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IIf you’re looking for safari action on the open water, then there’s no better place than the famous and fearsome Shark Alley – a hunting ground for sharks off the coast of Western Cape. However, it’s not only sharks you’ll find stalking these waters – it’s also a hotbed of Cape fur seals and sea birds.
Shark Alley is famous for being one of the top commercial cage-diving destinations in the world. This is not surprising, given that it is home to one of the largest populations of great white sharks.
Lying just a few kilometres south of the small fishing village of Gansbaai, Shark Alley is a narrow channel of water that runs between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. It's thanks to the 50 000-odd Cape fur seals on Dyer Island that the channel is so named, for these furry mammals are the favourite food of great white sharks. As a result, the sharks trawl the alley in numbers looking for their next meal.
CCage-diving is a thrilling activity in which you are lowered into the water, in a secure cage, for a face-to-face encounter. Divers don't have to be scuba qualified to cage-dive, as the cage floats on the surface, with part of it remaining out of the water.
Visitors preferring to watch from the safety of the boat certainly won't miss out on any of the action, as the sharks remain just under the surface of the water and come right up to the boat.
During peak season, between June and September, onboard spectators may also see Great Whites breaching – a fascinating and awe-inspiring display of these sharks' unique hunting habits, with which they stun prey before gobbling it up.
Whale-watching along the Gansbaai coast is also excellent, particularly between May and December, when southern right whales come to mate, calve and nurse their young in the area.
There are also numerous hikes and walking trails around the cliffs of De Kelders at Gansbaai, which feature caves to explore, abundant fynbos, spectacular ocean views and the fascinating history of ancient peoples in this area, revealed by archaeological digs that deliver rich hauls of prehistoric artefacts regularly.
Learn more about the rich marine wildlife offer in South Africa with The Marine Expert Alison Towner here
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Gansbaai Tourism Information
Tel: +27 (0)28 384 1439
How to get here
Fly direct from any of South Africa’s major cities to Cape Town International Airport. From Cape Town, take the N2 highway east to Hermanus and then the R43 to Gansbaai. The journey should take about 2 hours by car.
Best time to visit
Winter is the best season to see great white sharks, especially between June and September. This roughly corresponds to the best season to see southern right whales, which generally stay until December.
Things to do in the area
Gansbaai has plenty to keep you busy, but you'll enjoy the drive to Stanford, a picturesque little town with a good brewery.
You could also visit nearby Hermanus, which has plenty of shops, galleries and good restaurants as well as some of the best whale-watching vantage spots in the world.
What to pack
While cold drinks and light snacks will be provided, you should bring along sunscreen (even in winter), a hat, a jacket and if you are prone to seasickness, appropriate medication.
Where to stay
Gansbaai has excellent guest houses and other accommodation options.
What to eat
The fresh seafood along this part of the coast is particularly good.
The Great White Shark Festival in October, the Crayfish Derby in April and the Fees van die Ganse (Festival of the Geese) in July, all in Gansbaai.
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