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Sardine Run 2020 – South Africa – Earths largest migration - 6 Days

Gannet, dolphins, sardine run

The Sardine Run

Once a year the largest migration on earth – the Sardine Run – occurs along South Africa’s wild East Coast. The mass migration of sardines draws an unprecedented crowd of predators, dolphins, sharks, sea birds and even hump back whales.

One week of maximum epic

Following our first visit to Port St.Johns last year, we are heading back in July 2020 to witness the amazing journey of millions of sardines as they race along the coast.  Working together with Offshore Africa we aim to be on the water for 6 days with 8 nights accommodation at the beautiful Port St.Johns River Lodge.

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Right place, right time, right people

Planned dates for this expedition are 18th-26th July 2020.  We’ll start in the Port St.Johns River Lodge, on the banks of the Mzimvubu river and ringed by high cliff faces and wilderness.  The Lodge is a perfect base for our adventure, with an on site bar and restaurant (buffet breakfast included, a la carte dinner available), extremely comfortable rooms and lodges, and facilities for divers such as a drying room for personal equipment.

Offshore Africa

Nomadic Scuba prides itself on selecting the best operators especially for remote diving destinations.  Offshore Africa are the only company to be based in Port St.Johns all year round and are also the only company to provide air support during the Sardine Run.  The Offshore Africa team are THE professionals to dive with during the sardine run; their local knowledge, experience on the water, aerial cover and hospitality is second to none.  The globally recognised Behind the Mask team have just spent a month filming with Offshore Africa and we eagerly anticipate a production that will blow our minds away.  Follow this link for a short clip of what they filmed while on location – Out of the sky.

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What’s it like?

It’s epic, its crazy, its a TV documentary in full HD on steroids! 

Reflecting on last year, our initial experience was as follows: we set off in the rubber duck (hard based inflatable boat) and cruised out of the estuary to meet the surf.  We donned life jackets, our expert skipper manoeuvred us through the surf, and we tracked along the coastline with 6 hours of discovery ahead of us.  Within 20 minutes we were in the water with a super pod of dolphins, to the deafening and incredible sound of their chatter! Whales echoed in the distance and then it happened – through the aqua green water, the spinner dolphins and then a black mass loomed the humpback whale.  That was day one!

A true adventure

Ok, it is cold water.  7mm wet suits are advisable, it is cold in the morning but as the sun comes up it warms us up too.  A long day on the boat and all too often you start to day dream of a hot shower and a beer and then just as you start thinking of heading back to the lodge….BOOM, it goes off!  Jump in with full dive gear or mask and snorkel – the skipper will advise which is most appropriate and it’s best to listen to him.  We often ditched the tanks for the snorkel, grabbed the camera and fins and slipped in quietly to be greeted (again) by whales and dolphins.  The cycle continues, the days are long, the packed lunch, coffee and snacks are always welcome but more importantly the experience is mind blowing.

When silence speaks louder than words

We shared something truly magical out on the water, at times we all fell into silence from the sheer wonder of it all, other times we couldn’t help but chuckle when it was someone else’s turn to be lost for words.  Fair to say that the explosion of creatures, the organised chaos, witnessing the feeding system of dolphins then sharks then whales punctuated by dive bombing gannets was both ovewhelming and unforgettable.

Aerial support – Is it important?

The short answer is, yes!

The Sardine Run is not a given everyday; with such an expanse of water and lengthy coastline it’s difficult to be in the right spot.  Some days are quiet, others are not, the weather can be against us, nature can be unpredictable after all.  Offshore Africa does it right, they have their own light aircraft and pilot to guide us to wherever the action is.

Reservations

Each rubber duck has space for 7 guests, along with the skipper, dive guide and yours truly.   The Sardine Run books up fast which I think will especially be the case once the Behind the Mask team releases their 2019 footage.  As such, our best advice is to reserve your place now!

Get in touch to make a reservation, pay nothing now, once confirmed then a 30% deposit is required.

Additional Adventure

We are currently discussing options for bolting on a Safari expedition to the week-long Sardine Run, possibly Kruger National Park.  If this is of interest then please let us know when making your reservation.

