Hermanus

South Africa

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Southern Right Whales

Southern Right Whale

Great news for the Southern Right Whales. With all the bad news and negativity in the media, especially when it comes to the state of our marine resources, it’s great to be able to share something rather more uplifting. On Saturday, with a one day weather gap between frontal systems along the Cape south coast. It was the perfect opportunity to conduct an aerial whale survey of Eubalaena Australis for the Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit.

Early in the morning, wearing multiple layers of warm clothing plus a flight suit, gloves and windbreaker. I lifted off from Morning Star Airfield into the crisp clear air. The farm fields were covered in a light frost as I passed overhead on my way to the coast at Hawston. This is  where I landed to collect whale scientist Chris Wilkinson. After lifting off again we encountered the first southern right’s almost immediately. Hardly surprising since the area between Hermanus lagoon mouth and De Kelders is one of the known hotspots for these gentle giants, Eubalaena Australis.

The area yielded a count of 107 whales, 41 cow/calf pairs and 25 unaccompanied adults.   There were a few more whales at Pearly Beach, Die Dam and Agulhas and then another big group between Struisbaai and Arniston. The next hotspot was at the De Hoop Collection Nature Reserve. From Skipskop Point to Lekkerwater, where we spotted an incredible 1,116 whales, or 558 cow/calf pairs. Therefore highlighting the fact that Koppie Alleen is without question the most important nursery area for southern right’s Eubalaena Australis on the South African coast.

Southern Right Whale

And there were also several large great white sharks swimming amongst the whales and calves. From here to Cape Infanta there were quite a few more mothers & calves. All spread out along the coast and then another 60 whales in St. Sebastian Bay. Clustered mainly around the Breede River mouth and further east towards the Duiwenhoks River mouth. 

It's a Steal

Due to its immense popularity, a booking on the De Hoop Whale Trail is very difficult to secure. Bookings are made 1 year in advance through Cape Nature. The trail is professionally guided by FGASA qualified marine, field and Cape tourism guides with the experience of over 15 Whale Trails.​ Our Whale Trail Price is R 10 950.00 which includes 3 meals, 1 X  cold beverage at the end of each day and one glass of wine. At R2190 per person per day - including accommodation, fully catered and guided, its a steal.

Because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, unfortunately the world we live in has changed forever. Please note that all the prices quoted  are subject to change because of local and global conditions.

Obviously we will try our best to stick to the the prices as quoted throughout this vast website. Any changes will be communicated at the time of booking, and your booking confirmation price will remain fixed.

Due to its immense popularity, a booking on the De Hoop Whale Trail is very difficult to secure. Bookings are made 1 year in advance through Cape Nature. The trail is professionally guided by FGASA qualified marine, field and Cape tourism guides with the experience of over 15 Whale Trails.​ Our Whale Trail Price is R 10 950.00 which includes 3 meals, 1 X  cold beverage at the end of each day and one glass of wine. At R2190 per person per day - including accommodation, fully catered and guided, its a steal.

Because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, unfortunately the world we live in has changed forever. Please note that all the prices quoted  are subject to change because of local and global conditions.

Obviously we will try our best to stick to the the prices as quoted throughout this vast website. Any changes will be communicated at the time of booking, and your booking confirmation price will remain fixed.

We terminated the survey at Witsands but could still see many more southern rights along the coast further to the east. After landing near Infanta to refuel the gyro copter and grab a quick bite, we set off again. This time in the opposite direction and with more opportunity to get some images since we were finished with the count.

Here we also spotted both bottlenose and humpback dolphins, plenty of cape fur seals and even a few bait balls on the way back. After dropping Chris back at Hawston I climbed up to 4000 ft, crossing the mountains at Sir Lowry’s Pass. In a rising westerly wind before dropping back down and heading home after nearly 7 hours in the air. Later on I received a message from Els Vermeulen, head of the Whale Unit, to let me know the final numbers. We counted 661 cow/calf pairs plus 25 unaccompanied adults, for a total of 1,347 southern right’s counted between Hawston and Witsands!

This is almost exactly triple the amount of whales counted at nearly the same time (1st week of Sep) in the same area in 2017. So this is a new all time record for southern right whales counted along our coast. And a big thank you to all who made the survey possible, especially African Wings. They displayed amazing airmanship and graciously halted one of their tours so we could move through the area, and as always to Michael Raimondo from Green Renaissance.

Whales at Noetsie  

General information regarding the trail

  • De Hoop Nature Reserve is 230 km from Cape Town International airport.(Transfer to & from Potberg for your own cost, can be arranged) Please ensure that your flight arrives in the morning and get to Potberg at around 14h00.
  • The route stretches over 58km from Potberg to Koppie Alleen and includes 5 overnight stops.
  • Trail limit is 12 people per trip (10 guests) and is termed “slack-packing”, a term used when one has the convenience of a portage facility. Hikers need only to carry a small day-pack with water, camera, rain jacket, sun screen etc.
  • The trail is exclusive in that you will not meet other hikers on the trail.
  • The trail will be fully catered for and special dietary requirements met as far as possible.
  • Requirements: sleeping bag, day pack, hiking boots & clothing.

(Hiring of equipment can be arranged)

  • Accommodation on the trail is in a series of cottages with mostly 3 bedrooms with 4 bunk beds each.
  • A 60 liter container is issued to each person for personal belongings and this is transported to the next overnight stop.

Requirements and assumptions:

  • It is a requirement that all hikers have adequate medical cover to facilitate any potential medical emergency, and relevant evacuation that may arise or be required while on a Whale Trail guided and provided for by Africansunroad. This assumption also applies to individual family members of family groups.

Includes the following:

  • Professionally Guided (FGASA Field Guides and Marine, Cape Tour & Wine Guide)
  • First Aid & back-up assistance

Excludes:

  • Any medical costs relating to a medical emergency, and relevant evacuation that may arise while on a Whale Trail.
  • Any additional accommodation either before or after the trail, or as advertised by Africansunroad.
  • Accommodation and meals should a hikers leave, or be removed from the trail for any reason including medical.
  • Drinks at restaurants.
  • Unscheduled taxi transfers and other transportation to or from the De Hoop Reserve.
  • Loss or damage to Africansunroad client vehicles parked at Potberg, before, during or after the hike.
  • Cost of removal or evacuation of persons on the Whale Trail Hike guided by Africansunroad.
  • Loss or damage to equipment used on the trail.

Acceptance of General Information, assumptions and exclusions:

  • The final payment made to participate in the Africansunroad Whale Trail indicates my acknowledgment of, and acceptance of the general information, requirements, assumptions and exclusions.

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