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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Whale watching in Hermanus, South Africa

Whale watching in South Africa is among the greatest on this planet. Between June and November, enormous congregations of Southern Proper Whales (Eubalaena australis) arrive alongside the south coast of South Africa to mate and provides beginning. And the seaside city of Hermanus within the Western Cape is the hotspot for this whale exercise. Whale watching in Hermanus is an expertise you’ll always remember.

Two whales with the town of Hermanus in the background
Watching whales of their pure habitat at Hermanus

Southern proper whale migration in South Africa

Within the Austral summer season (December by Might), southern proper whales are within the chilly polar areas of the Southern Hemisphere the place they feed on krill.

In winter (early June by November) they go to the shallow coastal waters of Southern Africa, South America, and Australia. That is the very best time to go to Hermanus, throughout peak whale-watching season.

In Hermanus, whale bulls arrive in June, intently adopted by the females. They are going to mate throughout these months within the South African Cape coastal waters. The final Southern proper whales to reach in South Africa are the pregnant females, and so they’ll be the final to depart, this time with their calves in tow. Solely when the newborns are robust sufficient will they swim again to Antarctic waters, the place they’ll feed on krill: small, free-floating crustaceans.

whales by the town of Hermanus
Whale and calf in Hermanus

Among the best locations to view southern proper whales alongside the South African coast is within the small city of Hermanus, overlooking the deep waters of Walker Bay, the place you may sit on the cliffs alongside the city middle and watch this wonderful spectacle (among the greatest land-based whale-watching!) or be a part of a whale watching boat tour the place you’ll study whale habits.

Southern Right Whale
Land-based whale watching at Hermanus

Watch whales as they courtroom, play, and relax in Walker Bay. You’ll be able to see attention-grabbing behaviors like spy-hopping (poking their head straight up out of the water to go searching), lobtailing (once they slap the water with their tail), and possibly even a full breach (once they launch their whole physique filter out of the water!) In case you are extraordinarily fortunate, it’s possible you’ll even witness a whale beginning.

Hermanus may be the very best shore-based whale-watching vacation spot on the planet.

Whale bobtailing
Whale lobtailing at Hermanus

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In case you are visiting South Africa throughout whale season, Hermanus is a should.

This small coastal city is barely a one and a half hour drive from Cape City and the journey to Hermanus can simply be achieved on a one or two-day journey from there. The coastal drive is just too beautiful to not cease so we advocate doing this journey in two days and stopping alongside the best way to go to seashores, the penguins at Betty’s Bay, and people lovable meals vehicles alongside the street subsequent to False Bay which have unbelievable ocean views.

For individuals who don’t have a lot time, a day tour from Cape City is a superb possibility (see under).

Different wildlife you would possibly see throughout your whale-watching journey

Southern proper whales usually are not the one whale species you may see in Hermanus. Humpback & Bryde’s whales are additionally discovered right here, in addition to different native marine life like frequent dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Cape Fur seals, and a big number of marine birds together with the African black oystercatcher and African penguins. It’s possible you’ll even catch a glimpse of the orcas who’ve develop into extra frequent alongside the South African coast lately. Don’t overlook to scan the rocky shore for Clawless Cape otters as they forage among the many kelp.

Rock hyrax at a cliff by the ocean
Rock hyrax

The way to inform the distinction between Southern proper whales and humpback whales

It’s fairly straightforward to inform these two whales aside.

Southern proper whales have callosities on their backs (the tough, bulging, white patches), a V-shaped blow, and a white stomach. And southern proper whales don’t have a dorsal fin.

Humpback whales have a small dorsal fin and really lengthy pectoral fins.

southern right whale and calf
Southern proper whales have callosities on their backs

Are there any white whales?

YES! 5% of Southern Proper whales are born white! We had been fortunate sufficient to see one among them! These white calves usually are not albino whales (in contrast to the tremendous well-known Migaloo in Australia), and so they flip darker as they age. This white-colored situation is named gray morphism and never albinism.

Sorts of whale watching excursions from Hermanus

Many of the whale watching journeys supplied worldwide are boat-based as you usually should journey out off the coast to seek out whales. However in some locations, whales get so near shore which you could even really feel the mist of their blowholes from land! And Hermanus is one among them. Because of this whale watching in Hermanus is so unbelievable.

