Arriving at Capetown, South Africa, we were picked up by our driver to go on a tour I will never forget. Driving along the rough coastline and after every corner there is another visual surprise. Perfectly shapped mountains, rolling hills, rough rocks and on our right the Atlantic Ocean.
There is such amazing contrast within the Hemel en Aarde valley, luxury and rural beauty. It provides a true reflection of the earth. All gifts from earth are coming together here. After a 90 minutes drive we arrive Hermanus.
“Hermanus, the little town stuck between the mountains and the sea.”
Aside from being the best place to view whales on the planet, Hermanus is renowned for its wild beauty, artisanal and award winning wine producers. A small fisher town where you can experience big things.
The Hemel en Aarde Wineroute
Famous for its uninterrupted views over the valley and coastline, the Hemel-en-Aarde Wine Route boasts a diverse array of wine (tasting) farms and award-winning restaurants.
For me personally the old “Dutch-style” houses and winery’s along this breathtaking route with old-Dutch names are very nice to see. I see the history of my own culture in this country, however in a totally different environment.
“It’s no coincidence that the African name Hemel-en-Aarde translates directly to Heaven-and-Earth. This is one of the most wonderfully scenic destinations in South Africa.”
Hemel-en-Aarde valley produces some of the most iconic wines in South Africa. Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. We visited two wine farms along this stunning route:
Hamilton Russell wine was served at Buckingham Palace
Carving out a reputation as one of South Africa’s best known wines. It’s now run by Anthony and Olive Hamilton-Russell and remains very much a family business. We meet Anthony, a handsome man who shows us two varieties of their wine: Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Their Chardonnay was served to Nelson Mandela when he visited Buckingham Palace.
The other is Bouchard Finlayson and we’re introduced to Peter Finlayson. I could say he’s the perfect Sean Connery look-a-like, but it doesn’t add anything to the story, just a visionary image. He showed us his enormous wine cellars.
“Whale spotting: Spectacular on the water but even more from a plane.”
Spotting whales or dolphins from a private plane
Hermanus is renowned as the best land based whale-watching destination in the world so I don’t need to tell you to go here. The best season to see them is from November to June.
Whale watching can be done on land, at sea or in the air. For those who are looking to get up close and personal with the Southern Right and Humpback whales I recommend heading out on the ocean with Dyer Island Cruises.
“But for those looking for a unique perspective, like we did, there is nothing quite as incredible as flying over the Atlantic Ocean to witness the spectacular marine life from above.”
We used a company called African Wings who take off from nearby Stanford.
Getting in a cage, to encounter The Great White Shark
Diving with Great White Sharks is an exhilarating and fascinating experience.
Nearby Gansbaai with Marine Dynamics, the dive master will give you a full briefing about the day’s procedures. You will learn all about these fascinating Apex predators as well as the rest of the Marine 5 which includes Sharks, Whales, Seals, Penguins and Dolphins.
You’ll then take a 20-minute boat trip out to sea and anchor off Dyer Island and Geyser Rock, which boasts a large Cape Fur Seal colony, the staple diet of the Great White Shark. After slipping into your wetsuit, the crew will lower you into the cage, which is attached to the side of the boat in the water. This is an incredible opportunity to get up close and personal with these amazing animals from the safety of a cage.
“Even if you are not keen on diving, the shark viewing from the boat is still exhilarating providing some fantastic photo opportunities.”
Sea Kayaking and more
Sea kayaking is a wonderful outdoor pursuit for the more adventurous. It will get you up close to some of Hermanus’s fascinating sea life and it’s also great exercise.
I summed up another few great adventurous things to do: Para gliding of the Buffelstalberg Mountains, rock walking along the coastline, surfing and kite surfing, fishing and horse riding.
Grotto Beach is awarded!
Grotto beach is the longest strip of white sand in Hermanus and has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag Status. This award requires a high standard of cleanliness, environmental protection and rehabilitation, full-time lifeguards and security.
Cycling and hiking in Nature Reserves
There are two incredible nature reserves in close proximity – Fernkloof Nature Reserve and Walker Bay Nature Reserve with numerous hiking and mountain biking trails. Over 1100 different plant species have been collected and identified and this makes it one of the six floral kingdoms of the world.
Hermanus is a wonderful golfing destination. Hermanus Golf Club in the centre of town and Arabella golf club is just a short distance away and voted amongst the Top 5 golf courses in South Africa.
Staying at Birkenheadhouse
If you need a place to sleep you definitely have to experience Birkenhead House, even if you can only afford it for one day.
“White wicker loungers, ostrich-feather lampshades and fresh roses contribute to a luxury but laid-back feeling.”
This ‘house’ as they call it is actually a small luxury hotel, is located on top of a cliff and will amaze you with a view over the Ocean and the Buffelstalberg Mountains. Between June and November the view includes whales that swim right in front of the hotel. Read in our next article about the fabulous Birkenhead House: BIRKENHEAD HOUSE, first class spotting the Whales and Dolphins passing by.
If you like to go here, or have some information about Hermanus, have some options about the pictures, or anything else, leave a comment below!
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