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7 weeks in Latin America (5)

TravelPosted by Jean Dar Mon, January 15, 2018 22:37:10
El Carnaval de Barranquilla, Salsa Caleña y Medellín

Leaving Buenos Aires and Argentina, my first stop in Colombia, Latin America's oldest democracy, will be the famous four day long Carnaval de Barranquilla, worlds second largest carnival and only surpassed by Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. This carnival is Colombia's most important folkloric celebration and was proclaimed a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003. El Carnaval de Barranquilla and Patagonia were the two first things I fitted into this "7 weeks in Latin America" project.

This carnival really makes Barranquilla come alive during these four days and room rates at hotels rises dramatically and pre-payments on rooms are necessary, as most hotels expect to get fully booked. This year El Carnaval de Barranquilla is held between 9 - 13 February, with something going on basically every hour non-stop. Trying to get out of the city before the rest of the bunch, I'll be leaving in the afternoon of February 13 for Cali, missing out on the Grand Finale. The video below is from last year's carnival.



Cali, or actually Santiago de Cali, is as well-known for its Salsa Caleña, as Buenos Aires is for its Tango. So no wonder I'll be taking private dance lessons here for a week then, hopefully two per day and continuing with locals in the nights at the different salsa venues through out the city! Its going to be interesting to see how much the Caleña style differs from the Cubana style that is more common. Cali is also called "the Salsa Capital of the World", and has the most salsa schools and salsa teams in the world.

My last destination in Colombia will be the city of Medellín in the Paisa region of the country. Medellin is known as the "City of Eternal Spring" due to its perfect spring-like weather year round. The combination of warm days and cool nights helps to make this, the second largest of Colombia's cities, a top destination in Colombia for Colombians, international tourists and business people. Long gone are the days of Pablo Escobar's narcotics empire that smuggled all that cocaine into the USA during the 1980's...


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My False Bay Wreck Diving Video

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Fri, January 12, 2018 20:08:55
Diving MFV Orotava & SAS Pietermaritzburg in False Bay

l was hoping to upload this video before New Year's Eve but my internet connetion was faltering and is still not perfect. But at least I manage to upload it to my YouTube channel Ad Astra - Jean Dar early this morning. It includes some of my footage from the two wrecks in False Bay, the MFV Orotava and the historical SAS Pietermaritzburg. All my diving in False Bay was arranged through Pisces Divers in Simon's Town.

From 1958 to 1983, MFV Oratava and her crew of up to twenty-four worked as a fishing trawler along South Africa's coast. In 1983, after years of deterioration, the fishing vessel was finally donated to the False Bay Conservation Society. An impressive fifty meters long and nine meters wide, this wreck is in fairly good condition and lies on the sandy seabed at thirty four meters. The highest point, the funnel, is at a little more than twenty two meters, and the gunwales are at some twenty five to twenty seven meters. I had two dives on the MFV Orotava.



The SAS Pietermaritzburg was first commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Pelorus in 1943, and took part in the D-day invasion of Normandy in World War II as the lead ship sweeping mines to make way for the invasion fleet. She was sold in 1947 to the South African Navy and renamed HMSAS Pietermaritzburg. In 1994 she was scuttled to make an artificial reef at Miller's Point near Simon's Town. The wreck settled upright on the sand at a maximum depth of twenty two metres, but has begun to collapse and the interior is much less accessible than it used to be. I had three dives on the historical SAS Pietermaritzburg.

With only six days to my next trip, the "7 weeks in Latin America" project, only a few items are still to be purchased and I'll also look into vaccines and medication for the trip. Updates from the "7 weeks in Latin America" project will of course be posted here at Ad Astra, as the project unfolds.


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7 weeks in Latin America (4)

TravelPosted by Jean Dar Mon, January 08, 2018 21:34:47
The City of Buenos Aires

The Argentinean capital city of Buenos Aires is one of Latin America's top tourist destinations so I just had to include it in my itinerary for my forthcoming "7 weeks in Latin America" project. I will spend half a week here after my Patagonian leg of my project and the Brazilian stop-over, mainly to take in the famed museums, culture, art and history of this city. And I'm sure I'll be sipping down some Argentinean wine too..

