Whale watching in Hermanus

After long weeks of organising and waiting, Tom’s mum and sister finally arrived for a holiday in South Africa, and Tom and I took off a couple of days from work.

Typically, the first two days saw grotty weather and rain throughout our wine tours around Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.  But on the third day we drove away from the rain to Hermanus, the regular home of the southern right whale.

Southern right whales usually live in the cold waters around the South Pole, feeding for the majority of the year.  However, once a year they swim to the western Cape, looking for the shallow “warmer” waters (warm only in whale world) in which they mate and give birth.

We set off early on Saturday morning to find the launching dock of the boat trip we were to take, and sat in the sun waiting for our boat to arrive.  However, as people started to disembark, we saw one lady carried off the boat… seasickness, apparently, is no joke.

A little apprehensive, we boarded the catamaran and set off into the southern Atlantic ocean to look for whales. 20 minutes into the trip, rocking about on 3 metre waves, we saw our first spot – a mummy whale with its albino baby.

Queue much excitement aboard the ship, but nothing prepared us for the experience of mum and baby coming to give us a bit of an investigation.  The whales swam straight up to the boat, and came to the surface, quite obviously checking out this strange big “fish” in the water.  They were at an arm’s length from me.

And from that point onwards, we were treated to whales left, right, and centre.  Some adult, some baby.  Some just sunbathing on the surface, others playing and splashing around – to much cooing from the assembled whale watchers on our boat.

On the way back to shore following our 2 hour trip, half the boat was vomiting all over themselves and I have to commend the ship crew who were stoic in their paper bag provisions.

None of our little group were hit by the sickness, though, thank goodness, now granting us eternal bragging rights about our unshakeable sea legs.

Hermanus is not known for its whale watching for no reason.  The beautiful mountain scenery serves as the perfect backdrop to watching these incredible, peaceful creatures in their natural habitat.

It is wonderful to hear that having been on the brink of extinction only a few years ago, the southern right whale is fighting back and is multiplying in numbers at a rapid rate.

I really hope we keep it like that, and keep these animals safe… so plenty more like me can have such an amazing life experience.


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