Swaziland - Round The World Tour 2003 Day 12

Sodwana Bay

Monday 24th March

We bid farewell to Tambuti and Swaziland this morning. We enjoyed our few days there and take fond memories with us. We drove for about three hours or so before reaching Sodwana Bay. Curiously, we somehow managed to take one of the dirt roads (although not intentional, this happened to be the most direct route). We now know what it must be like driving on the surface of the moon. You know you are in Africa when driving in the ditch along the side of the road is actually more comfortable than driving on the road itself.

We had an early start to the day and arrived at Sodwana at around noontime, which gave us ample opportunity to take our time exploring the various accommodation options. We were a little unsure about the first couple of places we saw and ultimately chose a place called the Coral Sands. This facility is fantastic. We are in a primitive style hut made of bamboo reeds with an on-suite bathroom (I use the term loosely) that has no roof. There is no air-conditioning but the thirty-minute thunderstorm we just had has driven down the temperature to a tolerable level. It was so hot in here earlier that I was dripping. There is a nice shower (with an open air feel to it) and a hot water gas furnace.

The main building houses the kitchen facilities and the whole place has a ‘camping’ feel to it. We had the option of going full board or self-catering. We chose the later and picked up some food provisions from the local town about fifteen minutes drive inland. Even though we went self-catering, we are allowed to make full use of the kitchen and dining room facilities which includes a huge kitchen area, our own two foot cube fridge compartment (which looks a little like a morgue storage facility) a wide range of cooking appliances and pretty much anything else you could imagine. They even supply the cooking utensils, plates, cutlery and such and even do the dishes for us. All we have to do is provide the food and cook it ourselves. What more could you ask for?

We paid R3300 (about $415 at the currently week exchange rate) for a three-night/five-dive package. Given that this is the best diving spot in South Africa and one of the best diving locations in the world, I’m very pleased with this price. We have a somewhat tentative budget of $3000 for diving during our trip so this price isn’t bad at all given that it includes the accommodation also. It is a little more expensive than some of the other operators in the area but not by much and they seem to be far better organised and professional. The dive instructors and staff are all very nice and accommodating and I have a real sense of comfort that we are going to be very well cared for during our stay. One of our five dives will be a refresher course in a three-meter deep pool to make sure we are in tip-top condition to maximise our enjoyment of the reef dives. This was mostly our idea but after leaning that we were novice divers having dove just once outside of our certification and almost a year ago, they seemed to agree that this was not a bad idea. Tomorrow we will do the refresher course and a single reef dive with two more dives the next day and the remaining dive on the last day before we depart – unless we decide to extend our stay.

We were given some dive knowledge review material to browse through and a two-page quiz designed to trigger our memories (it’s not a pass/fail type quiz). It took me a little while to remember how to make the dive table calculations. Sandy is now reviewing the book and we will soon both be off to sleep. The refresher course starts at eight o’clock tomorrow morning so it will be an early start again.

Stun, shock and amazement – we actually took no photos at all today! I think the camera is going through withdrawal symptoms after averaging 300+ photos a day for the past week or so.