YD Scuba Diving Forums banner

1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,240 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Some of you may remember that Fi (that's mine, not Gav's) and I went to South Africa diving in October last year. We dived with 'Dive the Big 5' and dived in Aliwal Shoal, Protea Banks and Sodwana Bay - I know, dive report still be delivered!!

Any way, they email me regularly with new dives and offers. Here's the one they've put together for next year's 'Sardine Run' - makes for very good reading what? Any way, here goes - see what ya think:


" Greetings from sunny South Africa,

Since our return from the Birmingham Dive Show and DEMA where Dive The Big 5 did a 45 minute presentation entitled "Southern Africa - the complete underwater world in one destination" in which we featured the Sardine Run, we have been inundated with requests about this amazing phenomenon and how to book. Following are all the details pertaining to the Dive The Big 5's 2003 Sardine Run Expedition.

If you are interested and considering joining us why not add a Great White Encounter, a "Raggie" dive and a Wildlife Safari to the Sardine Run. This is truly a holiday of a lifetime!!

Following are the details pertaining to the 2003 Sardine Run and should answer all the questions you might have. Should you have any further questions or queries please don't hesitate to e-mail us. Also you can access our website www.divethebig5.com for more information on the Sardine Run.

When:
Please note that the Sardine Run is a natural phenomena and unfortunately we cannot guarantee that it will take place. All we know is that it occurs every year, usually during the latter part of May and extends into June and sometimes even into the beginning of July. Exactly when during May/June/July nobody can say. Dive The Big 5 have reserved 2 "slots" which historically fall right in the middle of the sardine run. June 12 to 18 and from June 18 to 24. For each of these slots we have two dedicated boats for Dive The Big 5's clients. In addition to that we have the option of one boat for the June 24 to 30 slot.

The Dive:
The shoals of sardines move up the coast from the south and usually reach the Transkei Coast at about the end of May - beginning of June. The size of the shoal differs from day to day and from week to week. They could be small pockets of fish or the shoal could be as large as 1km wide and 5km's long. It's not one continuous shoal but it is many different shoals that come through during the "sardine season". Mother Nature is in charge and we abide by Her rules.

We launch the boat just before sun-rise, at about 06:30, and then the waiting game begins. As soon as the sun is up the micro-light takes off and flies up and down the coast looking for the tell tail signs of the shoal. Because we are looking for activity that is moving, we spend most of the day out at sea, on the boat. When we find any activity - Sardines, dolphins, whales, sharks etc - a decision is made as to whether we will do a snorkel dive or a scuba dive on that particular activity. Depending on where we find the action, which is often quite far out to sea and in deep waters it is not possible to drop down to the ocean floor so most dives are done in mid-water, as the bottom is often far too deep for sport divers. Dives on average are of a fairly short duration as the action moves past quite quickly. Often it is a matter of being in the water for 5 or 10 minutes and then quickly back on the boat to follow the activity and then jump in again. The activity, as a whole, is considered strenuous. When on snorkel, the divers are dropped in front of the "activity" and wait on the surface for the activity to reach and pass them. The emphasis of the trip is on the surface activity and being in amongst the action with all the sardines, dolphins, sharks, birds etc. Not for the feint hearted!

Equipment:
All equipment is supplied. Because Mbotyi is so isolated we will e-mail you beforehand requesting from you a list of your requirements, however we do suggest that you bring your own mask. Please also be aware that computers are not available for hire.

Level of certification:
The sardine run is restricted to advanced divers only. The activity as a whole is considered to be strenuous, therefore any diver interested in this trip should be at least an advanced diver and in very good health.. The emphasis of the trip is on the surface activity with all the dolphins, sharks, game fish, birds etc. The nature of the diving is - big sharks, no bottom diving, deep blue type diving, dirty water, multiple ascents and strenuous boat trips. The trip is strictly for the avid diver/photographer. There will be E6 processing facilities on site for the serious photographers. Any non diving guests are welcome to join the boat ride to witness the surface activity but it must be advised that the boat is a "duck" and does not have toilet facilities or any shade. The cost for a non-diver is the same as for a diver.

