Not only is Aliwal Shoal rated by Jacques Cousteau as one of his personal top 10 sites of the world, and it is easy to see why. On a single dive, you can see up to 7 species of rays. You can see 9 species of sharks on a trip, eels, turtles, dolphins, whales, and macro. The reef is the crown area of the MPA (Marine Protected Area) making life flourish. The marine life of the shoal is spectacular. Raggies or ragged tooth sharks are regularly spotted between August and November as they use the area to mate. They are, despite looking like hunters of the deep, rather docile. In fact in the history of diving the shoal, there has been no recorded attack from a shark. You are more likely to spot them close to a famous area known as the ‘raggy caves’. But it is not only the prospect of seeing 15 to 20 sharks at any one time that attracts divers here.
You can also see mantas, moray eels, huge stingrays, sweetlips, potato groupers (also known as potato bass or cod) and turtles. Whilst, with any luck and only at certain times of the year, you can also hope to see dolphins, humpbacks, whale sharks and hammerheads. This excludes the schools of pelagic and coral fish that frequent the 5 kilometre long reef or shoal. During summer, temperatures in the water average a warm 24 degrees, whilst in winter it does not get much colder than 19 degrees because the shoal lies on the inner edge of the Mozambique current.
The baited shark dives here at the Aliwal Shoal are one of a kind, and something that must be done at least once during your time here. With two baited drums full of local sardines and fish oil, the drums slosh in the current creating a scent trail that the resident oceanic black tip sharks follow in to investigate. During the summer months (Nov- March) tiger sharks are seen frequently and can be accompanied by a shy bull shark at times. Hammerheads can be seen as they migrate past in the summer months, as well as the odd great white shark! You never know what you may see on the Aliwal Shoal Baited Shark Dive! There is NO feeding/touching on this dive. It’s a great opportunity to get up close and interact with sharks in a positive manner while capturing the experience on camera.
Protea Banks reef offers exciting drift dives for adventurous thrill seekers, and is arguably one of the best shark diving sites in the world. Seasonally, divers can encounter ragged toothed sharks, scalloped and great hammerheads, Zambezi (bull), tiger, thresher, copper, dusky, mako, and the occasional great white to name a few. Here divers have the opportunity to see large schools of tuna, kingfish and barracuda and many rays, including the spotted eagle and manta.
Depending upon time of year you may also see dolphins and whales. Located seven kilometres offshore from the seaside town of Margate in the Kwazulu-Natal province on the east coast of South Africa, the virtually untouched reef is six kilometres long and attracts a wealth of marine life. This is adventure diving at its best!
Mantis Biyela Lodge is situated in the uMfolozi Big Five Reserve, a a 6,000 hectare private concession that is an extension of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. Tiered on a descending cliff overlooking the spectacular oxbow lagoon in the White iMfolozi River, Biyela Lodge is the essence of luxury in the African wild. This is a wild landscape and populated by elephants, buffalo, hippos, crocodiles and the endangered wild dog. There are over 600 bird species in the area, and sitting from your private deck you can spot a variety of them weaving about the indigenous thickets.
The 5 star lodge has been decorated and designed in a chic and contemporary style and there is a central area that features a rim flow swimming pool, restaurant and bar as well as a viewing deck to take in the ambience of the natural surroundings. Whether you experience the wonders of the wild from the lodge, or on a game drive in the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, home to the Big 5, you can rest assured that your experience at Biyela Lodge will be an exclusive one.
Each luxury private suite comes equipped with indoor and outdoor showers, plus a modern lounge area and a private viewing deck. There are 12 one-bedroomed suites with 10 out of the 12 having their own private plunge pools. In addition, there is a secluded Africology Spa that has 2 treatment rooms and is ideal for a peaceful revival of the mind and body.