Have you ever heard the sound of a crocodile shutting its jaws?
It’s a sort of hollow echo that reverberates in your ears. That’s not even the most terrifying noise they make. They do this strange hissing growl that sets your skin on edge. It strongly reminds you that they would be at home amongst the dinosaurs in prehistoric times. This is what I had to listen to before getting in a cage and into the water with about a dozen of these animals.
Le Bonheur Crocodile farm have always offered close encounters with crocs, but now they have taken it to the next level with crocodile cage diving courtesy of African Croc Dive. You get to see crocodiles as you’ve never seen them before!
Hennie Bosman used to do shark cage diving, and has taken his knowledge to Le Bonheur do to it with crocs. He is your guide though the whole experience. It all takes place in an enclosure with a clear pool and a whole float of crocodiles. To add to the dramatics, you get to the cage by crossing a rickety wooden bridge decorated with skulls and bones. Children as young as nine are allowed to do the dive, and African Croc Dive supply you with all you need. All you need to bring is a costume to wear under your wet suit.
While Hennie was telling us about the dive, I felt a mixture of fear and excitement (mostly fear) run through me. I foolishly asked which was more difficult to manage sharks or crocs. He said crocs. Sharks were predictable, but you were never really be sure how crocs are going to react. Once the indemnity form was filled out, Hennie told me (repeatedly) to take the orange wetsuit, handed me underwater shoes, goggles and told me to get ready.
I blame the fear for what happened next.
I put my wetsuit on inside-out. Instead of it wearing black like everyone else around me, Hennie’s words ran through my head and I wore it on the bright orange side (I’m still not sure how we zipped it up). I looked like a blaring target. This is how I entered the cage, after recording a quick farewell to my mom in case I did not return.
Unlike shark cage diving you are not given a belt to help weigh you down. You have to pull yourself down and hold on to a bar to stay down. I didn’t do a very good job of keeping myself down (again I blame the fear) and since we were the second round of divers, all the dirt that was kicked up from before made the water a bit murky.
Even so, I put my head underwater and saw the biggest set of teeth right by my head though clear perspex. Hennie provoked the crocs to get into the water using really long sticks, so you are sure to see them. A particularly big croc has settled right next to the cage, and Hennie said we could touch it’s tail. I declined. After spending some time in the water, I began to calm down. Being so close to the crocs but still in relative safety was absolutely exhilarating!
Check out this video of my experience at African CrocDive:
Where Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm, Babylonstoren Road, R45, Simondium
Cost R750 per person – adults and children over 9 years of age
Contact +21 863 1142, [email protected], www.africancrocdive.com