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Ocean safari

Posted by on April 7, 2014

We had a full day at Barra Beach, our first full day on the ocean and everyone in the group was eager to take advantage of where we were. One of the major attractions of the area is swimming with whale sharks, which are the largest sharks in the world and are vegetarian so there’s no danger to humans. The lodge we were staying at offered a two hour ocean safari in which you go out on a pontoon boat, looking for whale sharks (in the winter they look for blue whales). I booked a place for myself then took a walk along the beach to pass the morning.

At 11 am, I covered my body in sunscreen, took a motion sickness pill and met the group at the dive center, next to our lodge. We helped launch the pontoon boat into the water and all jumped aboard awkwardly. And off we went!

The pontoon boat was not exactly comfortable to sit on: everyone sat on top of the pontoon, with our feet in straps on the floor and holding onto a rope behind us. We all got a bit damp from the spray of the boat but our spirits were high and everyone was on the lookout for whale sharks.

We saw four dolphins skimming the surface a few hundred feet away and hoped they would come closer, but they had other plans.

The sun was warm on our faces and we watched the coast line recede. After awhile we saw another pontoon boat out, looking for the same thing.

After an hour of no luck, we were all getting a bit disappointed. Finally, our guide decided that we wouldn’t see anything so we turned toward the small reef to do a bit of snorkeling.

I was feeling good until the boat stopped moving forward and was at the mercy of the waves. I instantly felt seasick! I put on my snorkeling mask and fins as quickly as possible and jumped into the water, hoping that would help. Being in the water helped, but I didn’t feel great.

The visibility wasn’t great because the waves stirred up the sandy bottom, but I saw a few interesting fish, none of which I could name. I swam along with the current for awhile and was having a good time. Then I looked back at the boat and realized that nearly everyone was already back on the boat! I thought perhaps the time went by faster than I realized, but when I got back I discovered that only 15 minutes had passed.

After the slightly disappointing snorkeling, we headed back to shore. Our ocean safari was a bit of a bust, but it was still an enjoyable time.

When we got back to the lodge, we enjoyed a delicious hot lunch made by our cook, Vincent, which included flavored rice, stew and fresh fruit.

In the afternoon, I went for a swim at the pool then did some reading. Towards evening I took another walk along the beach and watched the sun set. Before dinner, I joined a few fellow travelers for a cocktail at the bar.

David and Hella are two newly retired people who live in Germany. Hella grew up in Namibia and David in England. When their only son was 10, they took a year off of work and traveled around the world. Since then, they have traveled extensively and are now looking forward to longer trips and more adventures.

Joanna and Marianne are both from the Netherlands and have grown children. They’ve been friends for a long time and for the past 7 years, they have left their husbands at home to go on trips together.

Kath and Beckie are friends from England, in their mid to late 30s and only recently started traveling together. Beckie has taken several overland trips with the company we are with, Nomad, and has seen a lot of Africa.

Remo and Fredericka are from the Italian part of Switzerland. They have been married for three years and are at the end of a 5 month long, round-the-world trip.

Over cocktails and dinner, we swapped travel stories and brief life histories. It was nice getting to know other like-minded people.

The lodge is on the beach and there are a few other resorts nearby, but nothing resembling a village or a place to go in the evening, so after dinner and chatting for a bit, everyone headed to their own rooms for the night.

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