What is the Sardine Run? Click to find out.


Arrive Durban airport, South Africa and overnight in a hotel at Umkomaas.

Your first morning in South Africa, we have two reef dives at Aliwal Shoal with Ragged Tooth or Sand Tiger sharks. After our dives we depart overland for the Transkei Wild Coast. The Wild Coast with it's lagoons, cliffs, palm trees, sandy bays with rivers reaching to the sea via convoluted valleys has such limited access that there has been no industrial development. The coast remains pristine.

Our base of operations is Port St Johns which stands at the mouth of the Mzimvubu river between Mt Thesiger and Mt Sullivan. A magnificent setting with huge cliffs covered in subtropical forest. Our hotel sits right on the river itself allowing us easy access to the boat for our early morning launch.

Early breakfast at around 07h00 and then on to the waiting semi rigid boat. We shall be launching via the Mzimvubu mouth. We then cruise slowly along the coast looking for the telltale concentrations of Gannets. A number of the Gannets fly extremely high acting as look-outs for the main flock. On spotting sardines, they signal their find and the sky suddenly turns white with thousands of birds heading for the action....and we are right there with them!

 

The dolphins and sharks now try to herd the sardines into a compact mass, called locally a baitball, by circling the sardines and the dolphins swimming under the mass of sardines breathing out bubbles to frighten the sardines towards the surface. Once they are between the surface and 10 metres depth, the feasting begins. The Ganets plunge in such numbers that they sound like machine gun fire. The dolphins and sharks swim, mouth fully open, into the baitball and then, often, a whale (this one a Bryde's whale) swim up from the depths scouping an incredibe volume of sardines in one huge mouthful and often as in the picture below, surface centimetres from our divers. If that does not get your adrenalin pumping at full throttle.................(click to enlarge)

 

As the action is on the surface and down to a maximum of 6-10 metres, virtually everything can be seen from the boat meaning that this is an experience equally suited to non divers though, obviously, the extreme thrill for scuba divers is to be below the surface with a baitball.

 

We normally stay at sea until mid afternoon depending on the activity and sea conditions.

We now return to Umkomaas and enjoy a second day diving on Aliwal Shoal. You have the choice of two reef dives with Ragged Tooth sharks or an optional baited shark dive followed by a single reef dive. During the Sardine Run, any number of species of shark may be seen. The fantastic 2018 Sardine Run we had Tiger sharks, Great Whites, Oceanic Blacktip, Copper sharks as well as Orca.

French TV documentary of our Sardine Run 2018 Click

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