The Whale Route Less Trav­elled

Indwe - - Contents - Text: Paula Ra­bel­ing Images © Ryan Ab­bott & De Hoop Na­ture Re­serve

The beaches of the Western Cape at­tract scores of vis­i­tors an­nu­ally to em­brace their beauty. But at no time is this coast more be­guil­ing than when the gen­tle gi­ants of the deep visit to ex­pand their fam­i­lies.

From June to De­cem­ber each year, South­ern Right whales mi­grate from Antarc­tica to the warmer waters of South Africa to bring their calves into the world. The waters along the south­ern coast are an ideal place for the lit­tle ones to spend their first days. While the whale fam­i­lies are here, vis­i­tors can mar­vel at the whales breach­ing or lob-tail­ing, and maybe even see the lit­tle ones try­ing out their flukes and fins.

I de­cided to pack my bags and ven­ture out on the south­ern roads of the Cape (avoid­ing the more pop­u­lated town of Her­manus) to ex­plore the Whale Route, and ex­pe­ri­ence the charms, tran­quil­lity, and hos­pi­tal­ity of the quaint coastal towns and their es­tab­lish­ments along the way.

The Agul­has Coun­try Lodge

Cer­tainly one of the most fa­mous ar­eas in the Cape is where the two oceans meet. The In­dian and At­lantic oceans merge in front of the quaint town of L’Agul­has.

The Agul­has Coun­try Lodge is filled with old-world charm and seam­lessly blends into its in­cred­i­ble set­ting, over­look­ing the ocean. Pulling up, I was im­me­di­ately charmed by the old stone work of the ex­te­rior of the lodge. I headed up the wooden stair­case to the res­tau­rant area where I was to have lunch on the bal­cony, with the ocean glit­ter­ing in the sun­light just a few me­tres away.

Of course, when stay­ing here, you want views – and this lodge cer­tainly de­liv­ers. This bou­tique ho­tel com­prises eight en­suite rooms all with bal­conies over­look­ing the ocean. Guests are able to wake up, open the cur­tains, and re­lax with a cup of cof­fee to the sounds and sights of the waves lap­ping serenely on the shore.

Af­ter a day of ex­plor­ing the area – there is the Ghost Cor­ner hik­ing trail for the para­nor­mally in­clined, and the se­cond old­est work­ing light­house in South Africa calls Agul­has home – the ideal place to end the day is in the cigar lounge at the Agul­has Coun­try Lodge. Sit back in one of the plush chairs, choose from one of the many va­ri­eties of cigars, and or­der a drink from the bar’s ex­ten­sive menu.

For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.ag­ul­has­coun­try­lodge.com.

Ar­niston Spa Ho­tel

Set just a few steps from the ocean, the four-star Ar­niston Spa Ho­tel is si­t­u­ated next to the tra­di­tional fish­ing vil­lage of Waen­huiskrans /Ar­niston and cen­trally lo­cated so that the beaches are close at hand. Com­prised of 60 rooms, each has its own bal­cony and of­fers views of ei­ther the gar­den or the In­dian Ocean. Of course, dur­ing whale sea­son, make sure to get an ocean view room, so that you are able to sit on your bal­cony and en­joy the gen­tle gi­ants.

Be­ing in such close prox­im­ity to the ocean, Ar­niston Spa Ho­tel’s res­tau­rant has made seafood its main at­trac­tion. I opted for the Sushi Boat, which was over­flow­ing with a fresh va­ri­ety of sushi creations, both tra­di­tional and the res­tau­rant’s own in­no­va­tions. Din­ers can ex­pect the fresh­est of shellfish and catch-of-the-day fish straight from the boats. And do not for­get to start the meal off with some oys­ters.

To ex­plore what Ar­niston has to of­fer, I awoke early the next morn­ing and set off

to dis­cover more of the his­tory of the town. Ar­niston has a rich his­tory, punc­tu­ated by tragedy. The town got its English name from a ship that was wrecked here in 1815. To­day, a por­tion of the The Ar­niston can be seen among the sand dunes off the coast, and a plaque has been erected in honour of the de­ceased.

Down some steep steps to the rocky beach, I walked along the stones to the small en­trance to the Waen­huiskrans cave – from which the town gets is Afrikaans name. Only to be ex­plored dur­ing low tide, I ducked through the open­ing and found my­self in a large cav­ern. The cave opened to the ocean, where the wa­ter could be seen crash­ing against the rocks – it is quite a sight.

For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.ar­niston­ho­tel.com.

The De Hoop Col­lec­tion in the De

Hoop Na­ture Re­serve

Bring­ing to­gether wide open grass­lands and sea­side ex­panses is De Hoop Na­ture Re­serve – the com­plete na­ture lover’s pack­age. Here, bon­te­bok, Cape moun­tain ze­bra, eland, ba­boons, and os­trich roam freely on the re­serve, and sand dunes tum­ble their way to the shore, where the rock for­ma­tions have cre­ated pools filled with the won­ders of the ocean.

I went on a marine hike with one of De Hoop Col­lec­tion’s ex­pe­ri­enced guides along the rocky coast where I was in­tro­duced to

these in­hab­i­tants, and was awestruck by the mag­nif­i­cence of the waves crash­ing along the shore. Af­ter the hike, it was time for lunch, which was an in­cred­i­ble pic­nic spread of cheeses, cold meats, fruit, and sal­ads, all while en­joy­ing the ocean views.

De Hoop is one of the world’s best land-based whale-watch­ing ar­eas, as the coast off De Hoop is a marine pro­tected area as well as a World Her­itage Site.

Back on land, guests at the De Hoop Col­lec­tion can cy­cle through the re­serve. There are hik­ing trails to ex­plore the in­cred­i­ble diversity of the re­gion, and, for some pam­per­ing af­ter the ac­tiv­i­ties, the on­site De Hoop spa is there to mas­sage mus­cles into a com­plete state of bliss.

With so much to do and ex­plore at De Hoop, it is wise to spend more than a day here. The ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions on the re­serve are di­verse. Cot­tages, suites, a manor house, and camp­site ron­dawels all en­sure there is some­thing to suit most peo­ple’s tastes.

For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.de­hoop­col­lec­tion.com.

Tak­ing to the roads of the Western Cape’s south coast is ideal for a tran­quil get­away with charm­ing small­town hos­pi­tal­ity punc­tu­ated by lob­tail­ing whales.

the Agul­has Coun­try Lodge

Ar­niston Spa ho­tel

the Agul­has Coun­try Lodge

De hoop Na­ture Re­serve

Ar­niston

Ar­niston

De hoop Na­ture Re­serve

Ar­niston

Ar­niston

De hoop Na­ture Re­serve

De hoop Na­ture Re­serve

De hoop Na­ture Re­serve

De hoop Na­ture Re­serve

De hoop Na­ture Re­serve

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