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My YouTube Vid: In The Shadow Of Fitz Roy

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Sat, February 17, 2018 03:02:49
In The Shadow Of Fitz Roy - 2018 Southern Patagonian Icefield Expedition

Few places in the world can deliver such abundance of jaw-dropping photos and videos like Patagonia in Argentina and Chile, with some of the most fantastic mountain scenery on the planet.

I landed at El Calafate Airport in Argentina, close to the Chilean border and took a minibus to El Chaltén, the adventure hub in this part of Southern Patagonia. A four day long expedition would follow between 23 - 26 February 2018, that entered the Patagonian icefield and took us all the way to the Chilean border. All the time being in the shadow of Fitz Roy.

Fitz Roy lies on the border between Argentina and Chile and is located in the Southern Patagonian Icefield, near El Chaltén, Argentina, and the beautiful Lago Viedma. First climbed in 1952 by French alpinists Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone, it remains among the most technically challenging mountains for mountaineers on earth.

The original idea was to summit Gorra Blanca on the Southern Patagonian Icefield, but some slight injuries to my left shoulder, the one that hasn't had advanced surgery, put an end to those hopes. Plan B was to spend some time on the icefield and take in the beauty of these mountains.

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7 weeks in Latin American: Update II

TravelPosted by Jean Dar Mon, February 12, 2018 18:57:29
Ushuaia - Bariloche - Buenos Aires

In Argentinean Patagonia you have got a few popular tourist hubs where its really easy to arrange tours, day tours or longer ones, in order to take in landscapes, flora and fauna or adventure sports, such as white whiter rafting, kayaking, horse riding, hiking, mountaineering etc.

I would say that I took in all four of the most well-known ones in Argentina: El Calafate, El Chaltén, Ushuaia och Bariloche during my two and a half weeks in Patagonia, I also entered Chile twice in the process. A few days in the Argentinean capital city of Buenos Aires was a good ending to my Argentinean/Patagonian leg of "7 weeks in Latin America".

My photo above is from a day tour I had arranged from Ushuaia on 31 January 2018. I stepped on a catamaran at "the end of the world" and casted off. Beagle Channel, the watery border between Argentina and Chile, and penguins, cormorants, albatrosses and seals where all spotted during this day, as the mountainous feature of the Chilean Tierra del Fuego loomed to the south. Its also possible to spot whales but further out from Ushuaia than I went.

My photo above is from 31 January 2018. Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego, Antártida e Islas del Atlántico Sur Province in Argentina and is commonly regarded as the southern most city in the world. It was founded on 12 October 1884 by Augosto Lasserre and is located on the shores of the Beagle Channel surrounded by the mountain range of the Martial Glacier in the Bay of Ushuaia. Its motto is: "Ushuaia, end of the world, beginning of everything".

My photo above is from 4 February 2018. It was a crazy day going to the Nahuel Huapi National Park from Bariloche in Argentina and white water rafting the Manso River all the way into Chile! In this photo only the skipper is still in the raft and the full team of seven, including me, are moving fast closer to the Chilean border among the class 3 and 4 rapids. White water rafting in Bariloche was one of first things I included in this trip and it turned out to be the best single day so far!

I took the photo above on 3 February 2018, while having an excursion from Bariloche to the Lake District. No matter where in Patagonia you end up, in the south, central or north, the scenery is just lovely. I found out that even scuba diving is available both in Ushuaia and Bariloche during the summer time, as basically as adventure sports are. Wintertime makes Bariloche a prime Argentinean ski resort. The summer in Bariloche is hot but the other locations in the south are more cooler and windy.

My photo above is from 8 February 2018, picturing the Obelisco, a prominent feature of Buenos Aires located at Avenida 9 Mayo, in the very heart of the city centre. By that time I was more than half-way through my "7 weeks in Latin America" trip, and Buenos Aires was a hot, sweaty location with plenty of museums and attractions to see, of which I saw the most part of. Unfortunatly the Plaza de Mayo and Casa Rosada where closed during my visit due to renovations.

- I'm now taking part in the famous Carnaval de Barranquilla, Colombia.

