Flowers and penguins in Hermanus

Wednesday 16 to Thursday 17 November

After a long but stunning drive from Oudtshoorn we were back on the coast at Hermanus. Our accommodation was in the Potting Shed, not far from the beach.

We took an evening walk along the waterfront. The cool waters of the Indian Ocean were rolling in. The flowers were colourful and cheeky Dossie were rummaging through rubbish bins.

Hermanus is famous for whale watching and brags the ‘best shore-based whale-watching in the world’. Even though it was the season for nursing and mating, we didn’t see the Southern Right Whale or any others.

Next day we had a short drive ahead of us, so we stopped off at Betty’s Beach. Only 100km from Cape Town and boasting a 13km stretch of beach, this is a popular holiday resort.

We walked along the kelp strewn beach. It was cool and windy so we didn’t waste too much time there.

The Harold Porter Botanical Garden caught my eye so we stopped by and spent a magical two hours wandering around the beautiful manicured gardens, set between the sea and rising mountains.

It was easy to recognise a lot of the indigenous flowers, they are so similar to what we see at home. The pincushions were particularly beautiful – very similar to our Waratahs. A slow Geometric Tortoise seemed to suggest he could be our guide. There was a lot of information provided beside the most important plants, including what value they offer to birds, insects and the environment.

Next stop was to see the African Penguins at Stony Point. They were formerly called the Jackass Penguins for their donkey-like braying call. They grow to about 65cm tall, about twice the size of our Little Penguins.

They are only found in South Africa and Namibia, and are the only penguin that breeds in Africa. Sadly these penguins are endangered, with just 2000 pairs in this area.

It is moulting season so they were grumpy. During the moult penguins cannot go to sea to feed, so before they moult they gorge themselves until they double their weight. It takes three weeks for the penguins to shed their old feathers and grow smart new ones – that’s grumpy season.

There were also a lot of penguin chicks. They cannot go to sea until they have shed their baby fluff and developed grown up feathers. They can get pretty grumpy as well, waiting for parents to return to feed them.

There were other birds on Stony Point, gulls, and a variety of cormorants, many with nests and feeding their young. There were also families of Dassie sharing their rocks with lizards.

There was an entry fee to Stony Point – I hope it goes to managing these colonies.

We found coffee and lunch before our next trek to Stellenbosch and some wine!