So despite the recent snowstorm that hit the nearby mountains, spring is definitely on its way. Other than one of the world’s most fantastic wildflower shows and the lengthening daylight hours, the presence of Southern Right whales is one of the most obvious signs that spring has reached Cape Town.
In most parts of the world, whale watching entails boarding a boat and heading to sea. In Cape Town, all it requires is good timing and a spot on the shore. From late July through early November, the Southern Rights (and rare humpbacks) frequent the Atlantic coastline from Hout Bay south and into False Bay. Whales can be seen as close as a few meters from shore and often swim along the Kalk Bay harbour wall. The best places to spot whales are Hout Bay and the coastal road from Muizenberg to Simonstown. Generally it’s pretty easy to tell when a whale is around as several cars will be backed up and people will be lining the sidewalk. On a good day in September or October, it’s easy to spot up to ten whales close to shore. My best experience was over 50 whales in Hout Bay with many breaching or waving their flukes and tails. Further afield, Hermanus is known for its great whale watching as is the De Hoop Nature Reserve. From 24-28 Sept, Hermanus hosts is annual Whale Festival.
As for the flowers; the West Coast flower region, part of the Cape Fynbos kingdom, reaches its height in September.
Heading north out of Cape Town, one reaches the West Coast National Park and small villages such as Darling. When the sun is out and the winter rains have been just right, the veld is covered with over 1200 species of flowers. Some of the best places to view this show are the West Coast National Park, the backroads near Darling, the Darling Wildflower show, and, much further north, Namaqualand and the Skilpad Wildflower Reserve.