18 May South Africa
Elephants, lions, rhinos, hippos, crocodiles – South Africa offers numerous exciting animals, southern right whales, too!
Hermanus at the coast of South Africa is one of the most popular whale watching hotspots worldwide. Over 400.000 people come here every year to watch southern right whales – also from the mainland.
Southern right whales are the main attraction for whale watchers in South Africa from June to November. Most sightings happen from July to October. Occasionally, humpbacks, Bryde’s whales, orcas and various kinds of dolphins can be seen, too. Most of all, it’s the bulky, playful southern right whales that attract the whale watchers.
As they usually get close to the coasts, seeing them from the mainland is possible in several places, making the western cape of South Africa one of the best places in the world for mainland whale watching.
The centre of South African Whale Watching is Hermanus at the Walker Bay, 100 kilometers east of Cape Town. There is also a whale festival, attracting up to 100.00 people over several days. Over 400.000 people come to Hermanus every year to see southern right whales.
Hermanus is even employing a whale crier, whose main job is to blow a horn, when a southern right whales is spotted in Walter Bay. There are various signals, informing people of both the number and the location of the whales. Daily sightings are almost guaranteed from September to October. The best places are the higher cliffs, which offer a great view over the southern right whales’ mating grounds.
»Hermanus is even employing a whale crier, whose job is to blow a horn, when a southern right whale is spotted in the bay.«
The number of southern right whales along the South African coasts has risen noticeably in the last years, making whale watching possible at several other places along the coast, too. Mostly at Cape Town, Plettenberg Bay, Gansbaai, Simon’s Town and from Table Mountain National Park.
Also, the numbers of other types of whales there have gone up there, making South Africa attractive for more reasons than just the southern right whales.
Things basically are all about the »Big Five« in South Africa: Elephants, rhinos, buffalos, leopards and lions. But the only penguin colony in the south of Cape Town is worth a visit, too. If you are brave enough, you can also meet white sharks underwater.
Table Mountain in Cape Town is an icon of South Africa and its over 2.000 different plants and more than 1.400 kinds of flowers make it one of the “New 7 Wonders of Nature.” It can be reached by Cable Car and is good for a hiking trip. It offers a great view over the city all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope.
The penguin colony at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town is part of a national park and located about 45 minutes south of Cape Town at False Bay. It is the only penguin colony in Africa (and consists of cape penguins, also known as “jackass penguins”). It all started with two animals, which lost their way in the 80ies and ended up here; now it’s more than 2.500 of them and numbers are rising. The tourists are thrilled and you can even go swimming with them. The residents, however, are not too happy, as the penguins keep on making their way into the exclusive residential area and are almost as loud as donkeys.
A lot of white sharks live in the waters along the coasts of South Africa, the biggest and most dangerous animals next to orcas. Cage Diving with them is one of the main attractions of South Africa. If you’d rather not get into the water with them, you can also watch them from boats. Problem: The animals are often baited to get close. Main season is from May to October, there are half-day tours in the False Bay or from Gansbaai starting at about 150 Dollars.
If you are not into swimming with sharks, why not give fur seals a try? Over 100.000 of them live on Duiker Island in Hout Bay, about 20 kilometers from Cape Town. They are very curious about humans, playful and not dangerous.
»The penguin colony at Boulders Beach is the only one in all of Africa. It started with two animals in the 80ies, now it’s more than 2.500.«
The cave system Cango Caves is one of the oldest tourist attractions of the country and is deemed one of the most beautiful caves in the world, because of its dripstone structures. There are three chambers, the biggest one 18 meters high, 50 meters wide and 90 meters long. The entrance is less than a half a meter wide. You can book both rather easy and harder tours.
On the northern border toward Mozambique, the Kruger National Park is the biggest wildlife resort of Africa. Thousands of lions, hyenas, elephants, rhinos, zebras, giraffes, ostriches, antelopes, hippos and crocodiles live there, making the park one of the areas richest with species in the whole world. Often, there is talk about the “Big Five” in South Africa, meaning elephants, rhinos, buffalo, leopards and lions. There are numerous camps in the park, where you can spend the night during round trips, but you can also book guided tours.
At Addo Elephant Park in the south, you can find elephants, lions, buffalo, rhinos, leopards, hyenas, antelopes and zebras. As the park is close to the coast, you have the rare chance of going from the “Big Five” to the “Big Seven”, by adding white sharks and southern right whales.
All the way east in South Africa from Santa Lucia, you can do boat trips to crocodiles and hippos to the lake of the same name. About 800 hippos and 1.000 crocodiles live here. They might look friendly, but hippos are some of the most dangerous animals of Africa.