Africa - Specials - South Africa Sardine Run Adventure

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Mbotyi River Lodge

Mbotyi room

Seal run shark feeding

Seal hike

Seal falls

Seal sardine run seal

South Africa Sardine Run Adventure


The Sardine Run Expedition is a unique wildlife encounter, following the annual Sardine migration along South Africa’s beautifully rugged coastline. Typically, the annual migration of the Sardines from their beginnings in the Southern Cape to being sighted off shore on South Africa’s Wild Coast starts in June each year.  As the shoals of Sardines move north wards up the coast the size of the Sardines shoals tend to grow, ultimately forming the ‘greatest shoal on earth’ . This amazing journey attracts a multitude of predators that track and follow the Sardines migration, exploiting this localized and abundant food source. It is hard to describe the excitement of the Dolphins, numerous bird species, Whales, Cape Fur Seals and Sharks as they ‘hunt’ the Sardines.  You can actually hear the excited squeals of the thousands of Common and Bottlenose Dolphins as they travel in large breaching waves to pursue their prey, long before you see them.  Attracted by the Sardines, game fish such as Shad and Garrick pursue the Sardine Shoals and provide another food source for the Dolphins. Contributing to the noise and surface action are the birds, Cape Gannets, Albatross (yellow nose and black browed), Terns and Petrels, diving into the shoals of Sardines from a great height.  Humpback Southern Right and Brydes Whales can also be seen in pursuit of this moving feast. 


Below the surface the action continues with the Sharks (Copper, Dusky, Blacktip, Whitetip, Bronze Whalers and Zambei) feasting on the Sardines and other marine life.  The Cape Fur seals actually sleep with one eye open, ready to react should they see a large shark in their vicinity.


The Dolphins and Sharks look for opportunities to herd the Sardines into balls, this is the Sardines natural reaction to feeling threatened as they perceive there to be safety in numbers. These ‘bait balls’ vary in size and frequency, with the action on some of the larger ones lasting hours.


After several weeks of migrating northwards, the sardines swim out to sea and are carried along the inner edge of the Agulhas current back to the southern Cape to spawn. It must be mentioned at this point that the Sardine Run is a natural phenomenon; therefore the exact timing cannot be predicted.  Typically the best times to see the ‘run’ is June to July. 


We spot the shoals of sardines by the telltale signs of Dolphins splashing at the surface or by flocks of birds diving into the water. From Mpame we are also able to use the elevated hills to look for miles to see the activity. We position the boat slightly in front of the action so that by the time you have entered the water the marine activity has drifted to your position in the water. From our experience we would recommend that the majority of your time in the water be spent on snorkel as this will give you the speed and flexibility to enter and exit the water easily and therefore not miss out on the fast moving action. If we do encounter activity that is of sufficient size you will have the opportunity to enter the water on scuba. 


As the vast majority of your in water activity can be conducted with ease on snorkel this makes the Sardine Run an accessible and exciting marine expedition for non-divers and divers alike. As long as you are comfortable snorkeling you will not miss out on the action. This makes it a great adventure for the whole family. 


Packages for set departure dates: 21st June 2017 to 15 July 2017



Sea Days:       



21st June

22 to 26 June

27th June

27th June

28 to 2 July

3rd July

3rd July

4 to 8 July

9th July

9th July

10 to 14 July

15th July

*Arrival and departure days will be non – sea days.



Double occupancy: $1775 per person

Single occupancy: $2070

We also offer a shorter 4 Night, 3 Day package -  Please note that this has to be taken within the dates of the 6 Night, 5 Days package upon request


Included in the package:

  • 5 Days of diving/snorkeling/boat based viewing. {Duration of time spent out at sea is determined by activity and weather}
  • 6 night’s accommodation, dinner, bed and breakfast at the Spotted Grunter resort, situated on the banks of the mighty Umzimvubu river.
  • Lunch pack and refreshments for boat trip
  • Cylinder and air fill
  • Weights and weight belt
  • Boat fuel included
  • Experienced and qualified team of skipper and dive guide/ boat guide
  • Shared aerial information

Exclusions in the package:

  • Flights & taxes
  • Passports & visas
  • Personal insurance
  • Lunch
  • Drinks
  • Equipment hire of:  BCD, Regulator, Wetsuit, Mask & Fins. We have a full range available should you require any gear. Kindly notify us up front to secure your equipment needs
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Gratuities
  • Transfers are included for groups of 6 or more, but only applicable to the 6 Night 5 Day package.
  • In all other cases we can arrange transfers to and from Port St Johns, on your behalf, if required. Kindly contact us for details and costs.

Space is highly limited!

Contact us to tailor your perfect Africa Adventure!

Rates subject to change without notice



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