Overview: Whale watching boat trip
Between about May and December (though the prime viewing months are August to November) whales migrate up from the cold waters of the Antarctic to the warmer, sheltered bays of the western Cape to mate, calve and rear their young. Hermanus is arguably the best place to see these wonderful creatures up close in a boat (as well as from the cliff-tops). If you’re staying in Hermanus this excursion is really a must during these months!
The small fishing village of Hermanus, two hours east of Cape Town, is one of the most accessible places in the world for whale-watching, notably for southern right whales.
These huge marine mammals were called ‘Right whales’ as they were considered the ‘right’ whale to hunt because they often swim close to shore, are slow swimmers, full of oil, and buoyant after they die. They were hunted to the point of near extinction in the 19th and early 20th centuries until a worldwide ban on right whaling was agreed in 1937. Sadly, the whaling continued despite the ban until around 1973, but since then the southern right is making a slow recovery and large numbers can now be seen cavorting in the seas from Cape Town right along to Plettenberg Bay. But Hermanus is recognised as the whale-watching capital of South Africa.
Only strictly licensed boats are allowed to take visitors out on the waters of Walker Bay and must be careful not to disturb the whales. As well as southern right whales, humpbacks also migrate through the region from May to December, and Bryde's whales are permanent residents of the waters slightly further offshore. Killer whales are also seen occasionally. So if you are lucky this can be an exciting trip! The tour also includes a visit to the African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary.
The boats will sometimes also go to Dyer Island too, where you can see penguins, a 60,000 strong Cape Fur seal colony, dolphins and many different seabirds.
The waters here can be a bit rough (sometimes too rough to launch the boats) so the best time to go is very early in the morning.
This trip is seasonal, bookable from June to December. The start time of the tour is subject to tide and boat launch times. Guests are contacted the evening prior to the tour with confirmed commencement time, which could vary by as much as two hours. This is a stand-alone boating activity and excludes transfers which can be pre-booked from Hermanus (45 minutes) or Cape Town (2.5 Hours), or you can easily drive yourself there if you have a rental vehicle.
Please note: Expert Africa only books excursions as a part of a full, Expert Africa itinerary.
- Start location
- The boats launch from Gansbaai
- End location
- Back at the launch site in Gansbaai
- Meals included
- Muffins & tea & coffee on arrival and warm soup & rolls when you land
- Approximately five hours
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