The “Sardine Run” that happens every year between May and July on the East coast of South Africa is an extraordinary event that should not be missed. Billions of Sardines migrate from the Agulhas banks up along the East coast. The Sardine Run starts when the cold current runs from Agulhas towards Mozambique and then deeper into the Indian Ocean. Scroll down for more details and bookings.
The “Sardine Run” that happens every year between May and July on the East coast of South Africa is an extraordinary marine wildlife event that should not be missed.
Billions of sardines migrate from the Agulhas banks up along the East coast following a cool counter-current which flows from west to east against the mighty Aghulas current, one of the worlds strongest currents. The fish follow this counter-current up to KwaZulu Natal where they spawn.
In terms of biomass it is believed the sardine run could rival the East African wildebeest migration. Dolphins, sharks, seabirds and even whales partake in the event and work together to round up the Sardines and have a feast. It is believed that 18000-20000 common dolphins follow the sardines up the coast and are then joined by the sharks and gannets to round up the sardines and hunt together.
The shoals of sardines have been known to be as large as 7 km long and up to 1.5 km wide, and can be seen from airplanes or in some cases from the surface. Many of the world’s top marine biologists, wildlife photographers and filmmakers consider this the most intense wildlife event in the world.
This time of the year the Humpback whales migrate up the coast and they can be spotted daily, moving in pairs or small family groups. Southern Right whales can also be seen occasionally, but it is the Brydes whales that really get involved with the sardines and its an incredible spectacle to witness a lunging Brydes whale destroying a baitball in a single mouthfull.
We base ourselves in Cintsa near East London and launch our boats directly off the beach there, sea conditions permitting. On bigger swells, we divert to the East London harbour which allows a safe launch in almost any sea conditions.
Cintsa is a beautiful location and gives us an effective range of Hamburg in the West to Morgans Bay in the East, some 100km of Wild Coast coastline. Our hosts at Buccaneer's Lodge ensure that our guests are comfortable in well-equipped suites a short stroll from the pristine beach where each days activities start shortly after sunrise. Meals are generous – full English breakfasts with lots of fresh fruit, excellent packed lunches for the day at sea and themed dinners with starters and desserts.
Arrive at East London Airport on Sunday afternoon where you will be met and transferred to Buccaneers Lodge on the first day of your trip. We have a full briefing in the evening, where we can sort out equipment and camera issues.
Five days at sea and one rest day.
Please Note: Diving on bait balls is rare. The sardine sun relies on the coming together of many different variables: weather and currents, predators and of course, the sardines! Some days are going to be quiet and some days will be very busy. We will do our utmost to get you into the best position to appreciate this event, either from the boat or in the water.
0630 – Breakfast overlooking the stunning Cinsta valley
0700 – Kit up and walk down to Cintsa beach
0730 – Launch boats just before sunrise
0730 to 15:00 – We spend the day on the water searching for visible signs of sardines which includes bird action and bird diving. During the quiet periods, we'll scuba and/or snorkel with dolphins and whales.
1500 – return to beach at Cintsa
1600 – Late afternoon and evening at leisure.
1900 – Delicious theme dinner.
Dive Certification Card
Towel and drybag for the boat
Warm waterproof jacket, beanie and sunhat
Sunblock and personal medications (such as seasickness tablets)
Cameras (topside and underwater)
Own dive equipment, other than cylinders and weight-belts
Shared accommodation for seven nights on a full-board basis.
Five days at sea.
One rest day.
We supply cylinders and weights and additional equipment rental is extra.
Single supplementary is available on request.
Activities on non diving days will be arranged.
Dive equipment other than cylinders and weight-belts (but can be rented).