Winter in South Africa means something very exciting … and that’s whale watching season!!!
South Africa may be known for its Big Five, but the marine wildlife is just as impressive and every year, southern right whales take a vacation in Cape waters, treating locals and visitors to their very own show. Around the month of June, a number of magnificent whale species migrate to the Cape Town coast to breed and stay here for a few months. So you can expect these magnificent creatures waving their tails at you until around November!
Here’s what you need to know in order to catch a glimpse of them during your never@home stay…
Of the whale species seen in the waters around the Cape, southern right whales are the most common. However, you might also get a chance to see humpback whales and Bryde’s whales.
The Southern Right Whale has very dark grey or black skin, with occasional white patches on the belly. Its two separate blow holes produce a distinguishing V-shaped blow. Southern rights have an enormous head which is up to one quarter of total body length. All together they average 15m in length and can weigh a whopping 60 tons!
The whales migrate annually from Antarctica to the coast around Cape Town to calve their offspring. They usually arrive in June and stay until November.
Humpback whales are enormous creatures — about the size of a school bus. Humpbacks don’t normally have a hump on their backs; the name comes from the large hump that forms when they arch their backs before making a deep dive into the ocean.
These knobbbly bobbly headed whales can be seen in Cape waters during their migration from the polar regions to Mozambique and Madagascar where they breed and give birth. You are most likely to catch a glimpse of them between May and November.
Although they are the only species of whale that is present in South African waters all year round, Bryde’s whales can be tricky to spot because they tend to dive for long periods of time before resurfacing only briefly where the Bryde’s whale shows no more than the top of its head.
You are most likely to spot these shy whales between the West Coast and Port Elizabeth. Look out for a large, sleek, dark grey body with white on the underside, and three ridges near the blowhole.
If you don’t feel like travelling far, there are a few great whale-watching spots near the city of Cape Town. Opt for the higher vantage points along the False Bay coastline such as Cape Point, Boyes Drive between St James and Kalk Bay and Clarence Drive between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els. During the whale-watching season, you might even get lucky if you take the train trip from Muizenberg to Simon’s Town.
Rated as one of the top 12 whale-watching locations in the world by the World Wildlife Fund, Hermanus offers up some incredible viewing opportunities because the whales often come within metres of the shoreline. There are viewing terraces at the Old Harbour, and Gearings Point is a popular spot. During the whale watching season, a Whale Crier alerts watchers to the presence of whales by blowing on a kelp horn. To fully immerse yourself in the whale experience, we recommend you visit Hermanus from the 28th until the 30th of September 2018, when this quaint seaside town hosts an annual whale festival in order to celebrate these spectacular sea creatures.
Our friendly travel desk know exactly what’s hot and what’s not when it comes to being able to watch these magnificent whales. So be sure you pay them a visit for before you start your whale watching adventure!
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