Indian Ocean Big Five Educational – Candice’s story part 2 of 3! – Jenman Africa Upon arriving in St Lucia we went straight to our hotel where everyone had a swim in the pool and enjoyed a light lunch of toasted sandwiches. The weather was gorgeous and we had the day to ourselves to do numerous things. Some of the clients opted for an afternoon boat cruise on the lake of St Lucia and others chose to wander around the town and do a bit of shopping.
I chose to go and have an afternoon kip in my air-conditioned room and then met up with Will and some of the clients for sundowners on the deck of our hotel. After we had a buffet dinner at the hotel Lieve asked me if there was a place in St Lucia where the boys could play a game of pool. It being a Sunday I found it highly doubtful that we any pool bar would be open, but we made a mission into town anyway. After walking the whole length of the town of St Lucia we ended up at the bar of the Quarter Deck – the restaurant which was 20 meters from our hotel! Ten points for guessing which shooter the clients bought. Yip, you guessed it, Sprinbokkies. By now I was starting to feel a bit “keel vol” for these shooters, but the clients did not seem to be able to get enough. I think they justified it to themselves that they could not get this back home so they had to get their ‘fill’ while on holiday. The bar had only one CD and it was an Afrikaans one at that. Poor Will. He had to teach our clients how to lang arm and the man was finished after that!
The next leg of our journey was to Kosi Bay. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me, because I had last been to Kosi Bay 9 years before and we would get a chance to do some snorkelling. We arrived at Kosi Bay lodge and were shown to our huts which we were sleeping in. Some of the clients and I walked to the swimming pool to cool off, while Will and the rest of the clients prepared lunch. I met the manager of the lodge while buying refreshments from the bar and he said that we had arrived in Kosi Bay on one of the hottest days of the summer that they had yet experienced. I could quite believe this. It was blistering hot that day!
After we ate lunch we headed for the Kosi Bay mouth. Getting there was along a 4×4 track and we were laughing so much as we came airborne at the back of the vehicle! I had packed my snorkelling gear especially for Kosi Bay and Inhambane and now after lugging it around for a week I was finally going to get a chance to use it. The water at the mouth was not as calm as I thought it would be, but I still managed to do some snorkelling. Deciree and I were snorkelling for about an hour and managed to spot a few shoals of fish (don’t ask me what kind of fish they were!) It was starting to get late so we headed back to our lodge. Lamb chops, braai broodjies and salads was on the menu for dinner. After dinner some headed back to the pool to have a late night swim. I lost my one shoe in the sand on the way to the pool and try as I might I could not find the damn shoe again. Looking like a meerkat scratching in the sand, I decided to give up the hunt for my missing shoe.
The next day the weather had taken a turn for the worst and it was overcast and a bit cloudy. It was decided by the group that we would head back to the mouth at Kosi Bay to snorkel, swim and laze at the beach. When we got to the mouth the weather turned windy and we all got a bit sand blasted. Never the less, some defied the wind and sand and swam in the Indian Ocean. After about an hour we packed up and headed back to our lodge. Everyone went and had an afternoon snooze as we had a long night ahead of us. We were going to do a Turtle Tour!
We headed for the beach to begin the turtle tour at about 6 pm. After a 20 minute boat ride across the lake we met up with our guide who would be leading the turtle tour. We began walking along the beach just as it became dark. It had been explained to us that the probability of seeing the Loggerback and Leatherback turtles were very good, but not a guarantee. Walking on the beach with absolutely no light except for the moon was eerie, made even more so by the ghost crabs that was scurrying around. The sand was rich in fluorescence so every time someone kicked up a bit of the sand it would sparkle. This just added to the magic of the evening. We walked for about 5 kilometers when the guide suggested that we sit and have a break and he will go and scout up ahead for any signs of the turtles. We all sat down and started to eat our sarmies that we had cleverly brought along as a snack. After eating, we lay down and did a bit of star gazing. Having no light around, the stars were so vivid that it felt like one could reach up and pluck them right out of the sky. We all began dozing off while waiting for the turtle guide to show up again. I woke up with a torch shining on us. It was the guides coming to fetch us as he had spotted a Loggerback turtle about 5 minutes walk from where we were. By now it was 22:30 and we all breathed a sigh of relief as we had begin to think that perhaps tonight would not be our lucky night to see the turtles. When we approached the turtle she had already dug out her hole and was laying her eggs. It was a moment that I can only describe as surreal. Here we were, watching an animal that had one of the most fascinating life cycles, actually laying her eggs, which is the future of the turtle’s survival.
The size of the Loggerback turtle was a lot bigger than I thought turtles would be. I think that I may have taken more photos than anyone else! After watching the turtle until she went back into the ocean our guide told us that we were very lucky, because there was another turtle back the way we came and we would be able to get a chance to see her too. When we arrived at this turtle the sheer size of her was magnificent. It was a Leatherback Turtle and one of the most awesome creatures that I have ever seen. The Leatherback was almost twice the size of the Loggerback turtle. I could not believe my eyes. The hole that the Leatherback dug to lay her eggs in was very deep. The guide explained to us that while she was laying her eggs she was in a trance like state, which enabled us to get really close to her. I could write another 50 pages about my turtle experience, but I would not want to bore you. All I can say that it should be on everyone’s list of things to do one day.
The walk back to the boat, which was to take us back to our camp, felt endless. We found out the next morning that in total we had hiked for about 10 kilometers! On sand!! I got a blister on the front of my one toe from walking on the sand so much. I did not even know that one can get a blister like that. But, it was all worth it to see those beautiful turtles.
Read the final part of her blog on the next post!