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Little Marvels – Hermanus

Many people come to South Africa for adventure, a savannah safari, trekking through jungles, and even mountain climbing. Millions of tourists each year flock here to catch a glimpse at some of the large land animals that are in abundance in South Africa, Lions, Leopards, Buffalo, elephants and even Rhino. There are herds of Antelope, Zebra, Springbok, and so many others that you can hardly shake a stick at.

What a lot of people don’t know is that Africa also has many hidden gems. Where can you go when you want to see Southern right whales breaching right from the comfort of your hotel balcony? Or from the beach?

How about watching Great White sharks in their own habitat, but from the safety of your steel cage? Where can you swim a coral reef, or take a day trip to see the Big Five, then come back to your luxury hotel suite or private bungalow?

Welcome to a little marvel in South Africa, Hermanus. Located on the shores of Walker Bay, this town is starting to really catch on in the tourist community. Surrounded by awe inspiring natural beauty, you have indigenous fynbos, majestic mountain peaks, and miles of beaches. It is also considered the capitol of the world when it comes to whale watching. Let us not forget the residents here, they are really the heart and soul, offering tourists a unique experience on their holiday, one they will surely never forget.

One of the biggest attraction here is the Whale festival. Every year from June until the end of December the Right Whale visits the Walker Bay, on their way to breeding grounds in the North Atlantic. During this time, you can see these majestic creatures by air, boat, or more importantly, from the beaches and even the hotels that sit near the water. Hermanus is also home to the only Whale Crier.

This gentle soul uses a genuine kelp horn to inform tourists that whale are spotted in the bay and on the sea routes. There are numerous opportunities to see these creatures, as up to 100 of these whales come here. The best time to see them is in July, and the best spots to view them are from the nearby cliffs that overlook the bay and ocean.

While Hermanus is the whale watching capitol, there are so many other great activities here. Ever heard of a shark whisperer? They are actually out there, and living and playing in Hermanus. Wilfred Chivell owns Marine Dynamics, and is one of the leading experts in the world when it comes to Great White Shark behavior. He and his team are named this because of the special abilities to interact with these great animals in their own habitat, in ways that have never been attempted until now. Together with Andre Hartman, and Mike Rutzen, they will take you out on an ocean adventure you will never forget. All three of these experts can help you see great whites and other ocean predators like never before.

There are so many different things to see and do in and around Hermanus that you could come here year after year and still not see them all. You can take a number of day trips, to see the many different wine estates along the Hermanus Wine Route, stopping and sampling the many fine wines that are some of the most acclaimed wines in not only South Africa, but the world. You can take one of the numerous walking and biking trails, seeing Africa from a whole new perspective. There are tranquil lagoons, coves and beaches to explore, jungles and mountains to climb.

One of the places you have to explore is the Fernkloof Nature Reserve. One of the smallest of the Cape Floral Kingdom, this reserve has a lot to offer the visitor. It is probably the richest places in the world for flora and fauna, and is the backdrop for the town of Hermanus. One of the largest carnivorous plants calls this reserve home, the Roridula Gorgonis, or what the natives refer to as the Vlieebos.

Hermanus has much more to offer the visitor as well. There is also an abundances of shopping opportunities in this cosmopolitan town. In and around Hermanus there are a number of shops and markets, the Hermanus Country Market is held every Saturday at the Cricket Grounds. In addition, there is also the Hermanuspietersfontein Boeremark, where you can sample native foods, as well as find wines. The Onrus Marks opens its doors once per month, offering a wide variety of snacks, and other home baked goods. It also offers books, nick nacks, and gifts. If you want a chance to buy hand crafted items from local artisans, the craft market at Lemm’s Corner is a favorite stop. The many different restaurant offers a wide variety of cuisine, from five star gourmet meals to just grabbing some fish and chips provided by local fisherman, you won’t go hungry.

No matter what kind of accommodations you are looking for, Hermanus has so much to offer the weary traveler. There are five star hotels, like the Windsor, the Marine hotel, to quaint holiday apartments for self catering, bed and breakfasts like 3 Gulls or Karen’s Place. Even if you are trekking Africa on foot or by bicycle, the Hermanus Backpackers Lodge or Moby’s Travellers Lodge can accommodate you.

If you are interested in visiting all the sights and sounds that Hermanus has to offer, it is a good idea to book your reservations early, especially during the peak whale watching season. This is one of the most popular resort destinations, for honeymoon couples to large family vacations, so it is important that you get in as early as possible. There are several websites to choose from, and you can contact many of these hotels, lodges and apartments directly.