The Sardine Run

The Sardine Run

The Sardine Run is an adventure scuba diving and sea safari expedition which takes place off the Eastern Cape coast of South Africa, in the June & July. Area of Operation: Coffee Bay – Port Edward, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Our 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.


9 days (8 nights, 7 days on the water and general touring)

For recreational scuba divers, a 7 water-day Sardine Run expedition will offer the best possibility of success. This time period will allow for bad weather scenarios and variable degrees of marine activity.


  • June 19 – 27
  • June 27 – July 05
  • July 5 – 13
  • July 13 - 21


  • Technical Difficulty - Scuba:             3/5
  • Technical Difficulty - Snorkel:           2/5
  • Physical Difficulty:                            4/5
  • Mental Difficulty:                               5/5
  • Expedition Comfort (on diveboat):    3/5
  • Accommodations:                            4/5
  • Expedition Safety:                            5/5
  • Expedition Security:                         5/5


Each expedition is led by a dedicated full-time UnrealAfrica Team guide with a mandate to create the best possible experience for all UnrealAfrica guests.


  • 8 divers + 2 UnrealAfrica staff per boat (unless otherwise stipulated – licensed for 12 pax).
  • UnrealAfrica has several 32’ twin-engine dive boats available - each fitted to accommodate 12 divers. We typically limit the number to 8 divers per boat + 2 UnrealAfrica staff, for everyone’s comfort.


Mbotyi River Lodge is our aaccommodation partner and base for our Sardine Run scuba diving expeditions. The lodge is 3 star luxury with full amenities and excellent service

Of the several accommodation options available for Sardine Runners, Mbotyiis by far the most luxurious and the best situated being just south of the infamous Waterfall Bluff (where the sardines mass before running up the coast) and being surrounded by the spectacular Mbotyi hills and the magnificent Magwa Tea Plantation with close proximity to Fraser Falls and Magwa Falls – 2 of the finest African sundowner experiences imaginable J!

Spectacular vistas over this wild and undeveloped part of Africa, wonderful cuisine and warm South African hospitality make for an incredible atmosphere for our UnrealDive Teams in this beautiful region.


  • June/ July are winter months on the Wild Coast and wet weather is possible (though not always the case).
  • Temperatures (Air) : 59 – 75 F/ 15 – 24 C
  • Temperatures (Water) : 59 - 70 F/ 15 - 21 C
  • Conditions will vary from glass-like seas to flying through giant rollers in pumping winds – very exciting and sometimes strenuous. Safety is always the priority when on the water and the UnrealDive skipper will navigate accordingly.
  • Visibility - Varies from 2 – 20m/ 6 ft – 60ft.
  • As a safety precaution, we generally don’t enter the water in less than 15ft of visibility.


  • R 29,365 per person sharing (U$ 4,195 based on an exchange rate of 7:1. For today's exchange rate please click here)

Comments from past clients

For comments from clients of past trips - Click here

expeditions includes

  • Guide - Dedicated full-time UnrealAfrica guide
  • Diving - 7 days on the water or alternate activity as determined by conditions
  • Meals - Full or packed breakfast as determined by launch time, light lunch and refreshments on boat, 3 course dinner
  • Air Support - Dedicated UnrealAfrica Microlight spotter aircraft to call us onto the action
  • Guest Flight - Each guest will get to fly in the UnrealAfrica microlight and see the Wild Coast from the air (weather dependant)
  • Equipment - Airfills, cylinders, weightbelts
  • All Transfers
    • Arrival - UnrealAfrica will greet guests at Durban International Airport and transfer to our dive location in the Eastern Cape (approx 6 hours drive)
    • Departure – UnrealAfrica will transfer guests from Eastern Cape back to Durban International Airport on Day 9 (do not book departure flights ex Durban before 15h00)
    • All international flights enter and depart South Africa through 3 airports:
      • Cape Town International
      • Johannesburg International
      • Durban International


  • Dive travel insurance – required (DAN recommended)
  • Dive Equipment – BCD, regulator, mask, fins, snorkel
  • Alcohol and Soft-drinks – For guest account
  • Porterage – Excess baggage penalties and transportation
  • Gratuities – At guest discretion



