South Africa, with its sun-drenched rugged terrains, gold-sprinkled beaches that go on for miles, and highly Instagrammable mountain peaks, is a family holiday dream. And that’s before you even get to the wildlife. South Africa is littered with national parks that are home to every type of animal you could hope to see on safari - but what about the creatures who live somewhere wetter? Creatures like whales. Giant, powerful, see-it-to-believe-it whales.
Whale watching in South Africa is pretty much unbeatable. Seeing one glide effortlessly and elegantly through the water for the first time - or the twentieth time - will take the breath right out of your lungs. The sheer size of an adult whale is almost too difficult to appreciate until you see one for yourself.
Southern Right whale migration
Every year, groups of Southern Right whales migrate from Antarctica to warmer waters to mate, nurse, and rear their babies. Their territory stretches from Doringbaai and up the Cape West coast and around the Cape peninsula, and they can generally be seen between the months of June and December. This means more than 1,200 miles of whale watching coastline is available to the whole family for six months of the year.
Where to whale watch in South Africa
If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to see the whales from one of the many beaches or clifftops, especially as some whales love to frolic mere metres from the shoreline, but the real treat comes from seeing these marvellous mammals up close, aboard a boat from Cape Town, Hermanus or Gansbaai.
Sometimes, the whales will do more than coming up for air (although seeing a whale blow water and air through its blowhole is spectacular enough). They may ‘breach’, by jumping out of the water and crashing back down to the surface with a splash, ‘lobtail’, by making a loud noise from hitting their tail on the water, or ‘spy hop’, by raising themselves out of the water vertically as far as they can to look around. Or, they might be feeling playful enough to perform water gymnastics for their awestruck audience.
Whale watching is so popular in South Africa that the village of Hermanus holds an annual whale festival in September, where over 100,000 people gather to marvel at the earth’s largest mammals going about their ocean business. The whales are fiercely protected, though, and only a handful of boat permits have been issued.
Other marine animals
There are more than 37 species of whale and dolphin swimming in the seas of South Africa, and while you might visit for the whale watching, South Africa offers so many other marine animals too, from turtles, to penguins, to seals. So one thing’s for sure if you choose to holiday here - your family won’t be disappointed by the sea life this stunning country has to offer. And your kids will have plenty of stories to return to school with! They might even see a shark…
If this sounds like the unforgettable family holiday in South Africa you’re after, one of our team will be more than happy to help you with all the details. Give us a call on 020 7843 3500 today
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