The city is highly influenced by the Europeans who started to arrive to Buenos Aires some 150 years ago and is today synonymous with Tango, which has influences from European, Native American and also African cultures. The dance is included in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List since 2009 after a joint proposal by Argentina and Uruguay. And if you haven't got a clue what Tango music sound like, just listen to the music in this video.



I have made hotel reservations really close to the Obelisque and am hoping to get some beautiful nighttime timelapses of it with my new mirrorless Sony a6000 camera from the room of my hotel there. And with the addition of a Haida Neutral Density 3.0, 1000x filter to my camera, I should be able to get at least some sensationally good photos. This filter is suited for very long exposure times and could boost my creativity.

When coming up with this project I initially also had Santiago, the capital city of Chile in it, but with the timeframe available between Patagonia and the Carnival of Barranquilla in Colombia, that starts on February 10, I had to settle for only Buenos Aires. I'm pretty sure I'll have another project that will include Santiago in the future, so only Buenos Aires will have my full attention for half a week in early February this time.


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7 weeks in Latin America (3)

TravelPosted by Jean Dar Thu, December 28, 2017 19:33:23

El Calafate - Ushuaia - Bariloche

After the Gorra Blanca and Patagonian Icefield expedition that will start and end in El Chaltén, I will also spend time in El Calafate, Ushuaia and Bariloche, taking in the natural beauty of the Patagonian region and its history and culture. All these locations are found in the informative video below along with plenty more stunning places from both the Argentinean and Chilean part of this region.

The Argentinean city of El Calafate got its name from a little bush with yellow flowers and dark blue berries that is very common in Patagonia. The city is the natural destination if you want to see the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier, but also a convenient stopover before/after further exploits to the north, including El Chaltén, the FitzRoy mountain, famous hiking routes, river rafting and canoeing, or a Gorra Blanca expedition.



A couple of days in Ushuaia will follow my visit to El Calafate and the Perito Moreno Glacier. Ushuaia is commonly regarded as the southmost city in the world and found in Tierra del Fuego, on the very tip of the South American continent. The highlights here are the breathtaking landscapes, the history of Ushuaia and also the wildlife including Penguins, Whales and Sea lions along with activities like hiking and canoeing.

Far to the north in Patagonia lies San Carlos de Bariloche, known as only Bariloche, a major tourist and adventure hub in this part of Patagonia. The big attractions here, as in much of Patagonia, are the stunning landscapes including mountains and volcanoes, waterfalls and beautiful lakes. The obvious activities here are hiking, mountaineering, canoeing and skiing, but Bariloche is also well-known for its good cafés and restaurants.



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My Sardine Run video

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Sat, December 16, 2017 11:31:20
My South African Sardine Run video on YouTube

Finally I got all the footage together from my South African Sardine Run earlier this year and compiled this almost five minute long video. The Sardine Run is a "must do" if you are into diving, freediving or even only snorkeling. And if you want to participate in one of world's most spectacular natural events, interacting and swimming with Dolphins, Sharks, Whales and Cape Gannets etc, this is the one for you!

There are a few companies offering packages for the Sardine Run, and depending on when, where and for how long you would like to go, just compare the different packages and have your pick. However, most arrangements are week-long and its a good idea to make reservations way ahead in time, since this is a very popular annual spectacle and not many spots are left at the start of the year.



I have included a content list in my video to highlight the best footage in there, but the one thing I missed out on was the huge Sardine bait ball and footage from below showing Cape Gannets dive-bombing into it from above. I will return for a second Sardine Run, probably in 2019, in order to capture that on film. Read my previous posts here from the Sardine Run to get an idea and feel for it.

My next video on my YouTube channel Ad Astra - Jean Dar could feature me diving in False Bay, South Africa, including footage from the wrecks SAS Pietermaritzburg and the Orotava, but I have to look at the footage that I've got before I can tell if that is going to be the case. What I can promise is that videos from some of the most sought-after dive locations on the planet will surface on my YouTube channel one after the other. These videos will of course be from Palau, Yap, Guam, Saipan and the utterly mind blowing wrecks of Truk Lagoon (Chuuk Lagoon).