The Boat:
We will be using 2 eight meter "rubber ducks" (RIB's, Zodiac’s or semi-inflaterables), each accommodating between 6 and 8 divers. Each boat is licensed with the Department of Transport and has a fully qualified shipper and dive master on board. There is oxygen, a DAN First Aid Kit and ship to shore radio comms on board.

The Launch:
Although at Mbotyi there is a river, its not always possible to launch through the river mouth as the mouth is often closed by a sandbar which prevents the river flowing into the sea. If this is the case then it will be a "standard" Sodwana/Aliwal/Protea beach launch, which has often been described as "white water rafting in a wet suit". The divers push the "duck" into the water, holding its nose into the waves, and when waist high in the water, on the skippers command, the divers scramble onto the "duck". Once the divers are all settled and holding on tight, the skipper reads the sets and punches his way through the surf until he reaches the back-line where he pauses for a moment to ensure everyone is ok, and then heads out to sea to the activity.

Water temperatures and visibility:
Water temperatures are around 19 degrees and 21 degrees C. (66 to 70 degrees F)

Although the "run" takes place during our winter which is our dry season with little or no run of from the rivers, which theoretically should result in good viz. the viz. can be poor due to the churning up of the waters by the sardines and the predators chasing the prey. Viz. could therefore be anything from 5 meters(15 ft) to 20 meters plus (60 ft).

How do we spot the sardines?
Normally the activity of the sea birds are a dead give-away, but if the shoals are far out to sea we use the services of a microlight aircraft. The plane gets airborne at sunrise and as soon as the pilot spots the sardines he communicate with the boats and guide them to the shoals of fish. Plus we get information from the Natal Sharks Board boats and other boats in the area who are also there to view this spectacle.

Accommodation:
Accommodation is at Mbotyi River Lodge www.mbotyi.co.za on a fully inclusive basis.

Meals:
All meals are included. Breakfasts is usually a "packed breakfast" which we have whilst at sea as we launch before the hotels restaurant opens. Lunch is served on the veranda of the hotel after we return from the dive, usually between 14:00 and 15:00 hours, depending on the shoals and the weather. Dinner is served in the restaurant and is "table d’hôte". Please advise any special dietary requirements well in advance as supplies can not be obtained once we are there.

Medical facilities:
Mbotyi is a very remote spot on the Transkei coast. The closest town with any medical facilities is at Port Edward which is 172 kilometres south of Durban which has the closest recompression chamber. Each diver is covered by DAN Insurance and a helicopter is available for an emergency evacuation should the need arise.

Transfers:
Transfers from Durban International Airport and back again after the Sardine run are included in the tour price.
Following is the day by day itinerary.

Day 01.
Thursday, June 12 or Wednesday June 18, 2003:
Arrive Durban International Airport where you will be met by a representative of Dive The Big 5 for the 4 hour road transfer to Mbotyi which is situated on the Transkei Wild Coast. Overnight at Mbotyi River Lodge on a fully inclusive basis www.mbotyi.co.za

Day 02.
Friday, June 13 or Thursday, June 19, 2003:
An early wake-up call at day break to be on the beach at 07:00. We all give a hand to launch the "duck" into the surf and then the "hunting" begins! By this time the micro-light will be airborne to assist with the search. The whole day is spent on the water hunting for the shoals of sardines. The give away are the millions of birds and thousands of dolphin that follow the shoal, and these are very easily spotted by the micro-light. As soon as the shoals are spotted the micro-light pilot radios the shoals co-ordinates to the boats which then head for the moving mass. This is the most spectacular sight on earth and is sure to leave you breathless and will remain in your memory for a lifetime. The boats return to Mbotyi at about 13:00 for lunch and the rest of the day is free. Overnight at Mbotyi River Lodge on a fully inclusive basis.

