It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No! It’s a whale: A review of the #whale watching in Hermanus.
Whale watching season is upon us and if you have never before been out to see these incredible creatures then you have to ask yourself. What are you waiting for? But before I continue I have to make a confession. I had never been. And having lived my whole life – thus far – in Cape Town such an admission could be deemed blasphemous. But at least you can seek solace in the fact (like I did) that it’s never too late. Or is it? For as whale populations go I fear more for some than others. But luckily with towns such as Hermanus and the emphasis South Africa puts on conserving these incredible sea mammals we can be rest assured for their future conservation.
Now the annual migration of whales to the seaside town of Hermanus begins in June and ends in December. A space of six months no local or even foreigner to our shores should turn a blind eye too. I mean where else in the world can you see these magnificent giants in all their glory up close and personal. Well, apparently at twelve other spots around the world. But if you’re nowhere near those then you’re in luck. For Hermanus more specifically Walker Bay boasts the best land viewing spots than any other in the country, no boat rental required.
As viewed by us as we stumbled upon a pair, presumably a mom and her calf going about what nature had intended. Frolicking and playing as the mother instinctively taught her newborn the ins and outs of living in the deep blue sea. It is important to note though that this behaviour is what equips the little guy (or gal) with the skills needed to survive before the family make their way back to their feeding grounds near the Antarctic. It was in short a treat and a privilege to be there watching them as they carried on seemingly oblivious to the hordes of eyes watching them from the shore. However if we could understand what she was voicing to her little calf, I bet it would be to the tune of “As harmless as they seem, I wouldn’t trust them”. And this goes without saying for ironically Hermanus used to be the go to whaling station back in South Africa’s bad old days.
But those days are behind us and hopefully we were seeing the future, full of active happy whales reproducing into huge schools. Now other than the incredible whale watching Hermanus has to offer it’s also a very happening spot. Full of quaint eateries, a village market and beach bars/ shacks to die for. Did I forget to mention it also has multiple museums, the world’s only whale crier and a blue flag beach – Grotto beach- all situated within a UNESCO World Heritage site; the Kogelberg Biosphere.
I can’t think why this activity would not be on your summer itinerary of fun things to do this summer in Cape Town.
- Other than the whales expect to see dolphins and on occasion, killer whales as well.
- Of all the whales that frequent Hermanus shores the 3 most common are the Southern Right whale, the Humpback whale and the Bryde’s whale. We were lucky enough to spot two out of the three can you guess which ones?
- Hermanus is home to the only whale crier in the world and can be seen in action between the months of June to December. (The whale breeding and calving season.) Listen out for his call.
- The whale watching in Hermanus is ranked the 6th most popular tourist attraction in RSA and rated among the 12 best whale watching spots in the world as recognised by the WWF. And we here at Nomadex can believe that after seeing it firsthand.
- Hermanus itself boasts a blue flag beach; Grotto Beach and the first UNESCO declared biosphere: Kogelberg. Of which all are beautiful spots to explore and to watch the whales from.
- Feel the need to hit a pit stop? But still want to do some whale watching, then no problem. Make your way down to Bientangs Cave restaurant next to the old harbour. It’s the ideal spot for a sundowner while continuing your whale watching.
Tips for virgin watchers:
- Take the coastal road through Gordon’s Bay. Although a tad longer than going over Sir Lowry’s pass it is a stunning drive that rivals any other coastal road in the world, you will not be disappointed.
- Look out for the multiple viewing points situated all along Walker Bay. They are clearly marked with a sign depicting a whale along with its name.
- Listen out for the distinctive call of the Whale Crier with his kelp horn. He will always alert you to the presence of whales and is full of information concerning most sea mammals that frequent Walker Bay’s shores.
- As mentioned to us by the whale crier, the best time of day to view the whales is between the hours of 10 am and 4pm.
- Don’t forget to have a peek inside all three of the museums situated in close proximity to all the whale viewing points. They are an invaluable source of information. But due to their high running costs and the need for necessary upgrades your patronage can help them in further educating the public on safe guarding a natural heritage.
- Also look out for dolphins, killer whales and whatever else might pop its head out of the ocean while you’re there.
- Oh, and one last thing, when the whales tail wave don’t forget to wave back or clap your hands.
The whale watching in Hermanus ranks highly on the Nomadic Existence: Fun Things to do this summer in Cape Town.
A special thanks goes out to the Whale Crier, Eric Davalah for informing us of the presence of the whales, the workers at the museums and the locals in general who were very kind in their willingness to assist us in any way we needed.
We went whale watching at Gearing Point on the 25 September 2014.
By Slippery Joe Lyzard © (Writer for Nomadic Existence)
Photography: Nomadic Bug ©
Nomadic Existence 2015 ©
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