Saturday, 13 May 2017

South Africa Road Trip 2016; Hermanus to Citrusdal

Hermanus is about a 1 1/2  hours drive from Cape Town Airport or 2 hours drive from the centre of Cape Town. Hermanus is  a popular holiday village close to Cape Town, situated on the South African south coast.  The very picturesque seaside town is in the Overberg area and on located on Walker Bay. It is not far from where we went to see the Great White Sharks on our last trip to Cape Town (see this link)
http://moira-moirasdailyblog.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/supreme-sharks-white-shark-cage-diving.html
This time we stayed in Hermanus at the Marine Square apartments, they were good and I would stay here again.


For South Africans, when you mention the town of Hermanus two words come to mind: holiday & Southern Right whale watching.
The town is surrounded by majestic mountaintops and it is famous for being the home of the Southern Right Whale. Every year these gentle creatures migrate along the coast of Walker Bay. The whales use the area to calve and nurture their young. In the past the Walker Bay area had two whaling stations, Hermanus its self states it was a fishing town but the Old Harbour area of the town does look like it could have been a Whaling Station. Now the town is dedicated to all things Whale and there are many Whale related monuments throughout the town.
 

Hermanus town




Hermanus, the whales are out there!

There is a cliff top walk from the town of Hermanus to the New Harbour area where the tours go from. local people also say you can see the Whales from the cliff tops, we didn't see any, but it was a beautiful walk to the location where the whale watching tour started.

Hermanus Cliff Top Walk





From the new harbour of Hermanus, boat trips depart on a regular basis to see these majestic whales  up-close. Whale watching in Hermanus is regarded by WWF and Greenpeace as being one of the world's best locations to do this activity. The town also holds the annual week long 'Whale Festival' and this year (2016) it was celebrating its 25th anniversary. The festival is running from the 30th September to 2nd October and we would be missing it. The festival is South Africa's only eco-marine festival and attracts over 150,000 eager Whale watchers. In Walker Bay Southern Right Whales, Humpbacks and Bryde Whales can be spotted, Whale watching season is from early June to early December each year. Penguins, seals and sea birds are also viewed, with occasionally pods of dolphin. The Boat trips take you out to sea to meet them up close as we had booked a trip on line with Southern Right Charters.

Southern Right Whale Charters



We arrived at the blue hut located in the new harbour, we were early and the only people at the Whale Hut. However very soon the coach loads of day trippers arrived from Cape Town and the tour was a sell out so I was glad I had pre booked. We all got on the boat, and headed out into Walker Bay sailing towards Gansbaai. We saw other marine life on the way, a pod of porpoise performing tricks and Cape Fur Seals. The Whales were amazing and the boat was not crowded so you got chance to move about and see them.

Southern Right Whale


Southern Right Whale


It was a great trip and one I highly recommend if you get the opportunity. We then walked back along the cliff enjoying the Cliff Art located all along the route as well as some 'Rock rabbits'.

Hermanus Art on the Cliff Top


Hermanus Art on the Cliff Top

There were plenty of places to eat in the town and all were of very high quality. I would go to Hermanus again for an extended stay as there is a lot to do apart from the whale watching. There is the shark cage diving, Penguin colonies, a wine route, water sports and blue flag beaches. The area has hiking and mountain biking trails..the list goes on!
Sadly after 2 nights it was time for us to move on. As we were going to Citrusdal and wanted to go via the R43 through the mountains dropping down into Franschhoek and then Paarl, we set of early at 0600.

Franschhoek pass


Franschhoek pass worth the drive for this

The drive was worth the early start, and within an hour and a half we dropped down into Franchhoek, the idea was to get some breakfast but we were a bit early so we drove on to find the Fairview Wine estate near to Paarl.  Here we had a delicious brunch in the Goatshead restaurant. Then we saw the goats and tasted the goats cheese and sadly it was to early for us to taste the wine!

The goatshed at Fairview




The Goats in the tower


Fairview grounds

I saw on the map that just near the Fairview Estate was something called The Afrikanns Language Monument or Taal Monument, so full of brunch we drove up to it. It was a surprise! It was located on a hill above Paarl so had a fantastic view of the valley, and it was a large impressive concrete structure. There were a lot of school children visiting and it really was worth the visit.

The Afrikaans Language Monument

 

The Afrikaans Language Monument

From here we drove through Paarl, I don't know if we went the wrong way but it was not a very impressive place and I was glad we were not staying in Paarl.
Once leaving the freeway at the town of Citrusdal we had to make a sharp left and follow the Olifants river a long way to find the entrance to tonight's accommodation 'The Baths'.
The Baths were a nice surprise, it was a complex of Victorian self catering accommodation as well as camp grounds, there were hot springs supplying a hot pool, as well as treatment rooms with baths. There was also a cool pool and an on site restaurant.  The accommodation was clean and modern, with a Jaccuzzi style pool in the back garden. Filled up with thermal water it was the end to a perfect day.


The Baths at Citrusdal


The Baths at Citrusdal


The Baths at Citrusdal


The Baths at Citrusdal


The Baths at Citrusdal


The Baths at Citrusdal


The Baths at Citrusdal