Whale watching in South Africa

first_imgSouth Africa is one of the best destinations worldwide for watching marine wildlife, including whales, whether from land or from boats, with spectacular annual visits from southern right and humpback whales and enormous pods of dolphins year-round.At least 37 species of whales and dolphins can be found in the waters off South Africa, and is most famous for rare encounters with southern right whales and humpback whales. (Image: Wikipedia)Brand South Africa reporterEvery year, southern right whales migrate from their icy feeding grounds off Antarctica to warmer climates, reaching South Africa in June. The country’s coastal waters teem with the giant animals, mating, calving and rearing their young – and giving whale-watchers spectacular displays of raw power and elegant water acrobatics.Watch out for:Blowing – the sound the whale makes when expelling air through its blowhole, which is accompanied by a spout of condensed water vapour; this is the normal breathing pattern of the mammal.Breaching – the whale leaps out of the water and falls back in with a large splash; whales can breach three to eight times in succession and the behavior is believed to be a means of communication, exercise or possibly to scratch the parasites off that live on them.Lobtailing – the whale slaps its fluke or tail on the water, causing a loud sound; again, it is believed to be a means of communication.Spy hopping – the whale lifts its head and body vertically, as far as the flippers, above the surface, which allows it to see what is happening around it above water.When is the best time?The best time for watching the southern right whale in South African waters is from June to November along the Cape south coast, although some will already be as far north as KwaZulu-Natal. Peak calving season is July and August, but whales can be seen through September and October.The curious humpback whale can be seen between May to December, moving up along the coast from Hermanus to St Lucia in KwaZulu-Natal.The medium-sized Bryde’s whale can be spotted all year round, and while rare, orcas can also be seen.In terms of the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998, it is an offence to approach any whale closer than 300m without a permit, so if you book a whale- watching cruise, make sure the company has a permit before you get on board.Where are the best spots?South African whale-watching territory runs from Doringbaai, far up the Cape West Coast, around the Cape Peninsula and as far up the East Coast as St Lucia, near the Mozambique border. They can be viewed from cliffs and beaches, while boat operators offer trips out to sea for close encounters.The route includes several famous protected areas, such as Table Mountain National Park, Garden Route, Tsitsikamma National Park, Transkei National Park and iSimangaliso Wetland Park.At least 37 species of whales and dolphins are found in South Africa’s oceans, although they are most famous for encounters with southern right whales, humpback whales, and several coastal dolphin species. Keep an eye open for African penguins, Cape fur seals, black oystercatcher birds and a variety of other marine life.Western CapeThe southern right’s breeding ground is the sheltered bays of the Western Cape coast, with the majestic animals spending up to five months a year here. They pass their time playing, courting, and nursing their newborn calves, providing spectacular land-based viewing.On the Cape West Coast, excellent sightings of southern rights can be enjoyed all the way from Strandfontein to Lambert’s Bay, Elands Bay, St Helena, Saldanha and Ysterfontein, just north of Cape Town.Whales can also be seen all around the Cape Peninsula.In Cape Town itself, you can see them from the road along the False Bay coast, and they’re distinctly visible on the western seaboard if you get high enough on the scenic coastal Victoria Road.Further south, the town of Hermanus in Walker Bay on the Cape south coast offers possibly the best land-based whale-watching in the world. The animals can be clearly seen from a scenic cliff-top walk, and the town holds a whale-watching festival every September. The Whale Crier informs the townsfolk and visitors of whale sightings and where the whales have come into the old harbour to calve.For the more adventurous, there is also aerial whale watching.Follow the coast to Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa where two mighty oceans meet. It is particularly rewarding, with great views of southern right cows and calves at play – up to 50 pairs at a time.Mossel Bay, Plettenberg Bay and the Garden RouteThe whale-watching season in Mossel Bay runs from June to November, when four species are seen. The southern right is the most commonly sighted, coming into the bay to calve, but look for humpback, Bryde’s and orcas as well.Either drive along the coast, where there are informative whale interpretation boards at view points, or take a boat based whale-watching trip, or hike the St Blaize trail. Schools of up to 500 dolphins add to the spectacle. The most common dolphins found all year are heaviside’s, common, dusky and bottlenose.Southern rights visit Plettenberg Bay, further east, on the Western Cape Garden Route, from about June to November. Migratory humpback whales can also be briefly seen from May and June and then, on their return trip, from about November to January.Bryde’s whales or orcas are occasionally seen, and bottlenose and humpback dolphins are in residence all year. A breeding colony of Cape fur seals completes Plettenberg Bays’ impressive array of marine mammals.It is in Plett that the dolphin and whale-watching industry is most organised, with trips in boats, kayaks and aircraft on offer. Viewing, distances and time spent with each animal are strictly monitored so that there is minimal interference.The Garden Route generally, from Stilbaai through Mossel Bay and on to George, Wilderness, Knysna and Tsitsikamma, is a magnificent stretch of coastline hosting southern rights in their season, humpbacks between May and December, Bryde’s whales all year round – and, occasionally, killer whales.Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-NatalFrom Cape St Francis to the rugged Eastern Cape Wild Coast are numerous vantage points to see humpbacks, Bryde’s, minke and killer whales and quite often southern rights, especially in Algoa Bay, while sperm and beaked whales approach close to shore off Port St Johns.Humpback whales, and sometimes southern rights, can be spotted almost daily off the KwaZulu-Natal coast, occasionally being spotted as far north as Cape Vidal. From mid-May to mid-September, the whales are moving north on their way to their breeding grounds off the Mozambique coast, and from September to December they return, heading for the nutrient-rich waters of Antarctica.There are boat-based tours, but for land-based viewing there is a whale-watching tower at Cape Vidal and Mpenjati. Throughout the year pods of bottlenose dolphins of 30 to 50 strong routinely patrol up and down the coast just beyond the breakers.Article updated December 2015Sources: Centre for Dolphin Studies, Hermanus Tourism, South African TourismWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa materiallast_img read more

