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Sardine Run

2021 bookings open

Sardine Run 2020

Each year during May, June and July, vast shoals of sardines leave their cold-water home in South Africa’s temperate seas and travel north into the sub-tropical seas of South Africa’s Wild Coast. The shoals offer a bountiful feast to a host of predators including : seabirds, game fish, marine mammals and sharks. It is one of nature’s greatest spectacles. This is the Sardine Run.

Experience marine wildlife watching at its most spectacular! It is an opportunity to be part of something that many of the world’s top marine biologists, wildlife photographers and filmmakers consider the most intense wildlife event in the world. Guests can view from the boat, snorkel on the ocean surface or do a Sardine Run dive with scuba gear.

Our guest, Tony Baskeyfield, wrote about his Sardine Run experience. His report was published in Sport Diver Magazine and can be read here Sport_Diver-Sardine_Run.

Why Choose Apex?

  • We have a sophisticated land, sea and air based observer network
  • Communication platforms that constantly detect the movements of the sardine shoals
  • We have the country’s most experienced and successful sardine run skippers and guides in the industry
  • We have facilities aboard our vessel to cater for videographers and photographers

Let Apex Shark Expeditions take you to experience this wildlife phenomenon from a ringside seat. For more information, read a trip report here.


Sardine Run

2021 bookings open

A trip overview

Day 1

Guests will be met at East London airport and transferred to Santa Paloma, your home for the next 7 nights


• 17h00 - 18h00 Orientation: Formal meeting of your guides and skipper, and a full briefing on the Sardine Run. We will answer all your questions and ensure you are geared up to maximize your enjoyment of this expedition

• 18h00 – 19h00 Wetsuit and kit fitting. Guests will be sized and fitted with wetsuits, hoodies, booties, gloves and fins

• 19h00 Home cooked evening dinner at Santa Paloma.

Day 2 -6

Five boating days. Each day’s itinerary will be as follows:



07H00 - 07h30

Transfer to harbour. Change into wetsuit, load kit and launch.

07H30 - 12h00

Outbound search: We spend the day on the water searching for visible signs of sardines which includes bird action and bird diving.During the quiet periods, we'll scuba and/or snorkel with dolphins and whales. Please Note: Diving on bait balls is rare. The Sardine Run is the coming together of a number of predators and it is this marine spectacle that makes the Sardine Run special.

12h00 - 12H30

Lunch: When a break in action permits, we will enjoy a delicious packed lunch.


12H30 – 15H00

Homeward search: Head towards East London and homeward bound, continue to monitor for and interact with marine wildlife.

15H00 – 19H00

Shower & Relax


Evening meal: Delicious two course dinner to recharge for the next day.

Day 7
Reserve Day

• 07h00 – 07h30 Transfer to Inkwenkwezi game reserve

• 08h00 – 10h30 Game drive: Explore the Inkwenkwezi game reserve. See the Big 5 of South Africa.


• 10h00-12h00 Elephant interaction: Walk with and interact with the African elephants of Inkwnekwezi game reserve


• 12h15 – 13h00 Cheetah interaction: Meet the cheetahs of Inkwenkwesi game reserve

• 13h30 – 14h00 Transfer for a relaxing lunch and afternoon at Santa Paloma Farm

• 1900 – Evening meal: A delicious two course dinner will be served.

Sardine Run

2021 bookings open

Experience the eastern cape

The location for our Sardine Run 2018 is set to be in East London (subject to animal activity), situated in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. A short domestic flight from Cape Town or Johannesburg, this quaint city offers beautiful scenery and is a perfect holiday destination. This location offers guests a less commercial experience than Port St John's where there are many Sardine Run operators.

The Sardine Run 2017 - East London coastline

Sardine Run

2021 bookings open

Wild Coast living

Guests will be staying in a wonderful eco-resort called Santa Paloma www.santapaloma.co.za

This is situated on the outskirts of East London just 15 minutes from launch site and offers guests a comfortable and tranquil stay surrounded by wildlife and nature.

We choose Santa Paloma as it is part of a nature reserve with wild antelope grazing throughout the resort. It is comfortable, rustic and prides itself as a nature retreat allowing guests to escape city life. 

Buccaneers Lodge Accommodation overlooking Chintsa Beach

Sardine Run guests experience exciting days on the ocean, so food plays an important role. To keep energy levels up for the duration of the expedition, food must be nutritious and healthy. Santa Paloma Guest House offers a quality menu to allow guests to power through the Sardine Run without skipping a beat.

Breakfast consists of a selection of cereals, yoghurt, fresh fruit, toast & condiments, coffee, tea and juices.
Lunch is a prepacked box of assorted rolls, fresh fruit, chocolate & nut trail mix, juice, water and cool drinks.
Dinner is a homemade organic two course meal prepared by Santa Paloma. 

We cater for special dietary requirements. 

Sardine Run

2021 bookings open

Extra information



A 20-30cm silver fish, with a bluish colour on top. Distinguishable by the row of 10-15 black spots on the flanks.


Copper Sharks, Spotted Ragged Tooth Sharks, Black Tip Sharks, Dusky Sharks.

Ocean Mammals

Common Dolphis, Indian Ocean Bottlenose Dolphins, Hump Back Whales, Killer Whales, Brydes Whale, Cape Fur Seal.


Cape Gannet, Petrels and Shearwaters, Blackbrowed Albatross, African Penguin.


Dive depth: Surface to max. 20 metres in water column 50 – 100+ metres.

Dive type: Surface drift dive, snorkelling, scuba, Boat based viewing opportunities available for non-divers
Typical Visibility: Old Transkei Coast and East London 6 – 30m / 20 – 100 ft. Average 12 metres / 50 ft

Water temperature: May, June & July 15 – 22 degrees Celsius. 5mm wetsuit advised.

*Please note: Bait balls are rare and we cannot expect to dive on these every day.


Non-direct international flights into East London.

Sardine Run

2021 bookings open

Terms & conditions


Price on application

Cost includes  

  • 5 x days Sardine run expeditions 
  • 7 x nights accommodation 
  • 7 x Days - breakfast, lunch including drinks and dinner 
  • Scuba equipment 
  • 1 x Game drive & elephant interaction 
  • Local transfers in East London 

Cost excludes

  • Flights
  • Drinks 
  • Internet
  • Laundry

Booking and cancellations

A 50% non-refundable deposit via wire transfer upon booking, with the balance due 120 days before the start of the expedition.

Cancellation policy:

• Less than 120 days before start date: 100% of the fee.

• No show: 100% of the fee.

No credits will be given for cancellations beyond our control. 

Bad weather days

If we are unable to go to sea on any of the days due to weather or sea conditions, alternative excursions will be arranged. There is no refund on no sea days. 

Numbers of participants

A minimum of 4 guests and a maximum of 7 guests is required for this trip. The trips may include additional guests for costing purposes. 


As we are dealing with wild animals, sightings cannot be guaranteed. In the event of non-sightings, no refunds are available. Due to variable weather conditions and shark activity, diving may not always be possible and is therefore not guaranteed.


Don’t miss the opportunity of lifetime. Book your spot on the world-famous Sardine Run now.

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DISCOUNT - From R1500 per person for South African residents only. FREE cancellation 48 hours prior to trip.(T & C apply)

WE ARE OPEN! 40% DISCOUNT for South African residents. WE ARE OPEN . Email us for YOUR special rate. WE ARE OPEN. Book with Confidence - Free cancellation 48 hours prior to trip date.(T & C apply) |