Whale Watching in South Africa
By Iris Hunt
Suddenly the waters part a mere 500 meters in front of you and a 16 meter long giant of a fish eases its 50 ton body out of the water in a beautifully coordinated jump, only to fall back into the sea with an enormous splash.
Before you can get your camera up, a giant tail appears out of the ocean, it lingers glistening in the sunlight and leisurely slides back to be hidden once again by the sparkling blue sea.
This is Walker Bay on the southern shores of Africa where whales gather in protective safety from June to November every year.
Above the picturesque cliffs is a little town called Hermanus. Called so, after Hermanus Pieters, who in the early 1800’s followed an Elephant path down to the sea…
What followed is short of a miracle
I wonder what Hermanus thought when he saw his first whale… 10 times the size of the Elephant he feared. But the sea was also abundant with fish and so a handful of people settled in this little paradise.
To date, Hermanus has retained its village flavor, while offering all the modern amenities today’s traveler would expect. It has become the secret ‘Riviera of the South”, a winter escape for many Europeans. The Beaches in the area are a sun worshippers dream with soft white sands and a backdrop scenery of mountains covered in wildflowers.
If you can take your eyes off the spectacle of the whales, there are many other activities and interesting things to do and see in the area.
Visit the colony of wild Penguins at Stoney Point, Betty’s Bay, go fly-fishing, diving, parasailing, game watching, mountain climbing, you name it. There is a spectacular golf course nearby at the prestigious Arabella Country Estate, as well as other courses. Or enjoy coastal walks along miles of the cliff path. For a thrill, hire a kayak and paddle up to the whales at sunset!
And if you have any energy left to spare, visit the craft markets, galleries and the studios of the many Artists that have made the area their home.
When night falls there are several first class restaurants to choose from, all informal, but with some excellent cuisine. Or dine in old fashioned luxury style at the Marine Hotel.
For longer excursions, the famous Cape Winelands are only an hour away.
There are also excellent Sea Safaris to watch the whales or the great white sharks and the Cape Fur Seal colonies. www.whaleviewing.co.za
If you are starved for sophisticated shopping and Nightlife, there is always Cape Town, just over an hour to the West.
Accommodations at Hermanus and surrounds are available from the grand luxury of the Marine Hotel – www.marine-hermanus.co.za – to a few smaller Hotels and Pensions and many private Apartments and B+B’s.
We enjoyed the Auberge: email@example.com
and also the excellent and friendly services of Whale Route Accommodation (watch whales from your balcony!)
More info is available from The Hermanus Tourism Bureau: www.hermanus.co.za/info
Whale season at Hermanus is from June to November. Summer months in Southern Africa are October to April.