Whale watching tour options beyond Hermanus for folks who are staying in the area for 2 N. Our Whale watching tour options combines well with our Hermans tour.
The Gansbaai area, which has achieved legendary appeal as the “Big 2 Town”, is broadening its appeal base by branding itself as Dangerpoint Peninsula. It comprises the following destinations:
De Kelders Best spot to watch whales
Masakhane Booming community under milkwood trees
Blompark In the heart of the peninsula
Kleinbaai Home of the shark-diving boats
Franskraal Between estuary and ocean
Pearly Beach The longest undisturbed sand-beach in the Cape
Baardskeerdersbos Unique fynbos habitats
Buffelsjagbaai Most secluded shore community
How far? About 180km from Cape Town, 60km beyond Hermanus. Stanford is 20km away; Cape Agulhas Africa’s southernmost point (via a dirt road) is 80km.
Danger Point Lighthouse is open weekdays 10h0015h00 and houses a memorial to HMS Birkenhead which was wrecked nearby in 1852.
What started as a humble fishing village, and became a popular retirement destination, is now a worldwide destination for thrill seekers and nature lovers for the Big Two Great White Sharks and Southern Right Whales. It has also succumbed to the almost insatiable demand for coastal properties as weekend and holiday homes.
Sharks, whales and fishing aside, from De Kelders it offers one of the most spellbinding views across Walker Bay to Hermanus stretching to Cape Hangklip, with range upon range of mountains as a backdrop across the ocean.
Even the cliff walks along the bay, at De Kelders, provide unique vantage points. CapeInfo witnessed a school of well over 100 dolphins on one visit playing close inshore!
Dyer Island is a breeding site for African penguins, Cape cormorants and various other seabirds. In the past the guano (bird manure) was collected from the island for use as fertilizer.
Geyser Rock is home to a breeding colony of about 60 000 Cape fur seals. These playful animals follow the boat and do some tourist watching! Every December thousands of seal pups are born on the island. These pups take to water around the island when they are about 6 weeks old. The seal colony attracts great white sharks to the area and the channel between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock is known as Shark Alley.
Gansbaai has two launching areas Gansbaai harbour itself, on Walker Bay, and Kleinbaai, opposite Dyer Island and Danger Point, where the Birkenhead was wrecked. These provide a range of options, under differing weather conditions.
Curious whale Pic: Dyer Island Cruises
Southern right whales migrate from Antarctica to the South African coast every winter to mate and calve. They can be viewed here from about June to December, the season peaking during the months August, September and October. Southern rights are one of the easiest whale species to observe as they are found very close to the shore and spend most of their time at the surface. It is not uncommon for these massive creatures to swim up to the boat to have a closer look a truly life changing experience.
You can dooffer personalised boat-based whale watching safaris into Area 6 of Walker Bay from Gansbaai. Rudy Hughes, a specialist Whale Guide, has logged more than 4 500 “close approaches” to southern right whales gained over eight years.
Gansbaai Scuba offer a range of scuba dives and general boat trips from either Gansbaai or Kleinbaai, making the most of prevailing weather conditions. White Shark Adventures offers shark cage diving from their 55 foot catamaran off Dyer Island.
Other whale watching tour options can be found at Grootbos
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve (just before you get to De Kelders) offers one of the most spectacular and memorable experiences anywhere. It’s an eco-experience second to none leaving you completely rejuvenated. And the views take in three lighthouses… now that gives new meaning to expanding your mind!
Klipgat Hiking Trail
From top: Klipgat Caves, cliffside hiking trail, and the striking Brunsvigia.
Coastal walks Apart from 12 kilometre stretch of unspoiled sandy beach at Pearly Beach, or the spectacular walk along Die Plaat, there are theKlipgat caves on the Duiwelsgat Hiking Trail.
