The Town of Hermanus is the Heart Of the Whale Route
Cape Town’s most popular seaside holiday town offers the best whale watching site in the world during the months August to beginning December. The beaches (Voëlklip and Grotto) are fantastic and much warmer than those of Cape Town. A visit to Fernkloof Nature Reserve is worth the while and several hiking trails take you through spectacular Fynbos landscapes. Relax and enjoy the good life!
The town, often called the heart of the whale route, is less than a two hour drive from Cape Town. Here you will find the world’s only whale crier blowing his kelp horn when whales are in sight. The town’s atmosphere is laid back and slow – this is the place to wind down and enjoy what nature has to offer.
Driving to Hermanus is an experience in itself. Make sure you take the R44 coastal road starting at Gordon’s Bay. With its sea-meets-mountain scenery the road is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the Western Cape, and has several lookout points and picnic spots along the way.
Interesting stops include Rooiels, Pringle Bay (walk along the beach), Hangklip and Betty’s Bay. At Betty’s Bay you can get close to the endangered African penguin at the Stony Point Penguin Colony. Also do not miss a walk through the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, situated in the spectacular Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, about 5 km before Kleinmond (Afrikaans word for “small mouth”). The walks take you through beautiful fynbos and waterfalls in this UNESCO recognised site.
Hermanus has become very popular during the last few years, mainly because of its excellent whale spotting opportunities. During the months of August to beginning of December, you can take a wale cruise from the New Harbour that will take you within 50 meters of a whale!
If you are lucky enough to be here late September, make sure you attend the annual Hermanus Whale Festival, a joyful festival celebrating the whale season.
The main beaches are Voëlklip (Afrikaans for “Birdrock”) and Grotto – make a point to visit both. If you were disappointed in Cape Town’s freezing cold water you’ve come to the right place – the ocean is much warmer here. It’s not surprising that thousands gather here on a hot summers day to enjoy the sandy beaches and sea waves.
There are also stunning coastal cliff paths – one running from the Old Harbour eastwards towards Roman Rock, and the other starting at Kraal Rock (located on Main Road halfway along the golf course between the Old Harbour and the traffic circle) all the way to Grotto beach.
The Fernkloof Nature Reserve holds over a 1000 different species of fynbos. What makes this reserve so unique is the fact that no where else on earth can one find so many plant species in such a small area. You can often spot baboons, dassies and smaller antelopes while exploring the 60 km network of hiking trails. The reserve is a true escape for those looking to experience nature at its best.
Other Hermanus activities include scuba diving, deep sea fishing, sailing, Great White shark viewing and wine tasting in Africa’s southernmost wine region. Further away the town of Gansbaai is a great spot for whale watching and shark diving. Staford’s Crove, a peaceful and pretty bay is also worth a visit.
Drive back to Cape Town on the N2 via Sir Lowry Mountain Pass for more impressive views.
From the Cape Town take the N2 towards the airport. Continue for around 50 minutes until you reach the Sir Lowry’s Pass road turnoff towards Gordon’s Bay. Turn right here and continue until you reach Gordon’s Bay, where you should turn left onto the R44.
Continue all along the R44 through Rooiels, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond until you reach the T-junction with the R43. Turn right towards Hermanus and continue with this road into the town. The R43 road will also take you to Gansbaai. Drive on the R43 back towards Cape Town and continue with it until you reach the N2, where you should turn left towards Sir Lowry Pass.
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