Whales in South Africa. Watching and marveling.
Spread between the mountains and the sea, the quaint province of Hermanus has been rated by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) as one of the world’s top twelve places to watch whales, and is often considered the heart of the whale watching circuit. This fishing village on the south shore is arguably one of the most spectacular places in the Western Cape, and is complemented by many fine restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, and beautiful scenery. Not surprisingly, flocks of whales pack sunscreen and beach towels as they head toward paradise’s Walker Bay.
About an hour and a half from Cape Town is the seaside town of Hermanus. A popular vacation spot for tourists and locals. Hermanus offers the best whale-watching grounds in the world. Beginning in May, Southern right whales pay homage to the warm, shallow shelter in the coastal area of Hermanus to reproduce their young. The best time for whale watching is August through November, and the bay is dotted with whales during this time. More often than not, they are more than happy to put on a whole show for onlookers.
Visitors who want to see a whale or two will need to walk the rocky trail that stretches 12 kilometers from one end of town to the other. The closest distance from which whales can be seen is just 20 meters from the shore, where they frolic in a safe harbor. The rumbling sound of a whale’s lumpy keel signals visitors to its location where to point their gaze, or camera.
Whales in Hermanus really frolic. they have been known to maneuver their tails to catch a tail wind and “swim” along the water effortlessly. just for fun! They also like to jump out of the water (called a “breakthrough”) to fall back into the sea with a deafening splash. It’s a fantastic sight!
The endangered species is now protected under strict international laws. The southern right whale is recovering a fertility rate of 7% to 10% per year. And, thankfully, that means their number doubles every ten years.
Canoeing with a Whale
Whale watching from the ground: “While I’m sunbathing on the local beach, sometimes I get to see up to five or six whales, literally behind a few approaching waves,” says a Hermanus Tourism representative. Hermanus offers residents and visitors a number of winning vantage points from which these deep-sea divers are easiest to spot. If you’re sunbathing on the beach, or have climbed a multi-meter cliff with its panoramic view, or just walked up to the edge of the ocean, you stand a good chance of seeing a giant whale tail or a whale dive out of the water. Gearings Point is a popular spot for panoramic views of the bay; Walking to Old Harbor allows for some shots of southern right whales.
Hermanus also offers several excellent beaches for both swimming and long walks. Several beaches have been awarded the “Blue Flag”, e.g. Grotto, Voeilklip. The Fernkluf Flower Gardens are a must, as is the Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Valley – world famous for its more than 100 award-winning wines – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and many other varieties. In the nearby mountains you can go hiking, or even conquer one of the peaks. For a less energetic vacation, there’s an extensive selection of art, craft and decor stores, and plenty of restaurants and cafes. A leisurely breakfast or lunch will be adorned with scenic views of the peaks and gloriously beautiful countryside.
There is a lot to do in Cape Town to make your holidays more interesting and to get your nerves a little bit better.
Feedback: Whale Watching in the Ocean Excursion (South Africa) – Another unforgettable excursion!
It was not my first trip to South Africa, I can tell you about it endlessly. I have already told about the extreme excursion, about feeding in a cage to the white sharks in the ocean, about funny excursion riding on ostriches at the ostrich farm, about the beach with wrong penguins, who live in Africa, about the city of Cape Town (you can find all this in my reviews). And now it’s time for a new story and a new excursion of whale watching in the wild in the native element of the ocean.
I should tell you right away, if your trip to South Africa will be from June to November, then this excursion is not to be missed for anything. Where else can you see whales at a distance of one meter, and even in their natural environment, the truth is that I can hardly imagine in the wild, they are not even orcas, you can’t put them in an oceanarium. There are only nine known places on the planet, where you can see humpback and blue whales and numerous orcas at close range. South Africa is one of those places. It is an amazing and amazing excursion – the emotions are just off the charts. Unfortunately, the time of the year, limits the tour, so not everyone is lucky enough to get to South Africa at this time, but at other times the whales move away from the shore and only during the breeding season and allow themselves to see as follows.
