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I'm on board: Sachika Safari boat. I want to see "big stuff" and this is the perfect place... Life is like that: being in the right place at the right time. And this is the right boat...
It 'just after dawn and we are going to have the first dive.
6:15 am. A cup of tea and I'm ready to set my photographic equipment. The dhoni crew have already set up and checked the thanks, the jacket and all the underwater equipment. They are waiting for us.
Usually I have to assemble the equipment and check everything by myself but here I’m relieved of any task concerning diving stuff.
What are we going to discover today? Tree, four dives a day, feeling amazed and thrilled at any time.
Sharks, this morning!
So many elegant gray sharks and the harmless white tips sharks! Giacomo Ganda, the dive leader is a marine byologist, expert in maldivian dives. He tells us that there will be a lot of underwater current in this place. We will use hooks to latch on the rocks. It goes without saying: no currents, no sharks.
We go down quickly and suddendly we see grey sharks hunting near the passe. They are quiet, not concerned with us. We stop near a rock waiting for them to come nearer. Standing still, we admire their amazing beauty. They don’t care about currents, they swim upstream with elegant movement... magnificent result of evolution that made them perfect predators. 
Closer and closer. They are curious and not at all shy. Three meters, a meter, and then pass you over, regardless of your presence. Three quarters of an hour are gone and we have to go up. It seemed only three minutes, for I was captured by all this beauty and busy taking photographs of these amazing animals.
Beautiful…! Giacomo... now what do you offer? The answer leaves me with a slightly dazed smile on my lips: manta rays, whale sharks, the sharks nursery or the rare guitar shark...
So much! Can I stay here other three months?
Mantas. This is a unique dive site in the Maldives and one of the few in the world where you can dive with manta rays at night. I’m excited and I’m waiting for this dive!. We turn on a light that enlighten the transparent water under the boat. Manta rays will come to eat the plankton that gathers under the light. The first manta arrives after half an hour. "Guys down, down!!" I can see the manta circle dancing so near to me that I could touch it! Photos, photos and more photos !! If the Sharks have the feeding frenzy I have the photographic frenzy. Giacomo asks me to stay down on the sandy bottom. It's hard for me, I would like to dance with the manta!. Ok... I try to listen to the guide and I lean quiet on the sand, the light of the boat as a background. Great photo guys !! I cant' wait to download them to my computer! And the manta still dance, turning over our heads and my heart is full of emotions. A manta dancing 10 inches from me! Amazing!


Whale shark. "Are you sure that we will meet it?" I ask Giacomo. He smiles "Well, with a little luck... in agreement with other boats, you know, we can... here everything is possible." This is my second cruise with him and last time he succedeed in making me swim with the whale shark. Maybe this will be another success? And yes... there it is! The eight meters good giant! I jump in the water with snorkel, fins and my camera. Where it is? Giacomo shouts: "there, there, wake up!" O hell, I was about to collide with it! I would like to touch it but I can't! We stay 10 minutes swimming with it. I can see his small eyes, big as a golf ball. It's probably wondering who is this funny little guy with strange things instead of fins and a snorkel coming out from the head. A new species of fish ?? But it understands that I’m not a danger to it and it only cares about eating plankton. Even if it's so huge, it makes me feel a kind of tenderness… so great and so good.
Other dives. It is extremely difficult to describe all the dives and the dive sites. They are so many and so amazing! Which one? The baby shark nursery stunned me! Dozens of small sharks hidden under Acropora, breathing, moving and growing. Such a beautiful image! A wonderful dive full of sweet feelings. I hope that all of them will become majestic adult sharks.
How not to mention the rare guitar shark with the suckerfishes above it? It was so quiet and confident that allowed me to get really close so I could open the lens at 10mm and take spectacular pictures!!
And the variety of anemones... violet, blue, pink, white with little clownfishes playing hide and seek inside them. How many wonderful creatures…

The week is over, I have to leave the Sachika boat and sadly go back to Italy.
The Safari Boat is undoubtedly the best holiday for any diver.
Every day you can discover diving spots that are difficult to reach with boat trips from the islands. You move constantly visiting many different areas and having the opportunity to dive in diving sites that offer a great biodiversity.
Also logistics is very simplified: no thank and equipment movement, everything is on the dhoni always available.
The Safari boats are equipped exactly like hotels but they have the advantage of being quiet and cozy You meet people that becomes like "old friends" in a short time with wich you share the great love for the nature and the sea. You find yourself talking maybe in four different languages but with one common passion.
The crew is always friendly and helpful, there are many common areas, the rooms are spacious and comfortable, lunches and dinners become social occasions, to exchange ideas and experiences.
You can not explain the experience of freedom that you feel looking at the horizon from the deck of a boat at sunset ... you have to try it!
A big thank you to the Sachika crew to the brilliant chef and a big hug to the one and unique Giacomo Ganda, my mentor and great friend, always helpful and careful to the needs of us crazy underwater photographers

Author : Mauro Mainardi
Upload date : 2014-11-24

  
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