Cape Town - Winter isn’t only about keeping warm and toasty while cuddling up indoors. In South Africa we are blessed with a winter season that is conducive for activities that can get the average 'couch potato' out and about.
From the Knysna Oyster Festival – which is one of SA’s biggest winter festivals, to an array of sporting events, and taking a short road trip to spot snow in one of the many beautiful mountain ranges in SA, there are many family-friendly outings to take full advantage of during the winter holidays.
EVENT GUIDE: Warm up this winter with 10 adventure-filled days at the Knysna Oyster Festival
And in winter, Mzansi gives us beautiful marine moments like dolphins riding waves with surfers and magnificent whale watching opportunities.
With ‘whale watching season’, from June to November, the route along SA’s coastline is superb to view the oceans’ giants.
With international travel sites listing the Western Cape as one of the world’s best places to whale-watch, we take a look at some of SA’s greatest whale-watching destinations you can check out this winter.
The most popular whale watching destination in SA, Hermanus welcomes local and international visitors to its shores in winter to get a glimpse of the migrating creatures while taking in the natural beauty of the coastal town.
The Hermanus Whale Festival, that started 26 years ago, allows visitors to celebrate the migration of Southern Right Whales and other marine wildlife with ocean-themed activities and exhibitions, emphasising education and environmentally responsible adventures and activities. This year's festival takes place from 28 to 30 September 2018.
Visitors say that whales come up close to the shore, sometimes displaying playful attitude towards the spectators.
Plettenberg Bay and the Garden Route
The Garden Route offers a stretch of coastline for whale watching. In Mossel bay, along the Garden Route, spectators can even get the opportunity to see killer whales feeding on seals.
The seaside town of Plettenberg Bay is where one can spot whales predominantly in winter, although Bryde's whales or orcas can be seen throughout the year if you’re really lucky.
In addition to the whales, visitors can spot Cape fur seals and other marine mammals, and take boat or kayak trips for an even more extraordinary viewing experience.
During the months of May to December Humpback whales and Southern Right Whales arrive along the Eastern Cape coast.
Humpback whales can be spotted regularly during winter – as well as when they return from their migration in summer.
SEE: Whale season is here: Where to get the best action
One of the best parts of whale watching along the Eastern Cape coast is that you don’t need a boat ride into the ocean to see the whales – they are clearly visible with just a pair of binoculars.
Humpbacks, bryde's whales, and even sperm whales can be spotted along the eastern coastal region of the Wild Coast. With the warm waters reaching this part of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal coast, it’s no surprise that dolphins are also regularly seen here too.
Also on the east coast, from St Lucia to Cape Vidal, spectators can come see humpback whales in winter.
The World Whale Watching conference was held in South Africa from 24 - 29 June 2017, and served as a platform where whale watching was scrutinised to ensure more responsible whale-watching takes place, with additional regulation.
Dylan Walker, CEO of the World Cetacean Alliance says that “the flourishing industry requires more safeguards to reduce stress on marine species and minimize disruptions when they are resting, socializing, feeding or traveling.”
In light of this, do take note of these guidelines to ensure responsible whale watching during your next winter vacation along SA’s coasts. Click here for guidelines on how to be a responsible whale watcher.