Tag Archives: whale watching

Dassies at the Cape St. Blaize Cave at The Point in Mossel Bay (2017-03-18) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 NOV 2017

When it is whale watching season in Mossel Bay, a drive to The Point followed by a short stroll up to the Cape St. Blaize Cave viewing platform can quite often result in some good shore-based whale watching moments. (I known, because we’ve seen some great ones from there in the past. That said though, the adjacent parking lot down below is pretty good for lazy whale spotting as well!).

However, if it is not quite whale watching season then what you are left with is an important, and coincidentally one of South Africa’s oldest, archaeological excavations instead. (Well, technically, you also have the cool Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse above your head, so there’s that too).

First excavated in 1888 by George Leith, the Cape St. Blaize Cave has revealed deposits dating back some 200,000 years, giving us a glimpse into the possible life lead by the native San people that inhabited this area at the time.

Excavations over the years have revealed evidence showing the use of dyes in symbolizing, advanced blades, the use of heat treatment in manufacturing tools, and thanks to the unearthed middens, the systemic exploitation of marine resources such as shellfish.

Now home to nesting birds, a large colony of dassies, and the odd wandering tourist, as you might imagine, the cave has quite a strong stench lingering about it – meaning that standing around for too long isn’t really an option, or at least that’s what Jessica indicated to me when we took her there back in March this year!

The cave doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes to walk around and take in all the signposted information, though there is now a big board erected in the parking lot that indicates the coming of a future educational Point Discovery Centre.

Worth noting: The cave also serves as the starting point of the Cape St. Blaize hiking trail, which allows you to walk from The Point in Mossel Bay, past Pinnacle Point, and then all the way through to Dana Bay (perhaps better known as Danabaai).

Related Link: Cape St. Blaize Cave | Mossel Bay

Walking along the new Walkway to Suikerbossie Whale Viewing Site, Gordon’s Bay (2015-11-02) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 03 NOV 2015

By chance I spotted the other day what appears to be a new walkway being setup along Faure Marine Drive, stretching pretty much from the Faure Street/Drive intersection and going all the way up to the Suikerbossie Whale Viewing Site.

A brilliant idea, because a) Gordon’s Bay can always use more attractions seeing as we’re meant to be a bit of a tourist town, and b) now you have a much safer route for walking up to the whale viewing site.

IMG_20151102_134120 wooden railing of new walkway along faure marine drive in gordon's bay south africa

If you are going to walk up to the whale viewing site, the easiest is probably to park down in Beach Road at Bikini Beach and then make use of the relatively hidden shortcut, which is essentially a bunch of steep, narrow steps lodged between two rather big properties.

IMG_20151102_140802 faure street shortcut down to beach road and bikini beach

(Of course, if you don’t like steps, you could just walk around and up Faure Street itself.)

The shortcut will deposit you near the top of Faure Street, and you simply continue upwards until you reach the stop sign indicating that you are about to turn into Faure Marine Drive and head out along the R44.

IMG_20151102_133525 walking up faure street in gordon's bay south africa

Turn right and continue walking.

Needless to say, at this elevated position you’ve already got some fantastic views of False Bay in front of you, Gordon’s Bay below and behind, and of course, the beautiful Helderberg Mountains behind in the distance.

(You should also see the red bricks that signal the start of the walkway in front of you.)

IMG_20151102_133848 walking along faure marine drive in gordon's bay south africa

Before long, you’ll be on a pretty neat walkway with a wooden fence barrier to your right and a stone/concrete wall barrier to your left.

(Expect interesting lizards, and sometimes the odd dassie or two, to get a fright and scamper away as you approach.)

Part of the pathway sees the red bricks give way for a beautiful wooded plank section, the highlight of the relatively short route in my opinion.

IMG_20151102_134634 wooden section of new whale watching walkway along faure marine drive in gordon's bay south africa

During whale season you should be able to spot whales in the bay from here, though of course, we often get dolphins and sometimes the odd seal swimming about as well – so worth keeping your eyes open at this point already.

What has been a short 15 to 20 minute walk should now see you arrive at the popular Suikerbossie Whale Viewing Site, which affords fantastic 360 degree views of False Bay, the South Atlantic Ocean, the Helderberg Mountains, Strand, and of course, the beautiful Gordon’s Bay.

Oh, and whales if they’re out and about of course.

IMG_20151102_135015 view of helderberg mountains and gordon's bay suikerbossie whale viewpoint along faure marine drive in gordon's bay south africa

So yeah, definitely a nice addition to Gordon’s Bay, and well worth a stroll if the weather plays along! :)

UPDATE: On the 2 February 2016, the City of Cape Town posted their own bit on the official opening of what they are calling the Bikini Beach Boardwalk. I’ve copied and pasted the text to preserve it:

“Transport for Cape Town, the City of Cape Town’s transport authority, recently completed the long-awaited boardwalk between the popular whale lookout point and Bikini Beach along Faure Marine Drive in Gordon’s Bay.

