The Sardine Run Expedition is an awe-inspiring wildlife event that should not be missed. This annual migration sees millions of sardines journeying along South Africa’s rugged coastline, starting from the Southern Cape and concluding on the Wild Coast between May and July. As the sardine shoals travel northwards, their numbers increase, eventually forming the largest shoal on earth.
Witnessing the Sardine Run is a unique experience, with thousands of dolphins, birds, fish of prey, whales, and sharks closely following the shoals. As the ocean comes alive, the thrill is indescribable. This remarkable event is a true wonder of nature and a must-see for any wildlife enthusiast. Don’t miss your chance to witness this awe-inspiring migration of the sardines.
Beneath the surface, the Sharks, including Copper, Dusky, Blacktip, Whitetip, Bronze Whalers, and Zambei, feast on the Sardines and other marine life. Even the Cape Fur seals are alert and ready to react if they see a large shark in their vicinity. The Dolphins and Sharks work together to herd the Sardines into balls, the Sardines’ natural reaction to feeling threatened, as they perceive safety in numbers. These “bait balls” vary in size and frequency, with the action on some of the larger ones lasting for hours.
June to July is typically the best time to witness the Sardine Run. We locate the shoals of Sardines by the telltale signs of Dolphins splashing at the surface or by flocks of birds diving into the water. Our elevated hills also provide us with a vantage point to see the activity for miles. We position the boat slightly in front of the action, so by the time you enter the water, the marine activity has drifted to your position. We recommend spending the majority of your time in the water on snorkel, as it gives you the speed and flexibility to enter and exit the water easily and not miss out on the fast-moving action. However, if we encounter activity of sufficient size, you will have the opportunity to enter the water on scuba.
The Sardine Run is an accessible and exhilarating marine expedition for non-divers and divers alike. As long as you are comfortable snorkeling, you won’t miss out on the action. We use 8m RIBs that are nimble and robust enough to handle the typical surf launches we encounter due to the structure of our coastlines. The boats are equipped with storage for cameras. However, we recommend only using camera equipment with waterproof housing or water-resistant covers due to the open nature of the boat. It’s a fantastic adventure for the entire family
Join us for an unforgettable Sardine Run adventure at Wavecrest in the Eastern Cape! Our newly renovated en-suite double/twin and triple rooms provide full board accommodation, and we recommend flying into East London Airport (2-hour transfer time from Durban) for easy access.
From Day 2 to 7, after a light breakfast, we’ll launch the boat and set off for a day of spotting the sardine run “action” at sea. Typically, we spend our days from 8:30 am until 3 pm searching for sardines, with packed lunches and hot and cold drinks served on board. When we spot sardines, we decide whether to snorkel or scuba dive based on their movement speed. Lunch is served when we get back to shore, followed by relaxing downtime and a full dinner with a changing daily menu.
Our surf launch, long boat rides, and extensive time at sea require a moderate level of fitness for participation. We suggest ensuring your fitness level before joining us. On quieter days, we offer scuba diving at some of the region’s top dive sites.
On Day 8, after breakfast, you can continue your South African adventure or head home. For those who want to extend their trip, we offer additional packages to Aliwal Shoal or one of South Africa’s famous Big 5 game parks. Book now for an exceptional, nature-focused experience at Wavecrest.
Scuba Dive Adventures’ Sardine Run expedition is based in the hidden gem of Wavecrest, nestled in the heart of the Eastern Cape. Our location provides unrivaled access to the local marine action, with a short stroll from the lodge to the sea shore where you can easily hop on board our boat and begin your day’s adventure. Unlike other boats based in the main hub for the Sardine Run, we are the only boats in the area following the Sardines. This means that you get exclusive access to all the action we find, without having to share with other boats.
Wavecrest Lodge is the perfect place to unwind after a day at sea. It has a bar area, TV room, snooker room, spa, tennis and squash courts, swimming pool, and many other activities. The deck looks straight down the bay to the ocean, offering breathtaking views. All the rooms are en-suite, and we offer family room options too. While the lodge is rural and cell phone signal is intermittent, it has WiFi. The rustic nature of the lodge and its location add to the feeling of connection to nature and the sea, making it an ideal place to experience the Sardine Run away from the madding crowds. You can’t help but sit back, relax, and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.
Experience an unforgettable Scuba Adventure with Scuba Dive Adventures!
Prices are per person, based on double occupancy.
The package includes 7 nights full board accommodation in the Wave Crest Hotel, internal transfers, all diving, single 12lt cylinder, lead weights, tea, coffee and water.
Please note that international flights, Internal flights, non-specified activities, and tips/gratuities are not included. Single supplement available at an additional cost.
Please be advised that all activities and launch times are subject to change due to local environmental conditions, and the order in which they are conducted may also change.
For more information or to book this fabulous Scuba Adventure, please contact the Scuba Dive Adventures team at 0113 4508606 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The African sardine migration is a spectacular sight to behold, with massive shoals reaching up to 15km (9 miles) in length, 3.5km (2 miles) in width, and 130ft (40m) in depth. The enormity of the sardine run is such that it can even be seen from space. As millions of sardines gather, they become a target for predators.
Leading the pack are pods of common dolphins, skilled at rounding up the bait balls. Following them are a variety of sharks, including bronze whaler, dusky, grey nurse, blacktip, spinner, and Zambezi. Large game fish, such as mackerel and tuna, come into view next, followed by Cape fur seals and birds, such as Cape gannets and penguins.
But the show doesn’t end there! The magnificent feast also attracts the attention of humpback whales and Bryde’s whales, who can’t resist the opportunity to indulge in these silvery snacks.
The Bryde’s whale is named after Johan Bryde, who helped build the first whaling factory in Durban, South Africa in 1909. They are the only baleen whale species living year-round in warmer waters near the equator and are frequently observed feeding on sardine bait balls during South Africa’s annual sardine run. These massive baleen whales can be intimidating to divers as they lunge-feed, and they have been known to approach boats. They have irregular breathing patterns and often blow four to seven thin, hazy spouts followed by a two-minute dive.
Despite having no ecological relationship to the sardine run, the Humpback whale is a favorite sight during the event. Humpbacks migrate annually from summer feeding grounds near the poles to warmer breeding waters closer to the Equator. They are known for their magical songs and often swim close to their young. They propel themselves through the water with their massive tail fins and frequently leap from the water, making a tremendous splash.