Offer You a "Tail" You Can Tell Others ...
The experience of boat-based whale watching in Hermanus, Heart of the South African Whale Coast.
We also offer Eco-Tours, a sight-seeing experience where you can interact with dolphins, seals, clawless otters and a variety of sea bird life, as well as Cultural Tours where you meet the local people and learn more of their history, culture and environment. Fishing villages like Hawston, Kleinmond, Gansbaai, Arniston and Struisbaai are visited, as well as the Moravian Mission Stations of Elim, Genadendal and Zuurbraak. Township tours to Mount Pleasant, Zwelihle and Stanford can be arranged. Whale Cruiser: Our new whale watching boat seats 87 passengers and takes a crew of 5. There is a top viewing deck that seats 28 passengers, while the front viewing deck seats 7. The Whale Cruiser is wheelchair-friendly! We are a boat based whale watching company. Top deck is open and bottom deck is s/enclosed.
Vital Information: No smoking and no alcohol is allowed during trips.
Snacks and mineral water and soft drinks are served during the trip.
The operating period is from June to December.
As a permit holder for Sub-area 3, Hermanus Whale Cruises is permitted to approach whales up to 50 metres. The whales normally turn and approach our boat often coming as close as 1 metre! We are then allowed to remain in position alongside the whales for up to 20 minutes.
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Hermanus Whale Cruises has been operating in the Walker Bay area since the first permits for Boat Based Whale Watching were granted in 1998. The Skippers and Guides all of them registered Tourist Guides are from the local community of Hawston just outside of Hermanus.
The combined experience of our Skippers and Guides enables us to provide the visitor with a vast amount of local information, especially within the Boat Based Whale Watching area. Also their knowledge of the local weather and sea conditions is considerable.
“Whale Cruiser” Our Crown Jewel is the whale watching boat which we operate from.
Hermanus Whale Cruises is operated by the Sandown Bay Fishing Company (Pty) Ltd – owned by shareholders who are all from the previously disadvantaged community of Hawston, and historical fishing village located 12km from Hermanus. Two of the shareholders, Tom Gelderblom and Phillipus May, are the Directors of the Company.
The company’s future plans include expansion into Shark Cage Diving, transportation of tourists to destinations in the Overberg, as well as operating a Guest House, Sea Food Restaurant and abalone farm at Hawston. These activities will provide much needed job opportunities for the local community. A further aim of the company is the empowerment of women and the youth by means of training and providing the opportunities for them to become successful entrepreneurs in the Tourism Industry.
THE SOUTHERN RIGHT WHALE
The Southern Right Whale is a baleen whale, which means that instead of teeth it has long plates hanging from the top jaw. These baleens work like a sieve when the whale feeds.
The Southern Right Whale was so named during the time when they were still hunted. They were referred to as the “right” whales to kill because they would float when dead which made it easy for the whalers to find them in the ocean and transport them back to the whaling station. These whales have a large amount of oil (also called blubber) and baleen.
There are two species worldwide, one in the Northern Hemisphere and one found in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Southern Right differs from most other whales in the following ways:
· It has no dorsal fin on its back
· When it breathes out there is a V-shaped cloud above the water
· Presence of callosities on its head. These callosities are white warts or rough skin patches on which little creatures, called whale lice, are attached. These markings enable whale experts to individually identify the whales
The Southern Right Whale is a migratory mammal. They spend one season in one place and the rest of the year in another, and travel long distances in-between these seasons. In summer (December through May), they are in the cold polar regions of the Southern Hemisphere where food (mainly krill) is present and plentiful. Winters (June through November) are spent around the shallow coastal waters of Southern Africa, South America and Australia.
The shallow, sandy-bottomed and sheltered bays of our coastline are perfect for mating, calving, nursing their young and resting.
One female will mate with a number of males. There can be even up to 8 males at a time trying to mate with one female. During mating, there is a lot of activity on the surface (splashing, pushing, shoving, large and frequent blows). The male producing the most sperm is probably the father of the calf. This mating strategy is known as sperm competition.
