Whale Watching in South Africa

Whale watching in South Africa is of the best in the world. 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.

Did you know? Whales spend up to 90 percent of their lives below the water, and wander into such stormy and remote seas that despite the urge, scientists battle to follow. As a result, we know very little about these huge yet mysterious mammals of the deep.

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.

South Africa is one of the best places in the world for whale watching

Whilst our waters are home to a wealth of resident dolphins, porpoises and whales all year round it is the annual migration of the Humpback, Brydes and Southern right whale in particular, between June and November, that allows us to boast exceptional land-based, and boat-based, whale watching in South Africa. And thus to welcome thousands of visitors to our seaside towns.

Whale watching in South Africa is so popular that whales have joined the ranks of lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino and leopard. Collectively they make up the 'big six' of African game viewing. The sheer elegance of these massive sea mammals, their spectacular displays of water gymnastics and gentle majesty leave even hardened cynics oddly moved.

Well over 100 000 whale watching enthusiasts arrive just in the little Western Cape seaside village of Hermanus, during their annual September Whale Festival, for the best land-based whale watching in the world.

The sheltered bays and coves between Cape Hangklip and Witsand draw southern rights in particularly large numbers. They come here to mate and rear their young.

Whilst the Overberg area draws, without doubt, the strongest presence of the southern right whale it is not the only place to see them. There are spots right the way from Lamberts Bay on the west coast, Plettenberg Bay and Mossel Bay on the Garden Route, through to Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) on the east coast of South Africa whale watching in South Africa at its best.

And to spot humpback whales most easily, as they head northward during May and June and again on their return in late October, November, St Lucia is a great destination for whale watching.

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Where to enjoy Whale Watching

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