Scuba, Swimsuits & Sandy Beaches

Catherine Vaught University of Cape Town, South Africa


April 26, 2016

At the beginning of April, I was lucky enough to go on a 9-day spring break trip to Mozambique and Kruger National Park. Let me tell you, the hours and hours of flying and driving were worth every minute. Just when I thought the beaches in Cape Town were the prettiest I had ever seen, I found myself on the shores of Inhambane in Mozambique. The weather was in the 90s and 100s the entire time, so you can imagine the amount of time we spent in the ocean. I don’t think I wore anything but swimsuits.

We spent the majority of our time in Mozambique swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving. Turns out we were able to get scuba certified in one day at the resort we stayed at. We first had to learn skills (how to clean your mask, how to swap mouth pieces, etc.) and pass tests in a swimming pool before we could go out to the reefs. I was pretty nervous at first and have never been that strong of a swimmer, but things got better once I got used to breathing in and out of my mouthpiece. The following morning, right after sunrise, we took an inflatable boat out to the reef we went scuba diving in. After going about 30 feet under, all the sea creatures became visible. Huge jellyfish, starfish and clownfish (Nemo!) were within touching distance. Good thing I was wearing a wetsuit, otherwise I would’ve gotten stung!

Another fun activity we did in Mozambique was a trip to Pansy Island. The island is named after the sand dollar (which is called a “pansy” here), so there were tons of pansies and seashells on the shores. We rode in a local sailboat for about an hour to get to the island, and once we were there, we were free to snorkel, collect shells and swim. With that constant heat, it was almost impossible to stay out of the water! There were also local fishermen with nets catching a variety of creatures like fish and crabs to bring back to the mainland. There is a high probability that we ate some of their seafood at the resort’s restaurant. Two of the nights, we ate a huge buffet of seafood – we’re talking prawns, barracuda, tuna, calamari, you name it. I wish I could take all of this goodness back to Minnesota!

The last three days of our trip were spent at Kruger National Park, which is famous for awesome safaris. We woke up at 4:30 a.m. to catch the sunrise safari. After driving around the park for six hours, we saw four of the “Big 5” (the leopard was too shy for us). Camping outside of Kruger was also an experience. Can you believe that there were wildebeests and zebras right outside my tent? I’m telling you, this is Africa. Safe to say that I haven’t heard animal noises while trying to sleep like that before. Then again, there were a lot of firsts on my trip. I’m learning that some of my favorite activities are the ones that I’m most scared to do. So, here’s to more risk-taking, just maybe not wild animals in my backyard!


Semester South Africa