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  • Early sale price during August 2019
  • 8 nights accommodation – bed & breakfast
  • 6 days on the sea
  • Maximum 8 guests per boat
  • Best air travel route – Johannesburg to Mthatha airport
  • Airport transfer to be arranged at additional cost
  • Cold water diving – boat coat is advisable
  • Dive equipment available for rent onsite (prior booking required)
  • Does not include dive or travel insurance

Day 1
Meet at Mthatha airport & transfer to River Lodge

Transfer to River Lodge takes approximately 2 hours. We will arrange a collection time at the airport. The additional cost is dependent on the number of guests requiring transfers. Private transfers can also be arranged.

Day 2
Sardine Run

Following breakfast we will be collected by Offshore Africa at the River lodge jetty at 0745 to head out along the coast. Return to land will be dependent on weather, sea conditions and the group. Normal return will be no later than 4pm.

Day 3
Sardine Run

Following breakfast we will be collected by Offshore Africa at the River lodge jetty at 0745 to head out along the coast. Return to land will be dependent on weather, sea conditions and the group. Normal return will be no later than 4pm.

Day 4
Sardine Run

Following breakfast we will be collected by Offshore Africa at the River lodge jetty at 0745 to head out along the coast. Return to land will be dependent on weather, sea conditions and the group. Normal return will be no later than 4pm.

Day 5
Sardine Run

Following breakfast we will be collected by Offshore Africa at the River lodge jetty at 0745 to head out along the coast. Return to land will be dependent on weather, sea conditions and the group. Normal return will be no later than 4pm.

Day 6
Sardine Run

Following breakfast we will be collected by Offshore Africa at the River lodge jetty at 0745 to head out along the coast. Return to land will be dependent on weather, sea conditions and the group. Normal return will be no later than 4pm.

Day 7
Sardine Run

Following breakfast we will be collected by Offshore Africa at the River lodge jetty at 0745 to head out along the coast. Return to land will be dependent on weather, sea conditions and the group. Normal return will be no later than 4pm.

Day 8
Check out and transfers

Checking out from River Lodge and departing for either onward travel within Africa or return to Mthatha airport.

August early price USD 2550

  • EXCLUSIVE aerial support
  • Wifi
  • Drying rooms
  • Hot showers at the jetty
  • En-suite accommodation
  • Twin, double, triple & quad combinations available
  • Bed & breakfast
  • Swimming pool
  • Bar
  • Dive permit
  • Small dive group
  • Lunch on the boat

Price excludes

  • Airfares
  • Dive or travel insurance (we can arrange)
  • Airport transfers (we can arrange)
  • Evening meals
  • Dive equipment hire
  • Boat coats or hats
  • Alcohol or bar purchases
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FAQ's

How rough is the sea on the Sardine Run

Well, it is all down to mother nature, you must be comfortable and not suffer easily from motion sickness. The days are quite long, some can be very flat but then with swell and tidal movement it can get pretty choppy sometimes with water spraying up as we move.

Are we guaranteed to see the Sardines?

No, nothing is guaranteed in nature. The best we can do is be in the right place, at the right time, with the right people to maximize our opportunities.

What if the sea is too rough?

Safety is always the number one factor. As such, if the Offshore Africa team decide that a weather front is unsafe then we will not be venturing out until it has passed.

I've heard that its not much diving, more snorkeling.

Correct, we would say that it is 705 snorkeling and 30% diving. We also believe this to be the best ratio too. most of the action occurs near the surface and you can be in and out of the boat quite a lot so snorkeling is best at those times. You will agree with us once you’ve had your first day on the trip.

Do I need special dive insurance?

We would always advise our customers to have personal travel and dive insurance. If you need dive insurance please ask as we do have an account with Dive Assure.

Can I pay with card at the Lodge?

Yes you can. Any tabs at the bar can also be placed against your room.

Price From USD 2,650 USD $ 2,550/person
2550
Total $ 2,550 USD

Trip Facts

  • Advanced open water diver, comfortable in deep open water.
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