In 2017, The RSA government reduced the annual sardine fishing quotas by 50% nationally. This has resulted in a resurgence of the sardine stocks and the resultant re-emergence of the sardine run as one of the greatest marine events on the planet.


The Sardine Run in South Africa is recognized as one of the world’s most spectacular marine events. Annually, from May to July, vast shoals of sardines migrate from their temperate-water home off South Africa’s southern coast and travel north-east into the sub-tropical coastal waters of the Wild Coast. Following the shoals is an unparalleled concentration of marine predators including seabirds; sharks; game fish and marine mammals.

When predators meet prey, a feeding event of unmatched proportions begins. Thousands of common dolphins charge after the shoals, separating them into densely packed bait balls and driving them to the surface. Watched by the omnipresent Cape gannets, an aerial assault on the sardines occurs when tens of thousands of gannets begin their spectacular plunge diving displays. Below the birds, the bait balls are easy pickings not only for dolphins, but also for shivers of bronze-whaler, dusky and blacktip sharks. The final player, is the behemoth Bryde’s whale. Its huge mouth can decimate an entire bait ball in a single lunge.

In the late 90′s, Blue Wilderness pioneered diving expeditions to follow and film the Sardine Run. We were instrumental in epic productions such as the Emmy Award winning BBC film “The greatest shoal on Earth”. Today our team continues to annually track the Sardine Run. We are always developing new detection technologies; perfecting our observer network and retro-fitting our vessels to ensure we can again experience the world’s greatest marine event.


  • 7 nights accommodation
  • 5 x sardine run expedition days (max)
  • Full catering
  • Land based activity (on reserve day)
  • Internet (moderate speed)
  • Diving equipment
  • Local transport


  • Travel to and from East London
  • Video / photographic equipment
  • Travel or medical insurance

What are the dates?

Blue Wilderness’s schedule for the Sardine Run is featured below. If none of these dates suit your expedition, please send us and email to discuss alternative possibilities

  • Sardine Run 1:      22 May – 29 May
  • Sardine Run 2:      29 May – 5 June
  • Sardine Run 3:       5 June – 12 June
  • Sardine Run 4:      12 June – 19 June
  • Sardine Run 5:      19 June – 26 June

Where can I learn more about the Sardine Run?

We have built a great online resource of all the latest research and information about South Africa’s annual Sardine Run. You can view all this information and materials at:

Can I come for shorter trips?

From our experience running sardine run expeditions, we know that this duration of expedition will maximize the probability of success. Coming for a shorter period exponentially increases the probability that you will not experience the incredible sights that the sardine run has to offer, due to the difficulty of locating great bait balls and the possibility of bad weather spells. Thus to ensure that we feel morally comfortable that we can deliver the promised service, we do recommend that guests join us for an entire expedition.

Are bait-balls guaranteed?

It is vital that all adventurers considering joining us on the sardine run understand the realities of this expedition. Blue Wilderness cannot and will not offer any guarantee of sightings. We are meeting nature entirely on its own terms, we are not chumming, interfering or manufacturing the sardine run, but watching, waiting and hoping to witness this spectacular event! Our past record (over 15 years) suggests that 60% of divers will experience a bait ball (sardines, anchovy or red eye) with predators. 100% of expeditions have resulted in sightings of marine predators.

Do I need a SCUBA qualification?

We highly recommend that sardine run adventurers are SCUBA qualified. However, we do welcome guests who are not qualified or prefer to free dive. For free-divers, we do insist that you do not move onto a bait ball as this does interfere negatively with aerial predators such as the Cape gannet.

How 'Tough' is the Sardine Run?

The Sardine Run is tough, and anybody joining us on an expedition should have a relatively good level of fitness and be used to spending time on the ocean. Spending 8 hours a day on a small boat is challenging for even experienced ‘seadogs’.

Where do I stay during the Sardine Run

Blue Wilderness has made a great partnership with three accommodation providers in East London, South Africa. The lodges we select are all three to four star quality, and have been personally assessed to ensure that they meet the level of service for all our sardine run guests.

What airport must I fly into?

Blue Wilderness will pick you up and drop you off at East London airport – South Africa.

Is there group discounts?

Sure why not! Send our super-duper sales exec – Jackie, an email and negotiate a great rate for your group! 

What if I get seasick?

On the sardine run we are out in the ocean wild! Whilst near to shore, the only launch site that can be easily utilised is our initial harbor entrance at Buffalo river. Often we are a two hour boat ride away from this harbor, thus cannot return back to land for sea sickness. If you are prone to sea sickness, it is best to take as many precautions as possible to control it prior to launching.

What happens in case of bad weather?

