 1st time.

After this we slowly got back into the bus with stiff legs and got a great sandwich for lunch on the bus. Peter the bus Captain took over again and we headed to Knysna for an Oyster and Sparkling wine experience at the Project restaurant ( https://theprojectbar.co.za). One of 4 restaurants in the chain. We had 1 cultivated and 3 local wild Fresh Oysters to try out. Cultivated is the Crassostrea gigas and the wild ones Crassostrea margaritacea. Oysters I will not get out of the way to get but these were divine. Don’t know if it was the view of the Knysna lagoon and the heads the company or the bubbles or just all combined. Another tick list for upcoming tour itineraries for sure.

From here we headed to Plettenberg bay and stayed over in the Bay view hotel ( https://www.bayviewhotel.co.za). Here we got spoiled again by the hotel and Plettenberg bay tourism with local dignitaries from council and government joining us and a talk by Mike Kantey of the Plett Historical Society. Some more gin tasting provided by Adi’s Kitchen where we had dinner and a good breakfast again. A good end for most of us. Some guides ended in the penthouse and the batteries for some of them the morning was not fully charged. Was so much fun to talk loud to the party animals and keep them on their toes the rest of the morning.

Wednesday morning after Breakfast bus was loaded and we headed to Rob berg reserve. Patty Butterworth the CEO of Plettenberg bay Tourism ( https://www.plett-tourism.co.za ) met up and gave us a rundown of the area. I was drooling a bit as at the water below we could see the outline of a wreck. SO, some of the info I lost due to looking at ways of getting to it in future for a scuba dive. Anyways the group split into 2 where group no 1 went to Nelson Bay cave with a guide Petrus and Group 2 the other way with a guide and Madam CEO. A quick hike around the area gave spectacular views with round smooth river stones high up on the mountain. Showing a good possibility that perhaps the keurboom river ran here thousands of years ago. The river mouth now across the bay far away. Nelsons bay Cave was 1st excavated in the 1960’s. Stone age artefact has been found and is now declared a world heritage site as part of the Cape floral Kingdom.  The cave was home to lots of people over a long period of time dating back to 125 000 years.

A much easier walk to get to from the road compared to the Pinnacle point Cave. A small exhibition can be viewed inside the cave and is open to the public. A great window in the past with shell middens and reading on the boards. Can spend more time at the caves and just walking on the reserve with great views beaches and mountains.

Then it was time to head to Oudtshoorn via George where we had lunch with locals at ‘The Pot Restaurant” nice beef curry and rice with roosterkoek. (bread baked on the fire). The desert was my favourite, traditional koeksisters. An extremely sweet syrupy plaited dough deep fried and then dunked in ice cold syrup. The well-known Outeniqua pass took us into Oudtshoorn in the klein Karoo. Coming from a high coastal rainfall region and within minutes you arrive in the semi-arid dry Klein Karoo.

Our last night on the road we slept at Swartberg Manor. The Setting was so beautiful with lush green fields around and sheep and lambs baaing and a couple of cattle mooing. We were welcomed with a glass of Cape Vintage wine (South African version of Port). And then had a lovely braai ending with another traditional dessert for me, Malva poeding. And then more prices were drawn. On the buss raffles was bought for fund raising and then every evening drawn and some lucky draws. Being the last evening all the prices came out and I was lucky enough to have my name drawn and won a very welcome cash price from The Diamond Gallery. Sleep however did not come early as I tried some Star trail photography, but the full moon did play a trick on me, but I were able to get some ok shots. At the end I took my bedding out of the room leaving my roommate all alone and slept on the stoep(veranda) on the day bed. How nice to sleep almost in the open. When I woke, I could see the whole valley below with sun winking over the far-off mountains. Such a great experience.

After Breakfast we headed down to the Famous Cango Caves. This is really a great attraction all need to visit and experience themselves. Thousands of year-old stone / stalagmite, stalactite formations in all shapes and sizes to be seen.  The guide in the caves was Steve Mouton who conveyed the stories of the caves and areas extremely well.

