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The Best ‘Combo’ Destinations in the World

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We all know that two is better than one – Abbot & Costello, fish & chips, Thelma & Louise, rum & coke… some things just work together nicely; so the next time you’re planning an adventurous holiday to see wildlife above or below the waves, why not consider hitting two spots rather than just one? There are a few places around the world that lend themselves to this approach quite nicely, and in my opinion the top three simply have to be…

Sri Lanka & the Maldives

Mat Maldives

Long considered a popular honeymoon destination and often thought of as somewhat exclusive, and with competition among resorts on the increase, the Maldives is gathering momentum as a destination that the rest of us might just be able to afford.  The thousands of idyllic islands make up the many ‘Atolls’, and it is from here that world class diving is just a splash away. Whale sharks and manta rays, reef sharks and turtles; the marine life is fantastic, and can be enjoyed as a resort based holiday in a splendid water villa – or better yet, on one of the many well equipped liveaboard vessels that operate in the region.  The best time of year to visit is typically Dec-April, but this can vary depending on which island you find yourself on.

Either before or after a jaunt in the Maldives it makes perfect sense to stop off at Sri Lanka too. Widely regarded as one of the best places to spot Blue Whales, it is a mecca for wildlife enthusiasts who fancy somewhere a bit different.  You may think of Sri Lanka as being yet another beach destination, and you’re right, as there are some stunning beaches and there’s certainly some decent diving to be had. That being said, I would recommend spending time in Yala National Park as you’ll likely see elephants and perhaps a Sri Lankan sloth bear; perhaps the biggest draw is that Yala is thought to have the densest population of leopards in the world.

Selous & Mafia Island

Mat Mafia Island Banner (3)

Established as a world heritage site since 1982 and home to the majority of Tanzania’s elephant population, Selous game reserve is a beautiful wildlife destination. During the months of September and October it is possible to see large packs of painted dogs (also commonly know as hunting dogs or wild dogs)sometimes up to fifty or more animals at a time. The stunning sandbanks, oxbow lakes, islands and channels are home to over four hundred species of birds, including two rare species, the Pel’s Fishing Owl and the White-Backed Heron, both of which can be spotted along the wooded sections of the riverbank. Selous is dominated by the Rufiji River which sprawls into lakes and deltas which fill and empty with the changing seasons; a wondrous place for any safari enthusiast.

A short domestic flight away and still within Tanzania is an idyllic beach getaway, and having enjoyed the beauty of the Selous landscape and marvelled at the game viewing it offers, it is here on Mafia Island that you can relax on the pristine sandy beaches and take to the water for some excellent scuba diving.   The clear and inviting waters of Chole Bay offers superb snorkelling, sailing and swimming, and outside the bay are some of the richest reefs in the world. Not only will you find an enormous variety of tropical fish beneath the waves, but back on land you might well see the giant Madagascan fruit bat; an unusual and intriguing resident to the island.

South Africa & Mozambique

Mat Aliwal Shoal Banner (5)

Sharks, sharks and more sharks. If that doesn’t float your boat then stop reading now, but if, like me, the thought of sharing the water with some of the worlds most impressive apex predators really gets your juices flowing, then look no further. The rugged coastline of Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks near Durban in South Africa is the year-round playground for a plethora of toothy beasts. It’s not uncommon to see ragged tooth (sand tiger) sharks, bull sharks, black-tips, and if you’re really lucky, the formidable Tiger shark.

With your appetite for big fish truly whetted it would be wise to hop the border to Ponta Do Oura in Mozambique for even more action from a further variety of finned friends: hammerheads, leopard sharks, silver-tips and spinner sharks, not to mention the worlds largest and friendliest of mega fauna – the whale shark – can all be spotted here. The best time of year for this is between September and May.

So the next time you’re planning a diving and wildlife holiday, why not make the most of your journey with two destinations that are as good together as Angelina & Brad, tea & crumpets, Batman & Robin (OK, I’ll stop now – but you get the idea).

What would your favourite ‘combo trip’ be?

Mat is a travel consultant for Dive Worldwide.

