Shark cages aren’t meant to hold sharks in but to keep them out. They are immersed in the ocean from a boat so that people — researchers, film-makers, and now, increasingly, tourists — can gawk at the majestic ocean predators. Most people going down in them would don swimwear, or if the water is cold, a wetsuit.
So you can imagine that the employees of a South African boat crew were somewhat taken aback when a 72-year-old woman from Pune clambered into the cage in her sari.
While her diving attire may have caught them by surprise, South Africa’s tourism officials were not in the least surprised by her spirit: after all, Indian women adventure tourists to the country outnumbered men last year.
Hanneli Slabber, country head, South African Tourism, says that nearly 53% of adventure tourists from India in 2016 were women. “Indian women across age groups are landing at the Johannesburg airport and asking ‘what all can I sign up for?’” Ms. Slabber was in Bengaluru as part of a training programme for travel agents on Friday. “We have more Indian women jumping off Bloukrans Bridge or shark cage diving than men,” she says. “It’s the girls that are driving the segment.” A total of 95,377 tourists from India visited South Africa in 2016, a 21.7% jump over the previous year.
The majority are keen to try high-adrenaline activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, and shark cage diving.
Indians are the largest population to bungee jump off Bloukrans Bridge, one of the highest bungee jumps in the world, after South Africans themselves, Ms. Slabber said.
She also said that Bengaluru leads in the number of tourists looking for high-adrenaline holidays.