- The Cape of Good Hope
- Coast life
- Whale watchers and wine buffs
At the southernmost tip of Africa, the seaside town of Hermanus sees one of the continent’s most amazing natural spectacles when, for several months a year, Southern Right whales come to calve around beautiful Walker Bay.
The Cape coast hereabouts is an alluring mix of rugged sea cliffs, tranquil lagoons and warm wooded valleys lined with vineyards and orchards, and the area is also famed for its dolphins, penguins and great white sharks. If diving in a shark cage is a bit much, horse riding along the beaches or a wine tour in the Hemel-en-Aarde valley will allow you to appreciate Hermanus’ natural wonders in more relaxed surroundings. However you work up an appetite, you’ll need no excuse to indulge in the fresh seafood, organic produce and excellent wines.
Highly HermanusThe area is famous for its land-based whale watching; between July and December, Southern Right whales come very close to shore to nurse their young in the sheltered bays and inlets. There are many boat operators who can also take you out for a closer look, including Dyer Island Cruises (www.dyer-island-cruises.co.za) operating out of Gansbaai; trips may also give you a glimpse of African penguins, dolphins and great white sharks, too.
- Taxis are plentiful and cheap; ask your hotel to call you a cab.
- Tipping culture
- The accepted average is 10–15 per cent. Service always seems to be excellent.
- Packing tips
- A pair of binoculars for a close-up view of the marine wildlife and a windcheater for blustery southeasters.
- Recommended reads
- The Whale Caller by Zakes Mda; Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
- The food on the coast is excellent, with mouthwatering freshwater fish and seafood a particular favourite. South Africa’s diverse influences include Cape Malay cuisine that consists of semi-sweet curries, bredie (stew, usually mutton), bobotie (spicy minced beef with a custard topping) and sosaties (marinaded kebabs). The locals are also dedicated to the braai or barbecue, from the Afrikaans for ‘roasted meat’. The nearby Stellenbosch and Franschhoek regions are world-famous for their exceptionally good wines.
- The South African rand (ZAR) – the exchange rate is roughly R14 to £1; R7 to $1.
- Time zone
- GMT +2.
- Dialling codes
- Country code for South Africa: +27. Hermanus: (0)28.
- Do go/don't go
- Hermanus has mild climate and even the blustery winter season has plenty of sunny days. Summers months are dry and hot, although the sea breezes offset the temperature. Early March is perfect, with afternoon mists known as ‘champagne air’. The all-important whale-watching season is from July to late November, with activity peaking from August to October.