Females usually have one calf every three years. Gestation (pregnancy) is about 13 months. Most calves are born during August. They have an average length of 6.1 metres (20 feet). They suckle for 4 to 8 months and drink up to 600 litres of milk per day growing 3 cm (1.2 inch) per day. The mothers apparently do not feed during this time but live on the blubber they store up during the summer feeding season closer to Antarctica.
After the mating and calving season ends (November / December), the Southern Right Whales move South. By April they are between 50 and 55 degrees South (2000 kilometres or 1300 miles South of Cape Town) where they then feed.
Females measure about 13.9m and males are generally slightly smaller, with the average weight estimated at 41 tons. They have a life expectancy of about 50 years.
Their favourite food is small animals called copepods (a plankton crustacean) of which they consume up to 600kg per day.
Their only long-term bonds are between mother and calf.
Their number grows by about 7% every year, which means that their population doubles every 10 years. The number of Southern Right Whales should be back to what it used to be by 2040.
Known as the “Riviera of the South”, Hermanus is situated on the Cape South Coast, a 90-minute drive from Cape Town which takes one through some of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. The town has been described by Whale expert, Mark Carwardine, as the “Best land based whale watching destination in the world”. It is also the only town in the world to have its own whale crier, who alerts visitors and locals alike to the whereabouts of these mammals.
Across the bay there’s Dyer Island, widely regarded as the best spot in the world to view the Great White shark.
Hermanus was also awarded Blue Flag status for the second year in a row which makes it the only beach in the Western Cape to achieve Blue Flag Status for 2003/4. The Blue Flag is a symbol of high environmental standards as well as good sanitary and safety facilities at the beach. The Blue Flag Campaign includes environmental education and information for the public, decision makers and tourism operators.
Apart from a multitude of leisure activities and natural attractions waiting to be enjoyed, the town has a wide range of restaurants and shops and hundreds of accommodation establishments to choose from.
Hermanus is a hiker’s paradise, with several options available. Fernkloof Nature Reserve offers unrivalled views for those willing to put a little effort into their walking. The cliff paths, on the other hand, can be enjoyed by all. They trace the coastline of Hermanus from one end to the other, taking about 2 hours to complete.
Hawston was founded by Samson Gabriel Dyer60n 1859. It was named after Charles Haw and known as Haw’s town. This historical fishing village has many stories to tell, one of whom is the abalone one. It was refuge and home to many from Ireland, Germany, France, Holland, USA, Sweden and England.
Fully accredited local guides will take you to historical places as well as the mountain, harbour, lagoon, swimming pool and the blue flag beach. Traditional foods at restaurant by arrangement.
Starts: 9h00 -12h00 and 14h00 – 17h00
Kleinmond cultural tour
Kleinmond share a fascinating history of the early Khoekhoe people being a safe haven for runaway slaves, pirates, whalers in 1900’s and fisher folk. It was traditionally a resort for the farmers from Caledon and Elgin. It is now home to diverse cultures sandwiched between the ocean and High Mountains.
You will visit the Harold Porter national botanical garden, the African Penguin Colony at Stony Point, the old Waaigat Whaling Station, ” Lek my gat” fishing harbour, an abalone tour and the live-fish bar and townships. Traditional meals by prior arrangement.
Starts: 9h00 – 14h00 and 14h00 -18h00
Price R 350pp
Gansbaai cultural tour
Gansbaai is named after the Egyptian geese, home to many of them. Samson Dyers who lived on the Island that bears his name used it as a base to store his seal skins during 1807 to 1840. In 1881 Johannes Cornelis settled in Gansbaai to fish. Today you have many communities that are still divided along the racial lines with their different cultures.
You will visit Klipgat Cave that dates from the Middle Stone Age and Late Stone age. Stanford cove where the passengers saved off the Birkenhead went to shore, Danger Point Light House, the Strandveld Museum, the harbours and differed communities. Traditional foods available by prior bookings only.
