Searching for Sardines in a Cessna 182 light aircraft
Searching for KZN Sardines in a Cessna 182: when the aloes bloomed back in 2014, we took to the skies in a Cessna 182 light aircraft, to get a better vantage point. The aloes blooming are the signal each year that heralds the onslaught of the sardines, on the KZN South Coast of South Africa. Each and every dry season (wintertime which is just like summertime in most places).
This beautiful winter’s day, the swells from the south were spectacular and many unrecognisable point breaks were coming to life. Our pilot – Captain John Marshall down from Joburg, in his cute little Cessna 182, was due to meet me at Margate Airport, just before 9 am. Just the two of us were booked for this flight. And as always it’s all very exciting when you are operating in a private plane. People even look at you differently.
And so, as planned, we taxied into the takeoff zone at the north end of the runway. John revved that little engine, and we surged into the air and continued south. We found just one little dense pocket of sardines on the hour-long trip. Way off Lupitana, in the Transkei. The Wild Coast scenery is breathtaking though. As is the touchdown on the mountain top airstrip above Port St. Johns. Which nearly resulted in crash landing as some civilian fool in a car took off and headed down the exact same runway we were meant to be landing on. Some skilful maneuvring and the little plane touched down gently and we turned around and headed back home again.
There weren’t many sardines on this early scout. But man-oh-man when they come through as they have been doing in the last few years, it’s a spectacle to behold. Umzimkulu Adrenalin is hosting this year’s sardine run 2022 in Port Shepstone, KZN, South Africa. Doing a mix of ocean safaris and beach patrols as they make sure you don’t miss out on any of the experiences. Oftentimes, it’s from the beach and in the shallows, where most of the action can be seen.
The feeling amongst the onlookers and sardine catchers is of a wild fervour. Sardine Fever it is commonly diagnosed as. People running into the shore break literally fighting with sharks to get their sardines. Nets. Buckets. T-shirts. Anything goes in sardine season. And you can park anywhere you like. The law goes out of the window as convoys throttle the beaches with their traffic. Be aware, however, as many land sharks also operate in this wild environment and many cars get broken into and fishing tackle or goods stolen. The cops can barely resist the temptation to also go and arrest a few sardines themselves?!
Get in touch with the guys at Umzimkulu Adrenalin at https://umzimkuluadrenalin.co.za. You can see the accommodation options at https://spillershouse.co.za (BnB and Backpackers). And at the Umzimkulu Marina (self-catering). Right on the water’s edge – boats moored out front. And you can see the Garlic n Naan menu at https://portcaptain.co.za to give you an idea what staying at Umzimkulu Adrenalin will taste like!