Day 03.
Saturday, June 14 or Friday, June 20, 2003:
Full day spent searching for "the greatest shoal on earth". Overnight at Mbotyi River Lodge on a fully inclusive basis.

Day 04.
Sunday, June 15 or Saturday, June 21, 2003:
Full day spent searching for "the greatest shoal on earth". Overnight at Mbotyi River Lodge on a fully inclusive basis.

Day 05.
Monday, June 16 or Sunday, June 22, 2003:
Full day spent searching for "the greatest shoal on earth". Overnight at Mbotyi River Lodge on a fully inclusive basis.

Day 06.
Tuesday, June 17 or Monday, June 23, 2003:
Full day spent searching for "the greatest shoal on earth". Overnight at Mbotyi River Lodge on a fully inclusive basis.

Day 07.
Wednesday, June 18 or Tuesday, June 24, 2003:
After a leisurely breakfast, the first in 7 days, you will transfer back to Durban International Airport for your return flight home or you can join a Dive The Big 5 add-on safari tailor made especially for you.

Cost:
US&#36 2,605 per person sharing.
GBP 1,805 per person sharing
EURO 2,630 per person sharing.

Please note that a non-diver pays the same price as a diver as they are taking up a space on the expedition that would normally be filled by a diver.

Should you have any further questions or queries about this truly remarkable expedition please do not hesitate to e-mail or call us.

Best "Fishes"

Your South African Dive Buddies & Wildlife Specialists

Dive The Big 5
PO Box 2209
White River
1240
Republic of South Africa

Tel: +27 13 750 1832
Fax: +27 13 750 0018
Cell/Mobile: +27 83 700 4597

Web: www.divethebig5.com

Are you doing business with a legal and credible member of the Southern Africa Travel Trade?

Dive The Big 5 is a member of SATSA for your protection and peace of mind. www.satsa.com "
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,786 Posts
Imported post

Man I would totally LOVE to do that Caged Great White experience... I've seen it on TV and reckon its got to be a 'must do' before I die
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,240 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Imported post

Yup, me too squire. You do it at a place called Gaansbai (pronounced Hhaahnzbay) just further round the coast from Cape Town. Gotta be a 'must do' dive before we shuffle off this mortal dry-bag.

Indeed, one of the tests to see if the Skipper will allow you to do the dive is the giant-stride into the cage's trapdoor hatch at the top from the boat. If you bottle that, you don't so the dive. Sans fins too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,557 Posts
Imported post

Hmmmm.  One of those things that i think sounds *fantastic* BUT....I would probably find i was way too scared of what was gonna come barrelling into that shoal of sardines that has just enveloped me!

Would *love* to do a great White cage dive though.  Did anyone see that documentary about the guy who freedives with Great Whites?  His cameraman was on scuba and they got rear-ended by a GW tat they hadn't been able to keep an eye on - they exited the water PDQ after that!  And who can blame them?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,786 Posts
Imported post

I saw that Lou, it was amazing... you saw the guy in the camoflaged wetsuit pointing to the camera man or to the camera and then the cameraman turned the camera around behind him only to be presented with a great white having a gentle sniff..... they reckoned that what the cameraman had to say back on the boat could not be repeated
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,240 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Imported post

This just in from Dennis (a South African ex-pat living in London) regarding the Run:

"For anyone who's aiming to go out to South Africa for the sardine run, news just in is that the first bait ball of the season has just been spotted off East London heading up into the Transkei, it's around 10km long and is expected off the KwaZulu-Natal coastline in 10 to 14 days... if there's anything left of it by the time it gets there... "



Whoosh!!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,914 Posts
Imported post

<font color='#0000FF'>THere's footage of the sardine run on the freebie DVD that goes with the Shark issue of Dive mag, looks pretty amazing. Also some amusing stuff with a Yank who got bit by a Bull Shark - he got bit on his arse  
 
perhaps it should be called a Butt Shark  


GW cage dive, hmmm.... apparently, during the filming of "Jaws (curse speilberg for the damage done to sharks as a result of that) some diver of photographer was in a cage and a shark bit through the cable leaving him with the choice of risk death by shark or death by depth , don't think he was found... Of course that was nearly 30 years ago, I'm sure cable technology has improved since then


THis link might interest GW fans
Great White links
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Imported post

Strikes me that at £1800 that is very expensive, did Sodwana 4 yrs ago, found it a poor second to the Red Sea, but good all the same.

