There can be relatively few greater adrenalin rushes in the world of wildlife photography than the dramatic breaking of the surface of the ocean as a Great White Shark leaves the water in an attempt to grab a meal of a young fur seal returning to land.
False Bay in South Africa is the only place in the world where this behaviour can be witnessed and if you’ve seen Air Jaws on the television we’ll be working with the same team so we’ll have you in the best place early every morning to witness the seals run their daily gauntlet and try and grab some stunning images of this dramatic behaviour. There will also be opportunities for cage-diving photography.
Itinerary Open +Close -
Day 1: We will leave the UK for overnight flights to Cape Town and arrival the next morning.
Day 2: We will arrive in Cape Town midmorning and make our way towards Simonstown on the western side of False Bay where we will be based for the duration of our stay. Since the prime time for great white activity is early morning we won’t head out to sea on this day but take the opportunity to settle in, be briefed on the format of our forthcoming outings and start our exploration of some of the other options that this region has in terms of landscapes and wildlife, to ensure your photographic brains are fully engaged for the dramas ahead.
Days 3 – 7: Our plan for each and every morning is to join up with great white shark expert and photographer Chris Fallows who runs one of the very few boats licensed to operate in the waters of False Bay. We’ll look to be there in time for dawn, making for the single rocky outcrop that is Seal Island and where small groups of fur seals returning after feeding run the gauntlet of the lurking great white sharks who have gathered here for just these few weeks a year when slightly slower younger seals offer a potential target for them.
Watching for clues from the gathering Gulls we will spend our time rushing to any signs of and actual predation that’s occurring and dramatic it most certainly can be. We’ll also spend a short while running a decoy seal from the rear of the boat for a more controlled chance of that powerful breaching shot before mooring up for the chance of close-up encounters either from the boat or cage-diving alongside. We will have a couple of underwater compact cameras you can put your own storage cards in to use if you don’t have your own for this part of our excursion. The ever popular GoPros are in their element here too. We will return to Simonstown, undoubtedly exhilarated for lunchtime leaving the afternoons free to enjoy other local wildlife photographic options including African penguins, cape baboons, the stunning birdlife of Kirstenbosch Gardens, the rock hyrax of Table Mountain and some reasonably well known scenery too! Over our main evening meal we’ll have the chance to review images of the day and plan the next.
On one of our days here we will forego the drama of False Bay and head further east to Gansbaai for a different great white experience. This is currently scheduled for the first day. The working principles will be the same (a full excursion out to sea with cage diving opportunities too) but this is an area of less natural predation but in my past experience bolder sharks around the boat which gives a greater opportunity for portrait type images and therefore fully warrants a day in the programme.
Please note that all outings into False Bay are entirely weather dependant. The first time I went here during the same week in 2011 I was able to head out every morning – the next 2 days after I finished the boat was not able to go. We have been very lucky on the two trips we have run subsequently in this respect but weather will determine our fate in terms of the number of days we get out to sea: safety comes first after all. These are elements beyond our control but there are always things to see and do photographically in this vibrant part of the world.
Day 8: Since the return flights to Europe are all evening scheduled we will have a further trip out to False Bay for a last session witnessing the dramas that unfold there, with the chance to refresh and pack before making our way to the airport for the overnight return.
Day 9: After our overnight flight we will arrive back home.
What our customers say
“The adrenaline was pumping with the expectation of a shark attack”
“Mark checked regularly that I was enjoying myself and he knew by the big smile on my face I was”
“this exceeded expectations – I thought we might not see what we actually saw”