A right whale welcome
In early June they arrive. Southern right whales leave their Antarctic feeding ground to frolic in the warmer waters of the Western Cape. Here they mate, calve and generally hang out, occasionally flopping a tail up, or sticking their heads out of the water. Whales pick some of the most beautiful stretches of our coast for their activities and, bonus, they sometimes come so close you can hear their distinct ‘speech’ rumblings. Hermanus boasts the best land based whale watching along its famed cliff path. The town’s popular whale crier leads the way every day, blowing his distinctive kelp horn and letting visitors know where the best places are for the day’s viewing. Many other Overberg towns like Gansbaai, Arniston, Stilbaai and L’Agulhas also have great vantage points.
There are two ways to spot whales: from the land or by boat. Ocean viewing allows you to get up pretty close (boats may not get less than 50 metres from the animals in terms of government regulations). The other option is to view them from the land and there are hundreds of places the whole way along the coast – all you need is a pair of binoculars.
You could also visit one of the many coastal nature reserves. The De Hoop Nature Reserve near Bredasdorp enhances the whale watching experience as well as offering numerous spectacular trails and hikes. About 120 individual whales return to the waters of De Hoop every year to calve and mate. The sight of these massive mammals leaping out of the water or simply wallowing in the azure waters is surely one of the highlights of a visit to the reserve. The high dunes at Koppie Alleen are an excellent vantage point for whale watchers while the lodge at Lekkerwater provides an excellent base for exploring.
Intro: The Overberg is the best place in the world to view these beautiful and gentle giants.
The stars come out at spring
The whales are always the star performers at the Hermanus Whale Festival and they will be joined on land by musicians, crafters, sports celebrities and thousands of visitors celebrating spring over nine days.
The largest environmental sustainable expo, organised by the Overstrand Conversation Foundation (OCF) will be held at Market Square which will include a stage for debating, a food and wine emporium and educational activities for the little ones.
Highlights of the 2008 festival include a fish cook-off at the Old Harbour, while the arty types can look forward to an art ramble and an exhibition of works by some of the best artists in the Overberg at the Village Square Waterfront Piazza. The Whales ‘n Wheels Vintage Classic Car Show is one for the ‘petrolheads’ of all ages, and the gleaming machines will be on display at the Hermanus Primary School grounds.
Children will be entertained at the Kids Morning Market that will be held at the Civic on Saturday, September 27.
Whale watching and shark cage diving, bird watching and fynbos hikes, baboons and kayak trips are just some of the adventures available during the festival.
Welcome to tranquility
There’re a few things Stanford does well. Country cooking, a river, a brewery and peace and quiet. Loads of it.
This little village just up the road from Hermanus is built along the Klein (Little) river. The river is an integral part of Stanford – you can hire a boat, take a trip on the African Queen or go for a swim (actually a quick dip in spring).
The Stanford Walking Trail (Wandelpad) meanders right next to the river and in the early morning or evening there are loads of birds to be seen in the trees and reeds lining the banks. Still on the physical activity front why not take a stroll or cycle around the town?
The streets are flat and wide and it’s the best way to see the architecture. Stanford is renowned for its arts and crafts and there are several shops where you can browse.
Just outside the town is the Birkenhead brewery. Pop in to sample their wares in the little pub upstairs with its great rural views. Just further down the road is Klein River Dairy Farm, where you can buy their speciality gruyere and leiden cheeses.
Talking of eating ... there are a good selection of coffee shops, pubs and restaurants in and around the town and lastly don’t forget Marianas. This little restaurant regularly tops the country cooking awards.
By Confetti Studio
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