Witsand Is The Whale Nursery
Witsand is the whale nursery of Southern Africa
“Seeing a whale for the first time, waving its massive tail at us, is a stunning experience. And witnessing one of the 15m creatures hurl itself clear of the water in a breach is amazing.”
Bertil van Vugt, Tonight
It was the Southern Right Whales that put Witsand on the map, especially in the 90’s, because San Sebastian Bay is considered the “Whale Nursery of South Africa”. Investigating from a helicopter in October 1999, Dr. Best, a whale expert, confirmed a count of 233 whales in the Bay. On a good day, a whale watcher may observe up to 70 capering whales. At the beach restaurant there is a telescope on the roof, whalewatching platform that magnifies the whales up to 10 times. The platform is a perfect place from which to view the gentle giants of the sea and can accommodate about 90 people and there is plenty of parking. Whale-watching season starts in June and lasts until November each year.
Each year these majestic mammals come to our shores between June and late November to mate and calf. Witsand enjoys the lion’s share of this visit due to the bay being the prime nursery for cow/calf pairs.
Southern Right Whales are the least understood of all the world’s great whales. Weighing up to 58 tons, and with the largest and most highly-evolved mammalian brains on earth, Southern Right Whales have inhabited the great southern oceans for about 60 million years.
Migrating between their Antarctic summer feeding grounds and their mating and calving grounds off the coasts Africa, of Australia and South America, the Southern Rights are making a remarkable recovery from genocidal whaling last century and well into this century.
They are now becoming the focus of intense scientific and tourist interest, and are set to play a major role in the global, multi-billion dollar whale-watching industry.
In spring calving Southern Right whales cruise up and down the coastline, close to shore. St Sebastian Bay has the largest concentration of Southern Rights on the South African Coast. The official helicopter count done in October 2000 revealed 34 cow-calf pairs in the Bay, and 74 off de Hoop. On a good day you can see up to 50 Southern Right Whales. (Between May and December, boats should be wary of colliding with whales.)
Witsand is truly the home of the Southern Right Whale in Southern Africa. This peaceful coastal town is surrounded by two natural phenomena, the Breede River estuary and the Indian Ocean. The St Sebastian Bay houses the single largest winter migration population of Southern Right Whales. These gentle giants may either be viewed from the coast line at very close proximity.
Witsand/Port Beaufort, situated at the mouth of the mighty Breede River, is a holiday destination with a difference. It is situated 300km from Cape Town at the mouth of the Breede River along the Garden Route.
About Witsand in South Africa:
The central feature of the Malgas / Witsand area is the magnificent Breede River. It is one of the largest, most navigable rivers in South Africa and is rich in diverse species of fish and bird life. The Breede River is recognised as one of the best fishing estuaries in the country with tidal action that reaches 60 km upstream. The river is also ideally suited to a range of water sports
Our claim to fame is that we have the largest concentration of Southern Right Whales on the South African coast, growing at an annual rate of 7%. The officila whale count done from a helicopter in October 2002 revealed 117 adults and 49 calves in St Sebastian Bay. On a good day up to 50 are visible from the shore.
Witsand’s situation lends itself as a base to spend 3 or 4 days and explore the surrounding 200 km full of exciting venues. Places of interest include: Arniston/Waenhuiskrans and Agulhas, which is the most southern point of Africa; the Wine Route of Bonnievale, Ashton, Robertson, Montaqu and Barrydale as well as the hot water springs at Montaqu, Barrydale and Calitzdorp.
Beautiful mountain trails at Swellendam, Groot Vadersbosch and Riversdale is a fantastic one-day outing and the almost unknown Hamlet of Puntjie at the mouth of the Duivenhoks River, is only a 30 minute drive from Witsand.
Witsand offers a 4km long unspoilt beach, leading to the well-known Moodie’s Well. It has a clean, white beach (hence Whitesands) with safe swimming spots for days in the sun. Parents with smaller children also prefer the calm swimming spots along the river.
An experience definitely not to be missed, is the last hand operated pontoon (pont) in Southern Africa at Malagas.
If you need to experience a friendly village that offers food for your soul and a place to relax and unwind, we would love to share our peace with you.
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