The sardine run in South Africa is the marine equivalent (in biomass) of the wildebeest migration of the Serengeti. It has featured in an Emmy Award winning BBC film (and since been called) “The greatest shoal on earth”. The run occurs from May to July when millions of sardines (the Southern African pilchard, Sardinops Sagax) spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank and move northward along the east coast of South Africa. During this “migration” these animals fall prey to vast amounts of marine predators including seabirds (especially gannets), sharks, game fish and marine mammals.
This is your chance to see thousands of dolphins separating groups of sardines into bait balls and driving them to the surface. While they take their pickings from underneath along with sharks and whales, the Cape gannets launch their aerial attacks in astonishing dives of up to 10m / 33ft to feed on the fish.
This marine spectacular happens pretty close to the actual latitude 31° south, and you are travelling in one of our favourite areas – the Eastern Cape and Wild Coast. Also still heartwarmingly referred to as the Transkei, this area was an independent country surrounded by the borders of South Africa until 27 April 1994 when it became part of the Eastern Cape in the Republic of South Africa. This is Nelson Mandela country and he was born not to far away from Port St Johns, in Mvezo near Mthatha. It is a surreal area and people here might warn you about “pondo fever” – it’s the ‘condition’ of those who show up, expecting to stay a few days and end up staying for months or years. You’ll know why they stay once you enjoy a sundowner on Mount Thesiger, overlooking the Umzimvubu River. Maybe you’ll understand it when you take a walk through the village or to the ‘gap’ and the blow-hole on Second Beach as you experience this part of the ‘Wild Coast’ and more of the raw beauty of the Indian Ocean.
Upcoming trip dates:
|Choose your dates between 11 June and 4 August, 2023.|
Trip direction: Fly to Mthatha, transfer to Port St Johns and return.
Sardine Run on the Wild Coast at Port St Johns, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Shorter or extended tours available. Please contact us for more info.
|Please note that a single supplement of ZAR 2,700 will be added if you prefer your own room. This will bring your total amount to ZAR 53,302|
Included in trip prices:
A typical day on the sardine run ocean safari trip
Our daily outings on the ocean last for approximately six to eight hours depending on sea conditions and the amount of activity in the water. The action can be fast and furious. In conjunction with variable sea conditions, long boat rides and the whole day out at sea, outings can prove strenuous. It is recommended that clients be relatively fit.
Departure time is usually between 7:00 and 8:00 and return time depends on the action on the day. Our boats are usually the last return each day, giving our clients a full day out at sea, capitalizing on whatever nature has to offer.
Our boats head out from the Umzimvubu River, and after a highly exciting African surf launch, our crew will start looking for the action. From whales, dolphins and ocean birds to the little silver sardines and bait balls. Our skippers will be in touch with our “eye in the sky” gyrocopter pilot for an update on sightings. Sardine activity is usually pinpointed by the sighting of flocks of cape gannets or large pods of common dolphin activity. Our communication with other networks is vast and includes the Natal Sharks Board members that conduct regular flights further afield. Our local knowledge of “hiding” places also comes into play and all avenues are explored to find you the best action.
Once action is located, our experienced crew will determine whether this action is fast moving, necessitating snorkel viewing, or more static, whereby we can go straight onto scuba equipment for those wishing to use scuba. Snorkelers, divers and boat passengers will experience the action first hand. This ensures an exciting day out for everyone, on board or in the water, with the extraordinary spectacular nature brings with her.
Boat Trips Enjoy a sunset booze cruise on the mighty Umzimvubu river.
Whale Watching Get close and personal and experience these gentle ocean giants during the sardine run.
Guided Walks and Hikes There are beautiful walks and hikes you can explore. River mouths, mountain trails, romantic walks on white sand beaches… the list goes on.
Traditional Village Tours Experience a way of life far removed from yours by roaming the hills with a guide. He’ll introduce you to his home village where you can also sample the local food. This is a great way to learn more about one of the 11 different cultures that make up South Africa’s rainbow nation.