The Diver Full Circle Expedition is the diving trip of a lifetime - 10 weeks, five continents, four oceans, one chance. Make that two chances - you can either book now to ensure your place on this historic journey, or enter our competition to win a free ticket. Either way, you'll be the envy of your buddies!
JUST SUPPOSE you had a chance to fulfill your wildest diving dreams.
Suppose you had the chance to fly around the world, visiting the sites that years of recreational diving have made legendary, the areas that have taunted you from the sapphire pages of 1000 diving magazines over the years.
Suppose that some of the finest dive centres on earth would host and guide you, showing you the best the world of diving has to offer.
Suppose you could learn to film and photograph on this trip, creating a record that would remain with you for the rest of your life.
Suppose that you could do this over 10 weeks, in the company of a marine biologist, a renowned underwater photographer and cameraman, and a team of diving fanatics.
Suppose you could come on the Diver Magazine Full Circle Expedition!
This project, the most ambitious the world of recreational diving has seen, will visit 10 of the greatest dive sites on Earth over 10 weeks later this year, from 16 September to 23 November.
Covering five continents and four oceans, a team of 14 divers will explore our blue planet and experience the ultimate in diving. Sharks, reefs, manatees, caves, caverns, whales, dolphins, sea-lions, crashing surf and crystal viz - an assault on the senses that might just be the experience of your lifetime.
What's more, one Diver reader has the chance to join the expedition for free, in our incredible Full Circle Competition - see the panel on the opposite page.
The Full Circle
The expedition is a co-operative venture between dive journalist Monty Halls, Diver Magazine and the 10 participating dive operators. It is the result of a survey into the best sites available, always the source of much post-dive table-thumping among divers.
Ten top sites were identified, and the operators offered to host the team on a non-profit basis. The resulting circle around the world incorporates a mouth-watering buffet of the tropical and the temperate, of pampered luxury and white-knuckled adventure.
The Africa Phase
The route takes the team first to Africa and the nutrient-rich cold waters of the Benguela current off the Cape.
Here, in the capable hands of Reon and Karin Coetzee of Dive South Safaris, the team will come face to face with great white sharks from the safety of a cage, a fitting opening to the expedition. They will also have the opportunity to dive with colonies of Cape Fur seals and explore the vast kelp forests of the area.
After a week the team moves to the warmer waters that bathe the coast of Natal, and the undersea mountain that is Aliwal Shoal. Jutting into the heart of the Aghulas current, a motorway for migrating species of all shapes and sizes, the shoal is a beacon for dolphins, turtles and humpback whales.
And lots and lots of sharks. Lurking in the caverns and gullies are the famous raggies, while sweeping overhead are bull sharks, tigers, and occasionally great whites - raw adventure all the way.
Then it's to the heart of the continent, and one of Africa's three great rift lakes. Lake Malawi is 375 miles long, 700m deep and harbours more fish species than Europe and America combined. Up to a third of these are new to science, and share the lake with otters and shrieking fish eagles.
The team will be hosted by Kayak Africa, the only dive operation to have bases in Lake Malawi National Park.
The Asia Phase
And so to the location termed "the cradle of diversity" by marine biologists, the Palau Archipelago in Micronesia. Here the team will stay at Sam's Tours, voted best dive centre on Earth by the readers of a US diving magazine. The archipelago is the site of the famed Blue Corner, where great walls of jack and barracuda warily eye cruising reef sharks, and deep shafts lead into cathedral-like caverns below.
No adventure dive trip would be complete without visiting Papua New Guinea. The team will stay at Walindi Dive Resort on the island of West New Britain, and experience the great pelagic species for which this area is famed, along with the richest coral reefs in the world.
The highlight of this phase will be Bradford Shoals, a 600m volcanic peak which rises from the continental shelf and creates a swirling tower of coral and fish species.
The Australasian Phase
After a week exploring the virgin diving of PNG, the team moves south to the Great Barrier Reef. Here its members will be the guests of Cairns Dive Centre in the sumptuous luxury of the liveaboard mv Kangaroo Explorer, a 25m catamaran with air-conditioned cabins that plies the largest natural structure on the planet in unique style.
Next stop is in the temperate waters of the Poor Knights Islands in northern New Zealand. This archipelago was described as offering some of the best diving in the world by none other than Jacques Cousteau, and the stark reefs, gullies and caves of the area are a reminder of the islands' apocalyptic volcanic birth.
This is home to vast congregations of sting rays, cruising pods of killer whales, and the planet's largest sea cave. The team will be hosted by Dive Tutakaka, the largest dive operator in New Zealand.
The Americas Phase
And so to the Galapagos, the famed string of islands straddling two great ocean currents. The team will stay at Hotel Galapagos, exploring the coast of the main island as guests of Scuba Iguana, and diving with sea-lions, iguanas and cruising sharks. If only Darwin had ventured beneath the waves!
No adventurous circle of the globe would be complete without a visit to the Blue Hole of Belize. Here, as guests of Hugh Parkey Diving, the team will explore the hole itself and also take time to visit the nearby Lighthouse Reef and Turneffe Atoll, and experience the unique manatees dive.
How to conclude such an epic undertaking? By fulfilling every divers' dream at Little Bahamas Bank, one of the only places where divers can swim with entirely wild dolphins, in the expert hands of Dolphin Dream Team.
The whole journey will be recorded in the pages of Diver. And in addition to a lifetime of diving memories, members of the expedition will:
- Receive any items of Northern Diver equipment they need for the trip at trade price.
- Be instructed in the use of photography and video equipment throughout, providing the chance for them to record their own trip.
- Receive a video of the expedition shot by Dan Burton, the renowned underwater photographer and cameraman.
- At each location visited, enjoy a non-diving day to visit local sites and explore land-based attractions.
Including flights, full-board and accommodation, transfers, unlimited diving and instruction in photography and camerawork, the charge per person for the entire Full Circle trip is £10,800. This is a fraction of the cost of visiting each site individually.
How do I apply?
There are 10 places available on this project, and demand is expected to be high. You need to be at least a PADI Advanced Open Water/BSAC Sport Diver or equivalent with a minimum 30 dives under your belt at the time of departure. For more information, call Monty Halls on 07812 136 781 or e-mail him at divefullcircle @hotmail.com
COMPETITION How can I go full circle for free? |
It's the biggest chance of all! One Diver reader will be allowed to join the one-off Full Circle Expedition absolutely free, and all you need to do is show a little creativity.
You know Diver's proud slogan: "the magazine that tells it as it is". We feel we owe it to our readers to be as honest as possible in our writing, whether it's about a diving destination, a piece of equipment, a training course or any other matter, and we use writers we believe will do just that. The way we look at it, your enjoyment and sometimes your lives depend on you obtaining accurate information, and we take our role as an objective source of such information seriously. We are also independent of any other diving organisation, and always open to new ideas.
That explanation of Diver's role took exactly 100 words, but we want you to sum it up in no more than eight, preferably less. If you can come up with the snappy slogan that says everything you need to know about Diver and what it stands for, you'll be shortlisted for that coveted free place on Full Circle.
Put your slogan on a postcard (no envelopes, letters, faxes or e-mails, please!) and send it to Full Circle Competition, Diver, 55 High Street, Teddington, Middlesex TW11 8HA. Only one slogan per card, please, and don't forget to include your name, address and phone number. Closing date for entries is 31 May.
That's all it takes. Remember, this dream dive trip would normally cost you £10,800, but come up with those few choice words in the right order, and it won't cost you a penny!