Expedition: The Sardine Run
Location: East London – South Africa
Date: 21 – 27 May 2017 or 11 –17 June 2017
Cost: 2300 USD (sharing), 2500 USD (single)
Maximum Guests: 8
The Sardine Run
- The South African Sardine Run is recognized as one of the world’s most spectacular marine events. Annually, during May, June and July, vast shoals of sardines migrate from their temperate-water home off South Africa’s southern coast and travel north-east into the sub-tropical coastal waters of the Wild Coast. Following the shoals is an unparalleled concentration of marine predators including seabirds; sharks; game fish and marine mammals.
When predators meet prey, a feeding event of unmatched proportions begins. Thousands of common dolphins charge after the shoals, separating them into densely packed bait balls and driving them to the surface. Watched by the omnipresent Cape gannets, an aerial assault on the sardines occurs when tens of thousands of gannets begin their spectacular plunge diving displays. Below the birds, the bait balls are easy pickings not only for dolphins, but also for shivers of bronze-whaler, dusky and blacktip sharks. The final player, is the behemoth Bryde’s whale. Its huge mouth can decimate an entire bait ball in a single lunge.
Annually, I guide expeditions to chase the Sardine Run. If you are interested in joining me, then contact me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- What you will see– The sardine run comprises massive shoals of South Africa’s bait fish, including the sardine, anchovy, massbanker, redeye amongst others. But it is the predators that are drawn to these shoals that really impress. Fellow adventurers will see common dolphins, dusky sharks, blacktip sharks, brydes whales, gape gannets, Cape fur seals and much much more.
- Expert wildlife guides– I will be guiding the expedition, and our skipper and support crew will be supplied by the ‘Blue Wilderness’ team, the company that pioneered the sardine run adventure here in South Africa.
- Accommodation– We will be staying in the wonderful eco lodge of Santa Paloma on the outskirts of East London. The lodge is situated in a small game reserve and we will wake up to grazing zebra, wilderbeest, blesbuck each morning. The lodge runs on permaculture ideology and as such- is in my opinion, perfect for those of us interested in conservation and the environment, and reducing our ‘footprint’ as much as we can.
- Food– As you will be travelling in the winter, local food will consist of plenty of hot healthy organic food supplied by Santa Paloma. On the boat, we will have light lunches and lots of snacks to get us through the long hours at sea.
- Fitness Level Requirements–This tour is for people who have experience on the ocean, or have a good level of fitness. On most days we will spend between 6 and 8 hours on the sea. This can be draining and demanding on your body. Whilst SCUBA diving qualifications are not essential, a giant stable bait ball is best viewed from SCUBA.
- Photography – Although you do not have to be a photographer to join me….photographers of all levels love doing this trip with me as they receive one-to-one instruction on an informal basis and find that helpful. If you aren’t into underwater images then here is plenty of incredible topside action to capture. For photographers who aren’t experienced in underwater photography, I suggest sticking to filming with a GoPro or similar as the sardine run is not an ideal place to start learning about dSLR photography.
- Cost For the seven day expedition, including food and accommodation; transfers and 5 full days at sea and one reserve day on safari, the cost is 2300 USD per person sharing, or 2500 USD per person single
View some of my photos from the past two years for you to enjoy and to get a feel for what to expect. My 2016 video is being processed and will be uploaded when ready.