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HHermanus, a popular coastal town hugged by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Overberg mountains on the other, is a hiking paradise. Tough or easy trails carve through exquisite beauty and afford some of the best land-based whale watching opportunities in the world during the season.
Hermanus hiking opportunities are plentiful. They will suit both those seeking a thorough workout and those who simply want to work off breakfast. The coastal town of Hermanus is surrounded by the Overberg mountains. Overberg hiking trails are wonderfully scenic and allow for land-based whale watching hikes when southern right whales frolic along the shore from June to November each year.
Hermanus is skirted by 11km of cliff paths that follow the rocky shoreline. You can walk all the way from the Blow Hole on the far western side of town – near the New Harbour – to Grotto Beach on the far eastern side. Benches along the way allow you to sit down and do some whale watching.
Fernkloof Nature Reserve looks down on Hermanus from the north. The reserve has more than 50km of graded hiking trails that are suitable for everyone. The shortest and easiest hike takes roughly 1 hour to complete, offering gorgeous views of Hermanus. The longest hike takes 5 hours, and rustic overnight accommodation is offered.
From June to November – whale season – you are also likely to spot southern right whales in Walker Bay from Fernkloof. You’d be well advised to bring a pair of binoculars for the occasion.
At Platbos Forest, the southernmost forest in Africa, an enchanting 2-hour forest trail has gentle gradients, making it ideal for young and old. The forest canopy shelters from the sun making it a good choice on scorching hot summer days.
In Vermont Nature Reserve you can enjoy a 2-hour walk along the coast from Brêkfisbaai (breakfast bay) to Hawston harbour, where you’ll walk among fynbos through Hoek van die Berg private nature reserve.
The Hermanus Tourism Bureau provides a list of registered community guides who offer a variety of specialised tours including cultural, historical, fynbos, abalone and birding walks.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)28 312 2620
How to get here
From Cape Town, follow the R43 over Sir Lowry’s Pass to Grabouw then though to Hermanus – a distance of 120km that will take about 90 minutes by car. Alternatively follow the coastal route along False Bay on the R44 – a similar distance that takes about 2 hours.
Best time to visit
Whale season is from June to November every year, and the champagne air makes for idyllic conditions in early autumn (March and April).
Things to do
The Hermanus Wine Village purveys wine from over 600 South African wine producers, with 1 600 labels on display. Visit local artists' studios and galleries. Shark cage diving is popular along this coastline. You can also go white water rafting, abseiling and canoeing in the Hangklip-Kleinmond region or fishing in the Walker Bay Nature Reserve.
Tours to do
The Perlemoen Trail is a 2-day Green Flag accredited slackpacking trail from nearby Pearly Beach to Gansbaai. Hike along white beaches, over wrecks, to fisherman's villages and more. You sleep in luxury and don't have to carry your own backpack.
Car hire is recommended to get to Hermanus.
What to pack
Pack your hiking boots, sunscreen and lots of water. For whale-watching bring binoculars and a camera.
Where to stay
Choose from guest houses, B&Bs, 5-star hotels or self-catering cottages in the winelands.
Length of stay
Hikes take anywhere for 1 hour to 2 days and can be tailored around your availability.
What to eat
Fresh crayfish in season, sustainable abalone from the Abagold factory near the New Harbour, and seasonal linefish.
The Hermanus Whale Festival in September and the Hermanus Food and Wine Festival, usually in October.
The region is noted for its award-winning pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc wines. Local artwork and gifts and crafts from the Hemel-en-Aarde Craft Village.