Vital Cape Vidal

2013-10-30 08:27
I could see Colin struggling as he unpacked stuff from the boot: a basket with snorkels, goggles and beach towels. He tries to remove a cooler box while trying to take off the sandals from his feet.

Lastly, he tries to balance a dome-shaped container covered with a towel. I turn, ignoring his pleas for help and run up the dune towards the sea.

We have just been driving about 30km from the seaside town of St Lucia through the southern part of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park to get here. The huge reserve is a World Heritage Site with lakes, green palm-covered hills, tropical coastal forests and over 270km of coastline. 

I have had my fill of terrestrial animals for the morning and I am now keen to inspect the aquatic life of Cape Vidal.

The white beach is long and wide and flat.

The sea is blue and gentle waves rush over the flat rocks about 50m out in the bay. To my right excited chatter and gesturing is going on: a charter boat is leaving on a fishing expedition and excited children and men are surrounding the departing vessel.

Deepwater and shore fishing are favourite activities both for locals and visitors and clients come back with big fish and even bigger stories.

On the beach, families and friends are clustering around umbrellas to seek shelter from the morning sun.

I drop my bag, slip the straps off my shoulders and let my dress drop to the sand. I run to the water.

Body temperature.

Compared to the water of my native Cape Town, Cape Vidal's water is like bathwater. I wade in and as I submerse myself and surrender to the swell, I sigh.

Sensual. Taste, smell, see, hear, feel. Salt, blue, the nudging of the waves, shrieks of laughter and hot sun on my forehead.

Now floating on my tummy, I fold myself double, duck and kick to the sandy bottom on the ocean. Rolling like an albino seal, I shriek into my goggles. Fishies!! A flock of opaque white fish dash away from me.

Another collection of fish with stripes scatter like yellow glass as I twist and swim towards them.  

Swimming out to the flat rocks is easy.

The waves are small and break gently as the tide came in. Low tide is the best time to inspect the rocks out in the bay. I dive down again, clinging to a rock and craning my neck to inspect a hole. Anemones. Under another overhang I see tropical fish swarming like brightly striped birds. In a shadow, a little shark lies covered in sand.

It is like flying - this swimming and twirling in the bright warm water. Like a smooth wet bird I am flying between rocks, through crevices, looking up at the rays of the sun piercing the water.

What took you so long!?

Colin rolls his eyes at me and throws me a beer. The foam boils out as I open it but I gulp it down. The icy cold bitterness rushes down my throat. Aaah.

He has dug his toes into the warm sand and lies back on his elbows. Colin runs the St Lucia Wetlands Guesthouse in town and his family come weekly, driving in the park after work to watch animals or visit the beach.

What's this? I tap the dome, still covered with a beach towel.

Something the kitchen packed for us.

I lift the towel. Under the domed lid is a cake tray filled with freshly baked scones. Inside the cooler box are strawberry jam, butter and yellow grated cheese, cool pears, juice and beer.

Nice day, huh?

Nice day, ya.

Visit St Lucia and the Isimangaliso Wetland Park on a trip to the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa or try this luxury self-drive trip.
Read more on:    isimangaliso wetland park  |  kzn  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle

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