Monday, 4 October 2010

Cape Town. Day 4. Hermanus and Betty's Bay

An early start and a quick breakfast in the apartment before being picked up for the first tour of Cape Town with Tish, from Chanti Tours and Charters. We were picked up in a minibus, and we headed down to Hermanus – where the whales come in during October to calve. We drove past the Helderberg and Skapenberg Mountain Range through the farmlands, and even saw a troupe of Chacma baboons along the highway.  We were advised not to stop near any babboons, they can do a lot of damage to a car, and they have enormous teeth.  Unfortunately due to the spread of urban areas, they are losing their habitat and are finding easy ways to find food....through people's windows, doors and cars.  See Baboon Matters for the Baboon side of the story.

The weather was cold, wet and very windy, but wasn't going to stop us having a great day!

We reached Hermanus, and straight away we could see whales in the bay. In fact, there were a few only about 30 metres off the cliffs. We sat and watched them for a while before moving along the cliff-top path for a better view of the whales further out. At the point where the water deepens, about 30 whales were frolicking. There were lot of whales doing fin and tail slaps, and the boys were really excited as several of them breached and crashed back into the water.

 It was tricky to get photos of them, as they jumped up so suddenly, and then were back into the water again before the camera could focus, so we got a lot of photos of the splash afterwards.  In the end we decided to put the camera away, and just enjoy watching them.
 The Whales were the Southern Right Whale.
We saw some Dassie's along the shoreline.

We were getting really cold with the strong breeze, so we grabbed some take-away hot chocolates and got back into the minivan to head to Betty’s Beach, where there is an African Penguin colony. These penguins used to be called Jackass Penguins, because their call is similar to a donkey braying.  A boardwalk has been built along the coastline so it is possible to see penguins on the rocks by the water, and also in their burrows/nests in the hill. These penguins are nearly extinct because of hunting, environmental damage, and also because their poo (technical term, guano) was scraped off the rocks and used for fertiliser. This caused the penguins real problems, because they form their nests by burrowing into the guano deposits.

One thing about penguins – they stink! We stayed and enjoyed the antics of the penguins until we were driven back to the minibus by the cold and the spray. We drove along the coastal road of False Bay and stopped for a leg stretch on the beach at Mnandi Beach. The boys enjoyed the opportunity to run and play for a while.

 We put them in their bathers and told them not to go in past their ankles (just a paddle!) Even reminding them that this was the home of the Great White Shark, they came back to the van drenched! Lucky we had towels. Alexander’s t-shirt was soaked through, so he had to spend the rest of the day just in his fleece.
We continued onto Kalk Bay, where we had lunch at the Harbour House. A lovely restaurant and we were able to watch the seals swimming in the surf through the windows. As we left, some locals were feeding squid to some seals in the harbour –

One of the seals was massive – probably the biggest seal I have ever seen. He obviously has this ‘squid for the tourists’ thing down pat!
 A quick walk around the harbour to see some of the boats, and below is a South African Snoek Fish drying out.

We finished our day driving back to the apartment for a grand total of 312kms. We had a fantastic day with Tish, who provided lots of interesting information, and hope she enjoyed our company as much as we enjoyed spending the day with her.

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