There has been quite a few whale sightings here in Simon’s Town and we are always very excited to see these beautiful mammals in our surroundings. www.capetown.travel has listed a All you need to know and what to expect while whale watching, let’s see what they had to say:

South Africa may be known for its Big Five, but the marine wildlife is just as impressive! Every year, southern right whales take a vacation in Cape waters, treating Cape Town locals to a display of breaching, fluking, spouting, and spy hopping. Here’s what you need to know about whale watching in Cape Town.

WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT TO SEE

Of the whale species seen in the waters around the Cape, southern right whales are the most common. However, you might also get a chance to see humpback whales and Bryde’s whales.

Long before they became a protected species in 1935, southern right whales were considered the ‘right whales’ to hunt because of their slow swimming speeds and the fact that their carcasses float. These days, their population has grown again, and they’re fairly common to spot off the coast of Cape Town. Southern right whales can be distinguished by the callosities (rough patches of skin covered in barnacles) on their heads as well as their long arching mouths and characteristic double blowhole. They average 15m in length and can weigh a whopping 60 tons! The whales migrate annually from Antarctica to the coast around Cape Town to calve their offspring. They usually arrive in June and stay until November.

Humpback whales, with their obvious humps, knobbly heads, and long pectoral fins, can also be seen in Cape waters during their migration from the polar regions to Mozambique and Madagascar where they breed and give birth.  You are most likely to catch a glimpse of them between May and November. They’re also a friendly species, and can sometimes be seen interacting with southern right whales and bottlenose dolphins.

Although they are the only species of whale that is present in South African waters all year round, Bryde’s whales can be tricky to spot because they tend to dive for long periods of time before resurfacing only briefly. You are most likely to spot these shy whales between the West Coast and Port Elizabeth. Look out for a large, sleek, dark grey body with white on the underside, and three ridges near the blowhole.

whale_watching_in_cape_town (2)

BEST PLACES TO WATCH THE WHALES

False Bay is the best place close to town for whale watching. Opt for the higher vantage points along the False Bay coastline such as Cape Point, Boyes Drive between St James and Kalk Bay, and Clarence Drive between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els. During the whale-watching season, you might even be lucky enough to spot them close up if you take the train trip from Muizenberg to Simon’s Town.

Hermanus is rated as one of the top 12 whale-watching locations in the world by the World Wildlife Fund. It offers some fine land-based viewing opportunities because the whales often come within metres of the shoreline. There are viewing terraces at the Old Harbour, and Gearings Point is a popular spot. During the whale watching season, a Whale Crier alerts watchers to the presence of whales by blowing on a kelp horn. To fully immerse yourself in the whale experience, visit Hermanus during the first week of October when the seaside town hosts an annual whale festival—a celebration of all things cetacean.

Cape Agulhus is another popular whale watching area. Up to 50 pairs of southern right cows and calves have been known to frolic in the ocean near the southernmost tip of Africa. The Whale Trail, a five-day hike along the cliffs, dunes, and beaches, gives you a wonderful opportunity to view these mighty mammals and their offspring.

Whale_watching_in_cape_town

GETTING UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

While the Cape coastline offers many fantastic land-based viewing opportunities, it is an entirely different experience to get close to these magnificent creatures in the ocean.

Dyer Island Cruises depart from Kleinbaai harbour near Gaansbaai, and head to Dyer Island (8km from the shore). During the two-hour trip, you will see a variety of bird species, including African penguins, as well as Cape fur seals. The guides know where all the best whale-viewing spots are and have even reported seeing the same whales year after year! The peak season is from July to December, and southern right whales are pretty much guaranteed between August and November.

 

Simon’s Town Boat Company is your best bet if you’re a little more pressed for time and need to keep things local. The whale tours are operated by Ocean View Masiphumelele Fishing and depart daily from Simon’s Town at 10:30am and 2pm. Booking is advised.

 

Credit Source: www.capetown.travel

 

Did you know that South Africa is one of the best places in the world to go whale watching? And you can even see whales as you walk on the coast paths or enjoy a meal at a restaurant with an ocean view! How cool is that?

 

Choose the best time to go

The best time to visit depends on the whales you plan to see. For the southern right whale, in South Africa, the season is between June and November. You have more chances to see them in September and October than in July and August. For the humpback whale, the season is from May to December. The Bryde’s whale can be seen year round.

Choose the right location

South Africa is one of the best places in the world to go whale watching. The route to see whales in South Africa includes the famous Table Mountain National Park, Garden Route, Tsitsikamma National Park, Transkei National Park and iSimangaliso Wetland Park. You can even spot them in Cape Town itself from the road along the False Bay coast.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience

Going on a whale watching safari is going to be a once-in-a-lifestyle experience. Of course, each experience is unique and it really depends on luck, but even seeing the whales from a distance is a magnificent sight.

