If you're looking to spot a whale, the first few things you'll hear people say is: "Hermanus has the best land-based whale watching in the world" and "You're sure to see hundreds of whales breaching from the waters off the rocky cliffs to the West" or "You'll definitely see them lob tailing from the vantage point of the golden beaches to the East". And this indeed is a fact. Every year, like clockwork, the whales return to Hermanus for their yearly rendezvous in Walker Bay, carrying out their annual rhythms of mating and calving. Considering what people actually understand about the Southern Right Whale - named because it was the "right" whale to hunt ? the whales perspective will always be something mysterious and unknown. What we do know is that they prefer the warmer waters of Walker Bay for a breeding ground rather than the cold waters of their usual haunt, the Arctic Circle.
According to the calendar they can be seen from July to November. What areas of Walker Bay or the time of day to expect them is hard to say. But there is one expert in Hermanus who is sure to know. The Whale Crier of Hermanus If you've never heard of the Whale Crier of Hermanus, it's because Hermanus is the only place in the world to have one. If you're interested in whales this is one whale expert you definitely need to meet.
Pieter Claasen was the first to lift a horn-shaped tube of kelp to his lips at age 11, sounding the first base notes announcing the arrival of the whales. Since then, his predecessor, Wilson Salukazana, has become Hermanus's second whale crier. He answers any questions posed to him about whales? Wilson can tell you where they come from, what kinds there are in the bay and even the names of the aerial stunts they perform. He also knows the best coves along the shore and the places where you can get within 20m of these gentle submariners.
However, his most useful service is a system for notifying whale enthusiasts by coded calls issued from his kelp trumpet. When he sees the whales on yonder horizon, he blows his trusty horn like he was at home watching a soccer match! And the crowds come running. Two long calls for the viewing spot at Roman Rock. One short call for the Old Harbour, where you can zoom in on the whales with the telescopes provided.
One long, one short and another long call for the VoŽlklip lookout position. These are just a few, but there are other spots the Whale Crier claims are even better standpoints for whale watching. Wilson, the Whale Crier, has many whale tales to tell. If you catch him at the right time, you can hear the legends he has gathered from the past that only he knows how to tell. The ancient whale migration patterns have remained unbroken for thousands of years.
The Moby Dick Hermanus Whale Festival Another thing you can count on is the annual Moby Dick Hermanus Whale Festival, happening during the last week of September. Expect things to be in full swing, offering festive greetings to the whales on their return. The festival is perfectly timed for the spring season and serves as a great way of welcoming back the spirit of springtime for both parties. The festival centres on the towns market place. Food stalls sell freshly produced foods from the nearby farms, crafters display skilfully made earthenware pottery and assorted trinkets all uniquely crafted by hand.
Restaurants bustle with activity and the pubs pour drinks well into the night. Hermanus is for Everyone Hermanus is a haven for crafters and musicians, quiet folks and artists. All see its mountains, beaches, wild flora, fauna and of course the whales from their own point of view. Whether you're gazing at the ocean from the rocky cliffs to the West or marvelling at the sunsets from golden beaches to the East, the friendly people of Hermanus invite you to draw your own experiences. .
By: Gregory Hudson