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I tell you what, work doesn't half bugger-up my plans. Check this out - so much diving, so little time!!!


MOZAMBIQUE: AN AFRICAN ADVENTURE


Pelagic encounters in undiscovered Africa


Sunday 18th May - Tuesday 27th May 2003 (10 days)

Leaders: Gavin Anderson and Trevor Krull

Group size limit: 10 plus leaders


Mozambique is a place where one can find world class diving along a seemingly endless coastline, flanked by beautiful white sandy beaches and coconut palms. Much of the diving potential of Mozambique's waters remains to be discovered and the more adventurous traveller will be rewarded with some truly unforgettable experiences.


Situated on Africa's east coast and bordered by South Africa and Swaziland to the south, Zimbabwe to the west and Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania to the north, Mozambique boasts an amazing 3000 kilometres of coastline. Those areas that have been discovered are providing some of Africa's most exhilarating diving experiences. This big country's potential area for diving is huge and, as yet, little explored.


Situated in the tropics, Mozambique's weather is warm and humid during the summer months from October to April, when it can become quite uncomfortable. Our visit is scheduled for the early winter month of May, traditionally the best season to dive. Water temperature should be 24-260C and a 5 mm wetsuit will be ideal.


A former Portuguese colony, the country gained independence in 1975 but was then caught up in a bloody 17-year civil war that eventually took it from being one of Africa's richest countries to one of its poorest by the time the country finally gained peace in 1992. Despite the setbacks of recent floods and droughts, Mozambique is recovering just as fast as it declined and is now one of Africa's fastest developing economies. Much of Mozambique remains undeveloped, with vast swathes of forest lining long roads. As one drives up the coastline one passes through expanses of coconut and cashew nut plantations and through quaint little villages where the people live off the land as they have done for hundreds of years. There are a few towns where the influence of the Portuguese can still be seen, mostly in the architecture. Otherwise Mozambique remains very African. The industrial heart of the country lies in the south around the capital of Maputo. Here are the big sugar refining warehouses and the country's international airport.


Our Mozambique expedition really begins as our small charter aeroplane comes in to land at the airstrip of Inhambane. As the plane descends towards the airport you should have marvellous views of the tempting blue waters and wonderful coastline awaiting below. Inhambane was the very first place that Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama first came ashore in Mozambique some 500 years ago. Back then he called the place 'Land of the Gentle People', and certainly the locals are both gentle and friendly (as long as you don't point a camera at them... many think it steals their soul!).


Diving off Inhambane is rated as the best in Mozambique. From a kaleidoscope of multicoloured anthias, corals and anemones, to the great plankton-feeding Manta Rays and Whale Sharks, each dive site offers something special. Manta Reef abounds with a wide variety of marine life. Manta Rays are almost a certainty here, as are great schools of their smaller cousins the Devil Rays, or Mobula, which can sometimes be seen jumping clean out of the water!


Huge schools of bigeyes, goatfish and grunts are also resident throughout the year, as are lionfish, groupers, moray eels, parrotfish and many other Indian Ocean species. Occasionally large schools of Chevron Barracuda can be encountered, and when they and the Devil Rays meet in mid-water be prepared to be dazzled ­ the scene can be awesome. Sightings of Humpback Whales and dolphins are relatively common, the rare Hump-backed Dolphin can even be found here alongside the more common Bottlenose Dolphin.


Depth of the dive sites averages between 20 and 25 metres. There are shallower sites and deeper sites such as Sherwood Forest where large Potato Bass, Leopard Groupers and amazing green coral trees can be found. Though we will dive some pretty reefs and coral gardens, it is the presence of larger pelagic fish, dolphins, whales and Whale Sharks that sets Mozambique apart from other diving destinations. With luck, we will have close encounters with some pretty big animals. Underwater photographers should pack wide-angle lenses for this expedition!


North of Inhambane lies Pomene where the diving is equally spectacular. A large estuary with healthy mangrove forests adds interest here and offers important nursery grounds for many juvenile fish species. This is perhaps why the surrounding shallow reefs of Zambia and Sylvia Banks team with so much life. The reefs rise from depths of more than 40 metres to as shallow as 6 metres and attract swarms of tropical reef-dwelling fish. They in turn attract gamefish such as Marlin, Sailfish and Giant Kingfish. Manta Rays and Whale Sharks are also found here and occasionally the odd shark species shows up too. It is worth stressing that this area is still relatively unexplored and there is much virgin territory just waiting to be discovered.


Accommodations will be at Guinjata Bay Lodge and Pomene Bay Lodge. Pomene Bay lodge is known for its friendly atmosphere and good home cooking and Guinjata for its great bar! Both have comfortable twin bedded 'casistas' (traditional chalets made from wood or brick and with thatched reed roofs) usually with two bedrooms, complete with mosquito nets, bathroom with shower, sitting area, refrigerator and kitchen area. There is satellite TV in the bars at both lodges. Both are located amongst coconut groves next to pristine white beaches and overlooking the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.


This will be Gavin Anderson's fourth trip to Mozambique, and although no formal underwater photography teaching will be available, Gavin will certainly have his camera with him and is always happy to pass on tips of the trade or discuss any photography problems. Trevor Krull now lives in South Africa, but he lived in Mozambique for two years while he operated a dive centre and pioneered much of the diving in the areas we will visit.



Itinerary


Sunday 18th May: South African Airways evening flight from London (Heathrow) bound for Johannesburg.

Monday 19th May: Morning arrival in Johannesburg, connecting with local flight to Inhambane, Mozambique, arriving in the afternoon. Transfer by road to Guinjata Bay Lodge (about a 45-minute journey). Welcoming drinks and time to relax and settle into your casista before dinner.

Tuesday 20th May-Wednesday 21 May: Two days of diving at Guinjata Bay. Either an early breakfast followed by two dives during the morning, or an early dive followed by a leisurely breakfast and then another morning dive. One dive in the afternoon.

Thursday 22nd May: An early morning dive followed by breakfast and transfer by road (about one and a half hours) to Pomene Bay Lodge, where we will arrive in time for lunch followed by an afternoon dive.

Friday 23rd May-Sunday 25th May: Three days of diving at Pomene Bay. Either an early breakfast followed by two dives during the morning, or an early dive followed by a leisurely breakfast and then another morning dive. One dive in the afternoon.

Monday 26th May: Early breakfast and transfer to Inhambane Airport for flight to London via Johannesburg.

Tuesday 27 May: Morning arrival at London (Heathrow).


A night dive may be organized instead of a second dive during the day if conditions permit.


£1615 (non-divers: £1440) London/London


Includes:

· Scheduled flights London (Heathrow)/Johannesburg/London (Heathrow) by South African Airlines.

· Charter flights Johannesburg/Inhambane/Johannesburg.

· Airport transfers and all road transfers.

· 3 nights full board accommodation on a twin/share basis at Guinjata Bay Lodge.

· 4 nights full board accommodation on a twin/share basis at Pomene Bay Lodge.

· 6 days of diving (3 boat dives daily, but only 2 boat dives on the day of transfer between lodges), dive guide, cylinders and weights.

· Services of Gavin Anderson and Trevor Krull as group leaders.


Single Occupancy Supplement: £49. Please note that, while we will endeavour to find a room-mate for those on the expedition who are travelling alone and would prefer to share accommodation, in the event of a rom-mate not being available the single occupancy supplement will apply. Room-mates will be allocated on a first-come first served basis.


Deposit: £300
 
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