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7 weeks in Latin America (2)

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Sun, December 10, 2017 13:28:28
Gorra Blanca and the Southern Patagonian Icefield

Patagonia has been on my tick list for some time now and with my forthcoming travel project, 7 weeks in Latin America, I will finally go to this stunning location in Argentina and Chile. This, one of the absolute highlights of the project, will follow directly after the short Brazilian stopover (see previous post). In total 16 Days are set aside for the Patagonian leg of this project, including El Calafate, El Chaltén, Ushuaia and Bariloche.

I will arrive in El Calafate via Buenos Aires, coming from São Paulo and Santos in Brazil. From El Calafate I will go by bus to El Chaltén and the following day the Gorra Blanca Expedition will start. Gorra Blanca is situated in Chile and both El Calafate and El Chaltén in Argentina. The famous Perito Moreno Glacier is reached from El Calafate, and my plan is to see it before leaving for Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego.



As my right shoulder is now strong and functional after the advanced shoulder surgery I had in June 2016, I have thrown in some mountaineering into this trip too. Gorra Blanca is an easy peak in the Southern Patagonian Icefield (Campo de Hielo Patagónico Sur) with exeptional views of both the Fitz Roy mountain and large parts of the icefield itself in good weather. Thus making it a perfect mountaineering comeback objective for me.

I have been purchasing new mountaineering gear since I sold most of my stuff after the climbing accident in December 2013 that fractured my right shoulder. Some top end mountaineering items are now in my inventory and this could be useful if I chose to continue climbing after this project. During this Gorra Blanca expedition I will put my new La Sportiva G2 SM mountaineering boots and also my custom-made PHD sleeping bag with Drishell outer fabric to the test, along with my new small and handy Sony A6000 Camera.


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7 weeks in Latin America

TravelPosted by Jean Dar Wed, November 29, 2017 20:55:17
First stop - São Paulo and Santos in Brazil

My next travel project "7 weeks in Latin America" is less than two months away and as its name indicates, its a 7 week long arrangement that still is only half complete, regarding reservations for flights and hotels. In total some fifteen separate flights will be included and a multitute of locations in five countries, starting in São Paulo and Santos in Brazil.

This Brazilian leg of the trip was originally not included in my blue print for the trip, and now making up the first ½ week of the itinerary. It was added as a short stopover for some fun in the sun before heading towards Patagonia and the Gorra Blanca ascent. The video below is from earlier this year showing drone footage of the city of Santos, São Paulo.



Santos is probably not the first Brazilian city that comes to mind as a tourist, being close to the megacity of São Paulo, the largest city in the southern hemisphere. But it is a historical city as it was founded by the Portuguese nobleman Brás Cubas in 1546. Some of the attractions in Santos are the Coffee Museum, where the coffee prices were once negotiated, the city's beachfront garden that is the largest in the world, and of course the museum of the great Brazilian footballer Pelé.

Santos has the biggest seaport in Latin America which handle a large portion of the world's coffee exports, as well as a number of other Brazilian exports including steel, oil, cars, oranges, bananas and cotton. I will however not see much of this, as I have made hotel reservations quite close to the main beaches on the south side of Santos, and will be soaking in the sun preparing for the coldness of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, Campo de Hielo Sur in Spanish.

- More info will be posted of my "7 weeks in Latin America" project.


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Ad Astra on YouTube

TravelPosted by Jean Dar Sat, November 11, 2017 21:10:41

Ad Astra was introduced on YouTube today!

Ad Astra - Jean Dar is the full name of my new YouTube channel, where everyone will be able to see them videos from my travel projects. The first video posted on Ad Astra - Jean D is the 10:25 minutes long one found below, covering my Philippines & Micronesia travel project 11 December 2016 - 20 January 2017.

Further videos will show awesome wreck diving footage from Chuuk Lagoon (Truk Lagoon), diving in Palau and Yap, and of course the South African Dive Bonanza project in June - July this year. And a lot more. If you want to be the first to watch my new videos, subscribe to the channel: Ad Astra - Jean Dar

My forthcoming grand "Living La Vida Loca Project" is still being organised with only a few flights and accomodations completed at the moment. The first few days will be spent in Sao Paulo and Santos in Brazil, followed by the Patagonian leg consisting of two and a half weeks that will include a climbing comeback for me on the less technichal peak of Gorra Blanca in Chile.

It will be a five day expedition on the Patagonian icefield, starting in Argentina and with the climb itself in Chile. This will show whether my shoulder (and the rest of me) could be up for some heavier mountaineering objectives in the future.

