A Day Trip: Whale Watching in Hermanus

The weather was perfect last week for a day trip: from Cape Town along the beautiful coast-hugging Clarence Drive to the southern coastal town of Hermanus, also known as “the Whale Capital of South Africa”. Hermanuspietersfontein, now thankfully known as just Hermanus, is recognised as one of the best places worldwide for land-based Whale watching.

Hermanus sits at an elevation of some 30m above the ocean. A wonderful “cliff path”, part of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, runs for 10km along the coast-line. Lined with benches, and convenient rocks, it provides a vantage point for you to sit and do your Whale spotting.

On the way we made a stop at Stoney point, near Betty’s Bay, to have a look at the Penguin Colony. This is the largest breeding colony for Jackass Penguins in South Africa. There are up to 28,000 Penguins there on a busy day. Also at Stoney point, which used to be a Whaling station in the bad old days, you will find the remains of the old “Lighthouse”. Just be warned, Penguins don’t use deodorant!

On arrival in the Hermanus area we began with a trip up Rotary Drive to the top of the mountain – from here we had an amazing bird’s eye view of the whole of Walker Bay – allowing us to see where the Whales were hanging out. There is wonderful Fynbos along this route too which makes it well worth the detour. Views down into the Hemel en Aarde valley are also stunning.

We spotted a couple of pods so we headed down into Hermanus’s Marine Drive, where, after a short walk along the cliff path, we found about 8 Whales just some 50m offshore. A wonderful sighting!

Sadly photographing Whales is usually disappointing unless one uses lots of patience.

For the Bird Watcher in me a sighting of the Cape Sugarbird feeding on a New Zealand Flax plant was also a highlight of the day.

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