Travelling to Sodwana Bay -a revisit
Sodwana Bay Revisited
Never go back! Good advice about going back to where you grew up after many years. It is better to remember things as they were, than to spoil those memories. Things are never as you remembered them, either because they actually have changed or because you have changed, and I don’t know which is worse.
Probably it is a combination of the two. In my experience, going back to places that I lived many years ago, has inevitably been a disappointment. Sodwana Bay in the N/E corner of South Africa has been different. Perhaps this is because I never lived there and so memories that I have are based on holidays that I spent there at different times in my life. In fact I have been to Sodwana Bay 4 times in about 50 years and interestingly enough at intervals of about 10/15 years. My Dad, my brothers and I went on a fishing trip in about 1963. I took a group of fellow students from S.A. Bible School on a diving/snorkling trip in 1971. In about 1989 I did a trip with students from Hudson Park High School on a Geography excursion. Now Audrey and I are camping here for 4 nights before going on to Swaziland. We plan to bird and snorkel- that is if the weather improves.
This is a magic place and is the premier diving location in South Africa. The coral reefs are beautiful, the beaches are amazing and the birding is excellent. At present it forms part of the ISimangaliso Coastal Wetland National Park (a World Heritage Site) and is run by the Kwa-Zulu Natal Parks Board. Accommodation is available in about 150 camp sites, delightfully situated in the Coastal Forest, or in a variety of Lodges and Self-catering establishments, most of which specialize in either Diving or Deep-sea Fishing.
We arrived at lunch time and after pitching our tent, we visited the beach. Unfortunately the wind was howling, as is can along the coast, and the tide was a spring high with huge swells running. So after a short walk on the beach, we returned to our camp for a pleasant supper. We did manage to photograph two birds that we never see in East London, Crested Guinea Fowl and Grey-headed Gulls.
As we sat under the trees in our large sheltered camping spot we were amazed to see a group of Banded Mongooses arriving in a group (moving in an organized line). They climbed up the side of the rubbish bins and then into them and then out again.On they moved to the next camp spot hoping for better luck.
A group of Samango Monkeys visited our campsite to look for what they could find.We always keep all food in our trailer so that monkeys and other wildlife are not tempted. One of the large monkeys is quite aggressive and I try to frighten him off with my walking stick but he stands his ground and so we have a Mexican Stand-off. This is after all his area and we are only temporary visitors.
On return from a hike we were amazed to find that our tent was open and my clothes bag trashed. Obviously the Samango Monkeys have become clever enough to open the zipper on the front of our tent and even a clothing bag. This was the first time in all our travels that we have come across this behavior from animals. Previously we have found cooler boxes tipped over and opened but never a tent opened. It goes to show that one can never be complacent when visiting the wilderness areas. To our amazement my tablet carriers had been opened and a weeks tablets eaten, probably not a healthy alternative for a previously healthy monkey.
Tomorrow the tide will be low, the water will be crystal clear, and the birds and tropical fish will be waiting. We will leave even our clothing bags in the trailer to avoid further temptation for the local monkey tribe and their desire for heart tablets.
Don’t disappoint me Sodwana after all these years!