It's whale time

You might have spotted the largest living aquatic mammals along our coast lines already but during the months of August and September, these intelligent creatures adds a lot of spectator value to towns like Hermanus, Pletterberg Bay, Mossel Bay and even towns on the West Coast.

From the early days of August the species most spotted, the Southern Right whale and hump back whale, make its way from Antarctica to the warmer waters of the Eastern coast of South Africa all the way to the coast of Mozambique and Angola.  These large mammals migrate to these waters to calve and nurse their new borns.

The Whale Route in South Africa starts along the south of Cape Town and extends all the way to Durban, ensuring 1200km of whale watching coastline.  When travelling the Whale Route you will pass through several famous protected areas like the Garden Route, Tsitsikamma National Park and the Transkei.

There are many spots from which you will be able to spot these giants; they include Lamberts Bay, Elands Bay, Saldanha Bay, Yzerfontein and Cape Town, False Bay, Bettys Bay, Hermanus, Gansbaai, Struisbaai and Arniston.  You’ll spot them at the mouth of the Breede River in Still Bay and on the St Blaize hiking trail near Mossel Bay, Hartenbos and Great Brak River.  Brenton-on-Sea in Knysna is a popular look-out for whales and Plettenberg Bay, Keurbooms River offers the “whale hotline” where they tend to come in close to the beach shore.

 Our favourite look-out points for whale watching in South Africa:

  • False Bay: Clarence Avenue between Gordons Bay and Rooi-Els
  • Hermanus: Gearings Point offers a panoramic view of Hermanus while the viewing terraces at the Old Harbour also make it possible to spot the Southern Right Whale.
  • Mossel Bay:  Point at Mosselbay, sit at the Mossel Bay Hotel or Kingfisher Restaurant and enjoy something refreshing while catching a view of the migrating whales.
  • Brenton-on-Sea: The Butterfly Blue restaurant
  • Plettenberg Bay:  Robberg Nature Reserve, Beachy Head Drive and Keurboom’s beaches

Get to know the Southern Right Whale

  • An adult Southern Right whale is more or less the size of a large bus and can weigh up to 80 tons and measure up to 18 meters in length
  • Their calves can weigh as much as 1,5 tons. 
  • Moms with calves usually travel at speeds between 0,6 and 1,5km/h and those in a hurry to get to the warmer waters travel at speeds between 2 and 3km/h
  • Typical behaviour of whales are the spray being blown through a blowhole when they reach the water surface;
  • Making backward flips which is a way of communicating, exercise and to get rid of parasites living on their skin;
  • Flapping their tales in the ocean water is another way of communicating

When planning your spring season getaway be sure to include the Whale Route in your travelling itinerary to experience this once a year occurrence.


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