At the southern tip of Africa, where two of the world’s greatest oceans converge, a total experience of land, sea and the rainbow culture of the Western Cape offer you the most exciting whale watching venues in the world! South Africa is one of the best destinations worldwide for watching marine wildlife, whether from land, boat or plane you can expect spectacular annual visits from southern right and humpback whales and enormous pods of dolphins.
Every year, southern right whales migrate from their icy feeding grounds off Antarctica to warmer climates, reaching South Africa in June. The country’s coastal waters teem with the giant animals, mating, calving and rearing their young, the peak calving season is July and August. The animals, often mere meters from the shore, provide unsurpassed whale watching opportunities between June and November offering spectacular displays of raw power and elegant water acrobatics. Humpbacks migrate through the region between May and December each year, while Bryde’s whales are found slightly further offshore all year round.
Good land based whale spotting can be done along the entire Cape Whale Route, this 900-kilometre-long stretch of whale watching coastline starts along the south of Cape Town and extends to Durban. The route traverses several famous protected areas, including the Garden Route, Tsitsikamma National Park and the Transkei.
Another good spot to experience whale watching is in the 34 000 hectares De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Overberg (just three hours from Cape Town), this is one of the largest natural areas managed by CapeNature. This beautiful reserve is a popular spot for hiking, cycling, bird or whale watching. The neighbouring marine reserve is a World Heritage Site that extends 5km out to sea and is one of the largest marine protected areas in Africa. It conserves a vast and fascinating variety of marine life. There is hike along one of the best trails in South Africa in De Hoop, the 5 Day G!ano Coastline Hiking Trail that offers coastal and mountain walking with spectacular views and of course plenty of whale watching opportunities.
If you are looking for close encounter boat-based whale watching you can choose from many options. These boat-based whale watching trips are regulated in South Africa and it is important to choose a reputable and licensed whale watching operator. Whale watching charters are available in most coastal areas, if you are visiting these areas, here are some great boat-based whale watching activities:
– Simon’s Town: Simon’s Town Boat Company operating in the western half of False Bay which is one of the finest boat based whale watching sites in South Africa.
– Hermanus: Southern Right Charters, with 20 years’ experience they offer an ‘experience to be treasured’.
– Knysna: Ocean Odyssey offering unforgettable marine adventures.
– Plettenberg Bay: Ocean Blue Adventures where you can experience the best the bay has to offer.
– St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal: Advantage Tours where you can get as close as 50 meters from these gentle ocean giants, the humpback whales. The curious humpback whale can be seen between May to December, moving up along the coast from Hermanus to St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal.
Another option for amazing whale-watching if you are visiting Hermanus is a whale watching and photographic flight with African Wings who provide flights that will enable you to look at these marine giants from above. This amazing experience can be booked for 30, 45 or 60 minutes and will leave you in awe!
With so many whale watching activities on offer, you have no shortage of choice of amazing experiences to choose from! Please contact us if you would like some more information on a whale watching experience or some sample packages showing how this experience can be incorporated into a package.