Last Word


March 1, 2023

Stories from the Last Word - Taking the Plunge

When choosing our activity partners, we handpick those whose eco-ethos mirrors our own. Fun and engaging experiences infused with wisdom provide our guests with a Beyond Boutique® experience. White Shark Projects, a Gansbaai-based eco-tourism research organisation focussing on conservation operating year-round, is our partner for this particular adventure activity.

Stories from the Last Word - Taking the Plunge

The humble fishing village has gained the moniker 'The Great White Shark Capital Of the World' due to the consistent sightings of these revered, at times wrongly vilified, apex predators of the deep.

Thinking about getting within a few meters of one, putting nothing but a metal cage between seems like sheer folly. Some take the learning around sharks down to the wire(cage), as it were. And there is still so much we don't know about these fantastic creatures.

Nicky Coenen, our Group General Manager, tells about her recent family outing with the White Shark Projects crew. The excursion involved optional shark cage diving. If you just thought of the 'Jaws' soundtrack, here's a safety warning. Never mind the sharks; watch out for the earworm!" Upon arrival at White Shark Projects' Headquarters (HQ) at Gansbaai, you have a light snack and a pre-trip briefing. You hear all about what to expect and safety. We also met our marine biologist field guide. We launched from the slipway in the harbour, and the marine biologist guided our experience, which was brilliant—20 minutes by boat to the dive site. Here, we suited up with a wetsuit and goggles for our 30-minute dive). We saw 24 individual Bronze Whaler sharks (Carcharhinus brachyurus). What a fantastic experience! We learnt so much about their habitat. Soon after, the crew dropped the cage. Those keen to take a dip (maximum six people per cage) took their turn. Surprising myself, I took mine.

Shark cage diving should not be about a superficial adrenaline thrill (although it is a thrilling experience!). It is a chance to respectfully wade into the watery depths of a powerful animal's domain to connect with nature. More than anything, the experience awakened all my senses, and my prefrontal cortex switch flipped firmly to 'on'! What hit home for me was the importance of balance in our oceans, starting at the top. As a risk-averse person, this was an incredible experience to be up close, watching them interact with one another and with us. Those not keen to enter the cage can watch from the elevated viewing deck. The crew documented the entire experience, and we looked over the footage back at HQ afterwards. The children found it thrilling to be so close to nature. The sobering fact is that shark numbers are dwindling worldwide, and taking with us an understanding of these apex predators' crucial function in marine ecology is a gift.

Upon returning, we took advantage of the changing facilities and hot showers back at HQ to freshen up. After one of the most memorable days out ever, we returned to Cape Town, forever changed by this incredible wildlife encounter."

Threats to the Great White Shark species include:

  • Natural predation by Orcas (a growing phenomenon in the Gansbaai area)
  • A slow reproductive rate (it takes ten to fifteen years for a shark to reach sexual maturity)
  • Being targeted by the cruel fin-harvesting fishing practice. Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy in some parts of the world

Approximately 3,500 Great White Sharks remain in the world's oceans. Great White Sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) are solitary and enjoy protected status in South African waters.


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August 28, 2023

World Rhino Day Walk

In honour of World Rhino Day, the lodges of the Madikwe Game Reserve would like to create awareness and are proud to present the seventh annual Rhino Walk. The event is being held to raise funds to help combat rhino poaching in Madikwe Game Reserve.

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There is something about being in the wild that feels different. Maybe you’ll discover your roots or on the other hand become more responsible for nature and its survival

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