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Whales, wine and wonderful views in your car hire Cape Town

In Latest News by Samantha

No matter what season you have chosen for your dream holiday in your 4×4 rental car, South Africa will have something in store for you – might it be sunbathing on one of the many white sandy beaches to get a tan around Christmas time, or warming your body and soul with an award-winning red wine in front of a homely fireplace during the tranquil winter months. This guide will give you all of the insider information into some of the best wine, whale and viewing spots that the Cape has to offer.

 

The same goes for Hermanus – the fishing village less than halfway between Cape Town and the start of the Garden Route might be small but has got a boundless variety of indoor and outdoor activities to offer. You can even make use of your 4×4 rental vehicle from Around About Cars and enjoy magnificent views of the Kleinriviersvlei lagoon and the conservation area Walker Bay in the far distance by driving up and down the scenic mountain pass named Rotary Way before getting there.

 

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For this stretch, you will not necessarily need a 4×4 rental, but what one needs and what is nice and practical to have are two different measures. As officially there might only be the famous Swartberg Pass near Oudtshoorn in the Kleine Karoo which a four-wheel drive is called for. And maybe this is where you come from anyway before heading towards the Mother City?

 

In any case, you will definitely be feeling more comfortable in a 4×4 rental car than some small hatchback – as the just over five kilometres long road up to the peak starts off with challenging every engine with a steep gradient of 1:15 before climbing further in a far easier average of 1:28. The way lacks a centre line, is partially tarred, quite narrow and blocked off at the end so you will have to return the same route you took approaching the top, but you can’t get enough of the stunning views anyway!

 

The narrow coastal plain boasts with a panorama including the rough Indian Ocean in the Southerly direction as well as the fynbos covered Kleinriviers mountain range to the North. With other indigenous plant species to both sides of the road and cheeky baboons getting into your way in the hope of some food. You will also get a first impression of the unique flora and fauna of the Western Cape.

 

Speaking of fauna …

 

The bustling seaside town of Hermanus tends towards aquatic animals. From tiny krill to the massive Southern Right Whale sea creature who feeds on them, my recommendation for a perfect holiday stop does not only fascinate marine biologists.

 

Speaking of whales…

 

The swimming mammals are widely distributed, grouping with dolphins, and favourite quarries for hunters all over the world since prehistoric times. Herewith we get the first clue to the name origin of the Southern Right Whale, they are “right” to hunt – in terms of “easy”, as their large size does not point to high speed or ruthlessness. On the contrary, the heavy sailors love to float, every now and then holding their back flippers in the air, having the strong South Easterly wind push them across the sea.

 

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Even their motion it is rather slow-motion: The maximum speed of their swimming abilities adds up to a five kilometres per hour. Just imagine you could drive parallel with your 4×4 rental car, it would not even make it that slow! But the low speed turns out perfect for you – as it therefore is quite easy to spot them. And best to spot them in Hermanus!

 

Speaking of spotting…

 

The best time to spot the Southern Right Whales is from July onwards, when they leave their Antarctic feeding ground in order to get to the shallow coastal waters of Southern Africa. They come here to give birth to calves who weigh around 1,500 kilograms on the day they are born. And surely, they will get heavier quite quickly, seeing that they drink up to 600 litres of milk every day. In the end, the milk and all the zooplankton and copepods add up to an impressive 47 tons on average.

 

Who exactly to spot

 

Data about the large aquatic mammals is scarce, but experts believe in them living an average of 50 up to 100 years. By time they get used to humans, some are said to have tried giving kayakers rides on their backs. And their backs are long – from head to fin, they measure about 15 metres.

 

How to spot by foot

 

In former times it was sailors who were watched by their families making their way into the harbour; meanwhile, Gearing’s Point is the must-see lookout point for its spellbinding whale-watching. Directly above the harbour, this viewing spot allows a fabulous sight with or without the available telescope, from the benches or individually chosen grass patches.

 

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How to spot by boat

 

You’d rather be as close as you can get, almost being able to touch the gentle giants with your own arm and hand? If your own arms and hands are strong enough, take a sea-kayaking trip from Walker Bay! If you are not as experienced in rowing as you are in driving a 4×4 rental car, you can still go ahead. The guided tours are available for beginners and professionals alike, and don’t forget to also watch out for seals, penguins, and dolphins before you might possibly interact with the colossal sea creatures.

 

Speaking of interacting …

 

From water animals to animals on land, for an exquisite horse-riding experience alongside the deep blue ocean on spacious beaches, steer the wheel of your 4×4 rental vehicle from Around About Cars towards Pearly Beach. Your exhilarating trot on the fine white sand will be accompanied by a guide and photographically captured by a drone video.

 

Speaking of sand …

 

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Yes, you can also relax on a Hermanus beach without running into the crowds indulging in their picnics or into the surfers who are trying to catch the best waves possible. Have a look for Voelklip Beach and loosen up in the secluded spot that grants you some privacy and sheltered swimming options in clear water. Surrounded by rocky outcrops, the fine sand of the beach asks for building sandcastles or other pieces of individual art.

