A Whale of a Time!

So we’ve just returned from ‘Rocking the Daisies’ music festival and are debating where to head next on our South African adventure. We met some great people at the festival who informed us of a new adventure we could go on… Hermanus!

We had planned to go straight to Cape Town but instead got a lift to the airport, rented a car and south we went!! We had done a little bit of research and had found whale watching tours that headed out from Cape Town and also from Hermanus but a boat tour was a bit mundane for my adventurous mood. Sea Kayaking! Now that’s the one! We booked a hostel on the way to the airport and were Hermanus bound and full of excitement, even after the weekend we had had!

About 5pm we arrive but on the way to the hostel it’s always worth seeing an ocean view, I pulled up in the car with a beautiful view and wow! Whales! Without even leaving the car I had managed to get my shot I have wanted for a long time! The whale tail! This place was incredible!

Eventually we found the hostel and the people there were great! We nipped to the local supermarket and got some bits and it was time to braai! With steak and boerewors, beer and brandy, we were set to fill our bellies for the night!

The next day we wanted to do the sea kayaking we had read about but sadly winds had meant the boats weren’t going out which was a shame but not wanting to sit still it was into the car and off we went to Stony Point to see the famous African penguins! #bucketlist check! There were hundreds of them! A small donation and we were along the path surrounded by so many wild penguins that were being looked after by locals. Not necessarily something to travel for, but a fun visit if you are down that way on the ‘Whale Coast Route’.

Luckily the hostel had availability for another night so it was an afternoon in and getting the car packed ready for an early morning the next day. It was time to kayak. We packed up the car and then had a walk to the coast and met the guys that were on the trip with us.

In pairs we head out onto the water, a small group of about 20 of us in or 10 boats heading out into open waters. Personally I loved the story behind how they could go out.

So each year between the months of July and December, Hermanus shuts its beaches to all water sports in order for the Southern Right whales to come in from the South Atlantic waters for breeding. The deep waters so close to the shore allow mothers to raise their calves and teach them to swim until they have reached the ability to venture out into the big wide world.

Now in order to not interrupt this very special time in the life of a Southern Right whale the only things allowed on the water are the licenced boats for viewing and the kayaks! We were all informed that as spectacular as this experience was, being able to be so close to the whales, the permits stated that the kayaks could not be closer than 300m from the whales to not interrupt their breeding. This was fair enough and we witnessed some incredible views as whales breached and sprayed all around us. We even managed to come next to a small bob of seals just resting in the water! What a trip!

Now the question on my mind was that the way the whales would disappear under water and then randomly re appear minutes later, with the permit rules, has the instructor ever had a whale just pop up next to him? I asked and was told that it had happened twice in the 15 years he had been kayaking with them and if it should happen then everyone should paddle away as soon as possible, so obviously a very rare thing. I thought OK no chance of that then and carried on and then BOOM! A four month old whale calf just popped up out of nowhere!

The instructor shot off but almost in a trance of amazement I just sat there in the boat literally metres away from this gentle giant. The only thought on my mind was getting capsized by a whale isn’t the worst story in the world to tell! With GoPro in hand, I stuck the camera into the water and got the best video ever of this whale passing us by!

My mind had been blown and I am clearly a very lucky person but I cannot stress how much you should head down to Hermanus! A great place to be and a good group of guides!

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