Welcome to another edition of The Shape of The Cape with your host and travel guide Julescape. On this channel we’re currently exploring the treasure hideaway holiday resorts along the coastline here in the magical forest area called the Garden Route. My name is Jules and I bring you the treasures. The name says it all. And today I have another look at the top classy destination on the entire south coast of Africa, attractive to young and old alike, classy and budget travelers, indoor or outdoor lovers, nature enthusiasts and sports-lovers too. It is the whale watching hotspot of Plettenberg Bay.
In my travels I try to return to any of the real good places more than once in order to see it in a new light or perhaps catch another angle of the prime travel hotspot on the planet. This morning I made it to the seaside town of Plett, as the locals know it, and found it shrouded in mist, despite being mid summer and already quite warm so early in the morning. The summer here has brought regular morning mist rolling in from the sea, which usually burns away after a few hours of sunshine, although at the time it does look like something out of a fantasy movie, where you expect to see a dragon emerging from the mist banks – or is that just my imagination?
And the mist adds a real mystique to the place, if you’ll appreciate the pun, though it doesn’t diminish the humidity and inspiring heat. The surfers are out catching the waves but I want to focus on the whale watching facilities and opportunities available here in the dreamy summer holiday resort of Plett. There are three places along the South Africa coastline that are notable for whale watching in season, which is in the southern winter annually around August to October. Plett is one of the perfect places to come and spend time looking out for whales in the bay during those winter months. The other two places are Cape Town itself, and Hermanus, just outside Cape Town. The whales come from the Antarctic to mate or have their calves, and it’s a truly inspiring sight to see these majestic creatures hovering just below the surface.
If you’re really lucky you can get a glimpse of their tails swishing above the waves, or perhaps even see a leap into the air as they breach, or jump up and come crashing down again onto the sea in true whale fashion. And the bay is perfectly sheltered for them, with warm waters so that they spend several months with their calves, getting them ready for the great migration to the south as the spring approaches. Some years they are more visible than others, but every year you will hear reports of sightings and can even take a boast ride out to see them close up with certified whale watching crew, who keep a regulated distance form the whales themselves, while still offering you a real close up sighting.
It’s amazingly inspirational to get so close to these majestic sea mammals, the largest creatures on the planet. The experience is truly awesome, much like safari where one can go close to the elephants. And these beautiful sea giants are bigger than elephants, and have huge brains, so I have always thought they may be of far superior intelligence than we realize. Their capacity to travel such great distances with their internal navigation systems is truly amazing, and shows the beauty and harmony of nature.
In the video clip here you can get a perfect impression of Plett form this whale watching spot up above one of the beaches in the large and sheltered bay. The Keurbooms lagoon is visible, just behind the sandy beach, and there is not much dividing it form the sea. The mist is too thick to actually see the mouth of the lagoon in the distance. It is tidally fed, and rises and falls as the tide comes and goes. The lagoon is great for canoeing, and it’s possible to take an amazing canoe expedition from the lagoon right upstream some distance up the Keurbooms River itself.
I would recommend it as a definite adventure to pursue if you can get yourself to this magical travel destination. The river takes you up a narrow gorge, with no car or even foot access. The only way upstream is by canoe, as the walls of the gorge loom up beside you on either flank while you paddle up the still calm river. I hope to take a canoe trip soon and will write a post about it. For today we’re on the beach and admiring the misty shoreline in all its shrouded beauty. Be sure to check in for further insightful posts in coming days and weeks so that you can really see the beauty and attraction of the Cape south coast of Africa. It is a definite winner of a travel destination for any adventurous trekker who loves the healthy outdoors any, time of the year.