On a trip inland where heat wave conditions with temperatures between 36 and 40 degrees was ranging we had had to make a plan to get a dive in. So what is another 200 km to drive to go and experience the cool/warm 20 degree crystal clear waters of Marico oog (Marico eye).
The Farm Grootfontein where Marico Oog is situated is between Lichtenburg and Ventersdorp and about 3hours drive from Johannesburg. It is in the North West province and Wondergat is also nearby. Mostly tar road with 30km on a gravel road. The website stated the gravel road was good but I would disagree as in some place it was rather bumpy. This is about for 10km on an off.
Once we arrived we stopped at the farm house and paid the entrance fees and headed off to the trees and reeds. The outside temperature was much better close to the water and under the trees. As it was midweek we had the whole area to ourselves and took our time exploring the small area. There are some chalets you can rent and in one corner a small water slide into a pool.
Vippita spring water is also bottled on the one side. The water is pumped out from 30meters out of the fountain, then some micron filtering to get floaty stuff out and through a couple of ultra violet light systems to ensure no bug survives in the water. The water was great but we also drank unfiltered water direct from the source and had the same taste and were nice and cool without being in a fridge.
Back to why we are there: Scuba Diving in Marico oog.
After a quick view to see which of the 2 entries we can do through the reeds we kitted up and got into the crystal clear water via a type of jetty and a ladder. The other entry had a float where you could get on and then pull yourself to the middle and dive of their. As I went barefoot the metal jetty and rubber mats were a challenge so a quick but careful sprint was needed. Once in we enjoyed the refreshing water and the flowering water lilies trying to get up and under shots.
Reeds covers the outer edges and water lilies the inner edge at about 3-5 meters with a type of water lettuce t root level. Then it drops down to the 12-15 meters into the eye where you could see water pumping out with lot of water movement. At 5-6 meters a grid is also hanging from a couple of drums so instructors can get students to get some skills done.
Silt can be a problem as we saw loads on the leaves and if you fin too hard everything ends up in the water but luckily it settles fast again. The viz was really great and to be at 5-8 meters of water seeing the lily stems and leaves, followed by reeds on the bank and clouds in the sky are unbelievable.
Some places the reeds makes a floating platform and you can swim underneath it making it look like you are in cave. We saw 2 big koi, some silver fishies, probably some type of tilapia, couple of freshwater shrimps, 1 snail and loads of crabs. Looking up we saw a small water bird treading and in the reeds another getting deeper into the reeds.
Swimming carefully between the lily stems and finning carefully we explored the small diving area and enjoyed the coolness. Normally we in Cape Town would say the warm water but after the hectic temperatures it is seen as cool. Now I can understand why the inland guys get so easily cold in Cape Town.
We did 2 dives and really enjoyed the experience of Marico oog diving in Crystal clear fresh water. Picnic in between the dives under the trees was great and very relaxing so a good break away I would say for Johannesburg divers who need to get away from their low viz lakes and practice and perfect Buoyance skills. Also note it is at altitude so you need to check or adjust your dive computer and review your dive tables. Just note only thing you buy at Marico oog is Springwater, all the rest you need to bring with. All food, dive gear, cylinders filled up and perhaps white gold as we had none on our visit. Best would be to phone ahead just to confirm that you can dive and Conrad from all about scuba in Klerksdorp can also provide some good info of where to dive at Marico oog.