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FFrom June to November southern right whales arrive off the coast of Hermanus in the protection of Walker Bay to rest, mate and give birth to their calves. Their daily arrival is heralded by the world-famous whale crier, who sounds his horn to proclaim the good news.
You’ll know him by the whale-tail feather in his cap and the mournful echo of his distinctive kelp horn. He’s the Whale Crier of Hermanus.
He blows his horn to alert the throngs of tourists who arrive annually to view the whales, which come very close to shore. His sandwich board tells whale watchers how to interpret the morse code of the horn to find where the whales have been sighted and how many may be seen.
Out of uniform he goes by the name of Eric Davalah and follows in the footsteps of Wilson Salakuzana who took over from the original crier, Pieter Claasen, who first blew his horn in 1992 to alert townsfolk to the arrival of the whales.
Claasen was an employee at the old harbour and his love of the whales led to his self-appointed task of alerting the public to the arrival of the magnificent creatures. Claasen retired as whale crier in 1998, when Salakuzana took on the mantle. Davalah has been blowing the horn since 2011.
The blowing of the whale crier's horn has become a much-loved and welcome sound in Hermanus over the past decade. As Claasen’s fame grew, many media interviews ensued and he became not only one of the town’s top tourist attractions, but an international icon.
The highlight of his career was an appearance as guest of honour at the annual town criers’ convention in Topsham in the UK in 1996, during which he was made honorary town crier of Britain.
Sadly, Claasen died in 2000 due to illness, but his spirit lives on in Davalah, who maintains the profile of international icon for Hermanus. He is certainly the most photographed man in Walker Bay.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Hermanus Tourism Bureau
Tel: +27 (0)28 312 2629
How to get here
Hermanus lies on the Cape south coast in the Overberg region, about 120km from Cape Town.
Best time to visit
The whale crier does his rounds along the coastline between10am and 4pm from June to December.
Things to do
Boat cruises on the Bot River lagoon for birdwatching or marine-life viewing. Boat-based whale watching allows you to get really close. Enquire at the tourism office in Hermanus.
Tours to do
Great white shark cage-diving and surface viewing tours to Gansbaai. The tours leave Hermanus at 10am daily.
Where to stay
Try the Arabella Hotel and Spa, The Marine or Harbour House hotels, or one of many well-appointed guest cottages and B&Bs.
What to eat
Complement the great seafood on offer here by following the Caledon road to the Hemel-en-Aarde valley where 15 wine estates offer a selection of superb wines, especially pinot noir and chardonnay.
Wine and replica kelp horns.