Mat Reeve is a photographer, travel writer and all round adventurer. Currently a consultant at UK-based tour operator Dive Worldwide, Mat is a qualified Divemaster, Martial Arts instructor and fitness trainer. Mat has a huge passion for exploring and experiencing all that life has to offer. He has travelled more than 3000 miles throughout Europe by boat, train and road without spending a single penny while raising money for a number of charities. Mat has camped for weeks in the wilds of Africa. He has paddled the treacherous waters of the Zambezi amid crocodiles and hippos, and has led divers on incredible underwater excursions, introducing them to apex predators including bull sharks without the protection of a cage. The Sardine Run in South Africa remains his most exhilarating experience to date and included incredibly close encounters with enormous humpback whales, super-pods of dolphins, and a feisty group of dusky sharks at feeding time. Over the years Matt has been charged by a hippo, chased by a lion, stalked by a shark, and stung by a tiny but painful Portuguese Man of War. A hugely passionate animal and nature enthusiast, Mat likes to get as close to the action as possible.

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Scubaverse UWP Winners Gallery: Christian Horras

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Each month we give the winner of the Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition the opportunity to show off a little more of their work in a gallery. The March winner was Christian Horras and you can see their winning image at the top of this page.


What do you love about diving & underwater photography?

For me it is all about showing the beauty of our world underwater to people that don’t dive and thus can’t see it for themselves. I want to share my own passion for the amazing ecosystem that is so much older than everything we know living on land. As I am from Germany, there are only a few people in my surroundings that have ever seen a coral reef or a shark with their own eyes. It is a big privilege to be able to go diving all over the world and in return it should be our task to arise awareness of this fragile and endangered ecosystem.

What equipment do you use?

I use a Nikon D810 in a Isotta Housing and various lenses, depending on the subject: a Sigma 15mm F2.8 Fisheye, a Nikon 16-35 mm F4 and two Nikon Macro lenses (60mm and 105mm), as well as a WeeFine +13 Diopter. The Fisheye is my main lens, as it allows me to get really close and still cover a big field of view. For lighting I use two Retra Pro Strobes and a Retra Snoot.

Where can our readers see more of your work?

Website: www.christianhorras.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/christian.horras/


To enter the latest Scubaverse Underwater Photography competition, with a chance to win some great prizes as well as have your own gallery published, head over to the competition page and upload up to 3 images.

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Emperor Divers reaches halfway in Covid Diver Heroes Initiative with fourth award

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Emperor Divers have reached the halfway point with their #coviddiverheroes initiative and are still receiving worthy nominations every day! Here, they recognise their 4th winner, another awesome hero from the diving community with an inspirational story of selflessness through the pandemic. Nominated by David White, Phuong Cao wins a free liveaboard trip in the Maldives when she can finally take some time off, and here is her story:

I, David White, would like to nominate Phuong Cao (36) for her tireless efforts fighting this pandemic. Not satisfied with being a frontline hospitalist in New York she took a second job on the COVID team in Guam to treat patients under even tougher conditions on her weeks off! She continues to commute 7750 miles each way and apply herself to both jobs for three months already and counting. Her energy level has no limits and she’s only happy when those in her care are on the mend. I think she definitely deserves a break! I guess the Maldives would be the best choice for her as I know she has dived with you in the Red Sea already.

Phuong Cao

We have been in touch with Phuong who had this to say: “Wow what a surprise! Thank you for the recognition. Holding my breath until I get back underwater!”

The halfway point is a good chance to remind people that the initiative is still running and the Emperor Divers team would love to hear about more heroes, as there are four more to award in the next 2 months!

Do you know a diver who has been heroic this past year? Emperor know that, worldwide, people have had to step up during this pandemic which has affected so many lives. They want to reward some real heroes with free liveaboard trips in the Red Sea or Maldives.

Luke Atkinson, Emperor’s Red Sea Manager, said: “This initiative is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to all those hundreds of people who have taken a selfless interest in looking after the vulnerable in their community. Examples could include healthworkers, carers or those who have come out of retirement to volunteer locally, but really we know there are many other ways people have been heroic.“

Emperor want to hear from people who know a heroic diver who would love to have a free liveaboard trip to look forward to in the future. People need to nominate a Covid Hero Diver and tell Emperor (in 100 – 200 words) why they deserve a free trip, and whether they would prefer the Red Sea or the Maldives. A multinational panel of Emperor’s most loyal and compassionate staff will judge the entries and pick a winner every 2 weeks for the next 2 months. There are two remaining Red Sea and two more Maldives liveaboards to be earned, so get nominating and give that hero a reward for their amazing work!

Winners will be announced by 14th (Maldives) and 28th (Red Sea) of each month. Final entries for Red Sea by 20th May ‘21 and Maldives 5th June ’21.

Entries, comments and questions should be sent to heroes@emperordivers.com.

Terms & Conditions apply: Please contact heroes@emperordivers.com for details.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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