Wear layers and dress for the occasion

It is windier and at least 10 degrees cooler in open water than at the shore. The trick is to wear layers and shed them (or put them on) if necessary. And remember you are on the water, so chances are you might catch some spray from the waves. Make sure your shoes, clothing, and your photography gear are prepared for this. High heels may not be the best choice on a moving boat. So opt for some rubber-soled shoes (sneakers), which don’t slip or take on water.

You may also catch a glimpse of dolphins

As it is always the case with animals, nothing is guaranteed. You may see whales. Or you may see some puffs and conclude that there must be a whale. On the other hand, you have a lot more chances to see dolphins playing around the boat regardless of when you go.

Mornings are better if you get seasick

The winds tend to pick up in the afternoon, so if the thought of going on a boat makes you queasy, you may want to choose the first tour of the day. And make sure to pack some seasick pills. But if you don’t have problems with the boat’s movement, any hour would do, but the later tours would already know if whales have been spotted earlier in the day.

If you haven’t been on a boat before, it’s best to pack some seasick medication, just in case. Most medication must be taken at least an hour before the trip. Just to be on the safe side, avoid that sickly feeling by staying away from caffeine and big meals before the trip.

It may get boring for the kids

The pleasant 2-4 hours tour may be a nice and relaxing cruise for the adults but kids don’t have the same patience. With all the standing and waiting involved, a whale watching boat tour may not be the best fit for young children. Instead, choose a family whale watching safari which involves spotting them from the land or opt for a land-base family safari until the kids grow older.

Fun Facts About Whales Found in Africa

Southern Right Whale

southern right whale

Photo Credit: rosshuggett Flickr via Compfight

  • they are the rarest of all large whales.
  • their heads can measure up to one-third of their total body length.
  • they came close to extinction between the 17th and 19th century and now they are considered endangered and have been protected since 1949.

Humpback Whale

Humpback Whale
  • they are known for their magical song, able to travel great distances through the ocean.
  • they are found near coastlines.
  • they regularly leap from the water, landing with a big splash. Scientists still have no idea if they do this for anything else but to have fun.

Bryde’s Whale

Bryde's Whale

Photo Credit: Nik Cyclist Flickr via Compfight

  • they are long and slender and have much more streamlined bodies than other large whales
  • they can live up to 50 years in the wild
  • they can lift their entire body out of the water in an acrobatic display

Source: bookallsafaris.com

The Mother City is surrounded by two oceans – the Atlantic and the Indian – so you can bet we have plenty of adventurous activities to offer on the open water! Everybody knows Cape Town has some of the best beaches in the world.  Here’s what else our oceans offer.

SHARK CAGE DIVING

Great White sharks are among the most feared predators on the planet, so of course we want to get into a cage in shark-infested waters! Shark cage diving is one of the most popular activities for tourists and with good reason. There is no better way to observe this awesome animal in its natural habitat. Stare into those cold, black eyes and try not to scream as it shows you why it is the world’s best cage fighter.

SURFING

Cape Town has some of the most spectacular beaches in the world for surfing. From Dungeons to Big Bay, you will find a break suited to your taste… and skills. There are also a number of surfing schools that can help you dip your toes into the water for the first time.  Now all that’s left is to suit up and hit the waves.

Activities in Cape Town

SEAL SNORKELLING

If you’re not down with shark cage diving, we highly-recommend giving seal snorkelling a go! The experience is for everyone with no diving experience necessary. All equipment is provided and this is your opportunity to swim, and play, alongside the silky smooth animals. Sharks? Never fear, the cold water of the Atlantic is a tad too nippy for the finned predators, meaning it’s just you and the seals!

KITEBOARDING

With over 30 beaches to choose from variety is truly the spice of life when kiteboarding in the Mother City. The stretch of coastline offers perfect conditions for the sport with the wind and weather just right AND flat waters and waves! The city is a popular one for professionals and amateurs with a number of beaches considered global hot spots. There are also a number of schools to teach you the sport and guarantee to have you in the water in no time!

ocean activities in cape town

SNOEK FISHING

Get Hooked on Africa when you fish for South Africa’s beloved Snoek (just try one on a braai and you’ll know why!) 50km out in the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

WHALE WATCHING

South Africa may be known for its Big Five, but the marine wildlife is just as impressive! Every year, southern right whales take a vacation in Cape waters, treating Cape Town locals to a display of breaching, fluking, spouting and spyhopping. Of the whale species seen in the waters around the Cape, southern right whales are the most common. However, you might also get a chance to see humpback whales and Bryde’s whales. The peak season for whale watching is from July to December, and southern right whales are pretty much guaranteed between August and November.

