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The whales of Hermanus definitely deserve their own festivalBirkenhead House
A whale of a time
South Africa is renowned for its wildlife, but while it’s the animals on land that get much of the limelight, there are just as many spectacular species to be seen in the waters just offshore. In the case of whales, some of these species dwarf anything that can be found on land – even elephants.
The marine riches of the Rainbow Nation range from endearing penguins to intimidating great white sharks, but easily the most impressive are the southern right whales. These migratory cetaceans arrive off the Cape coast every southern hemisphere summer, for the purpose of giving birth (calving) and nursing their young.
Celebrating the Hermanus whales
This annual event has become such an important part of the cultural fabric of the region that there is even a festival dedicated to these ocean visitors: the Hermanus Whale Festival, now in its 32nd year. The only Eco-Marine Festival in the world, this year’s event will take place from 29 September to 01 October.
At Birkenhead House, we are fortunate enough to have front-row seats to one of the greatest wildlife spectacles there is. There are many ways to watch the whales, and share in their apparent joie de vivre as they breach, leap and splash and “sail”. On ocean safaris in the company of expert local marine biologists, you can venture out onto the waves and get close to these gentle giants.
One of the many unique features of Hermanus is the fact that the whales often swim so close to the shore that you don’t need a boat to see them. Instead, you can enjoy their blend of elegance and playfulness from the clifftop path that connects Birkenhead House with the coastal town of Hermanus – and, of course, from Birkenhead House itself.
The ultimate lookout post
Despite our proximity to the ocean, there’s no danger of getting seasick on our deck – and we can promise that you’ll never tire of watching the passing whales. During the migration season (which runs from July to November, but peaks during September and October), sightings tend to be frequent enough that you can simply relax and enjoy your perfect stay whilst keeping an eye on the ocean – or simply count on our vigilant staff to act as your spotters, and let you know when they spy a mother and calf close to shore.
Populations of southern right whales are beginning to recover from the lows they reached during the benighted days of commercial whaling – each year, we see more of these magnificent creatures from Birkenhead House as we gaze out over the waters of Walker Bay. The southern right whales aren’t just a very special sight – they’re also the unmissable evidence of a global conservation success story.
Birkenhead House General Manager Shane Brummer remarks, “The proximity of these magnificent creatures to our property allows guests to observe their natural behaviours in a tranquil setting. From our elegant bedrooms to our charming common areas, the views are simply breathtaking.”
Summer by the sea
There are many reasons to plan your Perfect Stay at Birkenhead House during the southern hemisphere summer, including the fresh seasonal ingredients our chefs use in every dish they create, the colours and scents of the unique fynbos habitat in bloom, and the deliciously long, lazy evenings when the sun seems reluctant to set.
Perhaps best of all, however, is the chance to witness the greatest show on Earth – and enjoy a whale of a time!