Wander the winding roads of the Whale Coast that lead to Hermanus – considered to be the best land-based whale watching spot in the world – and visit the African Penguin colony at Betty's Bay and the Harold Porter Garden's coastal fynbos kingdom along the way.
Whilst the Big Five draw many visitors to Africa, the Marine Big Five – whales, dolphins, seals, penguins and sharks – are the stars of the show on this tour, with cliff path hikes and the opportunity to make African penguin pals at Betty's Bay. During whale season (June - November) you'll also have a chance to gaze upon enormous southern right whales from one of the best land-based whale-watching sites in the world.
If the big blues didn’t tickle your fancy then the visit to the Stony Point Reserve in Betty’s Bay (home to one of the largest successful breeding colonies of African penguins in the world) will certainly do the trick! These feathered entertainers always come dressed to the nines and are bound to waddle their way right into your heart. Learn about the conservation efforts of the reserve and have a peek into the many artificial penguin homes littered along the shores.
End off your adventure with a delight for the senses as you drive along Clarence Drive, with dramatic twists along steep mountainsides, the perfect vantage point to view the vast False Bay. On a clear day, you can even see waves crashing on the tips of the Cape Peninsula.
Hike amongst fragrant fynbos along the Hermanus cliff paths for some of the world's best seasonal land-based whale watching.
Meet the cute resident penguins at Stony Point Nature Reserve.
Wind along the wild beauty of the Kogelberg Biosphere with the dramatic coastal scenery of Clarence drive.
Hike the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens.
Start with a morning pick-up from your accommodation in Cape Town or Stellenbosch.
Leaving behind the city lights of Cape Town region, this trip takes you towards whale country along the Southern Coast of South Africa. The annual migration (July to November) of humpback and southern right whales along this region's coastline has earned the unassuming, little holiday village of Hermanus the honour of becoming the best land-based whale watching town in the world. By land or by sea, visitors are able to watch these gentle giants of the deep frolic freely and launch their aerial acrobatics in the Atlantic.
Spend the morning at the coastal haven of Hermanus where winding ocean cliff paths await and are sure to enthral. Meander along paths lined with indigenous fynbos, lulled by the crashing sounds of ocean waves against the adjacent rocky shoreline. Nature lovers will be thrilled by the rich birdlife and the chance to see local marine life frolicking about.
After lunch, as you leave Hermanus behind, it’s an easy-going, two-hour drive to your next port of call, the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. Naturalists will delight in the diversity of plant life with more than 1600 species of plant life and fynbos on display. And eagle-eyed twitchers might spot the timid African black ducks, ancient beehives, tortoise, snakes on the trail or the odd chacma baboon or two during the 60-minute walk.
One of your last stops on the Southern Whale Route is a gentle hike to a secluded waterfall deep within the parklands. The Disa walking trail - named for the beautiful red disa orchids which flower on nearby cliff faces - shadows the Disa River in the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden and meanders its way beneath giant trees to a Z-shaped bridge and the waterfall beyond.
Then, the journey continues to along this beautiful, rugged coastline to the tiny coastal hamlet of Betty’s Bay to meet another of the Marine Big Five. The endangered and often comical African penguins of Betty’s Bay, with their tuxedo-like plumage, charm from the first. This gaggle of ornery creatures is one of the largest and most successful breeding colonies in all of Africa and gives wildlife enthusiasts a chance to observe them at close quarters.
But the fat lady hasn’t sung and the day still has one surprise in store turning west to head back to the bright lights of Cape Town along the epic Clarence Drive coastal road. The wild beauty of Kogelberg Biosphere is perfectly offset by this picturesque stretch of road that connects Rooi Els village and the naval town of Gordon’s Bay. Arguably the most scenic drive in South Africa, this coastal route snakes its way between the rugged mountains – giving you ample opportunity to snap farewell landscape photos over the 21 jaw-dropping kilometres before arriving at your end destination, Cape Town.
End with a drop-off at your Cape Town or Stellenbosch accommodation.
Maximum 13 guests per vehicle or guide. This scheduled group tour requires a minimum number of travellers to operate.
As a private closed group tour, the rate will change according to the group size.
Led by a local English-speaking professional tour guide.
Private transfers to included tour highlights.
There is no central meeting point for this tour. A transfer service will collect you from your Cape Town accommodation.
You are responsible for your own personal travel insurance.
You can purchase meals + drinks on tour.
Local and international flights are excluded.
Firstly it is important for you to know that I literally cannot see a dog without stopping to stroke it. Right, with that out of the way, I have always thought that travel was an important way to learn about oneself, and that it allowed for growth and development. It’s also very exciting – which is why I started out working for a travel marketing agency before I joined the Hotspots2c Team. When I’m not working I’m usually creating decadent baking creations, enjoying music, or spending time with family and friends.
Click on the terms for more details.
Full amount required to confirm a booking. Partial payment is allowed, but 100% payment is required at least 8 days before the tour's departure date.
Children are welcome on private tours. Some activities will have age limits and alcohol may only be served to adults over 18 years of age.
11 official Languages Spoken
Afrikaans – English – isiNdebele – Sepedi.– Sesotho – Siswati – Xitsonga – Setswana – Tshivenda – isiXhosa
How to say hello?