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My YouTube video: Santos, São Paulo

TravelPosted by Jean Dar Wed, February 07, 2018 13:08:58
A weekend in Santos, São Paulo

The first weekend of my "7 weeks in Latin America" started in the largest country in Latin America, and in the largest city in the southern hemisphere - São Paulo, Brazil. I didn't stay there for long as I had made plans for the weekend in Santos, some two hours taxi drive to the coast from São Paulo.

Coming from the dark, snowy and icy Swedish winter to the tropical heat of Brazil was of course a nice thing. My hotel was just across the street from the Gonzaga Beach of Santos and with all the restaurants and shops very close by. All in all, I had 63 hours in Santos and this is my YouTube video of my stay there.

I arrived in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, yesterday and am writing this post from my hotel here. My hotel is located at the huge Avenida 9 de Julio in the very heart ofthe city, and with the Obelisco more or less outside the entrance door.

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Airbag - Gran Encuentro

MusicPosted by Jean Dar Fri, February 02, 2018 02:38:16
Argentinean hard rock music

Being on my "7 weeks in Latin America" trip and currently in Argentina, its not surprising I've been listening to local music. One song that I really like and was officially released on YouTube only days ago, is Airbag's song Gran Encuentro, originally from the 2016 album Mentira La Verdad.

Airbag is an Argentine hard rock band formed in 1999 and consists of three brothers: Patricio Sardelli (lead guitar, piano and vocals), Gastón Sardelli (bass guitar and backing vocals) and Guido Sardelli (drums, rhythm guitar and vocals). They have released five studio albums and one live album and toured mostly around Latin America.

- Enjoy!

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7 weeks in Latin American: Update I

AdventurePosted by Jean Dar Tue, January 30, 2018 21:37:23

Santos - Southern Patagonian Icefield - Perito Moreno Glacier

I'm writing this post from the very southmost city on the planet, Ushuaia in Argentina, where I'll be staying for two more days. My idea is that as much footage as possible from this "7 weeks in Latin American" travel project should be included in YouTube videos in the near future. I will also continue to post photos and info here at Ad Astra.

During the past weekend a couple of bomb blasts have killed and injured many poeple in the caribbean city of Barranquilla, Colombia. This is where the famous annual El Carnaval de Barranquilla will be held 10-13 February, and I'll be joining in, unless the whole event gets cancelled due to safety reasons.

My photo above is from 20 February 2018, showing my very close friend Jessica Beatriz in the museum of the world-famous Brazilian footballer Pelé. The museum includes personal items from Pelé, such as pairs of his football shoes and jerseys. His achievements on the pitch are just staggering, having scored 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, securing him the top spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. This is a "must see" in Santos, Brazil!

My photo above, from 21 January 2018, pictures what I guess most people associate with Brazil: mile after mile of sandy praias. This photo is of course from the Praia Gonzaga in Santos, with my hotel just across the street in fact. For millions of Brazilians the praia is almost an outdoor living room. I'm not a beach bum in any way, but I did spend a good portion of a day in the sun and the sand with Jessica Beatriz.

Leaving Santos in Brazil for the Patagonian landscapes on the 22 February 2018, I arrived in El Calafate, Argentina, in the afteroon and stepped on a minibus bound for El Chaltén. My photo above is taken between El Calafate and El Chaltén, showing Lago Viedma in the Santa Cruz Province. I got immediately fascinated by the colours of the lake, the open steppe and the beauty of the place. Patagonia really strikes a chord within me!

I went to El Chaltén in order to have my first mountaineering experience since my climbing accident in Ecuador on 7 December 2013. Already on the second day did I injure my left shoulder, the one that has not had advanced surgery. Obviously this put things in a new perspective and a summit push on Gorra Blanca turned into a hike on the Southern Patagonian Icefield instead, with spectacular views. My photo above from 25 January 2018.

My last photo, from 28 January 2018, pictures what probably is world's most well-known glacier, the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina. This glacier starts actually in Chile and the mountains on the far end of this photo are in Chile. Tours with bigger or smaller buses are arranged from El Calafate and usually takes less than 1,5 hours one way. The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of a few glaciers in the world that are actually growing. This is a sight to see!

I will start making a YouTube video as soon as possible, when not being out on a tour taking photos and taking in the stunning scenery here in Patagonia. The first one will of course be from Santos, Brazil, and I will also post it here at Ad Astra.

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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 YouTube Video: False Bay Wreck Diving

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 YouTube video: The Sardine Run

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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