Ocean activities in Cape Town

KAYAKING

A popular sport among the locals, who you can often see paddling up and down the coast in the late afternoon, kayaking offers a great way to experience the ocean and its inhabitants up close while enjoying some spectacular views of the city. Thankfully you don’t have to have arms of steel or the lungs of a seal to enjoy this unique interaction with nature, as there are numerous guided kayaking tours all around the city offering everything from a sunset cruise around the Atlantic Seaboard along Mouille Point, Sea Point and Clifton, to paddles out to Boulders Beach to see the penguins. For the more fit and adventurous types, there are also full-moon experiences and even tours out to the infamous Cape Point.

SCUBA DIVING

The meeting place of two great oceans also provides an astonishingly diverse underwater spectacle for scuba divers. With everything from shallow shore to reef dives and even wreck dives, the cold waters around Cape Town have something for divers of every experience level. Even if you’ve never even put a snorkel in your mouth, there are many certified diving schools in and around the city that offer courses, equipment and diving tours that will ensure you experience the underwater wonderland around the Cape Town coastline.

learn-to-dive-cape-town

JOLLY ROGER

What kid (and plenty of adults) doesn’t want to be a pirate? The Jolly Roger pirate boat at the V&A Waterfront is the perfect port of call for the youngsters to play out the ultimate adventure on the high seas. Operating seven days a week, the Jolly Roger offers morning, afternoon and sunset cruises. Private charters are also available.

SUP ADVENTURE

Stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world and it is quickly taking hold in South Africa, not only as a sport, but as a fitness-orientated pastime as well. Like surfing, part of the draw is the physical element, without it ever feeling like a workout. But unlike surfing, it doesn’t take very long to get to grips with the basics. There are a number of schools to teach you the basics and will have you on the water in no time!

Nothing prepares you for your first whale and the impact that seeing it has upon you. Perhaps it is their immensity. Definitely it is the whales’ authenticity and the absolute trust they show towards us. But mostly it is the overwhelming sense of awe, of joy, of having been touched by something greater than oneself that translates into 13 million people around the world enjoying organised whale watching annually.

WHALE WATCHING IS ONE OF THE WESTERN CAPE’S BIGGEST DRAW CARDS

For those of you who haven’t yet sat in a boat, or stood on land, and marvelled as a whale the size of a jumbo jet rises out of the water just in front of you, or glides past and ‘catches’ your eye, then you have yet to become obsessed with watching these gentle giants.

For others, for whom a commune with the whales is an annual pilgrimage; an event that gains the kind of precedence bordering on compulsive, a visit with these mammals of the deep takes on an element of ritual and renewal. The experience of a whale’s willingness to share themselves with humans, despite the atrocities we have and continue to employ against them, is humbling.

For an unforgettable experience we recommend Simon’s Town Boat Company to take you on a magical journey and see not only Southern Right Whales up close, but so much more.

The western half of False Bay – stretching from Strandfontein all the way to Cape Point is one of the finest boat based whale watching sites in South Africa. This area is sheltered from the open ocean, surrounded by stunning views & provides an ideal winter home for the Southern Right Whales. They visit each year between June & November to mate, calve, or simply to get away from the icy Antarctic winter. Interacting with these gigantic & magnificent mammals (the size of 12 elephants) alongside our boat is an experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Be ready to photograph one breaching or giving you a friendly wave with its tail!
Sightings of Brydes whales, Humpback whales, Orcas and Dolphins are also common. 

Trips depart daily at 10:30 & 14:00. Booking is advisable!
This tour is operated from our marina by Ocean View Masiphumelele Fishing (PTY) Ltd. who is the sole permit holder for boat based whale watching in False Bay (Permit No. 0806336).

Visit their website, www.boatcompany.co.za, to make your online booking.

 

Credit: boatcompany.co.za & SAvenues.com

We are proud to be one of the official sponsors of

A WHALE OF A HERITAGE ROUTE.

From our veranda at Mariner Guesthouse we can see whales visiting False Bay, many of them coming quite close to shore!  After 7 years of enjoying our amazing views, it is still a special occasion when we see whales!
7 maart
 
This report was sent to us by whale and historical expert, Alan Lindner of A Whale of a Heritage Route. 
It is relevant to whale watching on the West Coast of Africe from the Equator southwards.
Group bookings only. email <awhalofaheritagroute@gmail.com>