Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Whales at dusk

Today was a long drive, partly due to distance and partly due to a couple of detours we made. We were heading to Hermanus, famed for its plentiful whales and great white sharks. During the winter (June through November) Southern Right whales frolic by their thousand in the bay on which Hermanus is situated. Unfortunately, we were out of season but I still clung to the hope that we might see one or two.

The drive took us down to Cape Agulhas– the blustery, southernmost tip of Africa. Artists flock here to derive inspiration from the wild weather and isolation, and small galleries line the road as you head out to the lighthouse sat on the edge of the Cape. A brief Kodak moment in front of the lighthouse and we were soon back in the car and out of the wind.

To head to Hermanus there was a short cut through a national park marked on the map. We found the turning and thought we’d cut a bit of time off our journey. Boy were we wrong! What the map failed to mention was that we had a 40 odd miles of un-Tarmaced, gravel road to content with. Horrid Henry rattled and shook as he rumbled slowly on. It was fun at first but it quickly grew tedious as we inched our way along the map towards our destination. Every now and then we’d stop to remove a tortoise that naively thought the middle of the road was a good place to chill.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity behind the wheel we rocked up at the Zoete Inval Travellers Lodge in Hermanus (An extremely well organized backpackers that even had a jacuzzi for guest use). For dinner we headed to a seafood/sushi restaurant called Ocean Basket (a chain that’s the equivalent of Pizza Express for seafood) with spectacular views out across the bay. We were fortunate to be given a window seat so we had full panoramic views of a bay minus whales. Throughout the meal we’d peer out to see if we could see a whale and had almost given up hope when suddenly there was a disturbance in the water and two magnificent flukes flipped slowly and elegantly out of the water as the whales slid beneath the waves. The whales appeared a few more times before disappearing out of view completely. This magnificent sighting more than made up for the 12-hour drive!

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