The Sardine-Run Expedition is a unique expedition exploring the annual sardine migration on South Africa's rugged Wild Coast. Sardine fever hits the Wild Coast sometime in June/July each year. The "run" or migration of sardines begins off the cool waters south of the African continent where they form into hundreds of large swirling shoals. The sardines then run north east into the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and mass into what wild-life film producer Peter Lamberti has dubbed "The Greatest Shoal on Earth".
What makes this such a spectacular show is not simply the gigantic waves of silvery sardines but the legions of predators that congregate en masse just off the east coast of South Africa in anticipation of the year's greatest feast. As a result the waters of the Wild Coast boil with sharks, dolphins, Cape Gannets, cormorants, seals, and even, on occasion, Orcas, albatross and penguins that have followed the Sardines thousands of kilometres from the southern ocean.
The Sardine Run also coincides with the annual migration of Humpback Whales that move north for the season into warmer water to mate and calve. The spectacular breaches of these leviathan's are a daily phenomenon and it just adds to an already dazzling wildlife extravaganza.
SCUBA DIVIVING THE SARDINE RUN
For the advanced scuba diver, this is indeed the greatest dive show on earth. The ultimate highlight is the "bait ball". This is when the sharks or dolphins or both corral a shoal of sardines into a tight ball, then dive into it in a frenzied attack to come away with mouthfuls of unfortunate sardines. However, this is often logistically difficult for the divers and boats to approach as the sardines are very elusive. Luckily the predators are not as bashful. Bronze Whaler Sharks, Common & Bottlenose Dolphins and dive-bombing Cape Gannets are literally everywhere all the time, so any dive is pure adrenaline.
SNORKELLING THE SARDINE RUN
For the non-diver the show is just as rewarding. Most of the action is seen from the boat and there are plenty opportunities to snorkel with dolphins, whales and, for the brave, sharks while being bombarded on all sides by Cape Gannets.
PHOTO & VIDEO
For the underwater photographer/videographer the "action" opportunities are amazing. To be in the middle of this incredible scene where predator and prey fight for their existence, is the ultimate dive. The fact that IMAX, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and dozens of other world renown TV stations, magazines and photographers flock to these waters is testament to the giant status of the sardine run.
On arrival at East London Airport, you will be collected by our representative. and transferred to the iNtaba River Lodge by road, which is approximately a four-hour scenic drive from the airport. At check-in you will be given an orientation of the following days' events, and informed on other activities on offer in and around Port St. Johns. Dinner & overnight at iNtaba River Lodge
Day 2 - 5
High energy adrenaline experience with the Greatest Shoal on Earth. The Semi-Rigid inflatable boat launches from the jetty in front of the lodge at around 7am depending on the tides. There is a short journey to the river mouth then a launch into the Indian Ocean and the action.
The morning excursion will be about 3 hours duration depending on the action. Drinks and snacks will be provided on board. The boat will return to the lodge for lunch then another afternoon launch in the afternoon. The marine action will include scuba diving, snorkeling and simply observing from the boat. There will be a qualified guide/divemaster and a skipper on board. Dinner is enjoyed at the lodge each evening. Overnight at iNtaba River Lodge.
Breakfast will be served at the lodge before check out and transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
Sardine Run Departure dates
- June 2007 11th-16th
- June 2007 18th-23rd
- June 2007 25th-30th
- July 2007 02nd-07th
- July 2007 09th-14th
- July 2007 16th-21st
- July 2007 23rd-28th
Cost: R13,995 per person sharing
Please note: This is a Marine Safari and due to the nature of marine animals we cannot guarantee all sightings.
SARDINE RUN Dive Package Includes:
- Return transfers from Umtata to iNtaba River Lodge
- 5 nights accommodation at iNtaba River Lodge on a FULL board basis
- • Full day excursions on boat (07h00 to 12h00 and 1400 to 1600) – weather permitting
- Snacks and refreshments while on the boat
- Air fills
- Dive Gear Hire
- Tourism Levies
Diving package excludes:
- All international and regional flights
- Drinks and meals not specified
- Medical insurance
- All Other activities
- All items of a personal nature
Nestled between towering cliffs and set in tropical gardens on the banks of the Umzimvubu River, iNtaba River Lodge is a small family resort offering a perfect mixture of Wild Coast hospitality and homely comfort.
Divers seeking a place to get in touch with nature can find it all here.
Accommodation at iNtaba River Lodge is in spacious and hugely comfortable cottage-style bungalows, each with it's own private bathroom and shower.
Each cottage is fully furnished and serviced.
We have the following facilities at iNtaba River Lodge:
- Swimming Pool with Sundeck
- 18 Seater Catamaran for river cruises & Bird watching.
- Canoes ( No extra Cost)
- Games Room with Pool Table , Table Tennis, DVD Corner, Board Games, Dart Board
- Mountain Bikes
- Jungle Gym
- Water Front Pub Hammocks
- A-La_Carte Restaurant offering grills, seafood and authentic Indian Curries
- Pub with Satellite TV
- Fishing and Boating - with Jetty
- Safe swimming beaches manned by Lifeguards
- Hiking - Numerous Trails are marked with all maps and routes available at the Lodge
- Mountain Biking - to explore the heart of Nature
- Bird Watching - Rare species found only in Port St.Johns
- Canoeing & Water Sports
- 4x4 Trails - For a glimpse of an unforgettably landscape.
- Photography - Stunning Sunsets and Sunrise's on our dramatic and unique landscape.
- Mount Thesiger Airstrip - Offers breathtaking aerial views of Port St.Johns
THE WILDCOAST ADDITIONAL INFO THE WILD COAST, situated in the far corner of South Africa's Eastern Province, is an undiscovered jewel where natural beauty and cultural heritage come together for a unique travel experience. This part of South Africa is also referred to as frontier country on account of the many wars fought by Europeans against the proud amaXhosa that inhabit the region. Historically the amaXhosa were cattle herders and subsistence farmers. Indeed little has changed along the wild coast as mud-hut homesteads and Nguni cattle still dot the rolling green hillsides between the mighty Drakensberg Mountains and the warm Indian Ocean. In recent times the region in and around the Wild Coast has produced a handful of great South African leaders like Oliver Tambo, the current president Thabo Mbeki and South Africa's greatest hero, Nelson Mandela.
Previously known during the apartheid times as the Transkei, the name has been replaced by the more descriptive "Wild Coast", a testament to the many ships wrecked off it's treacherous shore. During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries the early Portuguese explorers lost dozens of ships on the rocky cliffs of the Wild Coast as they sailed the strong trade winds back from the east. The survivors, often without any hope of ever making it back home, were assimilated into the Xhosa tribes leaving behind legendary tales and myths among that people that still linger today in the story-lines of the elderly. One such wreck, the St. Jao (or St. John), a Portuguese galleon laden with jewels and gold, was wrecked in the area. The main wreck was never found and the handful of survivors trekked 2000kms north enduring much hardship until they reached the small Portuguese outpost somewhere in present-day Mozambique where the last stragglers were picked up and sent home. The wreck however has since given its name to the small town of Port St Johns at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River. It is here where the log cabin hotel and Sardine Run launch site are situated at iNtaba River Lodge.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHARLES MAXWELL