- More updates on my forthcoming "Living La Vida Loca Project" will follow!



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Diving in False Bay, South Africa (2)

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Sat, November 04, 2017 18:30:40

My last post from False Bay

Finally I got some piece of mind and time to write the last post about my South African Dive Bonanza in June-July this year. Looking back at it now, some four months later, I can only say it was a packed three week holiday that definitely took my diving to the next level.

With the last couple of dives in False Bay I was mentally prepared for the colder temperatures and also rougher conditions on the sea. All dives proceeded without any problems at all, at least for me. There was this guy from the States that had some problems on almost all his dives, like losing his weightbelt decending while adjusting it etc. Fortunatly for me, I didn't have to buddy-up with him. My photo below, from 11 July 2017, pictures corals at 28 meters depth at a location called the Sherwood Forest.

Diving at the Sherwood Forest certainly provided me with some memorable encounters, like the Longnosed Skate below that I managed to get on my camera on 11 July 2017. But like the Sardine Run, the action in False Bay could prove to be as fast-moving there, where also Cape Fur Seals are often seen checking-out divers. In my case they proved to be too fast really, and I didn't get any footage of them, even if two of them came really close on my third and final dive on the SAS Pietermaritzburg.False Bay is probably best known for the Great White Sharks hunting Cape Fur Seals, and on occasion even breaching the surface as they come from below with great speed. Cage dives are a daily occurence here, weather permitting, and tourists flock to see those few Great White Sharks still out there. Basically all large spieces of sharks could face extinction within 20 years, mostly due to humans. My photo below is from a safety stop at the Sherwood Forest on 11 July 2017, and I had my camera ready for them jellyfishes!

Simon's Town on the Cape Peninsula is a charming town with plenty of buildings on St Georges Street from the Victorian era. Most restaurants serve excellent South African wines and my favourite ones are located at the Waterfront overlooking False Bay. The cuisine is not surprisingly influenced by the British, with fish and chips themes shining through as well as hamburgers, sallads etc. My photo below, from 12 July 2017, is from the pier by the Waterfront showing the statue of the South African Navy's Standby Diver.

Pisces Divers is the natural choice of dive operator in Simon's Town and I did sign up for both the Sardine Run and all the False Bay dives with them. In the future I may return and do another Sardine Run with them, since I never got the underwater footage of them Cape Gannets diving into the bait ball. There are plenty more first class dive sites along the long coasts of South Africa that I find highly intyeresting. The group photo below is after my final dive in False Bay on 13 July 2017.I had a really good time diving in South Africa with Pisces Divers and their arrangements and recommend their services. About accomodation, I stayed for the duration of my entire stay in Simon's Town at Simon's Town Boutique Backpackers. Its clean, neat, affordable and the location is very good, only 5 minutes walk to the Waterfront and 15 minutes walk to Pisces Divers the other direction, just next to the train station of Simon's Town.

My next grand travel project is already on the way with more or less all the locations and dates set. Its going to be a seven and a half week long trip, including five countries, climbing, freediving, scuba diving, Salsa Caleño and Marengue dancing and a lot more..



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Diving in False Bay, South Africa

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Fri, July 14, 2017 22:31:06

False Bay - The Serengeti of the seas

I had my last dive here in False Bay, South Africa, yesterday 13 July 2017, today was a rest day as I will be flying to London (UK) tomorrow, and from there to Stockholm, Sweden.

My first dive in False Bay was at a dive site called the Photographers Deep, where I got down to 31 meters. Visibility was really poor at only 2-3 meters, which made it important to stay close to my dive buddy. Temperatures were at lowest down to 11°C, making it a cold dive in my 7/5mm wetsuit added with another 5mm on top. My photo below, from 8 July 2017, is from that first dive at Photographers Deep picturing a Puffaddear Shyshark at 31 meters. Its a small shark that often lives near the bottom in sandy or rocky habitats.

Through history thousands of ships have sunk along the South African coast and a lot of them around the treacherous waters of the Cape Peninsula. However, some more recent wrecks have been scuttled in False Bay and have become home to many sorts or marine life. The five wrecks that are found in Smitswinkel bay offer a good site for wreck diving. My photo below, from 9 July 2017, shows me and my dive buddy Jessica at 32 meters, exploring the wreck of the 50m long trawler MFV Orotava. This ship was scuttled in False Bay in August 1983.

