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The Wino & Rhino Safari

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Trance Dance with the Ancestors
Trance Dance

The Sardine Run 2012


One of the world’s great migrations, the annual Sardine Run is a natural phenomenon which usually occurs during the months of June and July, when massive schools of sardines migrate from the colder waters around the Cape to the warmer waters of Kwa-Zulu Natal to give birth to their offspring. Once they've laid their eggs, they return to the Cape, closely followed by thousands of dolphins, fish, birds of prey, whales and sharks. The ocean awakes vibrantly and the thrill is as indescribable as it is unforgettable.
This is not an experience that any diver should miss.

Proposed Safari itinerary
Day 1 We meet at the airport at Umtata and drive to Coffee Bay. Check in to the hotel. Welcome briefing and dinner
Day 2-6 Breakfast at 7am.
Drive to Hole in the Wall Resort. Briefing for the day and launch ± 9am
Return no later than 16h00. Transfer back to hotel and leisure
Day 7 Breakfast and departure for Margate. Check in at the Diver Villa, self-catering house
Day 8-9 7am meet at Shelly Beach harbour for diving Protea Banks
First dive = normal reef dive on Protea Banks. Launching at 8am, returning at 10am
               Breakfast in the clubhouse after the first dive
Second dive 11h30 = Baited Shark Dive with Bull sharks, Black Tip sharks and Tiger sharks
               Return at ± 14h30 to base. De-kit, wash up, store equipment. Return to Diver Villa.
               Rest of day and dinner at leisure.
Day 10 Dive at the famous Aliwal Shoal for ragged-tooth sharks and black-tip sharks.
Day 11 Breakfast at the club and departure for Durban.
Lunch at Ushaka Aquarium and then transfer to the airport for onward flights.

Safari Description

Highlights of this adventure focus on the spectacles of sardine bait balls, aquatic and avairain wildlife feeding on the massive sardine shoals and baited shark dives in some of the most fabulous dive sites in the world.

The Sardine run   - Days 2-6
Locals claim that as soon as the aloes bloom on the South Coast, the sardines will start to run.  This is not strictly true as the sardines start their migration when the waters in the South Atlantic drop below a critical temperature. With global warming as the ocean temperatures rise there is a fear that the sardine run will cease to occur in the future. Despite the fact that this is one of nature’s great spectacles few paid the sardine run much attention for many years. When this spectacle happens the ocean bursts into a profusion of activity as hundreds, sometimes thousands of common dolphins hunt the sardines and whales seem to be everywhere. Cape Gannets cruise in flocks of several hundred above the sardines and dive like hailstones from 20m into the water to snatch their share of the silvery fish. At the end of a good day, they float helplessly on the water with their bellies so full they are unable to take off.

Deeper in the ocean, huge numbers of sardines form a bait ball to escape the sharks and dolphins. Sadly for the vulnerable fish this tactic does not always work because once the bait ball is formed, the sharks and dolphins swim through it repeatedly and often not a single sardine escapes their attention.   

As divers, we will first approach the situation carefully and watch what is going on from the boat. Then we slide into the water and when a bait ball is formed or a large shoal of sardines approaches, we don equipment and watch the incredible scene from a depth of approximately 5-7m.
Then it's back on the boat and off to the next group of sardines. This can go on for hours or even the whole day with a short lunch break in between.

Typical Day at Coffee Bay
Breakfast is served at 7am and then we make our way along the picturesque coastline to the Hole in the Wall where we launch with a packed lunch to go in search of the best viewings.
We return to base no later than 16h00 and while our staff prepares the boat and equipment for the next day we head back to the hotel where we are at leisure until we meet for dinner.

Air Support
In order to maximise our chances of finding the sardines we will have an airplane for our sole use which will scout daily for signs of the sardines. 

Baited Shark Dive at Protea Banks - Days 8-9

The Northern Pinnacles
Depth: 33-40m

This is an ideal area for nitrox diving and has a magnificant topography. This part of the reef is only dived in winter during our Raggie season, and only very few divemasters know how to dive the Northern Pinnacles properly.
Because most people don't even find this location, the reef is virtually untouched and undamaged. It has two large cave systems which are used by the Ragged Tooth Sharks as resting zones on their annual migration and congregation route. On a good day, we can encounter up to 200 sharks in an area smaller than half a rugby field.

