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article imagePhoto Essay: 'Whale Crier' calls you to visit Hermanus, S. Africa Special

By Anne Sewell     Jul 12, 2013 in Travel
Hermanus - Situated on Walker Bay on the southern coast of the Western Cape is a beautiful little treasure called Hermanus. This historic small town is famous for many reasons, but particularly for its spectacular whale watching.
Originally the town was called "Hermanuspietersfontein", but due to the name being too long for the local postal service, it was shorted to "Hermanus". However, the Hermanuspietersfontein Boerdery wine farm still exists on the outskirts of town.
During the southern winter and spring, Hermanus is famous for its Southern Right Whale watching, and whales can be spotted from the cliffs in the town center from as early as June, and usually depart in early December each year.
Whales were originally hunted in the nearby town of Betty's Bay, but nowadays the species is protected.
For more information, the Old Harbour Museum hosts several exhibitions explaining the whaling industry, and the De Wetshuis Photo Museum houses an exhibition of photos by T.D. Ravenscroft depicting the history of the town.
It is also worth visiting the Whale Museum, which houses a skeleton of a whale and an shows an audio-visual presentation of whales and dolphins twice daily.
Since August 1992, Hermanus has the world’s only Whale Crier (the first being Pieter Classen 1992-1998, then Wilson Salukazana 1998-2006, and Zolile Baleni since April 2006) who sounds his kelp horn to announce that whales have been sighted. An image of Baleni can be seen top left and Salukazana can be seen below.
 Whale crier  announces the arrival of whales to whale watchers in Hermanus  South Africa.
"Whale crier" announces the arrival of whales to whale watchers in Hermanus, South Africa.
Unknown
In 2005, Zakes Mda wrote the novel "The Whale Caller", in which the Whale Crier of Hermanus is the main character, a man who gets enthralled by a Southern Right whale he names Sharisha.
Hermanus is around 115 km southeast of Cape Town and is connected by the R43 highway (or the coastal R44 scenic route) and the N2 motorway.
Around 40 km from Hermanus is Gansbaai, a famous spot where it is possible to dive amongst the Great White Sharks. Only for the brave!
Great white shark  also known as the great white  white pointer  white shark  or white death (Carcha...
Great white shark, also known as the great white, white pointer, white shark, or white death (Carcharodon carcharias), taken from cage diving boat in Gansbaai, Hermanus near Cape Town, South Africa.
Hein waschefort
Of interest in the town is the historic, small railway station, without a railway line. Apparently the founders of Hermanus decided not to lay any tracks, as this would have commercialized the town, and they wished it to remain a small fisherman's village. Even today, the locals still refer to Hermanus as "the village."
Railway Station in Hermanus  South Africa - considered to be a cultural heritage monument.
Railway Station in Hermanus, South Africa - considered to be a cultural heritage monument.
Dinkie Marais
The shores adjacent to the bay are protected as part of the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, and the bay itself is a marine protected area in which most boating and fishing activity is prohibited.
Hermanus hosts an annual whale festival at the end of September each year, to celebrate the returning of the southern right whales to the bay during the calving and mating season.
Just prior to the main event, a "Kalfiefees" (or "Calf Festival") is held, to welcome the first whales (usually in August). Both festivals are characterized by food and craft stalls, environmental presentations and South African drama productions.
Of interest in the town:
The Space Science Directorate of the South African Space Agency, previously the Hermanus Magnetic Observatory (HMO), is a research facility of the National Research Foundation in Hermanus. This forms part of the worldwide network which monitors variations of the earth's magnetic field.
A great place for sailors is the Hermanus Yacht Club, which hosted the Laser (dinghy) 4.7 worlds in 2007.
Golfers will enjoy the Hermanus Golf Club in Eastcliff, which is reportedly one of the most beautiful golf courses in the country.
Hermanus is also famous to locals and tourists alike for the historic Windsor Hotel, along with the famous Marine Hotel.
If bed & breakfast accommodation is preferred, Hermanus has many comfortable places to stay, including Milkwood Lodge, situated at the foot of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve and close to Voëlklip and the famous “Blue Flag” Grotto Beach.
Voëlklip and the famous “Blue Flag” Grotto Beach  Hermanus  South Africa
Voëlklip and the famous “Blue Flag” Grotto Beach, Hermanus, South Africa
Milkwood Lodge, Hermanus
The town also hosts various quaint fishermens' cottages and interesting shops, art galleries, restaurants and quaint cafes abound.
In and around Hermanus, there are many art/food/craft markets every weekend. In the centre of town is the Lemm's Corner Market where you can buy anything from clothes and art to food. The Food & Wine Market is at Hermanuspietersfontein in the Hemel-en-Aarde Village and the Hermanus Country Market is located at the cricket fields
The town has two harbors - the historic old harbor and a newer version, both pictured below:
The new harbor in Hermanus  Overberg  South Africa
The new harbor in Hermanus, Overberg, South Africa
Andresdewet
The old harbor in Hermanus  Overberg whale route  South Africa.
The old harbor in Hermanus, Overberg whale route, South Africa.
Henry Trotter
Beyond the town, the countryside is mainly wild and mountainous, with gorgeous vistas, as well as wild ravines covered in pristine Cape 'Fynbos' and the country's national flower, the Protea:
Protea repens in Fernkloof Nature Reserve (Hermanus  South Africa).
Protea repens in Fernkloof Nature Reserve (Hermanus, South Africa).
Nanosanchez
Protea compacta in Fernkloof Nature Reserve  Hermanus  South Africa
Protea compacta in Fernkloof Nature Reserve, Hermanus, South Africa
Nanosanchez
The rising thermals rising around the rugged heights of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve attract paragliders from all over the world.
Fernkloof Nature Reserve lies in the saddle between Lemoenkop and Olifantsberg and hosts one of the richest floral kingdoms in the world. It has 50 km of hiking trails and a mountain biking track. Along the way, you might meet the odd cute Dassie, or rock rabbit:
Dassie  or rock rabbit  in Hermanus  Overberg  South Africa.
Dassie, or rock rabbit, in Hermanus, Overberg, South Africa.
Amada44
There is a particularly spectacular walk along the 14 km cliff path, which has earned the village the reputation of offering the best land-based whale watching in the world for the excellent whale spotting from up there.
Die Kelders on the Hermanus coast  Overberg whale region  South Africa
Die Kelders on the Hermanus coast, Overberg whale region, South Africa
Conrad Hofmeyr
When visiting Cape Town and the Western Cape region of South Africa, Hermanus is a must on your itinerary. If you can't stay longer, at least try to stay for a weekend of food, wine and whales!
Related article:
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