The SAS Pietermaritzburg was first commissioned in the Royal Navy as HMS Pelorus in 1943, and took part in the D-day invasion of Normandy in World War II as the lead ship sweeping mines to make way for the invasion fleet. She was sold in 1947 to the South African Navy and renamed HMSAS Pietermaritzburg. My photo below, from 9 July 17, pictures me diving inside the SAS Pietermaritzburg in False Bay. This was the second wreck dive of the day, the first one being on the MFV Orotava. Water temperature was down to 11°C and visibility about 12 meters.

The story of the SAS Pietermaritzburg stretches all the way from 1943, when she was launched, to 1994 when she was scuttled to make an artificial reef at Miller's Point near Simon's Town. The wreck settled upright on the sand at a maximum depth of 22 metres, but has begun to collapse and the interior is much less accessible than it used to be. All in all, I had three dives on the historical SAS Pietermaritzburg. Since she was scuttled on 12 November 1994 to form an artificial reef, marine life has taken posession of this wreck as my photo below from 11 July 2017 shows.

Simon's Town on the western shores of False Bay, got its name from the Dutch governor of the Cape Colony Simon van der Stel. The town has been a naval base and harbour for more than two hundred years and was a strategical base for the British Royal Navy during World War II, as both German and Japanese ships and U-boats patroled these waters. The South African Navy seconded to the British Royal Navy 1939-1945. My photo below, from 10 July 2017, is from the South African Navy Museum in Simon's Town, picturing World War II items.

I will post one more update about diving in False Bay in the coming days, where more of my footage will be displayed and also information about the dives, diving conditions, marine life and more. All of my dives out of Simon's Town was arranged with Pisces Divers here in Simon's Town, a really solid dive company.

In total I had eight dives in False Bay and the weather is a factor to consider here as is the water temperatures. Diving in False Bay is by all means a colder proposition than the Sardine Run along the Eastern Cape!

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Diving South Africa's Sardine Run 2017 (2)

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Mon, July 10, 2017 18:45:21

Second and last update on my South African Sardine Run

Its been a week and half since I posted an update here at Ad Astra, and that was not the general idea. However, delayed flights from East London to Cape Town made a very late arrival in Simon's Town. And from there I never had enough time to post, until now that is.

My photos below illustrates pretty well what the Sardine Run is about. A fast boat out at sea far from the coast, and once Cape Gannets are spotted diving into the water, the boat sets off in that direction. Meanwhile you'd better prepare to get in the water fast! Get your fins on, spit in your mask and rinse it, and wait for instructions. If lots of Gannets still are dive-bombing an area, you will most probably also see plenty of Common Dolphins. My photo below from 26 June 2017, shows that it doesn't really matter if you get in the water or not to see the action, you get as wet either way!

The Bronze Whaler Sharks can be spotted once you put your head below the waves, and one might see other spieces of sharks too. When the instruction comes to get in the water, you will be told not to jump and splash into it, since that will scare off many of the animals you want to see. My photo below from 27 June 2017, pictures a few of us in the water with the boat some 100m away. This is open sea where the Gannets and Dolphins only two minutes previously where praying on fish. Note the black shadow in the water just left of me and the dorsal fin cutting the surface to the right. With poor visibility you might be just next to a large predator and not being aware of it.

Slip quitely in the water from the boat and swim into the action if it hasn't moved on and away from the boat and yourself. The boat may at times be as far as 100m from you and you will see quite a few dorsal fins break the surface around, most of them will be Dolphin fins though. In most cases, if not all, you will not put on your scuba gear as the action is so incredibly fast moving. My photo below from 30 June, captures one of those stunning moments when I caught three Humpback Whales diving past me after trying to get some footage of them for five hours. The photo shows the first Whale that turns belly-up and starts diving after seeing me.

Also, if getting in the water as the boat backs off, leaving you to face a huge pod of Common Dolphins or Humpback Whales in the water, the noise using scuba gear will probably alert the Dolphins or Whales approaching you, and they might turn direction due to this. My photo below shows me on the beaches on Cintsa on 1 July 2017, the last day of my Sardine Run. From this beach the boat launched every morning at sunrise and the first stretch out of the surf was always a bumpy and wet ride, feet had to be strapped to the floor and hands holding on to ropes in order to stay in the boat.

