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Sardine Run, page 1

Special Diving Expedition: Sardine Run
June & July 2016 Only
An Incredible Adventure Off
South Africa's Wild Coast

Videos | Photos | Location | More Info

Sardine Run South Africa Sardine Run South Africa Sardine Run South Africa
  click to enlarge photos  
Price: $4,295 per person sharing accommodations
Adventure Includes:
  • Transfers to and from Durban International Airport and activity location.
  • Full-time expedition guide
  • Seven full days “on the Run” from 0700 to 1400, weather permitting
  • Full board—breakfast, supper & light lunch on the boat
  • Luxury beachfront accommodation (sharing)
  • Dedicated Microlite aircraft with VHF radio to put our SEAL-Team into the action
  • Microlite flight - see the action from the air (weather dependent)
  • Full range of alternate activities—adventuring the magnificent Wildcoast
Not included:
  • Price does not include air travel to and from South Africa, wetsuit, mask, fins, specialized dive gear or alcohol.

The Sardine Run - Questions & Answers

When does it happen?
The Sardine Run is a natural phenomenon and as such, is subject to its own timetable and agenda. The run generally begins toward the end of May and can extend into late July, though the movements of the shoals are virtually impossible to forecast. We dive over the period which historically falls in the middle of the run.

Nic from SEAL Expeditions
Join Nic for an
incredible diving adventure

How do we find the action?
Normally, the activity of the sea birds is a dead giveaway, but if the shoals are far out to sea we use the services of a microlight aircraft. As soon as the pilot spots the sardines he communicates with the boats and guides them to the shoals of fish. We get additional information from the Natal Sharks Board boats and other boats in the area to view this spectacle.

What dive certification is necessary?
The Sardine Run is open to divers and non-divers. The activity as a whole is considered to be strenuous. There is no hospital nearby so you should be in very good health. The trip can be summed up like this: big sharks, no bottom diving, deep blue type diving, dirty water, multiple ascents and strenuous boat trips.

Non-diving guests are welcome to join the trip (snorkling is an option) and ride on the boat to witness the surface activity but must understand the boat is a "duck" and does not have toilet facilities or any shade. The cost for a non-diver is the same.

"12 days in South Africa with Nic was a really great experience not to forget. We spent a great time diving and sightseeing all around the coast. Nic, we didn't expect that kind of service, you put everything in it to give us a great time. We will meet again, Thanks, Bru"
~ Roland & Rosie Juvyns (Brussels)

What is the diving like?
We launch the boat at approx 06h30. As soon as the sun is up the microlight takes off and flies up and down the coast looking for the telltale signs of the shoal. Because we are looking for activity that is moving, we spend most of the day at sea. When we find activity - sardines, whales, dolphins, sharks, etc. - a decision is made as to whether snorkeling or diving is most appropriate for the particular opportunity. Often the action is quite far out to sea and in deep waters, where it is not possible to drop down to the ocean floor. As a result, most dives are done in mid-water, as the bottom is often far too deep for sport divers.

Dives on average are of a fairly short duration as the action moves past quite quickly. Often it is a matter of being in the water for 5 or 10 minutes and then quickly back on the boat to follow the activity and then jump in again. The activity, as a whole, is considered strenuous. When it’s determined it’s best to snorkel, divers are dropped in front of the "activity" and wait on the surface for the activity to reach and pass them. The emphasis of the trip is on the surface activity and being right in the action with all the sardines, dolphins, sharks, birds etc. This adventure isn’t for the faint hearted!

What is the water like?
Water temperatures are around 19 degrees and 21 degrees C. (66 to 70 degrees F) The "Run" takes place during South Africa’s winter which is dry season. Theoretically, this means there’s little runoff from rivers so the water should provide good visibility. In reality, because the sardines and their prey can really churn up the water, visibility can be anything from 5 meters (15 ft) to 20 meters-plus (60 ft).

What kind of boat do we use?
We will be using eight meter "rubber ducks" (Zodiacs or similar), each accommodating 6 - 8 divers. Each boat is licensed with the Department of Transport and has a fully qualified shipper and dive master on board. There is oxygen, a DAN First Aid Kit and communications with shore via ship-to-shore radio and cellular phone.

What dive equipment is needed?
Due to the extreme nature of the Sardine Run and in order for your comfort and ease in the water, we recommend bringing your own dive gear. Gear and equipment is available for rental in Durban and Johannesburg but then you run the risk of being in the middle of one of the greatest dive adventures of all time and having equipment that’s not working perfectly for you.

Where do we stay? What about meals?
You’ll stay at the Mbotyi River Lodge. Meals at the Lodge are included. If we launch before the dining room opens, we’ll be provided boxed breakfasts we can eat on the boat. Mbotyi is a very remote spot on the Transkei coast. Two divers share a room. (Alcohol is not included.)
Mbotyi River Lodge, South Africa

What else is there to do in Mbotyi?
If weather prevents taking the boat out, don’t worry. You’ll still have a fun day. Here are some of the activities available:

  • Take a microlight flight: See the endless shoals from the air
  • Visit an authentic traditional medicine man
  • Ride horses in the hills and forests around the hotel
  • Hike to the magnificent falls overlooking the area where the sardines mass
  • Hike to Mugwa Falls
  • Hike in Mboyti Forest, the largest indigenous coastal forest in South Africa.
Sardine Run South Africa Sardine Run South Africa Sardine Run South Africa
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