Life is about the journey - some roads are not always what they seem but you sure learn a great deal from them!
Published July 27th 2013
Just about 2.5 hours south of Cape Town is a little place called De Kelders. I would probably call this 'a place where whales come and play', and if you are not familiar with this area, you will probably miss out on an experience of a life time.
De Kelders offers a host of accommodation in a form of bed & breakfasts. No matter which bed & breakfast you choose, you will always have a view of the ocean. We were fortunate to book accommodation at a bed & breakfast called 'On the Rocks' which was a 5 star accommodation built on the edge of the cliff. As you can imagine, we had the most amazing view, and at time felt we could almost dip our feet into the water.
We chose a great day to arrive in De Kelders as the day was clear, and the waters were fairly calm. Our host, Tinus, from 'on the Rocks bed and breakfast' recommended that we drive around the cove to the look-out point to get a better view of the coastal area. He did not tell us that he saw whales in the bay. I like to think he wanted it to be a surprise.
Within minutes of parking the car, we saw a whales tail. Excitement soon erupted, and we starting running down the gravel path to a little area where other people were standing. We did not want to miss this moment! The whales were just behind the first breaker and I was just stunned at how close they were. We all just stood and watched in amazement.
One of the local conservation officers began telling us about the whales in the area and their breaching habits. I learnt that whales generally breach three times in a row, and then stop. It was just moments after he told us this that I saw a whale breach. I missed the first jump, but I was ready for the second and was quietly hoping that everything I learnt was correct. To my surprise, the whale jumped again and my finger automatically hit the button. It was truly amazing. We on terra firma and these magnificent creatures jumping with joy at our arrival. Or so I wanted to believe!
For the next two evenings we sat on the porch and watched whales play in the water with the sun setting in the background. I am not sure how to explain this experience, but all I can say is that it was truly a humbling experience.
We had thought we had seen the best, however on our last morning we went down to the look-out point to say good-bye. One of the locals came up to us to tell us about a little cove tucked around the corner. She suggested that we should go there. I did not ask why as I had a feeling that something truly miraculous was there.
It was a little tricky to find, and lucky I remembered her direction. We found ourselves parked on the shore line watching a fin lift out of the water. The water was so calm that it looked like glass. In the distance, on each side of this whale where two more whales. I was not sure what was happening, so watched the whale that was closest more intently.
A little white head pops up to see the world for a different view.
I saw her roll a little and then lift her tail. A few minutes later, I saw a little white head pop up and then sink down. My camera was an automatic capture, and I soon realised that we were witnessing the birth of a southern right whale calf.
The new arrival soon learns to lift its head to breath
Within minutes, the mother had lifted her new born calf up with her tail to help it breath. A mother will do this naturally with new born calves so they can learn to breath and to coordinate themselves. It did not take long before this little calf was bopping up and down. I could not have asked for a better "good-bye". It was a miraculous experience.
One of the protecting whales comes closer to meet the new arrival (top right of photo)
Not many tourists know of De Kelders, as Hermanus is normally the attraction point because of the whaling station and whaling watching tours. However, our experience beat any whale watching tour as I firmly believe we were closer to the whales than you would be on a boat.
Whales migrate through this area from about September to November. So, if anyone wants to see whales up close and personal, this would be an ideal place to stay. We know we will be going back the next time we are in South Africa. Everything about our visit here was magical.