I am working on a self-drive itinerary for a Belgian family of 5 (the 3 children are all girls, aged 10 11 and 12) visiting SA this April. They would like to include snorkelling (the dad has snorkelled Red Sea; for the kids it would be the first time) at either Kosi Bay (mouth?), Sodwana Bay or Cape Vidal. Do you operate in these areas and which would be the best for snorkelling?
Where we dive mostly, Barra and Tofo, our diving is year round; different times of year can offer us different sights, above water and below. Because Mozambique is in the southern hemisphere, our summer is from December to February and our winter is July to September, though because we are not too far from the equator our winters are not extremely cold.
From December 15th until January 15th it is the South African school holidays and because Mozambique is close to South Africa, all seaside resorts tend to be quite busy during this time, so if you would like to come and visit us during this period, you need to book early! It can get very hot during this time (temperatures can get up to 40 ˚C) and quite humid. Water temp: 27 ˚C-29 ˚C.
From February until May: February is considered cyclone season in this part of the world. Most years this does not affect us and we have gorgeous calm weather, but if the conditions are right for it, cyclones can form out in the channel and send us big waves. At Easter, because of the South African school holidays, the dive resorts are very busy, so if you would like to come during these two weeks you need to book early. Outside the Easter period, it tends to be fairly quiet so it’s a great time to visit us if you want to escape the crowds. The days are still nice and hot but the evenings are getting a little cooler. Water temp: 23-27˚C
From June until September: The whales are here, it’s sunny and warm during the day, and the evenings are cool enough to wear long sleeves. If you come in late June, it is possible to see both the humpback whales and the whale sharks! Water temp: 20-25˚C. This is however the main windy season so be prepared for some choppy sea conditions.
From September until December 15th: It’s starting to get a little warmer at night, the dive resorts varies between very busy and not busy, though these times are unpredictable, so book early or check with us.The water temperature is rising steadily from 23-27˚C.
Visibility, wind and sea conditions: You will need to remember that this is Africa! It is impossible to compare our conditions to other parts of the world. The sea conditions can range from lake-like to very rough with swells sometimes reaching over 5 meters and wind speeds up to 30 knots. We will not launch our boats and take you diving if the sea conditions are too rough (decided by our experienced dive and boat staff) or unsafe. You will find, that if you have never dived here, or along the south-eastern coast of Africa, that the conditions can be quite challenging one day, and very easy the next. Visibility can range from 1 meter to 30 meters and none of the conditions are predictable. We can also get very strong currents on our deeper dives and this is why all our deep dives are considered drift dives and done with negative descents. Having said all the above, we can also experience very calm and pleasant sea and diving conditions.
Do you guys think there is any evidence that the contrast in colour poses any risk diving with sharks? Let me know because the customers just want to know if they need to buy different fins for this trip. I don’t want them to spend money and then turn up to find the dive center has yellow rental fins!
Here is the answer from Brett, a very experience shark addict who runs the Aliwal Shoal Operation:-
I have the same people here. On my dive today was a guy in a yellow wetsuit - he is still alive!!!
Personally I would not buy new fins.
Worst case scenario, we can lend them some fins if they feel strongly about it.
And from Kym, who runs the Protea operation:-
lol. yes yum yum yellow. The sharks are more interested in yellow, white and silver fins. We have never had an issue but if the diver is a bit more nervous of sharks coming close them another choice could be better. Some of our rentals fins are yellow...lol.
Really, I would not worry!
Out of Mpame its 5 sea days / 6 nights.
Out of Port St John’s its 9 sea days / 10 nights.
You can arrive any time suitable to yourself on the first day, ideally before dinner, so that you can meet the crew and you fellow participants. The first day of the Sardine run then starts the following day. Then depending on which Expedition you chose, you then have either 5 sea days with one reserve day (East London,) or 5 sea days out of Mpame, or 9 sea days out of Port St John’s.
Payment is a 10% non-refundable deposit on booking, and the balance, 30 days before the start of the Expedition you chose to join, subject to availability. They are filling up very fast as it’s not long now before the first Expedition date out of East London, on Sunday, May 21.
Hope this answers your questions.
Please understand that the Sardine Run is a natural phenomenon, meaning nothing is guaranteed, and no one location, East London, Mpame, or Port St Johns, is better than another. In order to help you decide where to be based, let us explain as best we can.
The only known fact is, that unless the water temperature drops below 19°C, the Sardines simply don’t “run.” The shoals of Sardines prefer cold water, and if the temperature does not drop below 19°, they simple stay far out to sea, and deep, where the colder waters are, and don’t venture close to shore. This is when they don’t “run, and it has happened often in the past. So, as you can appreciate, no-one can guarantee the Sardine Run. The other known factor is that the sardines start their “run” (migration) south of Cape Town, and work their way north, up the east coast of South Africa. They first reach offshore East London about now, end-May. As they work their way up north, the next best place to be based is Mpame, which is north of East London, but south of Port St Johns. About mid-way between East London in the south, and Port St Johns in the north. That’s the safe bet where to be based. Then as the shoals migrate north, they leave the East London area in the south, to Mpame. Then towards the end of June to mid / end July they are in the Port St John’s area. Then they send to head out to sea, and follow the Agulhas current all the way back to the Cape where they start the whole process again next year. But please remember, if the water temperature along the coast is not below 19°, is does not matter where you are based – they will not come close to land. So, in a nut shell, and assuming the water temperature is right, they first reach East London towards the end of May to mid-June. Are in the Mpame area, mid-June to mid-July. Then, in the port St John’s area, mid-June to the end of July. That’s simplistically put, but nothing is nature is simple, so please don’t hold us to the above.
Sharon, if you are thinking about joining this year’s Sardine Run, we urge you not to leave it too late, as they are due off East London any day now.