Sardine Run

The sardine run of South Africa occurs from May through July, when billions of sardine spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank and then move northward along the east coast of South Africa. Their sheer numbers create a feeding frenzy along the coastline. In terms of biomass, researchers estimate the sardine run could rival East Africa’s great wildebeest migration and it has even been seen from space.

The shoals are often more than 4 miles long, 1 mile wide and 30 yards deep and are clearly visible from spotter planes, a feature that is included in our trips to assure your best possible chance of experiencing this phenomenon. Sardines tend to group together when they are threatened, using this instinctual behavior as a defense mechanism, as lone individuals are more likely to be eaten than when in the protection of the larger group.

Picture tens of thousands of birds plunging from the sky, feeding on the fish, with larger game fish and numerous species of sharks all feasting on the wealth of food that is available. The number and variety of sharks are astounding: Bronze Whalers, Bull Sharks locally called Zambezies, Hammerheads, Coppers and Great Whites can be seen by the hundreds. Bottlenose and Common dolphins join in the excitement and employ a hunting strategy that works the shoals into what is referred to as a “baitball”. By working together, like sheepdogs in a field of sheep, the dolphins herd the sardines into a tight ball and push them towards the surface. The dolphins then pounce on them, gorging themselves on the tiny fish.

Why Adventure With Us

• We are partnered with South Africa’s leading Expedition Dive Company.
• We operate where sardine run diving tourism began and is still considered the number 1 location for this activity. We get the sardines and their predators in the thousands, but we also get the best opportunity for clean water – the most important factor for safe and enjoyable sardine run diving.
• Scuba & Snorkel – We offer the sardine run as the Ultimate Adventure (which it is) – for any adventure-minded traveler: Scuba option for the scuba divers. Snorkel option for absolutely everyone else. Due to the speed of the action on the sardine run, 70% of our time in the water is on snorkel. Any person can now experience this ultimate marine spectacle, although fair warning, it is not for the faint of heart!
• You get a full-fledged experience that includes social, scenic, historical, and cultural aspects for your adventure.

Pricing: Please see details below for minimum duration requirements. We have fine-tuned our itinerary over the years to give you the best chance of success for your expedition. Please contact us for detailed pricing.

Area of Operation

Coffee Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa. Our sardine run range of operation spans the area north and south of Coffee Bay in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa – dependent on the animal activity.

Duration: 6 days , 5 nights, 4 days on the water

Expedition Dates available for 2018: Between June 25th  to July 20th, 2018. Historically this is the best time for the sardines to congregate in this area.

Team Guide / Boats: Each expedition is led by a dedicated full-time Team Guide with a mandate to create the best possible experience for his guests. 10 guests + 2 crew per boat. We operate two 27′ semi rigid zodiacs. Boats are launched from the river mouth and through the surf – not always the smoothest ride (fair warning) – but we have had time to fine-tune our technique over more than a decade to make is as safe and professional as possible.

Weather & Conditions: June/ July are winter months on the Wild Coast and wet weather is possible (though not always the case).
• Temperatures (Air) : 59 – 75 F/ 15 – 24 C
• Temperatures (Water) : 59 – 70 F/ 15 – 21 C
Conditions will vary from glass-like seas to flying through giant rollers in pumping winds – very exciting and sometimes strenuous. Safety is always the priority when on the water and the skipper will navigate accordingly. Visibility varies from 2 – 20m/ 6 ft – 60ft. As a safety precaution, we generally don’t enter the water in less than 15ft of visibility.

Expedition Includes:
• Experience boat crews and pilot
• Diving – 4 days on the water or alternate activity as determined by conditions
• Meals – Buffet breakfast as determined by launch time, light lunch and refreshments on boat, buffet dinner
• Air Support – Dedicated Microlight spotter aircraft to call us onto the action
• Guest Flight – Each guest will get to fly free in the microlight and see the Wild Coast from the air (weather dependent) if guests does not get to go on the boat one day

• Equipment – Airfills, cylinders, weightbelts

• Transfer in 4×4 vehicle to launch site (10 minute drive)
• Heated drying room for all equipment

Expedition Excludes:
• Dive travel insurance – required (DAN recommended)
• Dive Equipment – BCD, regulator, mask, fins, snorkel
• Alcohol and Soft-drinks – For guest account
• Porterage – Excess baggage penalties and transportation
• Gratuities – At guest discretion

**Alternate Activities The following activities are substituted when and if we are unable to launch.

• Microlight Flight – Each guest will get to fly in the microlight and see the Wild Coast from the air if not going on the boat(weather dependent)
• Sundowners – cocktails overlooking the magnificent coast (extra cost)
• Magnificent Hiking Trails
• Cultural Experience – Visit with the local traditional healer and see an authentic rural African village (extra cost)
• Horse Riding – Ride the trails along ancient trails (extra cost)

We cater to all levels of diving/non-diving experience:
• Scuba – Advanced Scuba Diver Certification only. Divers will be required to present their dive cards and/ or log-books upon arrival. Scuba-diving the sardine run is for experienced scuba-divers only
• Snorkel/boat-based viewing – almost anyone can snorkel the sardine run (75% of the total diving is on snorkel)

• Dive travel insurance is required for all guests – must be organized in country of origin. DAN insurance recommended as they are the first-response service provider in South Africa
• General travel insurance recommended

• Wetsuit, mask, fins, snorkel
• BCD, regulator
We strongly recommend divers bring their own gear rather than hiring on location. Having gear that you are familiar and comfortable with is important for this type of adventure diving. If however you require gear for rental we do provide this service on location. The Indian Ocean is the warmer of the 2 oceans bordering South Africa. We’re diving in the winter season where water temperatures will vary between 59 – 70 F/ 15 – 21 C. A 7mm wetsuit will most often suffice with booties, hoody and gloves recommended. In ideal sardine run conditions, the water temperature will be in the range 59 – 65 F. Our staff will be on hand to carry equipment in transit, re-fill tanks etc. Rinse facilities are provided post diving.

• Vaccinations
1. Hepatitis A – Recommended for all travellers
2. Typhoid – Recommended for all travellers
• Routine Immunizations
All travelers should be up-to-date on:
1. Tetanus-diphtheria
2. Measles-mumps-rubella
3. Varicella (chicken pox)

The sardine run can be physically challenging and a base fitness level is recommended though not essential. The more fit the participant, the more enjoyable the experience will be. Divers with pre-existing medical conditions must stipulate when signing the expedition waiver documents. A full medical is recommended for divers with pre-existing health conditions.

1. Passport – Required for US citizens traveling to South Africa and Botswana – (no visas required)
2. Clothing – Wind/ Rain proof active wear, smart casual wear
3. Miscellaneous – Sun protection, headwear, eye protection, binoculars, camera

The sardine run is the most challenging of our Expeditions. That said, the accident potential is minimal, largely due to our knowledge of the environment and our taking every possible precaution to ensure the safety of our guests, both on and off the water.

Our staff is skilled and experienced for the variable weather conditions of open ocean scuba diving and first-aid trained – we have a full-time paramedic on staff with support medical equipment on site. Though highly unlikely, all possible accident and treatment scenarios are planned for – Team safety is always the number one priority.

Guarantee/ Disclaimer:
When working with animals in their natural environment, it is impossible to guarantee either favorable weather conditions or the desired animal encounters. Our local partner is confident enough in their skill, experience and success history to take this expedition to market – but success is by no means assured or implied. We’ve found that through our flexible itinerary format and managing our guest expectations up-front, prior to purchase and travel, we are best able to deliver on the promised enjoyment of the African wild. All clients are required to sign disclaimer.[/su_tab][/su_tabs]