One might have many tries when wanting to get good footage during the Sardine Run, and big underwater cameras are good for slow moving or stationary motifs, but this is nothing of the kind. I have only two GoPro cameras for my dives and its amazing what footage you get from them small cameras. All underwater footage I've taken has been with GoPros 3+ and 4, of which I fancy the 3+ most. My photo below from 2 July 2017 is from Nahoon Beach in East London. This is where I spent one night at the Premier Hotel East London for a night, relaxing, using the gym and had a few delicious meals and South African wines.

I am now in Simon's Town since a week back and have made a couple of dives in False Bay. The entire Cape Peninsula is littered with ship wrecks along the entire coastline. I have and will only dive in False Bay, doing deep dives and wreck dives that I will tell about in my next update here on Ad Astra. In total I will have eight dives out of Simon's Town before Friday.

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Diving South Africa's Sardine Run 2017

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Thu, June 29, 2017 18:36:54

The action is so fast you won’t believe it!

I arrived here in Cintsa, Eastern Cape Province, in the afternoon of Sunday 25 June, having had three flights taking me from Stockholm, Sweden, to East London, South Africa, where private transport to Cintsa awaited me. All of my participation in this year’s Sardine Run will be out of Cintsa, as this is where Simon’s Town-based Pisces Divers arranges its dives and accommodation for the event. I have arranged so Pisces Divers brought along a new Scubapro 7/5mm wetsuit for me, that I will buy after the Sardine Run and also use for the deep-diving and wreck-diving out of Simon’s Town the two weeks following the Sardine Run. My photo below shows the beaches of Cintsa on 25 June 2017.

On Monday 26 June breakfast was served at 6:30 a.m. and the boat set off from the sandy beaches soon after 7:20, us six clients being dressed up in our diving gear ready to slip into the waters at any minute out on the seas. It was chilly and the boat had a rough start fighting some huge waves before reaching somewhat calmer waters further out. It seemed like only me and another guy were keen on getting a piece of the Sardine Run action at first. We slipped into the water and swam some 100m from the boat towards a couple of Humpback Whales, only to see them disappear into the depths as we approached them, tough luck! I have got some stunning photos of Common Dolphins, see my photo below from 26 June 2017.

Soon after, we spotted formations of Cape Gannets at a distance and headed that way. This time four of us got in the deep and murky waters. The visibility was here down to three meters, and I saw a couple of Dolphins around us and two Bronze Whaler Sharks circling beneath us. All of a sudden a Bronze Whaler Shark appeared out of nowhere and with great speed, colliding with me as I was recording with my GoPro. My photo below, from 26 June 2017, shows the moment of collision between me and the Bronze Whaler Shark. One can see the shark’s left pectoral fin hits my camera, and out of picture, its nose ended up hitting me. Both man and shark were unharmed in this incident.

The following day, Tuesday 27 June 2017, we started early again and headed out from land, scouting for some seabird activity as that could indicate Sardines below the surface and everything that goes with it: Dolphins, Sharks, dive-bombing Cape Gannets etc. We tried our luck once again on Whales, and I did get some footage of one diving some 5-6 meters under me in the murky waters. The footage is not of the highest quality due to poor visibility. Again we saw large pods of Dolphins, Bronze Whaler Sharks and plenty of Cape Gannets doing aerial acrobatics dive-bombing into the blue for fish. My photo below pictures a Bronze Whaler Shark circling below me in waters with poor visibility on 27 June 2017.

Due to strong winds, rain and thunder we had to postpone all sea activities on Wednesday 28 June 2017, and I mainly spent the day reviewing my footage but also resting a bit. The weather improved in the afternoon. And today, 29 June 2017, we spent almost a full day out on the big blue. Not everyone did get into the water today, but we who did tried several times to get good footage of Humpback Whales. The boat will drop you off and you swim towards the direction given by the guys on the boat and hoping you get some visual contact with the Whales. That did not happen today. My photo below is from 27 June 2017, picturing Common Dolphins and one of us divers snorkeling on the surface. I find this photo being the best one I’ve taken on this trip so far!

