Join a National Geographic Awarded Expedition for the Sardine Run!

Why We Love It

Join one of the pioneers of the sardine run in South Africa! Recognized by National Geographic as one of the “Best Adventure Companies on Earth”, these expeditions run at fixed dates. You'll join an incredible snorkel and dive adventure, with a dedicated microlight aircraft for spotting action and animal activity in the ocean. Most of the time the action is fast-paced so you'll snorkel. If you encounter a more stationary ball, you'll have time to get your scuba diving gear on and dive with the action.


The owner of this operation was instrumental in creating the Sardine Run Association to define best practices on how to operate: Sardine Run Association. The company has a 100% Safety Record on the Sardine Run. With almost 2,000 guests having gone through their program since 2002.

Who Is It For?

For Advanced Open Water divers with good buoyancy, and snorkelers, with good level of fitness. The Sardine Run is a fast-action event, resulting in this trip being rated as “strenuous” and aimed at the adventure seeker. If you're interested in adding some dives before the expedition - ask us.

Prices and Dates
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What's included?
  • Dedicated full-time guide
  • 7 ocean days on the Sardine Run (weather dependant)
  • Meals - Full or packed breakfast as determined by launch time, light lunch and refreshments on boat. Three course dinner
  • Air Support - Dedicated Microlight spotter aircraft to call us onto the action
  • Guest Flight - Each guest will get to fly in the SEAL microlight and see the Wild Coast from the air (weather dependant)
  • 8 nights accommodation at the Mbotyi River Lodge
  • All transfers from/to Durban International Airport (KSIA)
  • Arranged afternoon activities: see the detailed Program below
  • Cylinders, airfills, weightbelt
What's not included?
  • Dive travel insurance – required
  • Dive Equipment
  • Alcohol and Soft-drinks
  • Porterage – Excess baggage penalties and transportation
  • Gratuities – At guest discretion


  • DAY 1:

    • Arrive at Durban International Airport (KSIA) prior to 12h00 – met by the Expedition Team member and transferred to our dive location in the Eastern Cape. Orientation.
  • DAYS 2-8:

    • 06h45 Continental Breakfast (packed breakfast supplied for occasional 06h30 launches)
    • 07h00 Microlight launches and begins recon
    • 07h30 Teams launch
    • 11h00 Light lunch and refreshments available onboard throughout the day
    • 13h30 Approximate time back on-shore – dependent on action and weather conditions
    • 16h00 Afternoon activity (optional) – microlight flight, sundown cocktails, trail-hikes, witchdoctor visit, cultural village tour & 2 Surprise Activities!
    • 19h00 Three course dinner, next day activity planning and good times
  • DAY 9:

    • 08h00 Transfer back to Durban International Airport (KSIA)
Dive Briefing!

Marine Life

  • Aside from sardine, there are several other species of bait fish (anchovies, sugar mackerel, red eye herring to name a few) doing their migrations at the same time, attracting predators of all sizes.
  • Huge pods of dolphins and several species of sharks are some of the species you'll get to see on every jump-in.
  • There's also a huge variety of oceanic bird life coming to feed: Cape Gannet, albatross, petrels, cormorants, etc.
  • Finally, the annual Humpback Whale migration offers loads of breaching and surface displays, thanks to the topography of our coastline.
  • The attraction of it all is the fact that one just never knows what one will come across or experience on any given day.

Dive Conditions

  • Season: from early June to early August each year
  • Currents: occasional strong currents
  • Visibility: 5 to 20 m (16 to 66 ft)
  • Water Temperature: 14° to 22°C (57° to 72°F)
  • Depth: deep and shallow dives

Dive Sites

  • The Sardine Run range of operation spans the area north and south of Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa - dependant on the animal activity.
  • Port St Johns is where the continental shelf comes closest to land along this South African stretch of coastline. This seems to create a funneling effect, bringing animals closer inshore. You'll encounter deep water very quickly as it drops off into the continental shelf.
  • When there's fast-paced action, the only way is to jump in and watch the action pass by, jump back on the boat, and do it all over again.
  • Stationary action or bait ball is what everyone looks for and hopes for, as it can last from a few minutes to a few hours. This scenario occurs when the common dolphin starts feeding on bait fish that will ball as a strategic defense. Once the dolphins have captured a ball and brought it to the surface, then there's enough time to get your scuba diving gear on and join the action.
  • There can be days when nothing at all is happening, and then the team will try to spot humpback whales.

The Team

  • Operation created in 2001
  • Number of boats: 4
  • Maximum number of divers and snorkelers per boat: 8
  • Languages spoken: English

Safety Information

  • Equipment Recommended: if possible, bring your own 5 to 7 mm wetsuit, a hood, a mask and snorkel, fins, BCD, and regulator. Booties and gloves are recommended too. You should also have an SMB.
  • Insurance: both dive insurance and travel insurance are mandatory. We recommend DAN Europe, which has plans to cover both - ask us for a quote.
  • Nearest Hyperbaric Chamber: Durban, South Africa
Visas, Flights, and More!

Visa Requirements

  • You must have a valid passport to enter South Africa, and a return ticket
  • Most citizens do not require a visa to stay in South Africa for up to 90 days
  • Ensure your passport is valid for at least 6 months beyond the period you intend to stay
  • Please check current visa policies that apply for your country on South Africa Department of Home Affairs

How to Get There

  • Guests are requested to arrive in Durban International Airport (KSIA) by no later than 12h00 on Day 1 of the trip for their Expedition welcome and transfer down to Mbotyi.
  • Guests arriving from long-haul origination points should consider arrival the day before if possible, in order to give 24 hours to acclimatize to the time zone change etc. In this case transfer pickup will be arranged with the guest at their hotel on Day 1 of their trip. Please enquire for recommended accommodation providers in Durban.
  • Guests are also requested not to schedule departure flights ex Durban (KSIA) earlier than 15h00 on Day 9 of their trip (departure day).


  • There is malaria in Mpumalanga Province (including Kruger National Park), Limpopo Province, and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal to the Tugela River in the south. There's also chikungunya and dengue, so take necessary precautions to avoid them.
  • Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended.
  • Bring sunscreen, a hat, a rash guard, a warm sweater, a rain jacket, some walking shoes, insect repellent, and any prescription medicine you need.
Only Top
school of fish
At the
Right Season
sea fan
With Responsible
Dive Operators
No Added
Booking Fees
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