Gansbaai is the whale watching mecca of the world. During the months of July to December people from all over the world journey to the shores of Gansbaai to watch the WHALE of a show. It is most certainly one of those unique moments in life when you get a glimpse into a natural phenomenon. Watching these majestic animals is awe-inspiring and breath-taking, especially when 15 metres of whale propels itself out of the ocean to land its 47 tonnes of blubber with a magnificent smack!
The Southern Right Whales have been coming to the Walker Bay for a very long time, which is one of South Africa’s unique natural sanctuaries on the coast. Walker Bay is situated between Hermanus and Gansbaai, and while most people are familiar with the whale festival in Hermanus, less people know Gansbaai equally shares this natural spectacle. In many ways Gansbaai is better for whale viewing as there are far less crowds. Gansbaai is also ideal for whale watching because of its low-lying cliffs and the Southern Right Whales’ inquisitive nature and tendency to remain close to the rocky shore. Unfortunately this has also contributed to whalers targeting them.
The name ‘Southern Right Whale’ was dubbed by whalers as the ‘right’ whale to hunt. They were ideal for hunting because they swim at a speed of 4-6 km per hour and because they spend most of their time at the surface of the water. They were an even bigger target as Southern Rights’ mating grounds are very close to the coastline. Lucky for us, these tendencies also make them the perfect whales to watch. It is a sight that should be appreciated as they, like most other whales, have come close to extinction from too much whaling. Now as a protected species they can and should be thoroughly enjoyed.
The Southern Right Whales migratory pattern means they spend approximately six months in Sub-Antarctic waters to feed. Once they have stocked up on food reserves then they venture north (which is 3000-4000km) to mate and breed. Gansbaai is one of the fortunate locations for this amazing feat because it serves as a safe environment for them to mate and calve.
Gansbaai offers four ways of observing whales during this season. The one option is as simple as taking a stroll along the coast and watching in awe as you can spot the whales from a low-hanging cliff. Even from land it will feel as if you can jump from a rock and touch them. Another option is to join one of the whale-watching operators. Those that prefer to watch by boat will feel the thrill when one very large eye looks up at you as the experienced crew shares information on these amazing animals.To gain a birds’ eye perspective jump on a small plane and fly above the ocean to really grasp their size and behaviour. This exclusive experience is for those who are happy to spend a bit more money to gain some of the best vantage points. If the thrill and adventure of getting intimate is irresistible, then you can kayak out a short distance from the whales.
To revel in the sights of one of the greatest animals on our planet, take a trip to Gansbaai and encounter something that you will one day want to tell your grand children about. With a large selection of Gansbaai Accommodation, you can rest assured that you will be comfortable.