Hermanus (originally called Hermanuspietersfontein) is a town (population 48,346) on the southern coast of South Africa and is famous as a place from which to watch whales during the southern winter and spring. It forms part of the Western Cape and is a popular retirement town. The whales can be seen from the cliffs in the town centre from as early as June. They were once hunted locally, but are now protected. The Old Harbour Museum contains several exhibitions which explain the whaling history of Hermanus.
Hermanus lies about 115km southeast of Cape Town
and is connected to the Mother City by the R43 highway (or coastal R44 scenic route) and N2
motorway. The R43 continues to Cape Agulhas
, the most southerly point of Africa. Hermanus is 40km from Gansbaai
, a famous spot where one can dive amongst the Great White Sharks
It is also notable that Hermanus still boasts an historic railway station building although eventually no tracks were laid to connect the town to the national network.
The Hermanus Magnetic Observatory
(HMO), a research facility of the National Research Foundation
, is part of the worldwide network which monitors variations of the Earth's magnetic field
Hermanus Yacht Club is a popular Yacht club in the Western Cape amongst the yachting community. It hosted the Laser (dinghy) 4.7 worlds in 2007
Hermanus is also famous to locals for its Windsor Hotel.
is the largest beach in Hermanus and has also been proclaimed a "Blue Flag" beach which ensures its preservation as a world heritage site. Other beaches include Voelklip
Whales and Whale-spotting
Hermanus has since August 1992 the world’s only Whale Crier (Pieter Classen 1992-1998, Wilson Salukazana 1998-2006 , Zolile Baleni since April 2006 ) who sounds his kelp
horn to announce where whales have been sighted. Zakes Mda
wrote 2005 the novel The Whale Caller
(ISBN 0-312-42382-9) in which the Whale Crier of Hermanus is the main character, a man who gets enthralled by a Southern Right whale
he names Sharisha.
Hermanus hosts an annual whale festival at the end of September, when the Southern Right whales come into the local bay during the mating season. Prior to this main whale festival a "Kalfiefees" (or "Calf Festival") is held, to welcome the first whales (usually in August). Both festivals are characterized by food and craft stalls and also attract South African drama productions to the town. The hinterland beyond the town is largely wild and mountainous and there are many remote areas of hills and wild ravines. The rising thermals rising around the rugged heights of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve attract paragliders
from all over the world.