Cape Town - Winter is whale watching season in South Africa.
The Western Cape's Hermanus is seen as the land-based whale watching capital - with thousands flocking to see the Southern Right whales and their offspring frolic in the shallows.
However, SA's coastal regions from the West Coast all the way out to Coffee Bay on the Wild Coast all have whales ready to entertain - you just have to keep a watchful eye out for them.
And this year, False Bay has seen the early arrival of the whales, much to the delight of locals and tourists.
According to Janice Templeton, who crews for the Simon's Town Boating company, the orcas are about six weeks early, with the some great sighting captured over the last week alone.
"There is no indication as to why they're so early, it's been an odd year when it comes to the bay," says Templton.
"The sharks arrived late and the whales arrived early."
In the pics posted to the Simon's Town Boat Company's Facebook page, they can be seen showing off something silly.
All of this bodes well for the season ahead, says Dave Hurwitz, owner of the Simon’s Town Boat Company.
Hurwitz posted the following images about a week ago, saying it was hard to believe they had arrived already.
The West Coast
On the Cape West Coast, excellent sightings of southern rights can be enjoyed all the way from Strandfontein to Lambert's Bay, Elands Bay, St Helena Bay, Saldanha Bay and Ysterfontein, just north of Cape Town. Even in the bays of Cape Town southern right whales are frequently spotted. If you’re lucky, you can even see them from the road along the False Bay coast, or on the scenic coastal Victoria Road. If you don’t want to push your luck, book a trip with the experts.
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Hermanus and Walker Bay
There is real value behind the now commercial Hermanus whale season. The whales really do come up close to the shore here, and they have a particularly playful attitude towards people it seems.
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If you’re after the Killers, here might be a good place to look. Hiking the St Blaize Trail will give you a good view of the bay below, where you can spot southern rights, humpbacks, bryde’s whales or the deadly killer whales feeding on seals on the island in the bay. If you want to go out to sea, book a trip with the boat operators in Plettenberg Bay, further along the Garden Route.
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The Wild Coast
From Cape St Francis onward, the cliff-lined coast gives some of the best vantage points from where to see Humpbacks, bryde's whales, and further north towards Port St Johns, even sperm whales. Dolphins are also abundant in this area. You can spot them from land, or opt for a whale watching boat ride.
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This is humpback whale territory, which stretches as far as Cape Vidal. The whales usually stay in the perimeters of the coastline. From mid-May to mid-September, they move more north to breed off the Mozambique coast, and from September to December they return, on route to the nutrient-rich waters of Antarctica.
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