Every year, southern right whales migrate from their icy feeding grounds off Antarctica to warmer climates, reaching South Africa in June. The country's coastal waters teem with the giant animals, mating, calving and rearing their young - and giving whale-watchers spectacular displays of raw power and elegant water acrobatics.
The southern right's breeding ground is the sheltered bays of the Western Cape coast, with the majestic animals spending up to five months a year here. They pass their time playing, courting, and nursing their newborn calves, providing spectacular land-based viewing.
The best time for watching the southern right whale in South African waters is from June to November along the Cape south coast, although some will already be as far north as KwaZulu-Natal. Peak calving season is July and August, but whales can be seen through September and October.
The Independent Traveller specialises in Southern Africa and can tailor a holiday to meet your exact critiera.
GROOTBOS PRIVATE NATURE RESERVE
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve boasts the best of two worlds - exquisite 5-star comfort and extravagance in an idyllic haven where the unsurpassed beauty of nature dominates even the most lavish interior and exterior design. This luxurious hotel resort has been artfully crafted within rare fynbos and milkwood forests on a mountain slope overlooking the whale watching Mecca of Walker Bay and Gansbaai. It is a place where the sunbird sings and buzzard and buck guard over the marine Big Five that thrives here - dolphins, southern right whales, great white sharks, penguins and seals.
Only 2 hours from Cape Town en route to Hermanus and the Garden Route, Grootbos is centred in the heart of the Cape's abundant sea, floral and wild life landscapes. The reserve boasts some of the world’s most distinct and unique plant, bird and animal species. The impressive lodges, 27 luxury designed suites and exclusive villa offer breathtaking views over the Atlantic Ocean. Come feast on the finest cuisine and wines whilst watching spectacular sunsets. Or join our specialised guides in exploring this natural wonderland on foot, horseback or 4x4 drives.
Grootbos offers a wide variety of activities for guests to enjoy during their stay. Specialist guides lead 4x4 drives and walks through the fynbos and forests of the reserve, trips to the nearby coast to view the Southern Right Whales from land, walks along deserted beaches, visits to archaeological and cultural sites, boat-based whale watching trips, as well as boat tours to a nearby seal island to view penguins, seals, dolphins and great white sharks.
Boat-based Whale Watching Tours
Grootbos Nature Reserve has an exclusive boat trip, through Dyer Island Cruises, leaving every morning from Kleinbaai harbour. Besides seeing the amazing whales, this trip offers a complete experience of the Marine Big5, which includes the whales, dolphins, African Penguins, Cape Fur Seals and surface viewing of the Great White Shark. The boat comfortably accommodates 20 guests, has a toilet, upper decks, shelter from the sun as well as snacks and drinks provided onboard. The boat also has specialized guides, who can provide all the facts about the whales as well as other interesting information about the magnificent marine life. As these gentle giants are very curious, they often swim right up to the boat to get a better view of the boat and the guests. This trip takes about 2 hours and is a marine experience not to be missed!
Whale Watching Tours By Plane
During season up to 160 whales and calves can be spotted in the Walker Bay. Only from the sky is it possible to comprehend the size of the Southern Right communities that visit our waters. The confluence of the warm Indian and the cold Atlantic Ocean create a vibrant and colourful seascape. Teaming full of wildlife these abundant oceans often provide great ‘game viewing’ opportunities. The majestic Cape Mountains frame these perfect white beaches and rocky shorelines. When a picture speaks a thousand words…the actual flight will render you speechless.
Beaches and Caves: The Walker Bay Nature Reserve boasts a spectacular 14 kilometres of unspoilt coastline with hidden caves, and is also home to a variety of coastal birds including the African Black Oystercatcher.
Horse Riding: The 1750-hectare Grootbos Nature Reserve provides excellent opportunities for horse riding, with 16 well-trained horses and experienced instructors that cater for all levels of riding.
Shark Cage Diving: Gansbaai has the reputation for being the shark capital of the world. Divers and adventurers travel from all over the globe to get up close with these magnificent creatures in the waters around Dyer Island.
Wine Tours: Sample some of South Africa's best vintages on our custom-made wine tour, visiting some world-class vineyards in the Overbeg and taking your pick from our private cellar!
Put simply, there can be no better place to stay from which to see whales. Cliff Lodge, an award winning guest house is located at the top of the rocks overlooking the ocean at De Kelders. It is no exaggeration to state that you can lie in bed and both see and hear the whales. You can also view them from the glorious all weather conservatory and sea front deck
You will be pampered and spoilt by hosts Gideon and Gill and their attention to detail and to surpassing the expectations of every guest is legendary
Choose from 5 rooms – but beware – rooms sell out so fast as this really is a “hidden gem”
Boat based whale watching can be arranged. This will give you the thrill of seeing whales up close and personal.
The boat based whale industry is strictly controlled and the designated areas are carefully selected so as not to interefere with whale watching from land
Whale Watching Tours By Plane
During season up to 160 whales and calves can be spotted in the Walker Bay. Only from the sky is it possible to comprehend the size of the Southern Right communities that visit our waters. The confluence of the warm Indian and the cold Atlantic Ocean create a vibrant and colourful seascape. Teaming full of wildlife these abundant oceans often provide great ‘game viewing’ opportunities. The majestic Cape Mountains frame these perfect white beaches and rocky shorelines. When a picture speaks a thousand words…the actual flight will render you speechless
June to September is the best season for this. A thrilling experience – do ask The Independent Traveller for more details
The opportunities to spot birds from Cliff Lodge will astound you!
The Overberg has over 330 bird species with at least 20 endemic species. The impressive diversity is due to the variety of habitats in the area
The Independent Traveller view....” This genuinely is one of our favourite places....its location, charm, incredible attention to deal and ability to make every guest feel so special, are only a few of the many superlatives that we could find to describe Cliff Lodge. You really must experience it for yourself”