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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 18 January, 2023
Expert travel writer: James Fair

Made famous by the Blue Planet tv series, this extraordinary natural spectacle sees billions of sardines migrate up South Africa’s Eastern Coast.

Every year between February and August, the gigantic fish shoals – up to 7km long, 1.5km wide and 30m deep – spawn in the cool waters of the Aghulas Bank, before riding the current northwards.

They’re followed by almost every denizen of the deep. Bryde’s and humpback whales, sailfish, blacktip sharks and thousands of dolphins amongst others gorge themselves in a vast feeding frenzy unlike anything else witnessed on Earth.

The migration even rivals, in terms of biomass, the wildebeest migration, another extraordinary wildlife migration spectacle.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
Frequency: annually
When: February-August
Duration: 7 months

Our writer’s recommended tour operators to book with

Shark Explorers

Shark Explorers

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Highly experienced and professional shark diving specialist offering diving/snorkelling with blue and mako sharks, and cage diving with great white sharks, in Cape Town. They also organise diving trips to see the Sardine Run, and shark diving in Bimini to see hammerheads and tigers.

Aliwal Dive Centre logo

Aliwal Dive Centre

Umkomass, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

The biggest of the local dive operators, offering diving on the Aliwal Shoal with tiger sharks, ragged-tooth sharks, manta rays, dolphins and whale sharks, and special dive packages to witness the great ‘sardine run’. They cater to all levels of experience.

Round-ups that include this experience