JOIN A GROUP OF MAX 12 GUESTS ON THIS LIMITED EDITION SET-DEPARTURE
PRIVATELY GUIDED & HOSTED FROM BEGINNING TO END
DIVE WITH EXPERIENCED MARINE EXPERTS & ACCOMPLISHED DIVE MASTERS
FOLLOW THE SARDINE RUN, & DIVE WITH SHARKS, WHALES, DOLPHINS, & SEALS
EXPERIENCE A BIG FIVE SAFARI ON AN EXCLUSIVE PRIVATE GAME RESERVE
Dr. Tessa Hempson
OCEANS WITHOUT BORDERS’ PROGRAMME MANAGER AND PRINCIPAL SCIENTIST
Tessa grew up on a farm in the savannas and escarpment forests of South Africa, an environment that instilled in her a passion for ecology from a young age
After a year in Tasmania as a Rotary Scholar, she began her undergraduate studies via correspondence with the University of South Africa (UNISA) while travelling and working in scuba diving.
In 2003 Tessa returned to South Africa to complete her BSc in Botany and Zoology at the University of Cape Town (UCT), followed by a BSc Hons in Zoology, a field course in the Kruger National Park with the Organisation for Tropical Studies (OTS) and an MSc in Conservation Biology from the same university. Her study subjects ranged from the impact of elephants on savanna vegetation and bat community ecology to the effects of dynamite fishing on coral reefs in Tanzania.
Your journey at a glance
Experience the world’s most dynamic marine spectacle on the South African Wild Coast and the iconic Big Five on a classic safari
A bucket list adventure for any diver, this expedition combines the swirling sardine bait balls and agile apex predators of South Africa’s famed annual Sardine Run, ending in a Big Five safari on this extraordinary 10-day itinerary, and is privately guided by experts, along with a group of other divers. Your adventure takes you to the spectacular Wild Coast where you have the opportunity to dive amongst the billions of fish that make up the Sardine Run, the greatest shoal on earth, followed and harassed by predatory game fish, sharks, whales and giant pods of dolphin.
This limited-edition trip explores how marine systems along the coastline are connected, why aggregations such as the Sardine Run are important and how the extraordinary marine conservation work done by Oceans Without Borders, a collaboration between &BEYOND and Africa Foundation has been making a difference since 2016.
Experience the frenzy as these predators drive the sardines into tight balls of silver, interspersed with diving gannets that swim up to 20 meters deep in search of a quick meal. This intense spectacle, which happens in the southern hemisphere winter months of May, June and July, draws marine species from across the oceans to feast on this massive aggregation of sardines. Indulge in the fast-paced adrenalin fix of spending long hours at sea and diving amongst some of the ocean’s apex predators as you learn about the connectivity of the oceans and the threats that face this unforgiving yet increasingly vulnerable marine environment.
Move on to the warm waters of Sodwana Bay, near &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, to gain an understanding of how the protected coral gardens and thriving fish species of this protected marine areas are intertwined with and dependent on the health of the sardine shoals and accompanying predators that appear further south along the coastline in such multitudes. In between exploring the beauty of the ocean, indulge in a safari to one of the continent’s finest game viewing reserves, home to Africa’s Big Five. A variety of incredible options are available, including twice-daily game drives with expert guides in search of the Big Five and other rare encounters.
6 nights Wild Coast | 1 night Umhlanga Rocks | 3 nights Phinda Private Game Reserve
*Proceeds of this itinerary go toward the Oceans Without Borders fund, encouraging a positive change across our marine footprint.
What we love about it
HOSTED & GUIDED BY EXPERTS
Hosted by marine biologist, Oceans Without Borders Programme Manager and Principal Scientist, Dr. Tessa Hempson
and privately guided by a skilled &Beyond guide Matthew van Wieringen. Additionally dive with some of the most experienced skippers and dive masters on the Wild Coast, Digger Brown, Daniella Flufer and Walter Bernardis.
SPECTACULAR MARINE DIVING
Dive straight into the world of underwater documentaries as you venture to sea in search of massive shoals of sardine
and witness fascinating underwater behaviour from the sharks, killer whales, dolphins, seals, and seabirds that follow them. Enjoy the sight of massive shoals of sardines chased and dispersed by blacktip and copper sharks and whales, while Cape gannets swoop down from the sky to dive to great depths in search of the fleeing sardines.
ICONIC BIG FIVE WILDLIFE
Explore the diverse landscapes of &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve described as ‘Seven Worlds of Wonder’.
Showcasing one of the continent’s finest game viewing experiences, Phinda is home to Africa’s Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino), as well as 436 bird species. The reserve is particularly well known for close-up sightings of the elegant yet elusive cheetah, as well as the rare black rhino.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
An Oceans Without Borders initiative, all proceeds go toward leaving our oceans a better place.
