Observing whales in their natural environment is an overwhelming experience of nature at its most glorious, and South Africa offers the best land-based whale watching in the world. From June until late November, southern right whales are highly visible along the Cape south coast, making this the perfect time of year for a whale-watching trip.
Clear, windless conditions are the best for spotting whales. You should look out for the whale’s ‘blow’, as it’s usually the first sign of its presence.
Southeast of Cape Town is the country’s ‘whale-watching capital’, the town of Hermanus. Overlooking Walker Bay, it is the best land-based whale-watching spot in the world. You don’t even have to go out on a boat to see them because southern rights come so close to the Hermanus shoreline – frequently appearing just a few metres from the shore. Look out for the annual Hermanus Whale Festival around the end of September.
You can also go out by boat to view whales further out to sea. Whale-tour boats are officially licensed to conduct close encounters and may legally approach whales to within a specified distance. It is then up to the whale’s natural curiosity to bring it closer. Although Hermanus is perhaps the most famous whale-watching destination, great sightings can also be enjoyed around the Cape Peninsula.
The southern right whales’ spectacular displays of raw power and elegant water acrobatics usually steal the whale-watching show, but there is also a good chance of seeing humpback, minke, Bryde’s and even killer whales. A qualified guide will be able to help you spot the difference.
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