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The ocean

The Sardine Run, South Africa

Who Are We?

We are a San Francisco-based travel agency that works with the best local companies in South Africa to offer top-notch tours for the annual Sardine Run.

From April to July, the cool Benguela current moves up the east coast of South Africa, resulting in the migration of millions of sardines. The sardines, in turn, provide an abundant food source for game fish, sea birds, whales, dolphins, sharks, etc. The phenomenon as a whole is known as the world-famous "Sardine Run." Note, however, that this is a natural phenomenon, caused by the movement of currents and certain weather patterns. Therefore it's important to know that we cannot guarantee sardines. There are, however, regular close-up encounters with sharks, dolphins, whales and sea birds, which makes this a once-in-a-lifetime experience regardless. 
 
This website is dedicated to educating potential and current clients about the Sardine Run and how our tours operate. We focus on small groups and work with very experienced skippers and guides. And when it's time to get off the boat, we believe we've found the best accommodation in Port St. Johns, all in an effort to create the very best tour we can.
 
Each of our tours only takes four clients plus a tour leader, skipper, and dive guide. A small group is ideal for this type of tour because when we get a baitball, we can stay together. This, in turn, helps keep the baitball going longer.
 
The Sardine Run is an amazing experience — there is nothing quite like it. But we want to be honest about what the adventure entails. Most of the Sardine Run is done on snorkel; only when we find a static baitball do we get in the water on scuba. Water temperatures can range from only 43 F (6 C) in the morning to close to 68 F (20 C) in the afternoon. The water is cold, yes, but we want it to be cold, because the sardines and other baitfish run in cooler water tempertures. Ideally we hope for temperatures of around 61 F (16 C) because water warmer than that means a lower chance of seeing baitballs. 
 
Seeing an iconic sardine baitball in crystal-clear conditions with dolphins, sharks, whales and sea birds in a feeding frenzy is, in fact, quite rare. Film crews spend weeks out at sea over the course of a few years in search of the perfect baitball to get the footage regularly seen on television. After more than 20 years experiencing the Sardine Run, we can honestly say that you realistically have a 30-40 percent chance of experiencing this phenomenon.
 

 

Key benefits

  • Small groups: We take a maximum of four cleints. Other boats will carry up to 10 people, which can become an issue if you get a baitball. It's best to work with a small group in an effort to not break up a precious bait ball.

  • Best operators: our crew has over 20 years experince launching out of Port St. Johns).  

  • Best boats: The zodiacs we use are some of the fatest ones on the water and we keep them in great condition throughout the year. You won't see better options.

You Must Watch Our Video!

Where is Port St. Johns, South Africa?


FAQ

WHAT'S INCLUDED?
  • Scheduled airport transfer (approximately 2-hour drive from Mthatha)
  • 8 nights accommodation
  • Breakfast & packed lunches
  • 7 sea days (weather permitting)
  • 26-foot (8 m) semi-rigid dive boat (SAMSA licensed up to 40 miles offshore)
  • Tank hire and weight belts
  • Air fills
  • Experienced skipper & guide
  •  
WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED?
  • All dinners
  • Flights
  • Trip insurance
  • DAN insurance
  • Drinks 
WHAT GEAR SHOULD I BRING?

Our tours are suited for people who have a passion for the ocean and have spent time on dive boats or out at sea. The weather can be cold. We adivse the following:

  • Dive gear
  • 7 mm wetsuit
  • Hood
  • Snorkel
  • Mask and fins
  • Boat jacket to keep you warm during the day
  • Beanie 
  • Sunglasses
  • Dry bag
  • Camera equipment

Please ask us if you have any further questions.

FAQ

Group Size

We take four clients MAX plus a tour leader (Nadia Aly), skipper and dive guide

Experience

You should have good diving experience and skills as we need to work together as a team. These trips are not suitable for new divers.

If you have any questions or concerns, reach out to us on our contact page and we'll be happy to answer any questions.

Photo & Video Advice

All tours are led by Nadia Aly who can advise all clients on photo and video techniques, as well as post-production processes. 

Your Tour Organizer: Nadia Aly

Nadia travels around the world, writing stories and shooting video and still images for scuba divers and ocean enthusiasts. She leads over 20 expeditions a year, sharing some of her best experiences with those who are keen. Nadia is also an accomplished underwater photographer.