On this trip, gain an understanding of how marine systems along the coastline are connected, discover the essential niche occupied by the sea’s apex predators and find out why aggregations such as the Sardine Run are important and what are the threats that they face.
Are you ready?
BEGIN YOUR ADVENTURE
This unforgettable journey is limited to 12 guests with a set departure date.
Please talk to us if you are interested in booking this journey on a tailormade basis.
A taste of what to expect
Welcome to the Wild Coast
7 June 2022
- Tucked between lush forest, rolling hills and the ocean, arrive at your accommodation for the next 6 nights, Mbotyi River Lodge, an ideal place to stay during your marine migration expedition. Rustic yet comfortable accommodation provides beautiful views of the ocean, while a spacious restaurant and a well-stocked bar offer great spots to compare impressions of the day’s dives with your fellow deep sea enthusiasts.
- Take the evening to settle in, unpack and prepare your gear for the next day’s action. After dinner you will have a dive briefing with your Oceans Without Borders host, and dive masters, who will explain what to expect over the coming days of diving.
- With years of combined expert knowledge, they not only aim to provide you with the best possible chance of catching up with the migrating shoals, but can also provide rich insight into the significance that this mass movement of fish has to the marine environment.
Dive the great marine migration
8-12 June 2022
- Wake up each morning at around 06h00 and feel the excitement start to build up as you prepare to venture out in search of the greatest shoal on earth. Be ready for long days in and out of the water as you launch between 06h30 and 07h30, depending on the light.
- You will spend about five hours each day out on the water with Walter Bernardis, your diving guide with African Water Sports, either moving in search of the shoals or snorkeling with the accompanying whales and dolphins. Keep a look out for dolphins, humpback whales, southern right whales and the extraordinary Bryde’s whale.
- Prepare for instant action when the shoals are spotted, as you rapidly kit up and descend to the depth the shoals are travelling at, ready to gaze in awe at millions of glittering sardines, as well as the sharks, gannets and other predatory game fish that follow in their wake.
- Stay submerged until the shoal either moves off or is dispersed by the hungry predators that harass and follow in its wake. Attacked from above and below, the sardines are skillfully maneuvered to the surface of the water and separated into compact bait balls, easier to feed upon.
- Depending on the movements of the sardines, you may take part in multiple dives a day, most of them at a depth of 5-15 meters, or you might spend most of your day on the boat. With a strict limit on the number of divers, there is ample space for you and your gear on board the semi-rigid inflatable, ensuring for a comfortable day out at sea.
- After several hours out on the water, return in the afternoon for a hot shower. Enjoy afternoons spent looking at your underwater footage, updating your log book or simply doing nothing at all.
- If you are up for further activities, you can hike to cascading waterfalls, go micro lighting or explore the beauty of the Wild Coast on a horseback ride. End the day with a hearty dinner and the camaraderie of sharing photos and stories of the day’s action.
A Chat with Walter Bernardis | Diving Guide
Shark specialist and scuba diving guide Walter Bernardis from African Watersports talks about the Oceans Without Borders Marine Migration Expedition, which allows guests to experience the magnificent spectacle as the sardines form into tight shoals known as bait balls, prompting thrilling feeding frenzies. A highlight that deserves to be on any diver’s bucket list, find out what it’s like to experience this underwater migration.
“This large-scale annual migration
draws animals from multiple oceans to a single location for a brief window of time, connecting populations of marine species across thousands of kilometres"
Stay over at the Oyster Box
13 June 2022
- Spend a night at the iconic Oyster Box hotel on the way to Phinda Private Game Reserve.
- The landmark Oyster Box Hotel lies at the edge of the beach, overlooking the Indian Ocean.
- Enjoy a leisurely afternoon enjoying the hotel’s many first-class facilities, or venture out into town to explore like a local. If you haven’t quite had enough beach-time, Umhlanga has a wonderfully warm ocean to enjoy a surf or a swim.
- Unwind with a drink at either the Lighthouse Bar or the Chukka Bar. Treat your taste buds to the freshest oysters and the most delicious prawn curry, accompanied by superb local wines, while enjoying an informative discussion with one of our Oceans Without Borders custodians.
Begin your Big Five safari
14 June 2022
- After spending five days exploring the colder currents of the South Coast, move up to KwaZulu-Natal to enjoy the balmy waters of Sodwana Bay, along with the attractions of a Big Five safari at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
- Set in a rare and beautiful sand forest, the glass walls of &Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge’s suites offer a sweeping view of one of the most unique ecosystems on the planet. A dense canopy provides privacy and floor to ceiling windows invite the forest in, with the wonderful opportunity to view wildlife roaming outside your glass “bubble”, fluttering birds nesting in the foliage and the gentle rustle of forest sounds.
