water lilies

The Marico Oog is as renowned for its ethereal water lilies as for its magical underwater vistas. Image: Adobe Stock

Watch: Magical Marico Oog a place of sparkling waters and starlit skies

The enchanting underwater garden of Marico Oog is an inland divers’ paradise. Take a dive with us and see why.

water lilies

The Marico Oog is as renowned for its ethereal water lilies as for its magical underwater vistas. Image: Adobe Stock

There is nothing that compares to being out in the bush surrounded by the inky night and looking up at the stars that seem to stretch to infinity with only bright moonlight showing you the way.

It’s even better when you are weightless, floating and cosseted in warm water while looking up at the heavens that penetrate 10m and more through crystal clear water.

The only company you have are the bubbles that stream upwards as you exhale and the sound of your breathing as you suck in another mouthful of air.

Underwater forest of enchantment

It’s one of those experiences that make up life’s most magical moments and also a memory that you would associate with the exotic surroundings experienced anywhere but the bushveld a mere two hours or so from Johannesburg by car. 

Inevitably, though, night turns to day and the moment is gone. The beauty of the Marico Oog, a spring that feeds the Marico River, however, is that by day it is transformed once again.

Sliding beneath the water takes you into what is the equivalent of a garden. A verdant green underwater forest lies beneath you, the fronds of its aquatic plants moving gently as your fins stir the water.

Incredible light and visibility in Oog

Around you, the stems of water lilies reach towards the surface, which is covered by lilypads that allow glimpses of the blue sky above and reflect shafts of sunlight downward towards the bottom of the Oog. 

Adding to the experience, the refraction of the light causes an illusion that makes it appear as if the light source is below you. As you swim down towards the deepest part of the Oog, the rays of light meet you, and you can be forgiven for believing for a few fleeting seconds that you are swimming into the source of the sun. 

On the bottom, and being careful not to disturb the silt, it seems natural to sink to your knees and look upwards.

A mecca for inland diving

The freshwater fish, crabs and occasional carry on about their business in their forest home, ignoring the presence of the few divers and paying scant attention to the less adventurous who are content to float on the surface, or stand on a training platform and watch the divers watch them.

The Oog, seen from above, is actually a series of interlinking freshwater pools that stretch over the boundaries of several farms. 

Not all the farmers enjoy the idea of having divers “contaminating” their water sources and so have blocked access to their sections of the spring. There are ways in, but accessing them could be regarded as trespassing in some circles. 

Paradise just a short walk away

The Oog, because it is located on working farms, is a place where you go for a day or two, carry all you need with you, park your vehicle and then stay put. The only facilities available near the water are relatively rustic and a communal ablution block offers the basics. 

If you own a caravan, or are a well-equipped camper, this is the spot for you.  Paradise, otherwise known as the Oog, is located a short walk away.

The scene is set as you wind your way along a walkway, a thick rubber conveyer belt in a previous life,  through dense reeds and emerge on the side of the spring at the entry point.

From there you will venture into a small pool which slopes gently downwards to the main pool, which is the deepest at about 17m. This spot accommodates about eight divers and is the place where most people here spend their “water time”. 

How to get to Marico Oog

Marico Oog is in the Zeerust/Lichtenburg area of North West. It is formed by a natural spring that produces crystal clear, cool water.

Besides the lush plantlife, visitors will also see various species of fish, among them bass, kurper and, occasionally, freshwater eels.

Adding to the serenity that descends when you are really miles from anywhere is the variable quality of the cellphone network.  

The driving directions to get to the Oog tell you what kind of place you are heading for.

After taking you through several twists and turns on the tarred road leading in the direction of Zeerust, you are advised to “proceed along a gravel road for 29km”, turn back on to tar, turn left at the Grootfontein Oog sign, drive about 1km, turn nearly 180 degrees through the gate and drive another 1km. At last, you are there”.

For more information about Marico Oog, including accommodation options, click here.

Think about it: All you have to lose is stress.