Whale watching is probably one of the most intriguing adventures. There is no country on earth that provides a platform for such an activity the way South Africa does. There is a dedicated Route for this activity known as “The Cape Whale Route”, located in the Western Cape Region, Hermanus to be exact. Every year, the southern right whales migrate into the Western Cape waters to nurse their little ones. They come so close to the shores that whale watchers are given a show like never before, the opportunities for photos and filming are endless as the whales do their thing mindless of people watching them. There are 78 species of Dolphins and Whales in the world, of these 78, 37 are found in Southern African waters alone, quite a large percentage as you can see.
Some of the dedicated places to observe the whales include Lamberts Bay on the Cape West Coast, down to Elandsbaai and Saldanha Bay, down to Yzerfontein and Cape Town. You can also see them around the Peninsula into False Bay, where the whales frolic in the protected waters, on to Bettys Bay and Hermanus. Don and I went to Hermanus which is the whale zone. Information on whale sightings and where they come from into the old harbour to calve is provided.
Other viewing locations include:
* Along the soast to Gansbaai
* At Cape Agulhas
* De Hoop Nature and Marine Reserve (protected waters)
* Wistsand at the Breede River mouth (protected waters)
* Still Bay (this is on the Garden Route)
* Dana Bay
* Mossel Bay (on the St. Blaize's hiking trail)
* Great Brak River
* Ballot's Bay
* Herold's Bay
* Victoria Bay
* Dolphin's Point at Kaaiman's Pass
* Knysna (Brenton on sea and Knysna heads
* Plattenberg Bay (this is the whale hotline point)
You can see the whales show off as they breach and blow, spy hop and lobtailing by slapping their tails in water.
We went whale watching with Dyer Island Cruises, the cruise lasts two and a half hours and guarantees whale sightings between July and December, an 80% chance of seeing great white shark, and sightings of African Penguin and Cape fur seals at Dyer Island, you may also see dolphins and several species of sea birds
Kleinbaai [the home of Dyer Island Cruises] is a minimum of a two hour drive from Cape Town, it took us two and a half hours to get here
there are two cruises daily, at 10am and 12.30pm, you will need to be at the Great White House 45 minutes before your cruise to complete paperwork and have the safety briefing, life jackets and waterproofs are supplied
a video cameraman will be on the cruise and while you enjoying your complimentary drink after the cruise you will be able to watch the DVD and purchase a copy if you wish
the company also do shark cage diving trips, call 028 384 1005 for info or visit www.sharkwatchsouthafrica.com
the Great White House houses a gift shop, bar and restaurant, unfortunately if you go on the the 12.30 cruise you will return very hungry having missed lunch to find the restaurant has closed at 3pm
the price of the whale watching cruise is R690 for adults and R390 for children
We had wanted to do a shark cage dive but I was advised against it for health reasons, but we still wanted to see the sharks so we chose Dyer Island Cruises in Kleinbaai for our whale watching trip as they include a chance to see the Great White Sharks [more about them in the next tip]
we were asked to be there 45 minutes before the time of our booking, and were told it was a 2 hour drive from Cape Town, luckily we set off 30 minutes early and despite sticking to the speed limits and only a 5 minute hold up en route we arrived exactly on time
after filling in the necessary paperwork and paying for our trip we were given a short briefing about the wildlife we would see and the conservation efforts of the company, then it was on with the lifejackets and down to the slipway to board the Whale Whisperer and meet Warren our skipper
within several minutes whales had been spotted, and soon we found ourselves amazingly close to three Southern Right whales, these magnificent creatures were unconcerned by our presence even swimming along the side of the boat, we were able to see their eyes, mouths and were treated to several great sightings of them expelling air from their blow holes, due to the fact that whales refuse to pose for photos and my camera is very slow the pictures and not very good, but the memories are fantastic. it was nice that the boat was not overcrowded meaning that there was room to move around and enough space on the upper deck to get a clearer view of the whales
while all the whales we saw were the Southern Right ones there are also regular sightings Bryde`s whales and humpback whales
We briefly stopped at Hermanus on the way back form Shark diving, and saw somw whales. There are trips to properly watch them but be aware you are not allowed closer than 30 meters from them. I heard it is a good trip but we didnt have time, i only got this picture of a whale tail coming out of the ocean! I was lucky! (if you cant see it I can email it as it doesnt come out well small!)
Whale watching in Hermanus is a nice daytrip from Cape Town.
Hermanus is the only place in the world (I was told) where you can see the whales with your bare eyes and from the shore.
After the whale watching, you can dine in one of the nice (seafood) restaurants in the village.
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