Meet the Owner



About the Host PJ van der Walt. Owner and host created this space for the individual who wants to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and who seeks a home away from home, yet is 10-15 min away from the city metropolis, beach and Cape Town International Airport.
PJ qualified as a dive master with N.A.U.I. in September 1988 and joined the Cape Tourism Authority on August 29 1988 when he started PJ's Atlantic and Indian Ocean Dive Charters, specialising in:

  • Great White Shark cage and photographic excursions.
  • Boat and shore dives.
  • Night dives.
  • Wrecks and coral reefs.

PJ pioneered in the Great White Shark cage diving industry in 1988, and until 1992 he was the only operator specializing in Great White Tours in Cape Town, South Africa. He started campaigning for the protection of the Great White Shark during 1990 by writing to the following people:
  • Nan Rice, from the Dolphin Action Protection Group
  • Rodney Fox of Australia
  • The Minister of Environmental Affairs in Cape Town
  • Mr GJ Kotze
  • Marie Levine of Princeton New Jersey, America

PJ also became a member of the Geographical Atmospheric Association U.S.A to generate support for the protection of the Great White Shark. He is a founder member of the White Shark Research centre along with Mr T. Ferreira (WSRU leader) and Dr. L.J.V. Compagno (Head of WSRP). On 11 April 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to declare the Great White Shark a protected Species. (Argus, Cape Town. Thursday April 11, 1991. Media release by Mr Louis Pienaar, Minister of Environmental Affairs)

During January 1992, Ron and Valarie Taylor, world renowned marine filmmakers and shark experts, were in Cape Town to film the effects of the newly created shark barrier, for National Geographic. PJ, Ron and Valerie Taylor as well as George Askew, made several dives among Great White sharks off Dyer Island in the Southern Cape - without the protection of a reinforced cage. (Sunday Times, January 26, 1992).

On November 1992 at 4pm, whilst snorkeling off Graafs Pool in Sea Point he was run over in the water by a semi-ridged inflatable boat. (Cape Times, Cape Metro, 29 November, 1992). This accident hospitalized PJ for 6 months. During May 1993 he was released and spent the next 18 months on crutches when he had to go back into hospital to have additional surgery done. By the time he was released again there were 14 operators in the Great White shark cage diving industry.

PJ spent the next year touring the country and educating the public, especially school children, about the Great White Shark - morphology, habits, geographical distribution, and the impact that the humans and the fishing industry world wide has on sharks.

In 1997 PJ decided to go back into the tourism industry and established Riverlodge Backpackers. Here he is able to share his knowledge and provide:
  • Accommoation
  • Vehicle hire
  • Airport shuttles
  • Eco-tours
  • Scuba dives (whether it's wreck, reef, kelp forests, day or night dives)
  • Great White Shark dives or just floating with some seven gill cow sharks in False Bay
  • Whale watching
  • Penguin kayaking
  • Mountain hikes
  • Abseiling
  • Big 5 safari game drives
  • Cape Winelands tours
  • Township tours
  • Cape Town City tours


PJ van der Walt, owner of Riverlodge Backpackers

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