Hermanus and the Sigh of Whales

The South African village of Hermanuspietersfontein is approximately two hour’s southeast of Cape Town on the Atlantic coast, depending on your urgency. Thanks heavens the postal service changed the name to Hermanus after they ran out of digits on the franking machine. Just imagine keying that into the satnav. Thanks also for predictive texting.

Rooi Els Beach Looking back to Cape Town

Hermanus Whale Watching: Beach at Rooi Els
Beach at Rooi Els: Photo Darren Glanville / CC 2.0

You are seldom far from the ocean as you pass the villages of Rooi Els, Kleinmond, Fisherhaven, and Vermont. Beyond Hermanus lies Cape L’Agulhas where the harsh Atlantic merges with the warmer Indian Ocean. No wonder Hermanus has always been a magnet for callers from cooler climes. Arrive at Hermanus at dawn in late September when the Southern Right Whales return to calve and mate. Discover that everything else can wait.

Hermanus Whale Watching

Hermanus Whale Watching: Waiting for the Whales
Waiting for the Whales: Photo Marco ZanferrariCC BY-SA 2.0

The oldest part of Hermanus dates from before city folk ‘discovered’ the local farmer’s holiday cabins. It stands poised on a rocky cliff, affording places to gaze down on whales cavorting in season. There are also places to safely scramble down to isolated coves, and be one with nature as you hear the giant mammals breathing, seemingly close enough to touch.

Southern Right Mother and Child Return

Hermanus Whale Watching: Southern Right Wales
Southern Right Wales: Photo Confluence / CC BY-SA 2.0

Elsewhere, the cliff gives way to lower, open ground, safe bathing spots, and a picture-perfect fishing harbour. Just beyond it, an extended jetty provides boats trips to Gansbaai further south, where intrepid divers swim among Great White Sharks. I prefer the quieter side of the village, where I can linger over coffee, and wait for calls of the official whale crier telling me that the season for sightings has begun.

Hermanus Harbour

Hermanus Whale Watching: Hermanus Harbour
Hermanus Harbour: Photo Jon Mountjoy / CC 2.0

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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