A local resident from Gordon’s Bay, the late Ms Monica Miles, approached the City some time ago with a request for a safe walkway between Bikini Beach and the parking area at the whale lookout point next to Faure Marine Drive.

Simple as the request may have seemed at the time, officials from Transport for Cape Town had to come up with an appropriate design and an affordable solution to the challenges posed by the scenic nature of the area and the elevated roadway on this part of the False Bay coastline. Work started in July 2015 and was completed over a period of 20 weeks by the end of November, just in time for the summer holidays.

The boardwalk’s hand railing and a section of the walkway itself have been constructed from locally sourced sugar gum wood which is renowned for its longevity and low maintenance requirements. Up to 14 000 screws were used in the building process. Other sections of the boardwalk along Faure Marine Drive are paved and gabions (large wire baskets filled with rocks) are used to support the boardwalk on the shoreline’s side.

‘The boardwalk is approximately two metres wide and meanders over a distance of about 620 metres. Those strolling between the whale lookout point near Suikerbossie Drive and Bikini Beach can now safely enjoy the scenery, with False Bay on the one side and the majestic Hottentots-Holland Mountain range on the other. All in all, we have spent approximately R2,3 million on the boardwalk. We will soon embark on a public participation process to propose naming the boardwalk after the late Ms Miles who campaigned so enthusiastically for this safe walkway,’ says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.”

And now we know. Still, R2.3million seems a little… excessive for what was built.

Related Link: Gordon’s Bay | Bikini Beach Boardwalk

Sunday Drive to Hermanus (2015-08-02) Photo Gallery 10 AUG 2015

Two weeks later and we’re back in Hermanus once more! Faced with the possibility of staying at home and doing nothing, I suggested that we head out for a nice scenic Sunday afternoon drive to Hermanus, for the kids to play and for Chantelle to spot whales (and for me to get out of the house!).

Happily, Chantelle agreed that this was a great idea!

IMG_20150802_131912 chantelle lotter with the girls on the scenic hermanus cliff path

This time around we took the proper tourist route to Hermanus, taking the coastal road all the way until we hit this popular whale watching seaside town.

The weather was great, the drive perfect, and quite frankly, it was a brilliant start to our Sunday out and about as a family.

IMG_20150802_133218 looking for whales in hermanus bay

We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the excellently maintained and signposted Cliff Path, tried our luck at spotting whales in the bay (no such luck), and let the kids run amok in the public playground area while we cheerfully bobbed our heads to the marimba players’ merry tunes.

IMG_20150802_134702 craig lotter with his girls in front of the hermanus war memorial

For lunch we once again found ourselves at the Europa Coffee Shop, where the girls had a particular ball thanks to our waitress continually dropping things off for them to play with at the table!

As you can see from the pictures, in the end it was a Sunday rather well spent (apart from the not seeing whales part of course!).

(P.S. Chantelle was actually quite disappointed that we didn’t get to spot any whales in the bay on the day – as she puts it, what’s the point of coming to Hermanus if you’re not going to spot any whales! :P)

Coffee in Hermanus at Europa Cafe (2015-07-15) Photo Gallery 09 AUG 2015

So following our exciting and thoroughly enjoyable whale watching adventure in Gansbaai, Chantelle and I decided to stop for some coffee and cake in Hermanus on the long drive back home. (On such a beautiful day, who could really blame us?)

IMG_20150715_130404 art sculpture in hermanus

As always, Hermanus’ famed Cliff Walk is a treat, particularly with all the interesting art pieces they’ve dotted along the tourist part of the walk. Chantelle and I were treated to some frolicking whales in the bay, following which, we located a nice spot at the Europa coffee shop.

IMG_20150715_131345 chantelle lotter at europa cafe in hermanus

Pleasingly, the coffee and cake were rather good! :)

Whale watching in Gansbaai with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris (2015-07-15) Photo Gallery 08 AUG 2015

It’s actually turning out to be a pretty good year in terms of experiencing new things – seriously, if I’m not flying a plane then I’m on a boat watching whales! :)

IMG_20150715_105748 craig lotter Whale watching in Gansbaai with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

Gordon’s Beach Lodge has a work relationship with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris and often send their guests off via shuttle to go and experience whale watching in Gansbaai. As things go, Ivanhoe Sea Safaris then often invite guest house staff members out on the boat, so that they can better inform guests as to what to expect.

Luckily for me, Chantelle opted to let me with on just one such ‘educational’ ride!

IMG_20150715_093949 chantelle lotter Whale watching in Gansbaai with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

So on a sunny Wednesday morning, we dropped the kids off at their respective little schools and made the scenic drive through to Gansbaai, a place that neither Chantelle nor I can really remember ever visiting as adults.

We arrived just in time for boarding, and pretty soon we were seated on The Ivanhoe, a 42 ft. custom built catamaran, specifically designed for watching whales.