The Klipgat Caves are in De Kelders. Archaeological material dates back 80 000 years but there are also traces of the Khoisan from ±2 000 years ago. Beautiful scenery, with small bays to swim in, it is part of the Duiwelsgat Hiking Trail which is a 7km one-way walk from the Gansbaai Caravan Park to the Klipgat Caves. The walk is fairly easy and takes about 3 hours. Some of the views from the sandstone cliffs are truly spectacular.
Starting point at the Gansbaai caravan park (alongside the harbour) it’s an easy walk to a tidal pool, a freshwater fountain, a small milkwood forest and on to Stanford’s Cove a safe and sheltered bay to swim. (This bay was originally used by Sir Robert Stanford, to send his boat with fresh supplies to the Cape. An Adam’s fig tree, over 150 years old, can be seen.)
From now on the walk is along cliffs and steep areas. After crossing an old wooden bridge you get to the first caves, Die Drupkelder, or De Kelders Cave. This cave was used many years ago as a mineral bath, including Lady Anne Barnard in 1798. This is the only freshwater cave along the African coast and “drosters” or slaves used to hide in this cave. The area onwards is very well known for scuba diving.
Duiwelsgat (Devil’s Cave), another cave en route, is only accessible at low tide. Once in this cave, you will see the blue sky through a hole in the roof of the cave. Years ago the farmers built a wall around it to prevent the cattle from falling into the cave. The Klipgat caves, one of the highlights of the Gansbaai area, are at the end of the hiking trail. During whale season [MayNovember] the area is covered with wild flowers, and whales pop up and breach everywhere. Dolphins, seals, lizards, otters, rock rabbits and many sea birds can be seen.
Info & pics by
The transition from a fishing and retirement village, with limited disposable income, to a much more affluent tourist destination is reflected by the range of places to eat.
Grootbos’ new Forest Lodge offers a dining experience, but booking is essential; it’s already very popular The Great White House (ownership has just changed) is a surprisingly sophisticated dining destination for a small place like Kleinbaai. One local describes eating perlemoen in the White House as a sublime experience and recommends Lapa Lanterfanter for its honest, very welcoming, typically Afrikaans ambience.
While there is a wide range of family eateries pizzas, burgers, etc you can also now get good coffee in Gansbaai at Café on Main (which also provides information on the area) and at Espresso Café. Whale watching from Coffee on the Rocks, for teas and light meals, on the cliff top at De Kelders, can’t be beaten.
And if you stay in self-catering accommodation, don’t forget this is fishing country. Get down to the harbour before midday on Saturday for the freshest catch!
Matthia Schwiegler, the local expert on the medicinal value of different fynbos species, guides guests around their farm and fynbos reserve, (part of which is a commercial fynbos cut-flower farm,) as well as along the shores and through the mountains of the Southern Overberg.
Guided 4×4 trails from the historical homestead of Uilenes through indigenous forest, fynbos and over the Franskraal Berge. And Alette Groenewald of Uilenes offers tractor rides up the fynbos-covered mountains and down into Bijnekrans Cave.
Wonder Mpfotu, an accredited tour guide shows you around this peaceful and rural place: see traditional dances, meet a sangoma, drink umqombothi and eat umngqusho
Strandveld Museum in an original Strandveld House alongside the ocean, run by the local historian, Jan Fourie: the history of the Strandveld made alive with various artefacts and items from shipwrecked ships.
Strandveld Tours: Accredited guide and local journalist SD Fourie organises historical tours in the area as well as special “ghost-tours” picturing the rich ghost-life of the Strandveld.
Flower Valley: started out as a UNESCO project, it is now a pilot project for sustainable harvesting of fynbos under the wings of the Agulhas Biodiversity Initiative (ABI). Staff will guide you through the workshop where different fynbos-products are made, flower store and learning centre.
Sandberg Fynbos Reserve : Gerhard van Deventer takes Fynbos tours on Sandberg and through the very rare flora of the Geelkop Nature Reserve near Elim.