However 4 nights and 3 days diving inc. accommodation in Sodwana Lodge was £90, flight to SA £450 to £600 where do they get £1800?

Gaansbai, did that in Febuary, didn`t see diddly squat, and at £70 it was an expensive day, no discounts for no Shark, they dont appear until the seal pups are plentiful, again not before March.

Just be careful you guys, you need to pick the right time (as in the shoal is expected in 10/14 days) that blows the first 2 slots.

Also I know a lot of people in SA and they will tell you that the South Africans are taking the proverbial out of tourists, the current exchange rate is 18 Rand to the GBP, when I went it was 10!  

Makes it a very expensive experience that might not happen! as with the Great White Shark dive!

 
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,240 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Sardine Run - 2005

The Greatest "Shoal" On Earth, the Sardine Run off the KwaZulu/Natal south coast is again on every divers and every wildlife photographers lips!!

Following are the dates and prices for the two expeditions being run by Dive The Big 5.


As in the past we offer divers 2 options.

Being based at Mbotyi on the Wildcoast of South Africa.

or

Being based at Shelly Beach on the KwaZulu/Natal south coast.


Following are the dates and prices for both options:-

Sardine Run Expedition based at Mbotyi
From June 05 through to July 23, 2005.
6 nights / 7 days with 5 full days at sea.

ZAR 17 295 per person sharing.
US$ 3 460 per person sharing.
GB£ 1 730 per person sharing.
Euro € 2 470 per person sharing.

Sardine Run Expedition based at Shelly Beach
From June 18 through to July 02, 2005.
7 nights / 8 days with 6 full days at sea.

ZAR 9 125 per person sharing.
US$ 1 825 per person sharing.
GB£ 915 per person sharing.
Euro € 1 305 per person sharing.

For more information visit our Website www.divethebig5.com and from the home page click on The Sardine Run icon or contact us for further information.

Best "Fishes"

Tim.

Your South African Dive Buddies & Wildlife Specialists.

Dive The Big 5,
PO Box 2209,
White River.
1240
Republic of South Africa.

Tel: +27 13 750 1832
Fax: +27 13 750 0018
Cell/Mobile: +27 83 700 4597

Web: www.divethebig5.com

Are you doing business with a legal and credible member of the Southern Africa Travel Trade?

Dive The Big 5 is a member of SATSA for your protection and peace of mind.
www.satsa.com

NEWS FLASH****NEWS FLASH**** NEWS FLASH

South Africa has been awarded the Soccer World Cup in 2010. We are proud
that FIFA and the world has entrusted us to host the biggest sporting event
in the world.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Right timing!

Yip - I myself am an ex-pat South African now living here and I must agree. You must choose the right time and place to go do these things.

I know all too well - when I used to live there - it is rather easy to paint a lovely picutre to divers abroad, (like R18.00 to the £1.00), but in reality it is more like (R11.34 to £1.00). The chances of you actually seeing a great white is possible but the timing has to be right and as for the conditions - well, say no more!

I am not an expert at this but I have spent 15 years diving in SA and think I know a bit about it! So do be careful and only use accredited operators!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Ps

Oh, and the Sardine Run is amazing! Really amazing - well worth the trip to experience this amazing fish trip extravaganza!

The dive operator should have pictures taken from the air and you can clearly see the sardines that have been 'pushed' into shoals by the sharks for eating! Truly amazing!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
424 Posts
Twice I've gone out specifically to see it. Twice it missed us either by timing, or by location. Hrmpf!!!
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top