- On the edge of the forest, just before a clearing that overlooks a small waterhole, lies the lodge’s sparkling rim-flow swimming pool, an ideal spot for relaxing. Expansive decks in the spacious guest area, look out onto panoramic views of an open grassy meadow. In the evenings, when warm firelight welcomes you to the traditional African boma, wide-eyed bush babies watch inquisitively from the trees above, as you in indulge in a lantern-lit feast beneath a canvas of stars.
- Enjoy a captivating afternoon game drive and track a magnificent variety of wildlife, including the Big Five, cheetah and black rhino. The sand forest is home to the shy suni and the rare red duiker, two tiny antelope that are seldom encountered elsewhere.
Explore Sodwana Bay
15 June 2022
- After a hearty breakfast, head to Sodwana Bay to indulge in an opportunity to compare the balmy waters and abundant coral life of Sodwana Bay, with the massive shoals and fast-paced marine predators of the Sardine Run. This is a gentler kind of diving that allows you to experience unforgettable marine diversity, with over 1 200 species of fish and decorative coral formations.
- The tropical waters of Sodwana Bay are home to an abundance of marine life, boasting more than 80% of all the world’s marine classes. Swim past lemony yellow butterflyfish, powder blue triggerfish and citron-spotted whale sharks.
- Enjoy a delicious lunch on the beach catered especially for you by &Beyond.
- After lunch, you can enjoy some relaxation on the beach or enjoy another memorable dive. A vast array of marine species inhabits the aquamarine waters and kaleidoscopic fish dart in and around healthy coral reefs.
- Discover an extraordinary selection of fish that trickle down along the west coast of Africa and expect close encounters with ragged-tooth shark, dolphins, turtles and rays.
A Phinda adventure
16-17 June 2022
- In the morning, enjoy another extraordinary game drive across Phinda’s seven distinct habitats, looking for some of the rarer species such black rhino or pangolin, or some of the 436 bird species on the reserve.
- A magnificent tapestry of woodland, grassland, wetland, and forest, interspersed with mountain ranges, rivers, marshes and pans, the reserve is home to 1 000 hectares (2 471 acres) of Africa’s remaining rare dry sand forest.
- There a variety of activities for you to enjoy on the reserve between game drives today, including a nature walk where you can experience a deeper connection with the African bush.
- Later on this afternoon, get back in the game vehicle for your final captivating safari. Stay out late in the afternoon (continuing after nightfall), with expert rangers and trackers and enter the world of Africa’s nocturnal predators on a thrilling night drive.
- The next morning you will wave a fond farewell as your unforgettable journey with us comes to an end.
- Meet & Greet at King Shaka International Airport
- Coach Transfers as specified in the Itinerary
- Accommodation as specified in the itinerary
- Meals, drinks and laundry as specified
- Private charter as specified in the itinerary on departure day
- Private sightseeing and excursions as specified in the itinerary
- Private game viewing activities as specified in the itinerary
- Munyawana Conservancy Fee, per person conservation fee
- Ocean Safari - Double Dive at Sodwana Bay when at Phinda Game Reserve
- Full Diving and Snorkeling gear at both locations; Wild coast for duration of stay and the one day at Sodwana Bay when at Phinda Game Reserve
- Emergency medical evacuation insurance
- Bed levies at South African hotels and lodges
- Gift with Travel Essentials for days at Sea
- Proceeds paid to Oceans Without Borders
What's not included
- Meals, drinks and laundry not specified in the itinerary or as outlined in the Includes
- Premium brand drinks, champagne, cognacs, cellar wines, cigars and cigarettes
- Gratuities and any items of a personal nature
- Sightseeing and excursions not specified in the itinerary
- Flights and transfers not specified in the itinerary
- Diving instruction (diving course) All guests who want to dive should have a valid PADI or other dive license.
- National parks and concession fees not specified in the itinerary
- Travel Insurance
- Visa fees (please be sure to check if visas are required)
- Personal Travel Wallet
- Any COVID19 Testing
- Any pre or post quarantine stays due to COVID19
- Flight quotes are subject to change, and we reserve the right to re-quote
- The operator may reroute the itinerary or accommodate in similar lodges in case of non-availability
- Validity periods are as specified above - should a booking fall over two rate periods the rate will change and we reserve the right to re-quote
- The rates quoted are subject to change without prior warning if there are any increases in bed levies, park fees, fuel, ROE, sales tax or VAT, third-party services or any other circumstances beyond our control in the countries featured in this quote
- andBeyond Trading Terms apply
Stay here on this journey
MBOTYI RIVER LODGE
Wild Coast, Eastern Cape 6 nights
The Oyster Box Hotel
Umhlanga Rocks 1 night
Phinda Forest Lodge
Phinda Private Game Reserve 3 nights
“Joining this expedition will immerse travellers in the wonder of this remarkable annual event, and give a first-hand understanding of the sheer scale of the migration and the number of species that come together to breed and feed.”
– Dr Tessa Hempson, Oceans Without Borders’ Programme Manager & Principal Scientist
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