Whale watching in South Africa is a truly unforgettable experience; it offers unrivalled viewing of one of earth’s real giants, the Southern Right whale. One of the planet’s largest and most extraordinary creatures, these magnificent animals can easily be viewed from the shoreline while you gently dip your toes in the ocean, but if you want to see something spectacular, hop on board a boat for a close-up view of these majestic creatures as they come up for air, or take to the skies in a light aircraft and discover why whale watching in South Africa is most definitely on a par with anywhere in the world.
Whale watching in the Cape region offers arguably the country’s best viewing opportunities, with the action centred around the small villages of Hermanus and Gansbaai, which are located just 90 minutes from the heart of Cape Town, and offer plenty to attract the overnight visitor away from the city. Both of these are breathtaking locations for whale watching encounters, with the visitor able to simply stand on the rocks or harbour walls and see these mammoth mammals right up close as they breach and bask in the waters close to the shore. Guided boat trips to see the whales are very well regulated with the number of boat operators permitted to set sail each day, and the amount of time each can spend around the whales, strictly limited so as to ensure the minimal impact possible.
Down on the Cape Peninsula, Simon’s Town is another favoured viewing location, and further afield whale-watching can also be enjoyed along the coastline of the Garden Route; Knysna and the long sandy beaches of Plettenberg Bay being particularly good sites from which to embark on a whale-watching boat trip amongst the waves.
The whales can even be spotted further to the east in the KwaZulu Natal region off the waters of Durban & Umhlanga.
The whales return to South Africa’s waters every year between June and December, and are often seen with calves at this time of year as it marks the period when they give birth and rear their young, which is what makes whale watching in the Cape so special. Aside from whale watching in South Africa, sightings of Great White sharks, turtles, dolphins and Cape penguins, (Africa’s only penguin species), are also common and attract travellers from all over the world. The unforgettable feeling of awe that comes from seeing these remarkable animals emerge from the water is something not to be missed, whilst the brave can also submerge themselves amongst the sharks in specially-made cages.
Wherever you’re planning to visit for your South Africa whale-spotting trip, we will make sure you spend the duration of your holiday residing in comfortable, luxurious accommodation that is tailored to your requirements. Our dedicated staff listen to each of your needs and preferences before recommending the best accommodation for you, which is always based on their own personal experiences.
If your whale watching trip is going to include Hermanus, you can stay just a short distance away in the tranquil riverside village of Stanford, or in the heart of the whale-watching action close to the old harbour in Hermanus at The Marine Hotel, where the lucky few can enjoy some whale watching from the luxury of the balcony in their sea-facing suite.
The small settlements of De Kelders & Gaansbaai are home to some wonderfully-welcoming guest houses, but knocking spots off everywhere is the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, which looks out majestically over Walker Bay. This luxurious lodge runs daily boat trips out to watch the whales, as well as activities as diverse as flower safaris, horse-riding & botanical walks. It offers some serious whale-watching & serious pampering in five-star luxury.
Alternatively, if you want to combine your whale watching getaway with a city break, we can help to organise a stay in Cape Town at Kensington Place; a small, exclusive hotel which sits in the shadow of the towering Table Mountain. Wherever you choose to travel, we will ensure you stay in ideally located and serene accommodation.
If you’re looking to book a whale watching holiday to South Africa, Africa Travel can make sure that you get the almost most out of your trip. We have been providing our clients with dream holidays to Africa for over 30 years, using our extensive experience to ensure they enjoy a trip that meets their preferences. All of our staff have travelled the continent, meaning we can give personalised recommendations for your trip, including the best places to stay, the best places to spot the whales and the best whale-watching boat trips to take. Making whale watching part of your South Africa adventure will create memories that will last a lifetime.
Sales Director & Conde Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialist
Chris joined Africa Travel directly from university in 1992 and knows both the company and Africa extremely well.Read more
Sales Supervisor, London
Julia’s love for travel began at a young age. Born in Cape Town, she spent many a holiday exploring Southern Africa with her family before starting her career in travel.Read more
Sales Advisor, London
Felicity, who joined Africa Travel in 2004, has worked in the travel industry for over 30 years and originally comes from South Africa's KwaZulu Natal provinceRead more
Sales Support, London
Sigrun, who joined Africa Travel in 2001, grew up in South Africa and has now been in the travel industry for almost 30 years.Read more
Manager, Cape Town
Christine fell in love with Africa over 30 years ago, and has been managing the Cape Town office since 2008, and is looking forward to exploring Namibia more.Read more
Sales Support, Cape Town
Shaun joined the travel industry just over 10 years ago, working first for an online travel booking portal and an ecotourism company, specialising in sustainable travel in Southern and East Africa.Read more
Sales Support, Cape Town
Debbie joined Africa Travel in May 2009 and has been in the travel industry for over 20 years, enjoying a number of roles, from airline ticketing to accounting.Read more
Tour Guide, Cape Town
Christine first came to Africa as a young woman and immediately felt a connection which has never allowed her to leave. She lived in Johannesburg and in Knysna on the Garden Route, but came to Cape Town 22 years ago and realised it was where she wanted to be!Read more
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