From the Journal

Whale watching season in South Africa


Travel Tips

When you think of traveling in South Africa, you usually think of early morning game drives through the bush surrounded by the Big 5. Why not add to your safari experience and take a trip down to the Southern Coast of the Western Cape. No lions here you say, but shallow bays filled with pods of calving whales waving their tails and breaching playfully, is another experience all together. Whether you choose to see the continents greatest whale nursery from land, sea or air, our experts at Ker & Downey Africa® are here to help with these pointers on the whale watching season in South Africa.


Experience South Africa's whale watching season on our Cape Town Safari & Whale Coast Adventure


Where can you see whales in South Africa?


Tucked behind the Kleinrivier mountains, above cascading cliffs overlooking the Indian Ocean, is the small Western Cape fishing town of Hermanus. Rated as one of the twelve best whale watching locations in the world, the Hermanus whale watching season is definitely a must when visiting South Africa. Whether staring down from the rugged coastal cliffs, looking out from your hotel window or sunbathing on the beach, chances are you will see a Southern Right Whale show off and launch itself out of the water or the flick of a Humpback Whale’s tail.

hermanus whale coast

Rated as one of the twelve best whale watching locations in the world, the Hermanus whale watching season is definitely a must when visiting South Africa.

When does the Hermanus whale watching season start?


The Hermanus whale watching season is in full swing between the months of June and November. The calm bays and coves of the Southern Coast, in particular Walker bay, offer shelter to pods of whales that migrate from the icy waters of the Antarctic to calve, mate and raise their young. The Cape’s cold winter months bring the calving female whales, with the males following behind for the warmer months of spring.

The Hermanus whale watching season is in full swing between the months of June and November.

whale in hermanus

Where to stay in Hermanus


Birkenhead House


With panoramic cliff top views over Walker Bay, Birkenhead House offers guests the opportunity to get up close with these gentle giants during the Hermanus whale watching season. While dining on the terrace or sipping your morning coffee, you may see pods of dolphins splashing around the coastline, hear the song of the Humpback Whale, or catch the spray from the blowhole of a Southern Right Whale. You can watch the whales down below from the comfort of your ocean view bedroom at Birkenhead House.

birkenhead house on the cliffs above walker bay
Birkenhead House perched on the cliffs above Walker Bay.

The Marine Hotel and Spa


Located on the famous Hermanus Cliff Path, The Marine Hotel looks over Walker Bay, home to calving Southern Right Whales for 6 months of the year. The hotel offers the unique experience of some of the best land-based whale watching in the world and guests are able to view the majestic creatures and their young from the comfort of their sea view bedroom.

view from the marine terrace
View from The Marine terrace.

Grootbos Forest Lodge


If you’re in search for more, you can make your way up the coast towards Gaansbaai to Grootbos Forest Lodge. Immersed in nature, enjoy 180 degree views of the eco-reserve and the bay from your private deck or walk along the cliffs to encounter pods of migrating whales swim within meters of the rugged coastline.

Immersed in nature, enjoy 180 degree views of the eco-reserve and the bay from your private deck or walk along the cliffs to encounter pods of migrating whales.

grootbos nature reserve
Photo credit: Grootbos Forest Lodge.
aerial view of grootbos forest lodge
Aerial view of Grootbos Forest Lodge in the Grootbos Nature Reserve.

Other locations to pursue


Still can’t get enough? Travel up the coast to discover the De Hoop Nature Reserve. The reserve consists of 34000 hectares of Fynbos, white sandy beaches, sand dunes, wetlands and mountains and is a haven for cyclists and hikers alike. Feeling adventurous? Why not explore the De Hoop Nature Reserve on the 5 day Whale Trail. The trail includes coastal and mountain walking and offers plenty of opportunities for whale watching.

whales in hermanus
Photo credit: Morukuru Family.

The trail includes coastal and mountain walking and offers plenty of opportunities for whale watching.

Morukuru Beach Lodge


Located within the reserve is the Morukuru Beach Lodge. The 4 suites at Morukuru Beach Lodge are surrounded by fynbos dunes and limestone cliffs that look over the Indian Ocean. During the whaling season, Morukuru Beach Lodge offers guests views of the continents greatest whale nursery, when Southern Right Whales migrate to the shallow coastal basins of the Overberg to calve and raise their young.

Morokuru Beach Lodge offers guests views of the continents greatest whale nursery, when Southern Right Whales migrate to the shallow coastal basins of the Overberg to calve and raise their young.

morokuru beach lodge exterior
view of the bay from morokuru beach lodge
View of the bay from Morokuru Beach Lodge in De Hoop Nature Reserve.

The whaling season in South Africa is a unique opportunity to witness these gentle giants in their natural environment from land, sea or air. If you’d like to find out more about the Hermanus whale watching season and start planning your trip to South Africa, get in touch with one of our knowledgeable Ker & Downey® Africa Adventurists.

Lindsay Krause
Written by
Lindsay Krause

Lindsay gained her traveling chops from spending 4 years living in and exploring South East Asia. From motorbiking her way through Vietnam, scuba-diving with whale sharks in Thailand, sipping on coconuts in the Philippines and exploring ancient temples in Cambodia, Lindsay's got a case of the travel bug and looks forward to ticking African adventures off her bucket list. 


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