At Beachcamp we get travellers from all parts. Often we have European guests who are on a thirty or sixty day trek through South and Southern Africa, and just as frequently we have locals just wanting to get out of the city for a weekend or a few days away from the hustle and bustle. Most often our foreign guests coming from Cape Town backpackers Ashanti Lodge. It seems that this old and well established backpackers in Cape Town is still a big favorite with travellers. We enjoy spending time with our guest and try and give honest unbiased advice on what we think are decent activities to put on an SA travel bucket list. Going snorkelling or diving along the coast is an easy thing to organize, but what if you live inland. Is it possible to find locations that offer a unique diving experience? Well, you’re in luck there are actually a number of fresh water locations and lakes that provide diving activities in South Africa.
One of the more recent locations I came across is the Marico Oog Inland dive site. This site is located near a town called Lichtenburg in the North West of South Africa. To get there it is about a two and a half hours’ drive from Johannesburg. The dive site may seem small, but is a beautiful and scenic experience.
The Marico Oog is a natural spring pool that produces about 200 000 litres of water every hour. This spring then feeds the Limpopo River. The site offers crystal clear water and excellent visibility that can reach as far as 20 metres. Your first view of the water will be the floating water lilies that cover the pool, their stems trailing away beneath them to create a forest of stems that you can swim through. Next you will find the bottom of the pool covered in a carpet of broad leafed plants. The area almost has a fairy tale feel to its surroundings.
The pool is very comfortable to swim in, with temperatures varying from 18 degrees to 24 degrees. The pool is also open to snorkelers who can enjoy the wonders of this natural spring. Since the clarity of the water is so good only eight divers are allowed at any given time, to prevent sediment from being disturbed and decreasing the visibility.
While diving in the pool you can also find some fish species like bass swimming around the water lily stems. The depth of the pool varies with an average of 8-10 metres and going through to a maximum depth of about 16 metres. The location is very good for underwater photographers and for experienced divers who enjoy night dives.
You can also stay on the farm where Marico Oog is located. They offer three chalets as well as camping site accommodation. The stay offers you basic needs, hot water, showers, braai facilities and each camping site has its own electrical outlet.
Wanting a more luxurious stay? Then try out the River Still Guest Farm. Found in a beautiful valley with the Groot Marico River running through it. This provides a peaceful and tranquil setting for your holiday getaway. Accommodation consists of four rustic cottages with all modern amenities, providing you with a comfortable and relaxed stay.
The area offers a variety of activities to do, canoeing and swimming in the river, enjoy a picnic along the river bank, hiking and fishing. The Farm also offers wellness retreats where you can enjoy relaxing therapy treatments, vegetarian meals and drumming classes. Full tour packages for Marico Oog are often available for discounted rates at Ashanti Lodge Backpackers in Cape Town, it’s worth checking out their travel section for special offers.
Marico Oog is not the only location where you can enjoy some inland diving. There are quite a few sites you can explore.
- Wondergat is located near Mafikeng that provides a cave diving experience, exploring depths up to 70 metres. The site is very popular, but is a location best reserved for the more experienced diver.
- Miracle waters found near Digby Brits. An easy ride, only about an hour from Pretoria and Johannesburg. A clear spring water diving site, great for beginners.
- Bass Lake outside Johannesburg. The lake is spring fed and offers divers varying depths to explore. There are loads of other water and land activities in the area.
- Komati Springs (Badgat): Once an active mine, but when activity stopped the natural ground water filled up the area. It offers pristine and accessible diving throughout the year.