Wandering albatrosses are known to fly across oceans for days at a time, hopping between continents all over the southern hemisphere. Even more interestingly, they often prefer to fly and feed at night, looking for small fish, cephalopods and crustaceans.
If there happened to be any albatrosses wandering by Muizenburg beach last night, they would have been remarkably impressed by what they saw.
Kites were zipping through the night air, adorned in glow sticks, each dragging an excited, howling kite boarder behind them.
I was indeed one of these kite boarders, having an absolute whale of a time, surfing in the moonlight through three feet of water.
This is the type of experience you won’t find in guidebooks. I’ve spent most of the windy season doing the ‘normal’ thing – kiting surfing at Blouburg beach, the most popular spot in Cape Town, especially for foreigners.
But, as I found out, there’s nothing quite like kiting after sunset. I really can see why albatrosses prefer to fly at night. The air is crisp; the sun’s harshness has disappeared for the day, and the moon – glinting off the tip of each ripple – casts just enough light for you to see your way.
We had decorated our kites and boards with glow sticks and were experimenting with all kinds of night photography – opening the shutter long enough to pick up the glow trail of the kites flying by. The effect was somewhat alien.
I’d have stayed out there all night, but my skill at fishing on the wing is not as advanced as the albatross and the promise of dinner eventually brought us back to shore.
More than just a novel experience, night kite surfing really is quite spectacular. And something I’ll certainly do again, of course, when the moon is high, the wind is strong and the conditions are just right.