Extraordinary barely describes the sardine run! This natural phenomenon occurs from May to end July along the South African coastline, and found nowhere else in the world. Rivalling the wildebeest migration, it’s the greatest gathering of ocean predators known. Thousands of dolphins drive vast shoals of sardines into densely packed bait balls. Following close behind are seabirds, sharks, game fish, whales, and other marine life with little else but sardines on their mind!

Join me on this once in a lifetime opportunity to be part of what many of the world’s top wildlife photographers and filmmakers consider the most intense and spectacular marine wildlife event in the world.


This workshop is aimed at enthusiastic underwater photographers whether experienced or novice. There is no minimum camera requirement.

The sardine run is one of the most challenging underwater photography events I have experienced – the animals move incredibly fast and it can be very overwhelming to begin with. Having photographed the sardine run a number of times I have compressed the hard lessons I learnt in order to capture great images into the few days of this workshop. By sharing what I do before, in the water, and after, I aim to assist you to improve your results.

This underwater photography workshop will consist of 3 modules divided over the period of the expedition.

photo workshop details

A photographer capturing the action.

Photo: Lesley Rochat

Common dolphin herding the sardines.

Photo: Lesley Rochat


Day 1: Arrive Durban and transfer to to N’taba River Lodge & Spa, a tranquil setting on the Umzimvubu River in Port St Johns, South Africa. It is approximately a 6-hour drive so please arrive before midday.

Once settled in at the lodge, we will meet to go over camera gear and photography details. We will also prepare dive gear, and meet with our skipper, dive crew and aircraft spotter pliot – they will share details of what to expect the following day.

Day 2 – 6: Every morning around 07h00 we depart from the N’taba Lodge pier on the river and enter the Indian Ocean. For the next five hours or more, depending on the action, we aim to locate shoals of sardines in order to view the feeding activity of the numerous species.

Every day after diving we will meet for a photo workshop session.

Day 7: Transfer back to Durban International airport after breakfast, or to Aliwal Shoal if you are extending your trip to do the shark diving with me.

Ask me more about the shark diving


  • Photography Workshop with Lesley
  • Shared accommodation for seven nights on a full-board basis.
  • Five sea days
  • Cylinder and weights
  • Transfers Durban to Wild Coast


  • Flights
  • Airport to Durban Transfers
  • Additional dive equipment
  • Activities on non diving days
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Gratuities
  • Single supplement


  • Wetsuit, mask, snorkel, fins (can hire)
  • Drybag for the boat
  • Wet weather gear: jacket, beanie, sunhat for the boat

Cape cannets dive in to feast.

Photo: Lesley Rochat

Common dolphin herding the sardines.

Photo: Lesley Rochat



  • Copper sharks, Carcharhinus brachyurus
  • Spotted ragged tooth shark, Carcharias Taurus
  • Black tip sharks, Carcharhinus limbatus
  • Dusky sharks, Carcharhinus obscurus


  • Common dolphin, Delphinus capensis
  • Indian ocean Bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops aduncus
  • Killer whale, Orcinus orca
  • Brydes whale, Balaenoptera edini
  • Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae

Pinnipeds Cape fur seal, Arctocephalus pusillus Birds

  • Cape Gannet, Morus capensis
  • Petrels and Shearwaters
  • Blackbrowed Albatross, Diomedea melanophiris
  • African penguin, Shpenicus demersus
All photos copyright Lesley Rochat