The whale trail
The whale crier was present with his long seaweed horn fashioned from the strange kelp that lines the coast. The pretty village of Hermanus was buzzing with visitors due to school holidays and a gloriously mild winter’s day. But the whales unfortunately were a no-show. August and September are the prime times for whale viewing but there are earlier sightings. Tanya, our guide, suggested to the whale crier that he play a song for them but he said that would get people running from everywhere and he only plays when the whales are frolicking.
To reach Hermanus we drove out the N2, past the all too familiar black “townships”, cutting down to the beach road at Strand and following it around the mountains flanked by the Indian Ocean. Passing fishing and holiday villages, we made our way to Betty’s Bay, the home for a colony of African penguins. The penguins are about double the size of our fairy penguins and have spotted “shirt fronts”. A raised boardwalk takes visitors through the colony with rocks and the sea on one side and the earth burrows among low scrub and grass on the other. They spend their time sunning themselves, going for a swim or just wandering around. Here we first came across dassies (pronounced darcys!) – a cute furry creature that is similar to a rabbit but with a rat-like face and no tail. At Hermanus, we also saw lots of them on the rocky cliffs.
After lunch at Hermanus we headed back to Cape Town inland via the N2, disappointed in not seeing any whales but Tanya had a surprise for us, when crossing Sir Lowry’s Pass we stopped at a viewing point to look over the valley towards Cape Town. Here lives a group of baboons which were quite happy to ignore tourists and go about their daily business of grooming each other and looking after the babies, which were very cute playing games with each other or riding on their mother’s backs or clinging to their tummies. Not sure that it made up for the absence of the whales though!
Our hotel is a short walk from the bustling V & A waterfront (as in Victoria and Albert) which is a working port which has been redeveloped with apartments , restaurants, big screen etc – very successful. Had a lovely dinner at an African food restaurant sitting outside with Table Mountain in the background – perfect!