Bad weather is an unfortunate reality on the Sardine Run. The wild coast of South Africa got its name for being, well, a little wild (weather wise)! Thus it is likely that we will lose a day or two on each expedition to bad weather.  We keep a ‘floating’ reserve day for any bad weather days, and spend such as day enjoying nature and sites around East London. If there are more than one bad weather days, then it is up to you to decide what alternative activities you would like to do. Maybe a trip to the mall or relaxing on the nature farm where we stay? Unfortunately, Blue Wilderness is not able to offer refunds on additional bad weather days for this expedition. 

What happens in the event of a cancellation?

Deposits are non-refundable however can be redirected to subsequent years expeditions in case of forced cancellation.

How does the catering work?

Nothing beats great grub before , during and after a hard day on the sardine run! Our lodges cater for all our eating requirements, and ensures we are well fed and happy at all times. The food is homemade, and most of it is grown and produced locally. Meals are a fun social event around a communal table and open fire. On the water, a assortment of high energy snacks and drinks will keep our energy up throughout the day!

Can I get special food?

If you have special eating or dietary requirements, simply let us know in advance, and we will arrange suitable catering for you.

Can I bring my large DSLR camera and strobes?

Yes of course! The sardine run does involve a lot of jumping in and out of our boats, and for this a smaller camera like a ‘gopro’ is ideal! But when that big stable bait ball arrives, then nothing quite gets the incredible photos like a good underwater DSLR camera!

How do I book?

To confirm your booking, guests are required to pay a 25% non-refundable deposit. Full payment is required 14 days prior to arrival for the expedition.

East London - South Africa

What you need to know about traveling to South Africa during Covid.

Traveling during these uncertain times can be nerve wrecking. We’ve put together some need-to-know information for your trip to South Africa.

Before you book your flight

– Be sure to read the terms & conditions of your flight booking. Ensure that you can reschedule your flight at no additional cost in the event of borders closing.
– Travel insurance, to cover Covid-19 related risks, is highly recommended. 
– We suggest self quarantine for at least 10 days prior to getting your PCR/Covid test and remaining in quarantine until your flight.  
– Be sure to plan when and where to get your PCR/Covid test, keeping in mind the turn around time required to receive your results. 

Airport arrival and check-in

– We suggest arriving at least 2 hours early for domestic flights and 3-4 hours early for international flights.
– We recommend that you check-in online, prior to departure (to minimize contact, queues and waiting time).
– Only passengers are allowed to enter the airport, no visitors will be allowed entry.
– Expect maximum safety protocols to be applied throughout your journey.
– Wearing a face mask is mandatory, failing to do so is considered a criminal offence.

International entry requirements into South Africa

  • Valid passport and E-Ticket
  • Visa to enter South Africa (if applicable)
  • Upon arrival into South Africa, all travellers must present a negative PCR or Covid-19 test certificate not older than 72 hours from departure time from the country of origin. Tests must be conducted and signed by a certified medical practitioner. South African authorities reserve the right to verify the authenticity of test certificates.
  • Any traveller who exhibits Covid-19 symptoms when screened upon arrival, will be required to take a Covid-19 test at their own expense.  Should the test display positive results, travellers will be subject to mandatory quarantine for 10 days at their own expense.
  • All travellers must complete an Entry Health Screen Form either prior to or on arrival.
  • All travellers will be screened by Port Health Officials upon arrival and departure. Those presenting symptoms must remain in quarantine until a repeat COVID-19 test is carried out.
  • Travellers must show proof of accommodation or address in South Africa in the event self-quarantine is required.
  • The following airports are open for international travel: OR Tambo in Johannesburg, King Shaka in Durban and Cape Town International Airport.
  • Travellers are encouraged to install the COVID Alert SA mobile app.

Exit requirements from South Africa

  • Valid passport and E-Ticket
  • Valid visa for arrival destination (if applicable)
  • Quarantine arrangements upon arrival (if applicable)
  • Any additional documents required for entry into your destination or transit country
  • Completed Exit Health Form
  • Travel insurance to cover Covid-19 related risks (highly recommended)
  • Always check entry requirements at your arrival destination (visas, PCR tests, any additional requirements).
  • All minor children (under the age of 18 years old), travelling through any South African port of entry, must have an unabridged birth certificate or an equivalent document. If a child is accompanied by only one parent, then a parental consent letter is needed, including a copy of the passport and contact details of the absent parent.
  • South Africa does not require a negative PCR test for departure, unless it is required by the country you’re travelling to. Certain countries require negative PCR when transiting through them.
  • For a list of where to get tested, visit PathcareLancet and Ampath.


– The Traveller Exit Health Form must be completed for all international travel from South Africa before your arrival at the airport. Failure to produce this form may result in denied boarding, resulting in your ticket being non-refundable.


**Please note that all information on this page is accurate and reliable at the time of publication, however, it may not reflect the very latest updates on travel bans and restrictions. It is the sole responsibility of the traveler to stay updated on the latest travel regulations.


Sharing: R34,000

Single: R38,000

For seven day expedition