Every year between June and December, Hermanus, South Africa becomes home to a large number of Southern Right Whales. Although the season starts in June, the peak whale season is from August until the end of October.
The whales flock to the shores of the Western Cape to mate and calve, but more importantly, to awe spectators as they breach close to the shore line. With a 12 kilometer stretch of cliffs and walking paths – dotted with essential information sign boards to read – visitors and locals alike can enjoy the scenic, unparalleled beauty of the town’s vibrant cafe, bar and restaurant life, while being entertained by these amazing giants of the sea as they come as close as five meters from the cliffs edges.
There is an array of activities on offer and the most common around this time is a boat trip to view these magical creatures up close and personal, but not too close. Strict regulations prevent boat based operators from venturing closer than 50m to the whales. However, it is not uncommon that the whales make unannounced appearances very close to the boats, which certainly adds a little more excitement to your expedition.
The annual Whale Festival is at the end of September to celebrate the returning of the southern right whales to this bay during the calving and mating season. Just before this main festival event kicks off a “Kalfiefees” (or “Calf Festival”) is held to welcome the first whales. Both festivals are characterised by food, local entertainment, craft stalls, environmental presentations and drama productions.