Because of this, you may go on a land-based whale-watching tour or a boat-based whale-watching tour in Hermanus.

Watching whales in Hermanus (land-based whale watching)

Good news for all of those that get seasick! You’ll be able to watch whales from land in Hermanus.

Land-based whale watching in South Africa isn’t uncommon. You’ll be able to see them from False Bay, from De Hoop Nature Reserve, and right here in Hermanus. In Hermanus, whales come near land as they favor Walker Bay to socialize.

There are just a few factors alongside the Hermanus coast which are prime land-based whale watching websites. The photograph under was taken at Bientang’s Cave Restaurant & Wine Bar. Ensure you convey your binoculars to lunch with you because the beautiful views might include one or two whale splashes!

restaurant table by the ocean with a whale breaching at the back
Have lunch whereas whale watching © Bientang’s Cave

One of many coolest issues about visiting Hermanus throughout whale season is the Whale Crier. The Whale Crier is a person who alerts individuals when whales have been sighted by blowing on a kelp horn alongside the cliff high.

You’ll be able to stroll the 7.5-mile clifftop route to identify whales of their pure surroundings. This isn’t the time to depart your binoculars on the resort! There are instructional indicators alongside the cliff path. For a beautiful view of Hermanus Outdated Harbour, cease at Gearing’s Level.

You too can stroll to Hermanus New Harbour the place a humpback whale as soon as visited (see video under). That is very uncommon however it exhibits how shut humpback whales can get to Hermanus.

You’ll be able to merely stroll alongside the coast and attempt to spot whales by yourself or you may be a part of a land-based whale-watching tour. One tour takes you in an air-conditioned car to five to 7 totally different spots the place you may see whales from land. It additionally features a go to to the Whale Home Museum. You’ll be able to guide this Hermanus tour right here.

person looking at the ocean
Watching whales from land

Whale-watching excursions from Hermanus (boat-based)

As Hermanus is usually thought-about the whale-watching capital of South Africa, it’s no shock there are many whale watching tour operators to select from. However bear in mind, whale-watching in Hermanus is widespread so we advocate you guide your outing forward of time to keep away from disappointment. Don’t fear, these excursions provide a assure that if there are not any whale sightings you’ve the selection to rebook freed from cost.

Hermanus whale watchers: Hop on a 36 seater, 15-meter catamaran, wheelchair accessible, youngsters pleasant, and geared up with eco-friendly engines that reduce underwater noise. Gentle drinks and water are included within the outing. Comfy seating and an elevated deck will let you get unobstructed views of the whales. E book your journey right here.

Southern Proper Charters: “Observing NOT disturbing” is the motto of Southern Proper Charters. Take pleasure in your whale watching journey in consolation from Southern Proper Charters’ purpose-built catamaran, particularly designed to reduce disturbance to marine life. Take pleasure in a snug boat journey with seating indoors and outdoor, a bar (no alcohol), and fashionable bathrooms make Southern Proper Charters a terrific alternative. E book your journey right here on Get Your Information or right here on Viator.

The town of Hermanus

Whale-watching day journeys from Cape City

For those who’re visiting Cape City and don’t have time to spend just a few days in Hermanus, you may be a part of a whale-watching day journey from Cape City. The journeys out of Cape City are usually 7-8 hours.

This Whale-Watching and winelands tour will take you to Hermanus out of your resort. It features a whale watching journey, a go to to a wine property, and a go to to a wine farm to do some wine tasting and chocolate pairing. When you have children, they’ll have some grape juice tasting!

This Whale watching, penguins, and wine-tasting tour begins with a resort pickup. From right here, you’ll go to the penguin colony at Betty’s Bay. After this, you’ll drive to Hermanus the place you’ll watch whales from land. In your manner again to Cape City you’ll cease at a coastal wine property to take pleasure in some wine tasting.

Subsequent time you go to South Africa, be sure to not miss the whales at Hermanus!

Cristina Garcia

Zoologist and wildlife photographer. She has labored within the area with jackals, wolves, cheetahs, & leopards. She serves on the Board of Administrators of SEE Turtles, a non-profit sea turtle conservation group.

Learn her posts at Journey For Wildlife and see extra of her work at Actually Wild, & Our Wild Yard.

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