Swimming with wild whales can be life-changing – just ask Melbourne man, Ian, 33, who frolicked with the giant but gentle humpbacks in Tonga with Australian eco operator, Majestic Whale Encounters, in October 2016. Ian, a former firefighter and soldier, shares his moving story…
- It really was life-changing
“I have been a professional firefighter for the past 10 years and before that I was a soldier with the Australian Army for seven years, serving in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and East Timor. Since returning from Tonga in October, 2016, I have resigned from my firefighting job and turned my life on its head. Giving up a career most boys dream of and most men want, was no easy task. What swimming with the whales did for me can only be best described as finding peace within myself. As a suffer of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses, finding this peace was the empowerment that I needed to regain control of my life and start a new chapter that isn’t at odds with my own inner self. I am now on leave and planning a new career in charity by rescuing homeless dogs and partnering them with army veterans and emergency service personnel suffering mental issues and who will benefit from the unconditional love and loyalty of a dog.”
- New Perspective
“Being a westerner and born into entitlement, swimming with the whales grounded me more than any other of the vast experiences I have had. Not only did their sheer size bring such perspective, it was also their gentle nature and care towards humans who have persecuted them for so long. They possess a quality that trumps revenge versus forgiveness – something we as humans desperately require.”
- A Spiritual Experience
“An Anglican by bloodline and an atheist by choice, I encountered something much greater than my own consciousness when I was with the humpbacks. Something that felt very old but not foreign. Something best described as an energy I had long forgotten, running deeply in the DNA of us all – all species great and small. The whole experience was epic!”
“Swimming with the humpbacks was a real and raw adventure with mother nature – a healthy hit of adrenaline.”
“I was truly inspired by my experience with the whales and I realized I had a responsibility to do more and educate others. On my first swim, I found myself in the bluest of blue waters with a baby humpback swimming straight towards me. No words can describe how I felt. It was overwhelming. However, my immediate thoughts where that I had to do more to help them and educate fellow humans on the importance of protecting them.”
“Regardless of your faith, you cannot deny or ignore the immediate sense of connection between the whale and yourself. It’s this interaction that left me feeling so completely grounded, humbled and connected to Earth. I firmly believe spending time with the whales can be a very healing experience for those who need it.”
- Friends for Life
“Before embarking on my holiday to Tonga, I envisaged my fellow holiday goers to be tree-hugging, bearded hipsters with a taste for left wing politics and soy macchiatos. I couldn’t have been more wrong. There was the doctor, the administrator, the medium, the self-made businessman, the CEO, the actor, the interior designer and the fireman – a diverse group of people from all walks of life. However, they all walked away with a shared and newfound love for the humpback and the earth we walk and swim upon! It is this bond that will forever foster our future friendships together.”
Majestic Whale Encounters
In 2017, Majestic Whale Encounters will offer five eight-day whale swim tours in the peak humpback season months of August and September, 2017. The unique, life-changing tours allow Australians to swim with the graceful humpbacks and their playful calves in the turquoise waters of Tonga off the idyllic, tropical island of Ha’apai, a short flight north from the capital, Nuku’alofa.
Majestic Whale Encounters includes all accommodation, main meals and local, inter-island flights in its packages as well as a free first night near Nuku’alofa on arrival from Australia. Majestic staff also remain with guests throughout the eight-day experience, assisting with the whale swims and sharing their knowledge of and love for the humpbacks.
Guests have the opportunity to snorkel on coral reefs, laze in hammocks on white sandy beaches and get a taste of Tongan culture. Bush walking, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving and cycling are also available during leisure days. As an environmentally conscious company passionate about whale preservation, Majestic Whale Encounters is an active member of The World Cetacean Alliance, promoting responsible whale watching worldwide.
Each of Majestic’s five tours in August and September, 2017, costs A$4350 per person, twin-share. The cost for solo travellers is $5240 per person.
Flights to Tonga from Australia (five hours direct) with Virgin Australia or via New Zealand are extra.
For bookings or information, call Majestic Whale Encounters on 0405 594 253 or visit www.majesticwhaleencounters.com.au .