 

Speaking of art …

 

It takes you about 35 minutes in your 4×4 rental to get from Hermanus to the Phillipskop Mountain Reserve with its extensive cave, displaying rock artwork of Khoi shepherds and San hunters. To explore the supposedly 1,500 years old drawings, you will need about two hours – wondering around the reserve on your own terms or with an experienced tour guide.

 

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Speaking of history …

 

One cave is not enough? Then get back into your 4×4 rental vehicle and head for Klipgat inside the Walker Bay Nature Reserve. The limestone cave has not gained fame for rock art but some tools and human bones dating back 700 centuries. Bring sturdy shoes along as the ground can be slippery and you need to overcome a bit of climbing before reaching the mouth of the cave.

 

Speaking about sturdy shoes …

 

With the Fernkloof Nature Reserve you find not only flourishing and diverse wild animal and plant life but also colour-coded hiking trails for every level and ability. Whatever track you choose you will be awarded with spectacular views of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, enchanting songs of orange-breasted sunbirds and glimpses of wild animals like klipspringers or grysboks.

 

Speaking of Hemel-en-Aarde Valley …

 

This means getting back to where you came from, having a beer tasting in The Brewery in the middle of Hermanus. If you are neither a lager or a pale, brown ale, or stout fan, decide on skipping the oldest alcoholic drink in the world and have some wine.

 

Speaking of wine …

 

White, red, sparkling, you do not only get the fine drops around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Hermanus and its surroundings hold secret gems of some of the best wineries in the country – such as the Wine Village on the foot of the Hemel-en-Aarde Road, the Benguela Cove on the Bot River lagoon, or Newton Johnson, Hermanuspietersfontein and the luxury Bouchard Finlayson.

 

Creation Wines offers wine pairings with chocolate and a former chapel as the tasting room, Spookfontein gets credit for the legend of its name: Once the cool coastal mist interacts with the iron in the water fountain, it turns out looking like a ghost shape. Snugly located in between the mountains and in close vicinity to the sea, the Sumaridge Estate does not only offer delicious platters for the wine-tasting adults but also some food that makes the little ones’ eyes shine.

 

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Speaking of eating …

 

From fish and chips in traditional bars with rustic charm to exquisite restaurants world-class dining experiences for culinary connoisseurs, you will not have to leave Hermanus in your 4×4 rental car in order to get some food somewhere else.

 

One of the multitudinous options

 

If you are travelling with the whole family – a perfect reason for a 4×4 rental! – Klein River Farmstead is the place to satiate your appetite. You cannot ask for a better outside area that includes charming picnic spots, a delightful play area, and partly free roaming pigs, donkeys as well as goats. Enjoy farm-fresh cheese and other local delicacies amidst the green meadows close to the river.

 

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And another one

 

If you make your way to Hermanus on a Saturday, “Die Markie” is the place to be. Even on rainy days parents, children and their dogs flock to the laid-back Hermanuspietersfontein Market with its vast assortment of food stalls. Live music of all genres played by local artists contribute to the vibrant atmosphere.

 

Speaking of a vibrant atmosphere …

 

For now, you don’t have to eat? Then read! The Hemingways bookshop has earned itself the reputation of being the quirkiest in the whole of South Africa. The great selection of new publications, antique collectables and anything in between makes it difficult to decide on which book to take and in which shelves to rummage.

 

 

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Speaking about rummaging …

 

Not for books, but an enchanting medley of old tins, toys and music instruments, woodworking tools, crockery and art objects wait for you in a nostalgic shop called Romantiques. Get some souvenirs!

 

Speaking about souvenirs …

 

Artist Ed Bredenkamp opens his atelier’s doors for you: What used to be an old fisherman’s cottage is now home and studio to the famous Zimbabwean, who’s place is full of African paintings, fabrics, and jewellery. A treasure trove of unique gifts and Ed’s signature oil paintings showing red elephants.

 

Speaking about treasure trove …

 

Visiting a museum on a sunny day? Yes – if you decide on Hermanus’ open-air museum! Just below the main square, Old Harbour illustrate the history of the regional fishing and whaling trade sectors. Another museum, but inside: thanks to the photo museum you get an impression of Hermanus as a tiny fishing village with its old harbour or the Windsor Hotel being a sanatorium.

 

To each saint his candle: The gentle giants deserve their own museum, and they got it. You did not manage to get as close to them as you were hoping for? Then have a detailed look at the interesting displays on different whale species, learn about their ability to echolocation and the facts behind their show-offs by spyhopping, breaching and lobtailing.

 

Speaking about whales again …

 

… brings us back to where it all started. Even if I still don’t know if you will be jumping in your Around About Cars 4×4 rental vehicle in Cape Town, heading to Hermanus or if you are on your way back to the legislative capital of South Africa: The popular fishing village is worth a stop. May it rain or shine, weekdays or weekends, for adventure or culinary reasons. And in case I forgot to mention: Of course, there is plenty of accommodation for every taste and budget, so you will have enough time to explore it all!