IMG_20150715_094335 gansbaai harbour ivanhoe sea safaris

A good selection of both tourists and locals made up the spectators for the day, and after a brief instructional by a very amicable and knowledgeable crew, we were out of the harbour and hunting for whales!

The water was calm, the weather sunny, and no wind to speak of, making conditions perfect for whale watching.

It’s quite exciting as you zoom across the water, and then suddenly have the engines cut as you stop because of a possible sighting in the distance. Then it’s everyone to the front of the boat, and seriously, it is so quiet that you can hear a pin drop – everyone is scouring the water, looking for that telltale ‘footprint’ of a whale nearby.

(Though when a whale does come up, then its an instant cacophony of camera shutters clicking – sadly, cellphone cameras like mine are pretty useless at this sort of thing!)

IMG_20150715_110910 Whale watching in Gansbaai with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

Of course, half of the fun is this expectation (similar to when you are out in a game reserve, scouring the brush for a sighting of something special), but when a whale does finally break surface and comes right up to you, then it really becomes extraordinary.

Massive, gentle, and interesting giants without a doubt! (We spotted plenty of birdlife, seals, a couple of fast moving Bryde’s whales in the distance, and of course the slow moving Southern Right whales who came right up close to the boat).

IMG_20150715_111358 Whale watching in Gansbaai with Ivanhoe Sea Safaris

So needless to say, this 2+ hour long experience is definitely one well worth a recommendation!

Related Link: http://whaleviewing.co.za/

Things to See in South Africa: Clarence Drive (2015-05-03) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 29 MAY 2015

Without a doubt one of the most beautiful stretches of road in South Africa is Clarence Drive (also known as the R44), a 22 km long scenic coastal drive between the windswept hamlet of Rooi Els and the naval town of Gordons Bay, which nestles in the north-eastern crook of False Bay in the shadow of the Hottentots Hollands mountains.

south africa clarence drive gordon's bay to rooi els biker 1

Clarence Drive was named after Jack Clarence who was responsible for replacing the footpath between Gordon’s Bay and Rooi Els with a proper road in order to service the radar stations at Stony Point (Betty’s Bay) and at Hangklip. It was built with the help of Italian POWs during WW2 and stretches all the way from Gordons’s Bay into Kleinmond and the heart of the Kogelberg Biosphere.

(From Cape Town’s side, the route takes you through Gordon’s Bay, Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Hangklip, Betty’s Bay and finally Kleinmond)

outh-africa-clarence-drive-gordons-bay-to-rooi-els-biker

There are 2 stone cairns erected on the side of the road at different points. One is in honour of Jack Clarence and the other is to commemorate the modernisation and upgrading of the road in 1998. The 1998 upgrade has created a well finished, safe road dotted with loads of viewpoints to stop to enjoy the marvelous views over the dramatic scenery of towering mountains meeting the rugged coastline.

south africa clarens drive gordon's bay to rooi els biker 3

The whole coast belongs to the Kogelberg Biosphere reserve, a part of the Cape Floral Kingdom which is the most species dense of all the world’s Plant Kingdoms. With about one thousand six hundred plant species found in barely ten square miles, the area that Clarence Drive passes through contains a floral diversity per unit area that is one of the highest on the planet.

The area is also home to a vast array of wildlife including Cape Leopards, African Weasels, African Wild Cats, Caracals (African Lynxes), Small and Large-Spotted Genets, Cape Foxes, Aardwolfs, Baboons, Cape Clawless Otters, Water Mongooses, Small and Large Grey Mongooses, Striped Polecats, Honey Badgers, Porcupines, Rock Hyraxes, Red Rock Rabbits, Cape and Scrub Hares, Klipspringers, Cape Grysboks, Common Duikers, Grey Rhebucks, and even Bushbucks.



The drive is also the beginning of ‘The Whale Coast’, which is generally regarded as one of the best places in the world to view whales from shore.

IMG_20150503_120046 south africa false bay - R44 clarence drive gordon's bay to rooi els 2

Of course, Clarence Drive does hold a particularly special place in my heart as well.

After all, this is the exact spot where I stopped, got down on one knee and asked Chantelle to marry me – in the process making the 6th of December 2008 one of the best days of my life! :)

IMG_20150503_120130 south africa false bay - R44 clarence drive gordon's bay to rooi els 3

IMG_20150503_120020 south africa false bay - R44 clarence drive gordon's bay to rooi els 1

IMG_20150503_120035 south africa false bay - R44 clarence drive gordon's bay to rooi els 5 jessica lotter

IMG_20150503_120039 south africa false bay - R44 clarence drive gordon's bay to rooi els 6 chantelle lotter

IMG_20150503_120053 south africa false bay - R44 clarence drive gordon's bay to rooi els 4

Related Link: Mountain Passes South Africa | Rooi Els | Pringle Bay