South Africa Sardine Run and Big 5 Safari, Diving & Eco Expedition 2023

Join Ocean Safari for an amazing opportunity to witness both underwater and safari wildlife in South Africa! During the short window between June and July the Benguela current brings millions of sardines in bait balls along the east coast of South Africa. This sardine migration attracts marine megafauna such as whales, seabirds, sharks, dolphins, seals, and penguins. After a week chasing the spectacular underwater action, we’ll stay in the first established (longest-protected) wildlife preserves in Africa, with a chance to see all African Big 5 safari animals. The big five include the elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, Cape buffalo, and lion. You’ll also see other safari animals such as giraffes, cheetahs, wild dogs, antelopes, and zebras. 

Ocean Safari never settles for less, so we have arranged the sardine run adventure with the most knowledgeable skippers in Port St. Johns who have over 20 years of experience with the sardine runs in the area. They will use both aerial and boat monitoring to locate the sardine bait balls. A spotter will jump into the water to check out the sardine action while we wait in anticipation on the zodiac. We will jump in with skin or scuba gear only when the spotters assure us that the action is excellent. Our accommodations will be at the best riverfront lodge in Port St. Johns, overlooking the rugged landscape surrounded by tropical vegetation, birds, and wildlife. During our safari expedition, we will be staying in the epicenter of safari wildlife viewing. This natural preserve has been described “as close to a state of naturalness as you can get.”


Expedition Itinerary:

June 23 (Fri): Depart LAX  and fly to Johannesburg. (may need to overnight Johannesburg pending flight schedule) . Arrive Sat June 24 or Sun 25. 
June 25 (Sun): Fly from Johanneseburg to Mthatha. One and a half hour transfer to Port St. Johns. Arrive at the best resort N'taba river lodge in Port St. Johns in the afternoon
June 26~July 1 (Mon~Sat): Six days at sea looking for the best sardine action. Snorkel, Freedive, or scuba dive with sardine bait balls and big marine life that feast upon the sardines: humpback whales, dolphins, sharks and seals. Accommodations at 4-Star River Lodge.
July 2 (Sun): 1 Cultural Day (excludes lunch on cultural day - approx R200 payable in cash)
July 3 (Mon): 10-12  hour transfer to Umfolozi national park, check into our Hilltop chalets; night time game drive possible depending on time of arrival
July 4-5 (Tue & Wed): Daily reserve activities including 2 game drives (morning and afternoon).  Additional activities can be booked at the lodge
July 6 (Thr): Go on a morning game drive. In the afternoon 2 hrs transfer to Durban, depart Durban at 5pm to LAX
July 7 (Fri): Arrive back to LAX in the afternoon.



Sardine Run Expedition Includes:

- All airports and ground transfers in South Africa.
- Single occupancy: 8 nights 4 Star river lodge stay with breakfast and dinner.
1-day cultural tour.
Spotter airplane for action.
- 6 days 6 hrs. daily Sardine run with 27ft Rib Zodiac.
- Refreshments and lunch at sea.
- Tanks and weights.
- Best & most knowledgeable local skipper and guide.
- Small exclusive group.
- Escort by Ocean Safari professional leader/photographer with unparalleled service.



- International and domestic air tickets.
- Alcoholic beverages.
- Travel and dive insurance (please see additional information below).
- Gratuities for various service staff.


Safari Expedition Includes:

- All airport and ground transfers.
- Double occupancy: First class safari accommodations at the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve. 
- Professional guide and vehicles.
- Breakfasts and dinners.
- All activities in itinerary.
- Escort by Ocean Safari professional leader/photographer with unparalleled service.


- Travel insurance (please see our link here or additional info below).
- Lunches
- Guide and driver gratuities.



Costs (Based on Double occupancy):

~ around $6500 (10 spots)  (Price based on 1 USD to 14 Rand conversion rate. Costs will vary depending on selling currency exchange rate at the time of wiring).







1st Deposit


Upon Reservation

2nd Deposit


September 22, 2022

Final Payment

Balance Remaining

February 22, 2023

* For credit card payment please add 3%         


Dive & Travel Insurance: 

Dive insurance is required to participate in this trip. Please use our links to purchase dive insurance from DAN

Travel insurance is optional. However, over the years, we have seen how valuable and beneficial travel insurance can be. These policies will help cover expenses when your trip is interrupted due to events such as weather, mechanical breakdowns, missed flights/connections, or when someone else has a dive/medical emergency that prevents you from diving.  

We want to help offset the cost of travel insurance and will sponsor 5% of the cost as store credit if you use the links from our website to purchase travel insurance from DAN. We highly recommend it! 


Cancellation Policy:

Before September 22, 2022: 1st deposit forfeited, no refund on first deposit.
After September 22, 2022: 1st and 2nd deposit forfeited (unless a replacement can be found then 1st deposit forfeited).
After February 22, 2023: No refund (unless a replacement can be found then 1st deposit forfeited).