We 1st had a talk by Jeremy van Wyk about Local Khoi culture and cultural information. How words came to be etc. Really interesting again to hear words that could not be pronounced changed into something almost similar over the years. Just before we left, he blessed us with a local herb called Kooigoed (helichrysum odoratissimum). Such an awesome way to end a great educational before going for lunch and wine tasting at Karusa and then taking the 4-hour odd drive back to Cape Town.

The Karusa wine was good but the Sherry really stood out for me. Think was my 1st sherry tasting at a vineyard.

Please note the Cradle of Human culture is different from the cradle of Humankind but do link up. We just did a high light tour of the coastal journey and there is much much more to see and do on this route. Then up the Westcoast of South Africa, The artists journey is also available. Art, Culture Archaeological and all over tourism attractions on these routes can be stopped at and experienced.

Big applause to WESGRO for sponsorship and then the CTGA executive committee running and planning the trip so perfectly. You all rock like the Diamonds Gallery hash tag #capetownrocks.

The other sponsors were. Mossel bay Tourism , Knysna tourism office, Tulbagh Tourism, Essere Lodge, Wittedrift Manor, Readers Restaurant, Lemberg Wine Estate, Nelson Wine, Krone Wine, Rijk’s wine estate and Hotel, Saronsberg cellar, Culinary tactics and Goedgedagt trading. Apologies for those I missed, that why the CTGA exec is not named as I will miss someone. Still bit sour I did not win some of the lekker wines, but now must make a trip to the beautiful Tulbagh valley again.

AND AGAIN: Thank you for all that made this post covid 19 Cradle of Human Culture tour such a huge success and giving hope to all our tourism partners around our area that the tourism industry will stand up again.

PS: photos can be viewed on my face book page: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=DiveInnCT&set=a.127718962694050

Philippines Dive trip 2018

Philippines Dive trip 2018

Philippines Dive trip 2018

Philippines were on the radar at all for a dive trip. Until Terrence Gosliner, Co-author of the Indo Pacific Nudibranchs came and did a talk on the Verde Island Passage. So the spark started and then chatting to a guest, Natasha I had from Canada the previous year the spark ignited in a full raging flame. Natasha has been in Anile a couple of times but never dived at Verde Island before.

So in short notice we arranged a trip to go to Philippines, and stayed in Anilao, Batangas. Unfortunately we could not have a full schedule match up with Natasha but ended having 2 full days of diving together.

Natasha arrived earlier and booked in at an oldish rustic resort called Club Ocellaris. We spend our second part of the trip also at Club O. Our first resort was Anilao Buceo, Bit more costly but very new and set up for photographers with pool restaurant, bar etc. More on the resorts we stayed at later.

From South Africa via e-mailing all the resorts was a challenge some days with a 6 hour time difference and sometimes just a slow answer time. Natasha being their earlier helped out a lot and got the difficult trip due to logistics to Verde islands organised.

Only down of it was we arrived the evening at 8 pm and booked in after a day and a bit of travel and the next morning we were on a boat at 5.15 AM heading to Verde.

Red eyed but mostly rested we were ready to explore the new waters. The boat trip from Anilao to Verde took almost 1.5hours. The sea was slight rougher in the open seas between the islands but with warm water it was not an issue at all. The weird long boats had balancing poles on both side and a Toyota 1S car motor running it is also very interesting. Luckily most of the bigger boats and most dive boats had silencers or something on them which made them not to noisy. Most of the locals smaller boats were very very noisy at sea, especially over Easter weekend when everyone was on the their way somewhere.

Back to the Verde Island we did our first dives on Nitrox again organised by Natasha, ensuring we had adaptors and enough weights for our dive without needing to go past the dive centre.  Our first dive was a stunning 67 minutes with George our guide showing us a lot of small critters. Dive 2 was at a stunning pinnacle at the corner of Verde. The conditions were a bit rough topside but we convinced the skipper to drop us off and we will pop our DSM’b once we surface and will swim away from the pinnacle for pick up. Below it was paradise with loads of fish and just as much macro life. My first sea snake I spotted here but could not get a good photo of it. George called the dive at 59 minutes which was almost a disappointment but safety for them is a factor and they were worried of the weather getting worse top side.

