The donning of jerseys and thicker socks marks more than the arrival of winter – it’s whale season and we invite you to combine the best of Stanford’s village atmosphere (think Victorian architecture, antique shopping, foodie hot spots, our own wine route, family fun destinations, river activities and outdoor fun) with whale spotting at our neighbours on the coast.
As the only inland destination on the Cape Whale Coast, Stanford’s body of celebrated water is the Klein River, and although you won’t find whales in her depths, Southern Right Whales can be spotted as close as a 20 minute drive from the village.
These magnificent annual visitors usually arrive around June and can stay as late as November, birthing their young and enjoying our warmer coast before heading home to sub-Antarctic waters. As they frolic and splash visitors flock to watch the spectacle, and who can blame them? The sight of a male Southern Right propelling himself out of the ocean and landing back with an almighty splash (called a breach) is a thrilling sight and kids love waving to the whales as a giant flipper waves back – an action known as pec-slapping.
Call ahead to local tourism offices like Kleinmond, Hermanus and Gansbaai, and easily reach wherever the whales are lolling and waving from Stanford. Land-based whale watching can be done at Die Plaat (Cape Nature) if you have a 4×4 or willing feet, or book a fatbike ride or Sundowner Beach trip with Mosaic Private Sanctuary. Many of the Stanford guesthouses and the Stanford Tourism office will help to make you a boat-based booking, or even pack you a picnic basket as you set out on your whale watching expedition. You could even pack your own picnic basket with goodies from the Saturday Morning Market, yum!
For a sure thing, book aerial whale watching with African Wings. For water-based whale watching, Ivanhoe Sea Safaris (from Gansbaai harbour) and Marine Dynamics (Kleinbaai) offer excellent, ethical whale trips, while many boat operators launch from the Hermanus New Harbour.
After time spent admiring the leviathans of the bay, unwind back in the village with a celebratory meal, beer or glass of wine and join us in saying Cheers to the Whales this winter! Share your adventures with us online #visitstanford. Stay snug and happy whale spotting!