A whale of a time in the whale watching capital of the world
The seaside village of Hermanus is home to the best whale watching area in the world. Whether you join a boat trip or walk the coastal cliff path, you are highly likely to see these gentle giants of the sea.
What is even more impressive is the fact that there are a number of opportunities on the way if you take the Clarence Drive route. I personally have had the most memorable sightings of a number of sea creatures including Great white sharks, dolphins, Cape clawless otters, penguins and many seals. On occasion one may also spot shoals of fish as well as sight whales close offshore.Baboon troops also abound along the way.
The Drive hugs the mountain side with many hair pin bends and plunging drops for the unwary and the memorial to the builders of this pass in the 1940’s is a stark reminder to those who perished constructing the engineering marvel as captured prisoners of war.
Once leaving the quaint harbor village of Gordon’s Bay, the 60 KM trip is a joy to behold with a number of sleepy villages dotted along the coast. There is a wildness and a feel of the wilderness with regular sightings of various predators such as leopards and caracul in the towering mountains and even close to the holiday houses.
There is also a penguin colony named Stony Point which is well worth a visit as well as the Harold porter Botanical gardens which is a lovely place for a quick cup of tea and is one of the last bastions of Cape Fynbos. As one heads south one has the opportunity to stop off at a number of tiny fishing harbors. There is also a herd of wild marsh horses adjacent to Kleinmond that legend suggests are descendants of horses that were released during the Anglo Boer war over a century ago!
The seaside town of Hermanus has become the Riviera of the South with many affluent city folk establishing seaside homes. Though the town is a bit of a mish-mash of old and new, it exudes a certain charm, especially as one nears the heartbeat of the village. The Marine hotel is also a gracious option for a Gin and tonic or a cocktail.
The old harbor is a great spot to survey the Walker Bay and serves as a departure point for a walk along the cliff paths where one is easily able to witness the cavorting whales if conditions are suitable. The Whale crier has become an institution and ensures a great photo opportunity when encountering him with his trumpet fashioned from sea bamboo(kelp) and a eclectic uniform.
it is inevitable that the combination of sea air and mild walking will stimulate the appetite and there are a number of good food venues that serve fresh seafood within sight of the ocean. I personally and inevitably order Hake and chips!
Though the primary attraction is the whales, there are exceptional opportunities to enjoy some world class wines in the nearby Hemel-en Aarde valley. Once again my personal favorite is the French influenced Creation that offers wonderful wine with a clever snacky pairing.