We start our dive at the large cave, looking in from the top and observing Raggies interacting peacefully with each other. Often we find the caves so full of sharks that we can hardly see the bottom. We respect their resting zone by merely observing and not disturbing them. We then pass the tunnel which we can swim through if it is not occupied by sharks, swim past the coral garden and get to the second cave. This cave is also open on top and features several chambers, each one with a wide opening at the top ceiling. If there are no Raggies in the caves, it is rewarding to explore around in the chambers, looking for sharks' teeth which are generally plentiful. This is the only souvenir we allow the diver to remove from the reef. As spring goes into summer, large shoals of Hammerhead Sharks frequent this part of the reef. The best months to dive the Northern Pinnacles are June to November. It truly is the best dive on earth.

The Southern Pinnacles
Depth: 26-40m

This area is home to the Zambezi Shark (Bull Shark) which is what Protea Banks has initially become famous for. From Oct to May, some very large specimen can be encountered here. In the beginning of the Zambezi season, they tend to keep a safe distance from the divers which gets reduced as time goes by. Towards Easter, Zambies often get so inquisitive and used to encountering divers underwater, that they come really close - ideal for award winning photos.

Scalloped Hammerhead Sharks are also seen shoaling at this time. On a good dive several hundred can be seen in a single shoal. Hunting packs of Great Hammerheads curiously seek out the noise of the divers and Blacktips dart in and out of vision like a bunch of playful puppies.

We start the dive at the Southern Cave - buzzing with of all sorts of game and reef fish, often so thick that it is hard to see one's buddy. Thereafter we reach Kingfish Gully, an overhanging rock which is home to large shoals of Kingfish, Yellowtail, Kaakap, Sea Pike Tunny, Potato Bass and many more species.The current then takes us to a large sandy patch we call Sand Shark Gully. It lies at exactly 40m depth and is home of the Giant Guitar Shark. At times we see them lined up like planes at an airport, 50 to 60 of these magnificent creatures is not uncommon.
The best months to see Tiger Sharks are April and May, although  we see Tiger Sharks right through the year.

Protea Banks has been rated by many divers from around the world as the best shark dive. Many divers are scared of sharks due to horror stories and myths created by the movie world, but their fears are totally unfounded. Sharks are intelligent animals, do not recognise us as a food source and generally tend to be shy and respectful towards the divers. 

Dive at Aliwal Shoal - Day 10

Aliwal Shoal is better known than Protea Banks due to the fact that this reef is suitable for any level diver whereas Protea Banks is for experienced divers only. It became well known for Ragged-tooth sharks though there probably are fewer here than on Protea Banks and only occur in season.

Outside the reef Baited Dives attract huge numbers of Black Tip Sharks.

It is one hour’s drive from where we will be based to Umkomaas to dive this reef.

Diving experience required

Divers ideally should hold an advanced qualification with a minimum of 25 dives experience. However, someone with ± 10 dives can snorkel on the sardine run as long as they are comfortable in the water. Protea Banks, however, requires more experience with a minimum of 20 dives.

The Sardine Run is mainly about jumping into the water with snorkel and fins to see the action below and then back into the boat to follow the sardines when we go back into the water. Participants need to be reasonably fit. Some days we dive on Scuba and others we don’t.

Either way, even a diver who is lacking the full experience or who has not been in the water for sometime will get the necessary training before we dive Protea Banks.

The diving operator who will accompany us has some three thousand dives to his credit and is the leading expert on the Protea Banks where he has completed 2500 dives – 374 of them baited shark dives. For those concerned about diving with sharks he says

"I have done over 2500 dives at Protea Banks and never have once felt threatened by any shark or groups of sharks."

The Details

Dates & Price - On enquiries we will establish the best possible dates and advise price.

A 25% deposit is required to confirm the booking. Balance is due two months before the trip starts.

Conditional Elements
While we have chosen the optimal time for this dive there is no guarantee that the sardines will run where we are there and, in fact, that they will run at all in 2012. Every so often the Cape waters do not get cold enough for them to run. Even if they are running the ocean conditions may be such that we can’t launch. If there the sardines are not around and the sea conditions allow we will be busy all day diving with whales and dolphins and searching for birds – the telltale sign that the sardines have arrived. There is never a day without action. If we can’t put to sea there are a number of hiking trails to choose from and the White Clay is a stunning restaurant and bar within hiking distance.



Email: Cell: (+267) 7567 0277