Thousands expected at Zuma’s inauguration

first_img15 May 2014Thousands of people, including current and former heads of state and eminent persons, are expected to attend the inauguration of Jacob Zuma as South African President on Saturday, 24 May, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane told journalists in Pretoria on Thursday.The inauguration will be held at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Government expects thousands of people to show up for the ceremony, with 4 500 people to be accommodated in the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre, including Members of Parliament, current and former heads of state and various eminent persons.Chabane would not be drawn in on which names were on the VIP guest list. “Confirmations of attendance will be provided in due course, as guests are still responding to invitations,” he said.The remaining guests will be accommodated on the Southern Lawns of the Union Buildings, while other members of the public will be able to follow proceedings on live television, radio broadcasts and public viewing areas at 47 sites across the country.On the question of developments in the platinum belt possibly overshadowing the inauguration, Chabane said the government remained hopeful for a solution to the labour dispute, which started 16 weeks ago. “It’s our hope that the role players … will continue to search for a solution to the problem and also that parties conduct themselves in a manner that will encourage peace and stability and avoid intimidation.”In response to another question, Chabane said the cost implications of the inauguration ceremony would be “far less” than those of previous presidential inaugurations.Ahead of the inauguration, the National Assembly will convene its first sitting of the new term next Wednesday, when members of Parliament will be sworn in. This will be followed by the swearing in of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and the President of the Republic.By the time the inauguration takes place, the nine provinces will have elected their Premiers and provincial delegates to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), which will have its first sitting on 22 May.Chabane said the government once again thanked the nation for contributing to the success of the 2014 general elections, emphasizing that it would now be “work as usual for the national executive, in terms of the Constitution.“We look forward to the coming milestones being as well-managed as the election process itself, and hope that South Africans will derive new hope, optimism and energy for an even better future.”Source: SAnews.gov.zalast_img read more

Venture into the sky without leaving the ground. – Way to Heaven (GCPJDZ) – Geocache of the Week

first_img“Hey, I can see my house from up here.” Photo by geocacher devilmanrocco.At 12,461 ft (3798m) the Grossglockner stands proudly as Austria’s tallest mountain and the tallest peak in the Alps (east of the Brenner Pass). Though incredibly impressive from afar, those that dare can take a closer look with the Grossglockner High Alpine Road—a winding stretch of mountain road that takes you through 36 bends to a top altitude of 8,215 ft (2,504m). From the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe Visitors Center, you can look out on some of the highest peaks in the alps—and log a smiley for Way to Heaven (GCPJDZ).The Grossglockner High Alpine Road. Photo by geocacher Milancer.The Grossglockner High Alpine Road loosely follows ancient trade routes through the mountains that were used by the Celts and Romans. The idea for the road was first envisioned in 1924 and the first version, a 3-meter-wide gravel road, was completed in 1935.Now, nearly 900,000 visitors per year make the  trek through the mountains. This geocache has a difficulty and terrain rating of 3.5, however, if you want to kick both of those rating up a notch, you can travel up the Grossglockner High Alpine Road by motorcycle or bicycle.Watch out for marmot muggles! Photo by geocacher parda.Many of the “found it” logs (and even some of the DNFs) mention one thing: the incredible view. “Took a drive up the Grossglocker on a cold and rainey morning, skipped this area and saved it for the way back after heading to the Glacier. Got lucky as the view opened up on our return a little (before clouding over again quickly)…What a great location, so glad we came here,” wrote geocacher stephia4 in her “found it” log. When asked why he thinks geocachers love this destination so much, the geocache owner, Quaxi, said, “I think the reason for most of the travelers is to pass through a unique world of mountains with blossoming alpine meadows, fragrant mountain forests, massive cliffs and eternal ice to the foot of the Grossglockner, the Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe.”The Grossglocker High Alpine Road is closed during the winter, but should be opening next month. If you’re in Austria during the summer, this geocache is a must-find. For more information on the road and to see webcams, visit the official website. As with many geocaches, this hide is all about the amazing views. What’s the most incredible view you’ve ever had while finding a geocache? Tell us in the comments.A panorama from GZ. Photo by geocacher js_plasma.Continue to explore some of the most engaging geocaches around the globe. Check out all the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog or view the Bookmark List on Geocaching.com.If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, send an email with your name, comments, the name of the geocache, and the GC code to [email protected] with your Friends:More SharePrint RelatedNear the top of Europe (GC2BVRY) – Geocache of the WeekJuly 16, 2015In “Geocache of the Week”Started from the bottom, now we’re here. — Roof of the World (GC9A9E) — Geocache of the WeekMay 22, 2013In “Community”Piz Palü 3901 m.ü.M. — Geocache of the WeekFebruary 1, 2017In “Community”last_img read more