WHALE WHATCHING in HERMANUS

Posted on Mon May 23, 2016.

Include Whales in your trip, only 2 hours drive West of Fynbos Guesthouse in Riversdale.
Excursion can be booked at FYNBOS Guesthouse Check-in desk or by e mail.

Hermanus, South Africa, the whale watching capital of the world. Each year the Southern Right whales visit Walker Bay between June and December to mate and calf. They prefer these warmer waters for the calves to grow strong before departing for the Southern Ocean near Antarctica. During their stay in South African coastal waters, they do not eat, but live on the fat stored during their “Krill binge” in the Arctic.

Hermanus is a beautiful holiday town less than two hour's drive from Cape Town and two and a half hour's from Riversdale (Fynbos Guesthouse).  The routes are easy and scenic and are recommend  as a self-drive to travellers who enjoy a bit of independence on holiday. It is highly recommended to stay for at least a day or two as whale watching trips are dependent on the weather. There are various wine farms to visit in the Hermanus area and excellent places to stay. From backpackers, guesthouses and boutique hotels.

To see the whales in real life should be on every animal lover's bucket list. A close-up with these gigantic mammals takes your breath away. The massive males literally throw their weight around – sometimes for fun, but mostly to impress the females. There can be up to eight males competing for the attention of a female.  It is enduring to see a small calves stick close to mother as she teaches them to navigate and even to do clumsy breaches on their own.

What to expect from boat-based whale watching:

Whales are wild animals. Their behavour can be predicted but are not set in stone. Think of boat-based whale watching as a safari at sea.  We go out to find the whales. They can be anywhere or nowhere. Our experienced crew however know where to find them and how to behave when encountering them. According to permit regulations, registered whale watching vessels may approach up to 50 m from the whales, where the engines of the vessel needs to be disengaged but not turned off. This is to enable the crew to move quickly should it be necessary. Being the curious mammals they are, the whales will often approach the vessel to do some “people watching”. These are awesome encounters. Other times they will just carry on with their business.

Dress warm and comfortable on this safari, wear flat shoes and bring a beany. It is winter time in Hermanus. It could rain. Yes, we still do whale watching in rainy weather, as long as the wind is not too strong and the sea rather calm.

Trip information

The two hour long trip departs from the Hermanus harbour, cnr of Still and Westcliff road. Look for the big orange building on the right hand side directly after entering the Harbour. Trips 4 times daily, 9:00, 11:00, 14:00 and 16:00, weather depending.

A briefing takes place 30 min before departure at the orange office, and the safety briefing after boarding the vessel.

Predicting and understanding whale behaviour

With nature there are no guarantees - that is why it is called a safari at sea. Understanding how whales breach will assist you not to miss the perfect photo opportunity when a whale breaches. When only it's tail is above water, it generally means that the whale is diving deep to pick up speed and power in order to throw its body out of the surf.  When they float just below the surface it is time to get your camera ready to photograph an above-water fin or tail. Sometimes they will come out to inspect the vessel or surroundings.

What to bring: how to dress:

Even in good weather, if you are not use to boating, consider taking anti-seasickness medication before the trip. Avoid coffee. There are two bathrooms on board (‘the head’, as a boat’s toilet is called.)

Water, soda and crisps are served during the trip.

Sun hats, sunglasses and sun-protection cream with a high SPF are non-negotiable. The UV glare off the water and the African sun are often under-estimated. Dress warm and wear flats if possible. A woollen cap is also not a bad idea.

The crew would like to assist you in any way possible

Our Crew members are passionate about what they do and love it when guests share their enthusiasm. It’s critical for your own safety to always obey all their instructions, for example, if you’re on the upper observation deck, wear your live jacket and do not ‘lean back’ when the boat is close to whales to keep the craft stable. Do ask questions. Our Tourist guides can speak French, English and Afrikaans.

You may even see more

Sometimes unexpected encounters with exotic birds happens. Schools of dolphins may also play around. These are precious bonuses.  Your cruise will be in Walker Bay, the only registered whale sanctuary in the world.

Booking your Whale Watching Trip

Request your hostess at Fynbos Guesthouse to book your trip. Just supply date and amount of persons, and we will do the rest !