GARY Hunt prepared for the start of the defence of his Red Bull Cliff Diving title by scouting for new venues in South Africa.

Hunt, from Eastleigh, visited the greenest canyon on earth with Australian diver Rhiannan Iffland, who secured her third King Kahekili Trophy in a row last season.

Hunt, who begins his quest for an eighth World Series title in the Philippines on April 13, explored the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve along the spectacular Panorama Route in South Africa for new dive spots.

Their safari adventure saw them choose from majestic cataract falls, basins flanked by red rocks and what is said to be one of the greenest canyons on earth when they scouted the Drakensberg Escarpment region.

It was the Bourke’s Luck Potholes that attracted the cliff divers’ attention the most, though, with both soaring into the jade- coloured water basin.

After his first cliff diving trip to Africa, Hunt revealed: “The first high dives of the year are always a little bit nerve-racking.

“I have enough experience now to not be in a situation where my legs are shaking so much.”

Iffland, 27, added: “It was just incredible. To come here, to experience the culture, to go on a safari and to come and dive at this mind-blowing location, it’s really something that I’m going to remember.”

Hunt, 34, said: “It was a very close race last year and it was a shaky start, so I would love to get off to a very strong start and stamp my foot down.”

Iffland enthused: “Each new location is exciting and it makes cliff diving feel brand new.

“That’s something I really love, to come out into exotic places like this and just explore and really challenge myself as a diver.”