Sardine Run Package 2017
“The ocean awakes and the thrill is simply indescribable!”
The annual Great Sardine Run is a natural phenomenon which usually occurs during the months of June and July, when massive schools of sardines migrate from the colder waters around the Cape to the warmer waters of Kwa-Zulu Natal to give birth to their offspring. Once they've laid their eggs, they return to the Cape, closely followed by thousands of dolphins, birds, fish of prey, whales and sharks. The ocean awakes and the thrill is simply indescribable.
The Ultimate Experience is the Bait Ball:
- The sharks and dolphins round up a large number of sardines and form what is known as a bait ball. Once the bait ball is formed, the sharks and dolphins swim through and through and through that ball until not one sardine is left. They are often joined by gannets which dive from a dizzy height and use their wings to actually swim further down in pursuit of a sardine. Unbelievable!!!!
- Then comes a Brydes Whale from the depth and like a Front End Loader scoops thousands of sardines into its gullet.
- As divers, we first approach the situation carefully and watch from the boat what is going on.
- We then slide into the water and watch the incredible scene from a depth of approximately 5-7m. Such a Bait Ball can last from a few minutes to half an hour or even longer. When it is over it's back on the boat and off to the next group of sardines.
The Activity Day:
- After breakfast at 7:00am divers are transferred by Landrover and Landcruiser 4x4 to Mapusi, the most spectacular, idyllic river mouth from where we launch our boat. This drive alone is worth a few photo-stops. The cliffs are high and drop off almost vertical into the deep blue ocean.
- On the banks of this river divers get ready for the launch. The 4x4 drives the boat down into the river. Divers and the crew have to push the boat further until there is enough water under the keel and all rocks are cleared.
- Once it is safe, the skipper gets on the boat and starts the motors. When he has enough water under the keel, he calls all guests on. With speed the boat drives over the sandbank and into the waiting basin. Once all waves have passed, the skipper chooses the safest moment to launch out to sea. Mapusi offers one of the very few safe launches along the Wild Coast.
- And the adventure begins....
- In the meantime the plane has taken off and done a good fly over the whole ocean in search of animal activity. The skipper and the pilot are in constant radio contact whereby the boat gets directed to the best action on hand.
- Sardine Run action consists not only of silver fish but more so of activities such as whales, dolphins, sharks and gannets. Wherever there is something happening the boat will go.
- The highly experienced and skillful crew will approach anything interesting with great care and only when it is safe will the divers be allowed to enter the water.
- More often than not this will be done on mask and snorkel. There is a constant off-the-boat and on-the-boat which requires stamina and a certain fitness.
- Obviously it is always the client's choice if he wants to remain on the boat or jump into the water. To make a long day out at sea as pleasant as possible we offer sandwiches, fresh fruit, chocolates, cookies, fruitjuice and water on the boat. The excitement often makes us forget about the food....
- After the search to experience the Ultimate Bait Ball, divers return to base no later than 15h00. Driving back into this idyllic river mouth just finishes a great adventure. The guests are picked up by the 4x4s and taken straight home to a hot shower. Our staff is preparing the boat and equipment for the next day, washing off all diving equipment and hanging the wet suits into our heated equipment room at the Ocean View Hotel.
- We meet for a drink in the bar where the incredible management often serves us crayfish and oysters for bar snacks.
- A scrumptious buffet awaits us from 18h00 at leisure
Guests are accommodated in the lovely Ocean View Hotel, Coffee Bay. We believe that after a hard day's work our guests need to come home to the best place in town. Not only does the staff at the Ocean View make us feel at home, but also the food is delicious. Bar and Deck are the perfect places to talk about the day's events. Pool for those who can't get enough, and the scenic beach is right behind the wooden fence, barely 50m from reception. The rooms are magnificent, comfortable and cosy. But the best on the whole trip is the heated equipment room!!!
Accommodation at Ocean View is characterised by light, airy double or twin rooms – most of which boast spectacular views of the sea. Spacious family units look out across the gardens. All rooms are comfortably furnished and have en-suite bathrooms. Tea/coffee facilities available for your convenience. The rooms also have ceiling fans for hot days.
The rooms have the following:
- Outdoor patio with furniture.
- En suite bathroom.
- Double or twin bed.
- Kettle with crockery (tea and coffee supplied).
- Ceiling fan.
- 5 nights at the Ocean View Hotel on half-board basis (Including breakfast & dinner)
- 4 days on the dive boat with sandwiches, fruit, cookies, chocolate, fruit juice and water.
- Air support by microlight plane several times a day.
- Cylinders and weights (highly recommended to bring own gear if possible).
- Transport / Flights (The closest airports to Coffee Bay is Mthatha & East London.
- Return transfer from Mthatha Airport to Hotel is additional cost of R 750 one way.
- Dive gear.
- Dinner & drinks.
- Travel Insurance.
- Extra day: R 5,300.00
The Financial Risk
When the Sardine Run starts, it starts just north of Port Elizabeth and moves up the coast pretty quickly. Many operators book up all accommodation along the Wild Coast and sell packages to experience the Sardine Run. As nobody can foresee the exact time of the run, the risk has to be with the diving public. They have to book their package with the understanding that there cannot be a refund in case the sardines should not show up. Same if the weather should turn nasty and preventing boats from launching.
However, there is always activity on the ocean. On a quiet day we see, follow and swim with whales and dolphins. This is why we have a plane. Our pilot WILL find us something exciting. And if push comes to shove, we always have our bait bucket with us with which we will do a Baited Shark Dive.
In case the wind should ever prevent us from launching we can go on a 4x4 outing, hike the picturesque coastline or have a pick nick in paradise. Photo enthusiasts will never run out of motives.
The Safety Risk
Launching along the Wild Coast can at times be dangerous. Especially when the wind has blown all day the sea will get whipped up. As everybody is under a certain pressure to deliver client's expectations, one sometimes launches a boat when one should rather have cancelled the day's activities.
Furthermore, if divers come across a Bait Ball and get too close, they could get in the way of hyped-up sharks.
Due to the remoteness of the Wild Coast, medical facilities are rather limited.
For all possibilities the dive champ is especially well equipped with medical supplies as well as communication devices. There is a commissioned microlight plane to spot activity and also call for help in an emergency.
Terms & Conditions
- A deposit of 10% of the total amount has to be paid at the latest 6 months before the time, to secure the Hotel Accommodation. This deposit is non-refundable except for in case we need to cancel.
- The balance needs to be paid 3 months before arrival. No refunds whatsoever for any reason unless we cancel.
- If we cancel a booking we will refund 100%.
- The skipper will decide on a daily basis if it is possible to launch and spend the day at sea. His decision is made purely in view of the passenger’s safety. If it is not safe to launch, the day’s activities are cancelled without compensation or alternative program. But there is lots to do in the area.
- We cannot guarantee any ocean action……however we do guarantee that we will try our very best.
- Even if there is no action we will still go out to sea and do our best.
- Passengers who decide to not go on the boat for whatever reason, will not be refunded.
- We will launch the boat on a daily basis for any number of passenger’s.
- We reserve the right to expel passenger’s for a day for the entire trip if this is in the interest of everybody’s safety.
- All passenger’s must sign the appropriate indemnity form supplied.
- Each passenger is responsible for his/her safety, fitness, health, and has to have all relevant Insurances in place.
- All passenger’s are responsible for their own medical costs at all times.
- Boat capacity: A private boat can be arranged with a maximum of 10 divers per boat.
How to Book
- Book online via our website or contact us directly