Starts: 9h00 – 15h 30
Struisbaai cultural tours including L`Agulhas
Struisbaai was named after vogelstruise(ostriches) that roamed in the area. It is a historical fishing village and hosts 30 shipwrecks. The harbour was built in 1959. The tidal fish traps used by nomadic Khoisan are still in use. The local fisher folk were moved to Molshoop far from the harbour where the used to live.
You will also visit the Southern-most tip at L’Agulhas, the oldest working lighthouse in SA, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the lighthouse museum, fish traps and some ships in the graveyard. Traditional meals by prior arrangement.
Starts: 9h00 – 17h00
Arniston/Waenhuiskrans Fishing village
Arniston is named after the troopship that sank with 372 souls in 1815. Also named Waenhuiskrans by early inhabitants for their belief that a wagon with its span of oxen can easily turn in it. The unchanged fishing village Kassiesbaai has been declared a national monument. The area is a living museum.
You will also go to the Waenhuiskrans cave, the historical fish traps, Khoisan shell middens, the spot where the Arniston sank and the shipwreck,(Arniston). Traditional meals by prior arrangement.
Starts: 9h00 – 17h00
Price : R550pp
Elim Mission Station
Elim was founded by German missionaries in 1824 and is inhabited only by Moravian church members. The name was chosen because of the fountains in the area, after the biblical oasis in Exodus 15:27. The church built in 1835 with its oldest working clock dating back to 1764 is the heart of this closely-knit community. The only monument in SA to commemorate the freeing of slaves in 1834 was erected in 1938 and subsequently many settled in Elim.
You will also visit the Church, the cold-water stone mill, a walk in the Heer-se-bos , the old graveyard were German missionaries and slaves lie at rest, Elim huisie(1820), Slave monument, arts and crafts centre. Traditional meals by prior arrangement.
Starts 9h00 – 16h30
Suurbraak Mission Station
Suurbraak lies at the foot of the majestic Tradouw Pass, established by the London Mission Society in 1812. Many of its original houses remain. The site was originally a settlement of the Tamaqua tribe of the Khoekhoe people and part of their ancient cattle trading routes. It was called Xairu (Paradise). The Anglican Church was built by the inhabitants in 1880. The village is known for the handmade wooden chairs with sea grass seats produced by the residents.
You will also visit Swellendam, founded in 1745 by the Dutch East India Company, the Drostdy museum, Dutch Reform Church and the Tradouw Pass. Traditional meals at the Ou Wawiel restaurant by prior arrangement.
Starts: 08h:30 – 18h00
Genadendal Mission station
Genadendal means Valley of Grace and was established in 1738 by George Schmidt sent by the United Brethren (Moravian Church) to preach the gospel to the Khoi. All buildings and the Church Square were declared national monuments in 1980. The first teachers training college(1838) hosts the National Cultural Treasure museum which forms the focus of the town. On the surrounding hillsides live the friendly townsfolk whose cottages tell its own stories.
You will also visit the Boesmanskloof, Greyton, Voostekraal and Beria to give you a wholesome understanding of the present and the past as history unfolds. Traditional meals available by prior arrangement.
Departure: 9h00 Return : 17h30
Zwelihle – Ubuntu Cultural Tours
Zwelihle means place of beauty. The township came into being in 1962 to house blacks who were forcibly evicted by the former government. Most of the residents are of the poor working class. Observe the sense of pride in their heritage and ability to cope with adversity. These cultural tours present an opportunity for tourist to gain an insight into township life and experience “UBUNTU”, the traditional African hospitality.
You will visit the men’s hostel, traditional healers, a shebeen(township bar), handcrafts training centre and more. You will also visit the SIYAKHULA African restaurant and by prior arrangement taste the rich flavours of traditional dishes.
Departure: 9h30: Return 12h30 and 13h30: Return 14h30