It is common to snorkel a lot on the Sardine Run since the action is so unbelievably fast! Once you have put on your fins and mask on the boat and are ready to get in the water, the Dolphins and Gannets can have moved on following the bait fish that attracts them. This could sometimes mean 100m or more in a minute or two, giving you a hard time if getting in the water, getting on the boat again, and setting off to the new location of the Dolphins and Gannets. Also the visibility may vary considerably due to this, since the bait fish along with the predators following them, dictates the location and speed of the action. So far no scuba gear has been used by us due to the speed and changing location of the action, but also due to the fact we have had no indications of a huge bait ball of Sardines, that would make things a bit more stationary or at least slow moving for a while.

- My next update will be from Simon's Town on 3 July, after the Sardine Run.



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South African Dive Bonanza (5)

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Sun, June 11, 2017 22:49:16

Full itinerary for my South African Dive Bonanza project

Its now less than two weeks to departure and all flights, accommodations and dives have been arranged for my South African Dive Bonanza project. This will in fact be my first project entirely focusing on diving. The dates for diving out off Simon's Town could be altered due to weather and diving conditions.

24 June: Stockholm – London (UK)- Johannesburg

25 June: Johannesburg – East London (SA)

26 June - 1 July: The Sardine Run along the Eastern Cape Coast

2 July: East London

3 July: East London – Cape Town - Simon's Town

4 July: Leisure

5 July: Rescue Diver pool session

6 July: Rescue Diver sea dives

7 July: Leisure

8 July: Deep dives 1 and 2

9 July: Deep dives 3 and 4

10 - 11 July: Leisure

12 July: Wreck dives 1 and 2

13 July: Wreck dives 3 and 4

14 July: Leisure

15 July: Simon's Town – Cape Town - Johannesburg - London (UK)

16 July: London - Stockholm

The video above is from East London, some 200km east of Port Elizabeth. Its a small city that I will be spending one night in after the Sardine Run, and before going to Simon's Town and two more weeks of diving there.

- A return to wilderness, mountains and glaciers might follow next year in Patagonia.



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South African Dive Bonanza (4)

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Wed, June 07, 2017 20:48:31

Diving in Western Cape Province, South Africa

My South African Dive Bonanza project will start in two and half weeks from today, and the first leg of this project will be diving the spectacular Sardine Run of South Africa. Reservations are made for five full days of diving in the big blue off the coast of Eastern Cape Province in South Africa.

I will also be spending a night in East London after the Sardine Run, before transferring to Cape Town and from there to Simon's Town. The Western Cape Province and the Cape Peninsula offers a variety of diving opportunities as wreck diving (more than 800 ship wrecks!), deep diving, freediving, corals, sealife and a lot more.

I have made arrangements for some eight dives out of Simon's Town during the two weeks following the Sardine Run, including rescue diver practice, deep dives and wreck dives. A few spare days are available if the weather and sea turns rough.

With me having made the last domestic flight reservations in South Africa earlier this week, all is now set for another spectacular travel project! Considering what I will be able to experience throughout this three week long project, it will most certainly be to a good price.

- My next post will include my full itinerary for this South African Dive Bonanza Project!



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South African Dive Bonanza (3)

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Mon, May 29, 2017 20:43:53

Less than four weeks to go!

In exactly one month I will have completed my first day of diving the Sardine Run along the Eastern Cape Coast of South Africa. Since weather can make or break a full day of diving, I will have five days in total to my disposal for this spectacular event. Whales, dolphins, sharks and a lot more should by all means be spotted in the waters anyway freediving and scuba diving!

I will then transfer from East London to Cape Town and continue to Simon's Town, where I will have some rescue diver training for my upcoming deep dives and wreck dives. Along the Western Cape coast great white sharks are spotted and some fatal incidents occur with some regularity.

As with diving in most cases, weather and sea will dictate when, where and what kind of diving will be performed during my entire three week South African Dive Bonanza project. I expect the waters around the Western Cape to be murky, as in this video from the area, which could end up with close encounters of any sort...

A full itinerary will be posted here at Ad Astra as soon all the reservations are completed. At the moment only reservations for three domestic flights remains, as accommodation has been taken care of.

With five to six days per week of a variety of exercises, including weight training, water training and also cardiovascular excerises, my physical conditioning is improving all the time and my operated shoulder is healed and strong again.

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