Before the last dive we had a stunning lunch packed by Club Ocellaris in the boat and then got permission from the caretaker at an old resort to get off on the island and stroll on the beach a bit. Was a shame to see the old resort in such a state as it in it heydays could have been an awesome resort. Heard it is for sale, Hmmm, Natasha??

Our last dive we then just rolled from the boat at the end of the jetty and explored the old resorts house reef. In the shallows we saw stunning flat plate corals and all over small things hiding away. After 86 minutes my air was very low and we had to pull Natasha out of the water who just did not want to get out.

Day 2 saw Natasha taking a boat transfer from Club O to Buceo Anilao to join us on the dives. We went to do some muck diving and were able to see seahorses, frogfish, nudibranchs and Shrimps. On most of the dives the boats would anchor and you would start shallow and go deeper to find the deeper critters, spend some time at depth and slowly go back up to the shallows and have nice long dives. After dinner we greeted Natasha and hope to see her underwater somewhere in the world again soon.

Day 3 we did 2 dives at Buceo Anilao and then at lunch Club Ocellaris boat came and picked us up and we transferred over.

Club O was closer to Anilao town but still far away from people around us which made it really relaxing with our room being so to speak on the water. It was not as luxurious as Buceo but all we needed was there. At Buceo we had about 200 steps to get to our room but once there the view over the ocean was absolutely stunning. Buceo had Breakfast included with lunch and dinner you had to pay extra.  Club O was all inclusive and all the meals were served family style so it was easier to chat and mingle with fellow divers. The food at both resorts was great with lots of local food on the menu as well. Lucky not the weird ones you could buy up on the road at the local shops. I was not brave enough to try the Balut but was told to try Halo Halo which is an absolute surprise of flavours textures and tastes. Definitely will get halo halo again on our trip next year to Anilao.


Nudibranchs can be viewed here on my Facebook Page: DiveInn Cape Town Philipines Nudibranchs

So for the rest of our dives at Club Ocellaris we were able to explore all the other dive sites up and down the coast and a couple of times crossed the channel to dive in the islands across. Sombrero Island I saw some of the biggest nudibranchs, a weird shrimp I have never seen before and loads of fish life. Other Islands across from the resorts was Maricaban and Caban Islands. Behind Caban was the “wreck” of an old floating casino with interesting critters that side. Also spotted / got shown my fist electric clam on this site.

We did a lot night dives with my 1st a big disappointment as I did not put a new a battery in the camera. But were able to spot more but not able to take any photos for example the bobtail squid with a small shrimp in its tentacles just to name some. Grrrr.

One of the night dives we started a tad too early and saw almost nothing for the 1st 25 minutes but as we got closer the peer a small reef popped up and we could enjoy the dive. 3 days later we went back and the sand which was totally a desert before now as teeming with critters. Once again lots of new things we have never seen before were spotted, also a bit of crustaceans. This dive was our longest dive and we logged 101 minutes underwater which was really great.

For Crustacean pics you can have a look here: DiveInn Cape Town Philipines Crustaceans

On Caban the one day we had strong current going left and right at different depths but here we had the biggest frog fish even swimming next to a diver and then a not so shy Sea snake which I were able to Photograph between the bubbles of divers which were diving lower on the wall.

Day 10 ended with 2 dives one at Sombrero again and on in front of Maricaban Island which is not dived a lot as per our guide Johny. My German buddies says the dived it years ago and wanted to dive it again. I did find 3 new nudibranchs which I have not seen on the trip yet.

The guides are good but a bit of a rant from me is they are under pressure to find and scratch out critters and then they arrange them for photographers as well. Then the photographers then totally forget about buoyance and not looking after the reef.  Such a shame to get the perfect shot that the critter was harassed a lot for it. Our guide was told to stop and he did but on other groups we passed we saw it all happening. I have photos of the divers and they have marked their names on their cameras as well. Like the hairy frogfish which got loads of wow etc comments on Instragram. I have the back end photos to show how the poor critter was harassed an how the divers lay flat on the  bottom which is not published or mentioned how they got there so called awesome photos.