Our tour begins with being brought to a small town called Hermanus. As the locals like to call it the whale capital. It is on the coast of this town comes a huge number of whales during the mating season. It is a small fishing port, although it is difficult to call it a port, a port in the spirit of South Africa. I already told you about a similar place in my review with sharks. Here it is exactly the same, so the process of diving a boat into the ocean and our landing in it, with your permission I will omit.
For those who have not read my previous reviews of this wonderful country, I’ll tell you that we were in South Africa in August, in a period when we have a heat wave, there is an African winter. Although it’s 10 – 15 degrees plus over the air, the winds blowing from the ocean are very cool. So if you are going to travel in South Africa at this time, you’ll need to stock up on warm clothes.
Our board departs from the shore and we, cutting the wave, swim to meet the whales.
The tour lasts from 2 to 8 hours, depending on the luck of the group and the mood of the ocean residents.
We leave Walker Cove.
Endless ocean expanses.
You can admire the water endlessly, it’s very soothing. Unless, of course, you suffer from seasickness, otherwise the walk may not be so exciting. Luckily my vestibular apparatus is fine, it was tested on the first excursion to the sharks. So I, unlike some people, had a lot of fun.
If you look closely (you can enlarge the photo by clicking on it), in this photo you can see the first whale that appeared on the horizon. We were lucky, we didn’t have to wait long.
Of course, I knew that whales are big, but still it was hard to imagine their real size. They really are huge mammals. Some were bigger than our schooner. At such moments, it is especially good that whales, not sharks.
It is fascinating to see how such huge things frolic in the water, roll over on their bellies and swim close to the ship.
Everyone must have drawn whales with a fountain out of their backs as a child, this is what it looks like in life.
The whales played friendly with each other, to our delight and delight.
I’ll be honest, I’ve photographed gigabytes of memory, but I’ll only show you a small portion of it. Hours just fly by unnoticed while watching the whales.
To give you an idea of how close the whales come, I show you photos with the stern of the boat and the people, though we moved the whole crowd around the boat to the part where the whales are closer. But not everyone, some of them puked on the sidelines, they didn’t really care about the whales.
Front row seats to a 3D movie. Of course not as extreme as with the sharks, but we got our emotions from the walk.
South African right whale, which can be up to 19 meters long and weighs up to 90 tons, and the surprising thing is that the female whales are larger than their male counterparts. There are skin growths on the head and body of the whale, and in each individual they are individual in size and shape. Not a weak such fish.
Return from the tour. We were happy and a little bit cold, though we were warned beforehand that we should dress warmly, which we did. But still the ocean breeze is very cold. It was hot to run after the whales on the boat, but on the return we all got a little cold. So much for Africa.
Back to the ala port of Hermanus. There is a lively fishing and catch trade going on at the pier.
This is what daily life looks like for the locals. Work and business is just boiling. Everyone is busy doing his own thing. Some are fishing with fishing line without a rod, some are gutting fish, and some are selling them. And someone is watching it all.
Business albatrosses, I couldn’t help but show you this picture, I love it so much, it’s called “two of a kind. Albatrosses on the lookout for something to eat, maybe giblets for dinner.
Here’s another day watch.
And here’s the fishing I was talking about. From the little ones to the big ones.
Not a bad fresh fish, the size is just impressive.
What kind of fish I do not know, this catfish, if you look at the jaw and its size is not small.
Here, without going away from the cash register, the fish is gutted. Of course, this is not a fish caught from the pier, this fish has just been caught in the ocean and brought in by boat.
If the albatrosses are airborne daywatch to get a freebie, it’s the local landwatch prowling in the hope that they’ll get something.
That’s such an emotional and colorful tour we had. That’s what I look at photos and stir memories, but on the mind of only one South Africa is just a holiday, what a holiday! I want to go back there again.