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Whale Route

A whale jumping out of the sea A whale jumping out of the sea
The tip of the iceberg - whale watching on the Whale Route The tip of the iceberg - whale watching on the Whale Route
The hermanus whale crier The hermanus whale crier
The old harbour in Hermanus - a perfect place to whale watch The old harbour in Hermanus - a perfect place to whale watch
Whale watching from the rocks in Hermanus Whale watching from the rocks in Hermanus
Great white shark in Gansbaai, Whale Route Great white shark in Gansbaai, Whale Route
View from the rocks in Hermanus View from the rocks in Hermanus
The new harbour in Hermanus at sunset The new harbour in Hermanus at sunset
Aerial view of Hermanus Aerial view of Hermanus
A whale approaching the shoreline A whale approaching the shoreline

A whale watchers paradise

Drawing visitors from around the world to its rocky shores, the whale route comes to life between the months of June to December. Every year hundreds of whales make their way to the Whale Route’s sheltered bay to calve and nurse their young, coming as close in to the shore as possible. Low sea cliffs allow you to get closer to the whales than you will ever believe possible, and have turned the area around Hermanus and especially Walker Bay into one of the of the continent’s most desired tourist destinations. It can confidently be said that the Whale Route offers the best land based whale watching in the world.

The seaside town, Hermanus is renowned as the heart of the Whale Route. Its 12 km’s of cliff paths stretch from the one side of the town to the other and give visitors the opportunity to observe these gentle giants. Benches are placed along the cliff paths providing a comfortable resting place to spot the whales. In some places you can watch these amazing creatures from as close as five metres from the rocky cliffs. The luxury guesthouses are well-positioned on the cliff edges, with many of them offering views of the whales from the comfort of your breakfast table!

Drawing visitors from around the world to its rocky shores, the whale route comes to life between the months of June to December. Every year hundreds of whales make their way to the Whale Route’s sheltered bay to calve and nurse their young, coming as close in to the shore as possible. Low sea cliffs allow you to get closer to the whales than you will ever believe possible, and have turned the area around Hermanus and especially Walker Bay into one of the of the continent’s most desired tourist destinations. It can confidently be said that the Whale Route offers the best land based whale watching in the world.

The seaside town, Hermanus is renowned as the heart of the Whale Route. Its 12 km’s of cliff paths stretch from the one side of the town to the other and give visitors the opportunity to observe these gentle giants. Benches are placed along the cliff paths providing a comfortable resting place to spot the whales. In some places you can watch these amazing creatures from as close as five metres from the rocky cliffs. The luxury guesthouses are well-positioned on the cliff edges, with many of them offering views of the whales from the comfort of your breakfast table!

Hermanus has the world’s only whale crier who has the role of keep visitors informed as to where the whales can be seen. He blows a horn made of sea kelp to tell people that the whales are in view. The sound of his horn has become a charming characteristic of this attractive seaside town. Throngs of visitors line the shores, eagerly pointing to the numerous spouts of mist-like water that dot the ocean as the whales surface and ‘blow’. It is an incredible feeling when you see one of these gigantic creatures breach in an awesome display of pure power, before crashing back into the water with a huge splash.

Whale safaris – boat trips with licensed whale viewing operators – depart regularly.

The other major attraction to the Whale Route is the Great White Shark population. South Africa was the first country to protect this super predator of the ocean. The small town of Gansbaai offers exciting shark cage diving trips bringing you within touching distance of these masters of the ocean.

For ten days each September, the little quaint town of Hermanus is transformed and comes alive as thousands of visitors arrive at the annual Whale festival. The main attraction is to come and see the whales as well as enjoying flea markets, arts & culture and fantastic restaurants.

The best time to see the Southern Right whales is between June and November. Humpback whales migrate through our region between May and December and Bryde's whales are found slightly further off shore all year round; making the Whale Route a top year round destination.         

Other attractions in the area include wine tasting at the famous Hamilton & Russel Estate, strolling through the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, playing on the Arabella golf course and eating at the many lively restaurants in Hermanus.

Many visitors to this area combine a trip up the Whale Route with a stay in Cape Town, and a drive up the beautiful Garden Route. If you want to go one up on the rest of the safari world and tick off the Big Six, instead of the Big Five, then you can combine the Whale Route with a visit to one of the Garden Route Safari game lodges. Whale, lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo – it’s a special occasion when you get to sit in the presence of all these great creatures in one vacation.

Speak to any one of our Travel Experts to help you plan your itinerary, or to advise you on what accommodation will best suit your tastes. There is plenty on offer in the area – all of it of a very high standard – and each has its own distinctive flavours and nuances. Our Travel Experts have spent time visiting each and every one so they are very well suited to give you the best advice you will find.

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Highlights

Whale Watching »

On a whale watching boat trip

Between the months of June to December, South Africa's Whale Route Coast offers some of the very best whale watching on the planet. It's possible to view these majestic creatures from the shore but one of the highlights of any South African tour is a boat based whale watching trip. Witnessing these huge animals drift right up beside your boat is a truly humbling experience. You may even be lucky enough to see a whale breach within just a few metres of your vessel.

Hermanus »

The old harbour in Hermanus - a perfect place to whale watch

The so-called Capital of the Whale Route Hermanus, with its unparalleled scenic beauty, modern infrastructure, upmarket shops and endless adventure options, has grown in size and popularity during the last decade. Visitors from near and far flock to the town to enjoy its many charms while local residents and homeowners savour the privilege of living in this unique region. Hermanus is a small but vibrant seaside town with a distinctive character.

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Recommended Whale Route Tours and Accommodation

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Birkenhead House »

Perched high on the cliffs of Hermanus, overlooking the whale watchers’ paradise of Walker Bay, is the regal and elite Birkenhead House. Accommodating guests in the utmost luxury, this is the perfect destination for those seeking the pinnacle of seaside living

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Ocean Eleven Guest House »

Ocean Eleven Guest House is situated in the quaint coastal town of Hermanus, offering luxury accommodation right on the cliff paths overlooking the ocean. The colonial style luxury guest house exudes the grace and style befitting a destination which has the reputation of being the “Riviera of the South”.

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Cape and Garden Route »

This remarkable self drive tour allows you to discover South Africa at your own leisurely pace. Staying in some on the best boutique hotels available your trip starts in Cape Town then heads to Hermanus and Plettenberg Bay and ends with a big five safari.

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Grootbos »

Grootbos is a private nature reserve and five-star hotel located in the stunning fynbos floral kingdom along the Whale Route just outside of Hermanus. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve offers many activities including whale watching, walking trails, horseback rides, mountain biking and game drives.

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Luxury SA for Families »

This incredible trip encompasses a safari in a malaria free game reserve before flying down to Cape Town to spend time in a beautiful nature reserve. Perfect for families this tour will keep the children entertained and giving you time to relax.

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Birkenhead Villa »

Birkenhead Villa is a superb six-bedroom villa perched high on the cliffs of Hermanus in front of the Ocean. The Villa reflects the same levels of luxury, service and attention to detail as Birkenhead House (its sister hotel) however it has its own very luxurious and special ambience.

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The Very Best of the Coast »

Staying at the cream of the crop, this exceptional self drive trip allows you to explore Cape Town then onto the Whale Route before traveling up the Garden Route. Your tour finishes with a big 5 safari at one of the top safari lodges in South Africa.

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Garden Route Explorer »

A fantastic self drive tour option incorporating the best of the Whale Route, Route 62, Garden Route and an African safari. Your own vehicle allows you to explore these amazing areas at your own pace while staying at some lovely accommodation en-route.

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