  • We cater for all levels of diving/non-diving experience:
  • Scuba - Advanced Scuba Diver Certification only. Divers will be required to present their dive cards and/ or log-books to UnrealAfrica upon arrival. Scuba-diving the Sardine Run is for experienced scuba-divers only
  • Snorkel/boat-based viewing – almost anyone can snorkel the sardine run (75% of the total diving is on snorkel)


  • Dive travel insurance is required for all guests – must be organized in country of origin. DAN insurance recommended as they are UnrealDive’s first-response service provider in South Africa
  • General travel insurance recommended


  • Wetsuit, mask, fins, snorkel
  • BCD, regulator
  • We strongly recommend divers bring their own gear rather than hiring on location. Having gear that you are familiar and comfortable with is important for this type of adventure diving. If however you require gear for rental UnrealDive does provide this service on location. Please inform us on booking if you require rental of dive gear.
  • The Indian Ocean is the warmer of the 2 oceans bordering South Africa. We’re diving in the winter season where water temperatures will vary between 59 - 70 F/ 15 - 21 C. A 7mm wetsuit will most often suffice with booties, hoody and gloves recommended.
  • UnrealDive staff will be on hand to carry equipment in transit, re-fill tanks etc.
  • Rinse facilities are provided post diving.


  • Vaccinations
  • Hepatitis A – Recommended for all travelers
  • Typhoid – Recommended for all travelers
  • Routine Immunizations
  • All travelers should be up-to-date on:
  • Tetanus-diptheria
  • Measles-mumps-rubella
  • Varicella
  • Physical
    • The Sardine Run can be physically challenging and a base fitness level is recommended though not essential. The more fit the participant the more enjoyment of the experience.
    • Divers with pre-existing medical conditions must stipulate when signing the expedition waiver documents.
    • A full medical is recommended for divers with pre-existing health conditions.


  • Passport - Required for US citizens traveling to South Africa and Botswana – (no visas required)
  • Clothing - Wind/ Rain proof active wear, smart casual wear
  • Miscellaneous - Sun protection, headwear, eye protection, binoculars, camera
  • Power Supply
  • Voltage in South Africa is 230 – 240 V, 50 Hz. Guests may require a voltage converter depending on their country of origin.


The Sardine Run is the most challenging of our suite of UnrealAfrica Adventures. That said, the accident potential is minimal, largely due to our knowledge of the environment and our taking every possible precaution to ensure the safety of our guests, both on and off the water.

UnrealAfrica equipment and communications technologies are state of the art and include:

  • Oxygen and first-aid kit onboard
  • VHF Radio
  • Cellular phone

Our staff is skilled and experienced for the variable weather conditions of open ocean scuba diving and first-aid trained – UnrealAfrica has a full-time paramedic on staff with support medical equipment on site.

Though highly unlikely, all possible accident and treatment scenarios are planned for - Team safety is always the number one priority.

UnrealAfrica has a 100% safety record on the Sardine Run

Image Gallery

Click on the thumbnails below to show large image.

Popular Land Adventure Activites

  • Worlds Highest Bungee Jump
    Worlds Highest Bungee Jump This is the highest commercially operated Bungy Jump bridge in the world. You will be secured in a full body harness and proceed to walk…
  • Sandboarding
    Sandboarding This is not as hard as you may initially think, so don’t worry if you have no previous experience with snow boarding or other board…
See More Activities

Popular Water Adventure Activites

  • Great White Shark Breaching
    Great White Shark Breaching One of the most exciting tours on offer for White shark encounters, is our combination trip which consist of Great White Shark Natural Predation, Great White…
  • Whale Watching - Boat Based
    Whale Watching - Boat Based Every trip is preceded by a brief introductory talk about the route and what to look out for. Passengers are fitted with comfortable life-jackets. Safety…
See More Activities

Popular Air Adventure Activites

  • Microlight Flights
    Microlight Flights Open cockpit microlight flying is undoubtedly the closest you will ever come to experiencing the true magic of powered flight. Considered the motorbike of the…
  • Hot Air Ballooning
    Hot Air Ballooning This is a unique adventure tour that takes place in the beautiful area of the Boland. The flights take place in the scenic Berg River…
See More Activities