Molo – Xhosa
Sawubona - Zulu
Hallo - Afrikaans
Dumela - SeSotho
Electricity – Volt & plug
The South African electricity supply is 220/230 volts AC 50 HZ. Most plugs are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong, with round pins.
WiFi/Internet Access on tour
WiFi can be found at most accommodations, restaurants and airports, however, the download speed is often slow and many connections limit your data usage. In short, you’ll be able to stay connected with home, but don't expect to watch HD movies in your spare time.
When to go
South Africa is blessed with a mostly mild climate, but different areas will yield different temperatures throughout the year. Summer in South Africa is usually peak season, lasting between November – February, however, Easter time (March) is often still considered peak season too. Temperatures range from 25ºC in coastal areas to high 30ºs in inland areas. Cape Town has ideal weather during this time and Durban sports warm beaches and humid air, Johannesburg experiences hot clear days and often an afternoon thunderstorm.
The shoulder season is April and May, as well as September and October. Surprisingly, the weather in Durban is often at its best during this time, and other areas simmer down from their scorching highs. Prices are lower and crowds are smaller. September and October see eruptions of flowers and blooms all around the country.
Winter is beautiful in most parts of the country. Cape Town experiences winter rain and is often a little cold and miserable, but still crisp and beautiful. Because of the warm Indian Ocean, Durban has spectacular weather in winter, often hovering around 20-25ºC with clear blue skies. Inland areas get quite chilly and the odd snowfall is not uncommon (it only lasts for a day though!). Prices are at an all-time low and it is an ideal time for game viewing, as the animals are more active in the cooler weather.
The Garden Route enjoys a Mediterranean Oceanic climate, which is intrinsically temperate and mild almost all year round. Summers are warm to hot, and winters are cool. Second only to Hawaii, the Garden Route is acclaimed for having one of the mildest climates in the world.
However, the winter rain season can cause some delays for outdoor activities but the mild sunny days and the appeal of seeing the Southern Right Whale migration makes the Cape Whale Coast & Garden Route an ideal destination during the European summer holidays. You can expect cool mornings and evenings, but usually the climate remain bright and sunny during the day.
Best time to go where?
Jun-Jul (winter) = Safari in Kruger region
Jan-Feb (summer) = Cape Town city or beach destinations along the Cape Coast
Year-Round = Moderate Garden Route
With the possible exception of Christmas Day and New Year's Day, most tourist services and attractions are open on South African public holidays. In addition most city shopping centres, restaurants and entertainment venues remain open.
|1 Jan||New Year's Day|
|21 Mar||Human Rights Day|
|30 Mar||Good Friday|
|2 Apr||Family Day|
|27 Apr||Freedom Day|
|1 May||Workers' Day|
|16 Jun||Youth Day|
|9 Aug||National Women's Day|
|24 Sep||Heritage Day|
|16 Dec||Day of Reconciliation|
|17 Dec||Day of Reconciliation Holiday|
|25 Dec||Christmas Day|
|26 Dec||Day of Goodwill|
Visa & Travel docs
Travellers from most Commonwealth countries (excluding New Zealand), most Western European nations, Japan and the USA receive a free, 90-day visitor's permit on arrival. These travellers do not need a visa to enter South Africa. A valid passport is essential with at least two empty pages. You generally will need to show return or onward travel arrangements. Children aged under 18 must show an unabridged birth certificate (showing both parents details).
Some countries do, however, need a visa. Visas are not issued upon entry, they must be attained beforehand. It is advised that you clarify this before you leave, the Department of Home Affairs office has a comprehensive list of countries that do not require visas. http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration-services/exempt-countries
What to pack
We're generally laid back in South Africa, so no need to haul out your best silks and diamonds when you head to our shores. Here's some clothing advice when in South Africa:
Health & Safety
There are no compulsory vaccinations required to enter South Africa with exception of a yellow fever vaccination if you have been in a yellow fever area within the last 12 months.
The only major health risk you might face in South Africa is malaria, which is confined to small areas in the north-eastern parts of the country. Small pockets of the northern parts of the Kruger National Park fall under this area but the risk here is considered extremely low and it is not always necessary to take anti-malaria tablets. Remember as a precautionary measure to check with your accommodation what is recommended.
South Africa may have high crime statistics, but if you conduct yourself wisely, most tourists enjoy the country without any incident at all. Ensure that you lock away your passports and travel documents in a safe, which is usually provided by your accommodation. Don't flash around valuables and keep an eye on your belongings at all time. Majority of South Africa’s crime is opportunistic petty crime, so if you are vigilant about your belongings you should not have any problem.
South Africa has 3 world-class airports that receive international flights every day; Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. Most international airlines will have flights into one or all of these airports daily.
There are numerous budget carriers that offer domestic flights between the major cities for very reasonable rates; this is the fastest and safest way to span large distances, especially between Johannesburg and Cape Town, which is a 2-hour flight.
From the airports there are numerous shuttles and taxis that you can pick up upon arrival, there are also many different car hire options at each airport and in all major cities. Uber is another reliable and affordable option.
Our currency in South Africa is the South African Rand. You can easily convert your currency to rand at a bank or Forex Bureau, the airports and larger towns often have many different Forex options. You can also withdraw from an ATM, banks are available throughout South Africa. Be sure to check what international bank charges you will incur for withdrawals before you arrive. Major credit cards are usually accepted in hotels or restaurants, however, there may be a surcharge. It is advisable to have small amounts of cash for curios and tipping.