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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

Unknown

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.

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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

Iridescent

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

Ladismith

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.

Ladismith

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.

Ladismith

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.

Ladismith

Seweweekspoort pass

Ladismith

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.

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World Tourism Day Cape Town

World Tourism Day

World Tourism Day is held on the 27 September each year. Idea is to bring attention how important tourism is to cities, countries and there people.

World Tourism Day

Table Mountain

In Cape Town it was taken even further and September was made Tourism month. So this meant all around small functions and indabas to celebrate and discuss what the tourism market means in Cape Town.

In South Africa September is also seen as Heritage month with the 24th being heritage day and then also a public holiday. Dive Inn Cape Town attended 2 events, one at Wine tourism Indaba (Groot Constantia). The first at the Protea hotel in Stellenbosch (hosted by Metrorail and variety of partners).

The current online life hash tags for world tourism day would of course be the norm thus. #tourism4all #WTD2016 was created and used all around.

Tourism for all was the main theme for this year and focuses on Universal accessibility in tourism.

A lot of travellers do have disabilities and only for some this is catered for. The norm is normally wheel chair access, parking and specialised restrooms. But this is not the only disabilities out there. Vision for example is also a big issue. Writing is small on all paper work, taps you cannot make out which is hot or cold. Steps in showers can also be an issue for most people.

World Tourism Day

Metrorail

For some the restrooms and bath rooms are also not very well planned and it could be an issue as well.

Counters can be too high for people in wheel chairs. Most wine tasting rooms do have ‘Bartop’ counters and it’s too high for the wheelchairs. This is mostly an issue for the smaller farms. Lucky the farms with the bigger tasting rooms have separate tables where all the guests can sit and enjoy the stunning wines at eye level.

World Tourism Day

Groot Constantia

On World tourism day Derek Hanekom, Minister of tourism stated the following:

“The Department of Tourism is undertaking many initiatives to promote Universal Accessibility:

  • The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa provides tourism establishments with guidelines on UA features
  • A new incentive programme which will become effective in 2017 will support tourism businesses to become UA compliant
  • The Service Excellence program for staff at attractions includes Sensitivity Training, training for tour guides to serve clients with special needs, and Sign Language training
  • A database of UA compliant providers and suppliers is being compiled to help tourists make choices
  • The Department is working with South African Tourism to market UA products domestic and internationally, and encouraging the development of UA tourism routes
  • We have engaged various organisations that represent people with disabilities to explore how the tourism industry can serve them better, including Blind SA, Deaf SA, the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa, and the South African Disability Alliance.
  • The Department has been working with Cape Town and Durban to conduct UA audits on tourism businesses and public attractions, transportation and other places of interest
  • This year, the Department will develop a UA Assessment Tool for government-owned provincial parks, and provide raining for staff at tourism attractions
  • Next year, we will conduct audits at government-owned parks in four provinces, identify the gaps and recommend solutions.”

World tourism day summary.

Thus in short we as suppliers or providers need to think how we can change our outlook on people of disabilities and how to change how we tour with our guests.

The below link from Responsible tourism Cape Town also provide more info. http://responsiblecapetown.co.za/responsible-tourism-in-cape-town-how-to-guide/