First Car Rental's Guide to Whale Watching in South Africa
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The South African coastline is a haven for eager whale watchers. Each year masses of these gentle giants congregate on SA shores to feed and mate, offering tourists and locals alike fantastic land and boat-based whale watching experiences.
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Between June and November every year, the waters of the Western Cape teem with Southern Right Whales that have travelled from their Antarctic feeding grounds in search of warmer waters and a place to calve. Humpback whales also make an appearance as they migrate up the coast, while Brydes Whales can often be seen a little further from the shoreline.
Where to Go Whale Watching in South Africa
Fortunately, the whales have chosen some of the world’s most picturesque coastlines for their spawning ground, placing whale watching in South Africa on the bucket list of many keen travellers. The Whale Route begins along the southern coast of Cape Town and stretches as far as Durban in KwaZulu-Natal. Some of the prime whale watching spots include Lamberts Bay on the Cape West Coast, the Cape Peninsula, Hermanus (this is often regarded as the capital of whale watching in SA), False Bay, Mossel Bay, Arniston, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna and the highly popular Plettenberg Bay.
The SA coastline offers a huge selection of awesome whale watching spots, here’s a collection of some of the most popular ones.
Lamberts Bay is a scenic town in the Western Cape situated approximately 280 kilometres from Cape Town. It offers wonderful whale watching opportunities either from land or on a boat excursion. In addition to whale watching, this picturesque town offers mild weather, 4x4 routes and fishing, and is a great base to check out the seasonal Namaqua Daisies.
False Bay stretches from Pringle Bay through to Cape Point and includes popular tourist destinations like Muizenberg (considered by many to be the birthplace of surfing), Gordon’s Bay, Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town. The area is popular amongst whale watchers who take advantage of False Bay's numerous picnic spots and lookout points.
Hermanus is a welcoming little town that is widely regarded as the capital of whale-watching in South Africa. The area even boasts a Whale Crier who blows his kelp horn when whales are seen along the central sea route.
Bredasdrop and surrounds
Bredasdorp is a charming town situated on the northern edge of the Agulhas Plain. Nearby you’ll find the seaside town of Arniston, named after the ship that famously ran ashore here, and Struis Bay that lies near the southernmost tip of Africa. The area is well established as a whale watcher’s paradise.
Mossel Bay is a thriving farming and fishing town that is also a highly popular destination for travellers looking for a beach holiday. Whale watchers will be pleased to know that The Mossel Bay Cetacean Project – a scientific study exploring the species and numbers of oceanic mammals that visit the Bay – has revealed that some of them are here nearly every day of the year.
Wilderness is a seaside town famed for its long, white sandy beach and tranquil lagoon. Many holiday-makers are familiar with this peaceful town as it provides a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. The area is considered a hotspot for whale watching in South Africa.
Plet is regarded by many as the ideal place to go whale watching in South Africa. The Southern Right Whales stay in the bay during their breeding months (July to December) and as they start to move off, Humpback Whales move in to take their place. The town is also home to the endangered oyster catcher. Travel tip: Adventure seekers, head to nearby Bloukrans and tackle the highest commercial bridge-based bungee jump in the world!
Port Elizabeth is one of the biggest cities in South Africa and offers an array of activities to keep travellers busy, including whale watching tours at Algoa Bay, historical tours, museum visits and world class beaches.
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