Unfortunately we did not explore to much of the country side but next year will be planning a day trip to the Taal volcano. Also need to visit some of my touring guests in Manilla next time for sure. We did do a quick motorcycle with side card ride and still need to check the Jeepneys out before they are totally banned with new legislation being implemented by the government.

In summary all type of photographers can have fun in Anilao. Some of the muck sites can be boring for wide angle photographers but at most sites there will always be something to see and photograph. Our weather next to the ocean was very pleasant and Buceo Anilao and Club Ocellaris were good operators to dive with. Buceo is the more upmarket and newer resort and Club O the older resort but still great to dive with. At club O we spent most of our time. All the dives we had 1 guide for max of 4 people and sometimes we only had 2 divers to one guide. The boat skippers and helpers were always close to make the dives easy and we did not had to do a lot to get ready for the dives.

I shot most of my shots on a Subsea +10 dioptre and some just on my 60 mm as the dioptre did not work for the bigger nudibranchs and swimming fish. I just could not get to swop my lens over to the 18-55 and standard sea & sea Port. Most of the photos were taken on a Canon 650d in a Sea and Sea housing with 60mm Macro lens in macro port. Lighting was 2x Sea & Sea DS01 Strobes with a Big Blue focus light.


You can check out our Instagram account on:  DiveInn_Capetown

Cape Town Nudibranch finds

Cape Town Nudibranch finds

Cape Town Nudibranch finds on our nudibranch hunting trips can provide some nice critters to photograph.

But to find most of them you would need to go very slow. A very good idea is too dive often as well. This will ensure that your sighting possibilities will increase, hopefully.

Dive Inn Cape Town also offer Specialised Nudibranch hunting scuba dives. So book us and we can try and show you the small stuff that you miss. You can check most of our photos out on FaceBook or Instagram.

At the moment we are still able to get between 10 and 20 different species of Nudibranchs per dive. Nudibranchs is also known as sea slugs but we will not go to deep into the different species of slugs which can be found all over.

As in previous blogs we did mention about over 80 different species we can find in Cape Town waters. However every now and then a species pop out we do not know. Like the Opera house, which have been seen every now and then. We were lucky to have spotted one in January last.

A new species we have been seeing is not named yet. But for now we just call it an Orange Corambe sp.

Cape Town Nudibranch finds


Hopefully in the near future we have it described by a scientist. It is orange, quite small and live on Bryozoans or that’s here we have been spotting them. (chaperia spp)


Then of course we find Nudibranchs which have not been seen in a long long time.

We had some great Eubranchus and Doto’s in Cape Town Nudibranch finds. It is a shame that most of these unusual finds are so small. This probably is good in a way as then we can find them on a nudibranch hunting trip.


Dive Inn Cape Town 2016

Dive Inn Cape Town 2016

Dive Inn Cape Town 2016 will have a summary of what happened to us .Looking at my calendar today I could not believe that 2016 has flown by. Last year we had a blog post Dive Inn Cape Town Peak season stating what we did in a short period.  Thus it will be like a chairman’s report on what were the highlights of our year.

Dive Inn Cape Town 2016

Cape town from air

Dive Inn Cape Town 2016 we did 156 dives with an average bottom time of 54 minutes. We had one dive trip to Sodwana Bay at Reef teach and had some great sightings. Snorkelling with a whale shark and Dolphins then scuba diving with a big manta. Not to mention the small critters like Sea horses and of Course Dive Inn favourite – Nudibranchs.

We had more Nudibranch hunting trips then scuba training. Courses done were PADI Open and Advanced open water, RAID Enriched air divers, Discover Scuba divers, PADI Rescue diver. And our topside favourite course the DAN basic life support and First Aid course. This course is ideal for divers and non-divers alike. DAN also does a lot or the dive community so a good agency to support. An extra feature of the DAN BLS & FA course is that it is Department of Labour Approved.

