The Whale Route South Africa
One of the coolest things about living in Cape Town is that every season there’s something new to see and do. Each year I look forward to seasonal events happening all over the Western Cape. Some of these are planned events like concerts and markets, others are planned by nature, like the spring flowers that bloom all at once and show up literally everywhere in Cape Town, or the whales coming to visit us. Each of these events are the perfect excuse for a road trip from Cape Town.
Spring time (from September to November) is an especially magical time of year to visit Cape Town. Everywhere you look there are bursts of vibrant colours as every plant that can flower does. The weather is also a bit warmer than in Winter, but cool enough that you can tour all day without feeling sticky and uncomfortable. The best part is that there is far more sunshine than in Winter, so the days are just so much more beautiful.
One of the greatest attractions are the whales that visit our shores during spring. You can spot them from pretty much any shore line along the Cape, but the best way to do it is to take a road trip along the Whale Route. This way you can see the whales while getting a chance to enjoy the amazing and dramatic scenery (and small towns) along the way.
What is the ‘Whale Route’?
The whale route is a coastal stretch of road that goes eastwards from Cape Town, making its way past a few coastal towns and ending at Gansbaai.
The nice thing about doing the Whale Route road trip is that even if, for some reason, you don’t get to see the whales, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy, from bird watching to shark cage diving.
Where is the Whale Route?
The Whale Route extends Eastwards from Cape Town along the R43 or R45 and passes through the coastal towns of Kleinmond, Hermanus, Stanford and Gaansbaai.
While Stanford is along the Whale Route, it isn’t actually a coastal town, but it does lie on the edge of a massive nature reserve.
You will come across many of these types of nature reserves along the Whale Route. It’s worth stopping and taking a hike to explore the reserve and take in the stunning views. You can even do some canoeing or even climbing.
Is it worth the trip?
Even if you happen to miss whale Season, this Road trip from Cape Town to Gansbaai is well worth it. The drive itself is absolutely amazing and you may even be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty of it all (I was).
The small towns along the way are experiences in themselves. They are incredibly inviting and the pace in these small towns is totally opposite to the buzz of Cape Town city.
There are quite a few game reserves along the Whale Route where you can stop to camp, or just visit for the day for some hiking, canoeing, climbing or even just for a drive through mini safari.
How long will the road trip take?
This really depends on how much you want to do in each town. You could easily spend the night in each town on the way to Gaansbaai and plan one or two activities there, then drive back to Cape Town after 5 days.
You could also just spend a few hours in each town and stay over in Stanford or Hermanus, moving on to Gansbaai where you can stay a second night and head back to Cape Town on day 3.
There is a lot to see and do along the way so the time this road trip will take really depends on how much you want to do in each town.
Major attractions for each town.
- You can visit the Harbour Road craft shops and Restaurants.
- The Kleinmond beach is a stunning stretch of sand and sea – perfect for a romantic sunset walk.
- Canoe in the Kleimnond Lagoon.
- Canoe, hike or climb in the Kleinmond coast and mountain nature reserve.
- Walk along the Hermanus cliff path to enjoy the ocean views.
- Go shark cage diving.
- Visit the Fernkloof Nature reserve.
- Take an ocean safari
- Go Shark cage diving
- Go cycling on the beach with a fatbike
- Visit the African penguin and seabird sanctuary
- Go for a long beach walk.
Where to stay? – camping grounds?
Each of the nature reserves along the way has camping grounds and chalets that you can rent.
You can also rent an Air Bnb for the night or visit one of the guest houses in each town.
What types of whales visit the Whale Route?
Of the whales that visit Cape Town’s shores you can expect to see Humpback whales Southern right whales.
What to take and pack?
If you are going in spring then it’s best to be prepared for anything. The weather in the Western Cape can be very erratic so you could have a warm 30 degree Celsius day followed by a very cold day that brings snow to the tops of the mountains.
My advice for anyone traveling anywhere around Cape Town is to layer up. Take some summer clothes and a swimming costume, but also take along your down jacket and raincoat.
If you are going to be out in the sun a lot then sunscreen is a must. Even though it may be a little cold, the sun can get very intense and can still leave you with nasty sunburns if you are not careful.
Spring is really one of the most magical times of the year in Cape Town. It also happens to be my favorite time of the year for road trips from Cape town, like the Whale Route road trip.
South Africa is full of stunning road trips you can take, but this is my favorite one so far.
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