We headed down to the South Peninsula this morning, aiming for a short walk along the seashore, followed by tea and a bite of something afterwards. As we drove along Boyes Drive, overlooking Muizenberg and bypassing Main Road with its interminable roadworks, we saw a long row of cars parked along the side of the road, and people staring out to sea and pointing.
Ah! It must be whales!
Of course, we had to pull over too. It’s not often we get a chance to spot the whales in False Bay.
There seemed to be dozens of surfers down in the shallows, paddling out and catching the next wave back. But where were the whales? We stared out to sea… looking for dark areas, ripples or swirls in the otherwise smooth and unruffled surface of the sea.
Oh! Look! There’s something! Zooming in as far as the camera would allow, we could just make out some fins breaking the surface.
After a while, nothing more dramatic seemed to be happening, so we climbed back into the car and drove further south to Fish Hoek, where we made our way down to the beach. There were people everywhere, enjoying the warm spring weather – and there seemed to be a sandcastle building competition on the go! The kids were having a blast down by the water.
We walked briskly along the Jager Walk (see my previous post), which goes right along the edge of the shore. On the one side is the railway line, and on the other is the sea, with its massive granite boulders pounded by the waves. The last time we were here, which I think was about a year ago, entire sections of the walk had been badly damaged by high tides, and large chunks of it were missing. We were pleased to see that it has been repaired.
There are wooden benches all along the walk, inviting you to sit peacefully and gaze out at the sea, absorbing its changing moods. The wind from the south was very strong and cuttingly cold today, though, and I was shivering in my thin jacket, so we kept up an energetic pace until we reached the turn-around point. Here, there was a large plaque mounted on a boulder, identifying this as the ideal spot for whale watching.
The text says in several languages:
“This is a good site for viewing southern right whales. They may be seen at any time from June to December, although the best months are August to October.
Southern right whales can be recognised by the absence of a fin on the back and the presence of wart-like structures on the head.
Most of the whales come inshore to give birth and to rear their young. A female has one calf, usually once every three years. Some mating activity may also be seen from the shore.
The species has been protected in South Africa since 1940 and numbers are starting to increase.
Humpback whales may also be seen. These can be recognised by the small backward sloping fin on the back and the long wing-like flippers.”
Thoroughly cold from the wind by now, we turned around, and headed back to our car. Right, now where should we go for something warm to drink? We decided to drive through to Noordhoek, and to keep our eyes peeled for a coffee shop. And that is how we accidentally came across the Noordhoek Garden Café in the Noordhoek Garden Emporium, which is going right to the top of our ‘Got To Come Back Here Again, Preferably with Friends’ list.
Isn’t this just cute and cosy and oh-so-snoesig?!
They had an astoundingly long list of meals and specials and nibblies available, but when we saw that they served a Sunday roast with vegetables, we looked at each other and said in unison, “Now THAT’S what I want!” So we did… And WOW, what a special treat that was. Memories of Windhoek and the simply awesome Sunday roasts made by Richard’s Mom came flooding back, as we munched our way through a full plate of YUMM! – followed by the obligatory bowl of ice-cream with hot chocolate sauce.
A deep sigh of contentment.