Dive Inn Cape Town 2016


The touring part of Dive Inn Cape Town 2016 was the busiest with over 100 days of touring done. With the Cape Peninsula and Cape Winelands tour being the most popular. Table Mountain and city tour a close follower. With the great white sharks cage diving and Hermanus tour another popular trip we did.  West coast flower trips we had no requests to do. These tours are normally done in August and we hope we will some for the 2017 year on the calendar.

Lot of my guests and friends ask how can you do the peninsula tour sometimes 3-4 times a week and not get bored with it. Easy as the only the road/route stays the same (sometimes). The sightings and weather change constantly and of course our stunning Guests. With all the tours we share what our wonderful Cape Town has on offer and all the guest share a bit of their stories as well which makes the tours even better. I think for me and the guests.

Most times after a tour when we do our farewells it almost feels like we are family or have known each other for a long long time. Thus the tours can never get boring or so I hope ;-). The wine farms always have good wine or we visit the De Villiers chocolate or even have Beer Tasting at Cape BrewingCompany. So the options are endless.

Our Dive Inn Cape Town 2016 guests were from all over the world but the most was from America. We had Brazilians, Peruvians, Argentinians and Mexicans. From up north the Canadians also had a couple of representatives.

Dive Inn Cape Town 2016

Nudibranch Hunting

Europe side we had English (for now), Irish, Scottish, French, Danish, Dutch, Norwegians and Germans. Also from Africa we had guests from Dubai, Qatar, Ghana, and Namibia and of course South Africans.  In addition Ukraine, Singapore, India and Indonesia also send some guests my way. Sjoe as I’m typing here it is unbelievable how many nationalities I have met. Wonder now which countries I have missed.

Thank you

Most of all Thank you to all my guest and students who endured my strong Afrikaans accent and added to it my fast way of talking.

Hope Dive Inn 2017 to be just an eventful year with loads of laughs and awesome guests from all over the world. Check us out on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter. We even have some of the guests praising us on Tripadvisor.

To end Dive Inn Cape Town 2016 blog, also some bit of advertising as seen in the 2017 Official visitors guide Cape Town. “Dive Inn Cape Town provides Private tours, Scuba dive tours and training to travelers and locals in Cape Town with packages to suit all. Level 1 First aid training (department of labour approved) is also provided. We’re committed to ensuring you have a wonderful time in Cape Town above and below water.”


Ladismith experiencing the Karoo


We got invited by the Ladismith tourism for an educational to see what Ladismith had on offer. This also coincided with some festivities and the CBL Paddafees (Frog festival) a fundraiser for a NGO – wardrobe of love. We got booked into a 1912 dwelling with stunning features and comfortable beds called Towerzicht.


Road marker

Ladismith reading from the concrete road marker outside the tourist office is 249 miles from Cape Town. The tourist office is in the old Otto Hager Church. According to the current maps Ladismith it is 320km away from the mother city.

Years ago I camped in the small town of Ladismith over Christmas. Remembering very hot weather and not a lot going on probably due to all being gone for the holidays. But had a great time the 3 days camping there. I did notice all the old buildings and visited the small shops etc but meant nothing to me.


Info time

But this time we had a local tour guide, Alistair Reizenberg taking us around. Like normal, most locals do not always want to pay for the services of a guide. Since being a tour guide myself I did notice we pick up interesting facts and stories about an area we can relay and make it even more interesting. So with 1 of the 2 local guides taking us around it was well worth it.

First we went to the Seweweekspoort pass and stopped at certain points. Here Al pointed out some interesting ruins, plants, streams, and formations. The water of a stream we stopped at was crystal clear cold and great to drink.


Seweweekspoort pass


Aristata Protea

 Even with some mint growing nearby to put in our water bottles too make it taste even better. Convicts build the pass for 6 km without the presence of an engineer before AG Smidt took command over them in 1861 and finished it in 1862. He was a brother in-law of the famous pass builder Thomas Bain. A well worth pass to visit and explore where you can even see a scarce protea called the Aristata. Seweweekspoort pass is also a certified Unesco World Heritage Site.