Day Trip From Cape Town To Hermanus
Cape Town is the second most populated South African city, and the capital of the Western Cape Province. There is much to see and do in the city, but what you might not know is that the best place in the world to watch the kings of the sea, the Southern Right Whales is just a short couple of hours drive from Cape Town, in Hermanus.
So are you interested in visiting scenic and picturesque Hermanus? Read on for more…
Where is it?
Hermanus is located along Walker Bay, and it is on the southern coast of the Western Cape. Situated around 120km from Cape Town, the picturesque seaside town has as its main attraction the very best whale sightings from land in the world. There is a cliff path that stretches from one part of Hermanus to the other. This route extends along the coastline for over 10km with cliff tops and the jagged coastline outcrops affording curious whale watchers and interested spectators uninterrupted viewing of these marvellous sea beasts. Hermanus is part of the scenic Overberg area.
How to get there?
To reach Hermanus, you can take the wonderful coastal route by taking the N2 motorway (also called the Airport Road) from Cape Town and follow on through Somerset West, all the way following the signposts to Gordon’s Bay. Keep on the R44 Coastal Road, and you will come across the wonderful Pringle Bay surrounded by mountain ranges, and then the town.
The most economical way to get around the area is to hire a car, so to this end check out our car hire Cape Town page.
You could also take the N2 through Somerset West and go over Lowry’s Pass, on through Grabouw and take the R43. This alternative route might be handy during the busy whaling season!
Brief History of Hermanus
The history of the town dates back to the early 19th century when it was founded by a schoolteacher called Hermanus Pieters, who came across a fresh spring and fertile farmland, after following a path laid by elephants. The town was orginally called Hermanuspietersfontein. Fishermen and farmers settled in the area and by the early 20th century the town was well known for its excellent fishing, aesthetic beauty and clear fresh air.
There is a famous Railway Station in Hermanus, and if you come across it you will be astounded to know that there are no train tracks leading to it. This is because Sir Hoy, the head of the South African Railways Company fell so much in love with the town that he ensured that the railway lines never reached the town so it would not be overpopulated with visitors!
There is archaeological evidence that a tribe called Khosian lived in the area – with findings in Klipgat Caves giving credence to these findings.
Whale Watching In Hermanus
From the aforementioned cliff paths along the rocky shores of Walker Bay, whale watchers can get very close to the large sea mammals – nearly 20m up close! One of the best points to start at is Gearing Point. Here you will get a helicopter view of the bay by using a telescope and seeing the dolphins and whales at close range.
The most frequent visitors to Walker Bay are the Southern Right Whales. These mammals leave the Antarctic waters and travel northwards, arriving in the bay in early May, staying until December. However, the peak time to view these Whales mating and calving is in the month of October. You can also come across Humpback Whales and Bottlenose Dolphins at this time as well.
Hermanus truly is a magical place to see there wondrous creatures at play, and the town has truly cemented its position as the world’s premier whale viewing point by appointing the town’s very own whale crier, who signals the arrival of whales in the bay by sounding his kelp horn. Zolile Baleni is the present Hermanus Whale Crier, the third one since 1992.
The town celebrates an annual Whale Festival every September. It celebrates the return of the whales to Walker Bay and the arrival of Spring. You can take a boat trip out to the bay itself and travel up and close alongside these magnificent creatures!
Other Attractions Of Hermanus
Hermanus offers so much to the visitor – so if you are on a day trip or a vacation, you won’t be short of things to do. The beaches are family friendly, and offer watersport activites, pargliding, surfing and safe swimming opportunities. The beaches of Hermanus offer white sands and offer good swimming and surf opportunities. The largest beach is called Grotto Beach. Voëlklip and Onrus are other popular beaches. There are golfing, walking, hiking and cycling opportunities in the area. So, all in all, plenty to do for the visitor.
To learn more about the whaling past of Hermanus, take a trip to the Old Harbour Museum, which is located in Marine Drive. Here you will come across many excellent exhibitions.
For a wonderful study of the flora of the region, visit the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. This Reserve is located in the mountains above Hermanus. The vegetation is fynbos, which is evergreen shrub like plants. The reserve has over 1,000 types of fynbos plus many other exotic plants in its collection.
Hermanus is home to some magical festivals – not only does it have the Annual Whale Festival during September, it has the Kalfiefees Afrikaans Festival, the Hawston Seafood Festival in December and the Food and Wine Fair every July to take away the chilly winter air!
Have you been to Cape Town? What did you think of the various attractions in the city? Did you take in a day trip to the Whale watching paradise of Hermanus? If you have any Cape Town tourist advice for your fellow travellers and readers we would appreciate your comments and advice. Thank You!