​​Winter on the Garden Route is a magical time of year and the reason is simple: Whales. While summer months are best spent lounging on the beach, swimming in the sea and hiking one of Knysna’s many forest trails, winter is all about cosying up and scanning the horizon for the telltale spray of whales!

Between June and November every year, you can spot Southern Right and Humpback whales along Knysna’s coastline. These whales often have calves with them during this time because they come to South African waters to give birth and take care of their young.

Both species migrate from their feeding grounds in cold polar waters and tend to return to the same region to calve each year.

To witness these massive marine mammals from up close is a truly profound experience. Only then can you appreciate their sheer size and presence.

Knysna Whale Species

These are the beauties you can spot in our waters!

Southern Right Whale

Image Credit: Jules Clark

Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) command attention with their immense size and gentle demeanor. They inhabit the southern hemisphere’s oceans, particularly around the coasts of South America, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

They are named ‘right whales’ because they were the “right” whales to hunt during the whaling era due to their slow swimming speeds and high blubber content. Thankfully, they are now protected by international law.

Southern right whales are known for the distinctive V-shaped spray they emit from their blowholes, which can reach up to five meters high!

They’re highly social animals and many will interact with boats out of curiosity. Southern right whales are great to watch because they display fascinating behaviors like breaching, lobtailing, and spyhopping. (Fun names, right?)

Humpback Whale

Image Credit: Elianne Dipp

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are renowned for their acrobatics, often breaching the surface with dramatic leaps and slapping the water with their massive flippers and tails.

Humpbacks reach lengths of up to 15 metres and can weigh as much as 40 tons. (That’s approximately equal to 40 cars!)

Despite their immense size, humpbacks possess a graceful agility. One of their most remarkable features is their haunting songs; complex vocalisations that can last for hours.

Whale-Watching In Knysna

Image Credit: Instagram | oceanodysseyknysna 

For fantastic close-encounter whale-watching tours, you can’t go wrong with Ocean Odyssey, a long-standing Knysna charter company with a stellar reputation.

Their specially modified boats are equipped to give guests a truly remarkable experience – whether you’re a professional photographer or simply a whale-enthusiast who’d like to get as close as (safely) possible to these gentle giants of the deep.

Of course, approaching whales is highly regulated, especially when on a boat. The experienced team at Ocean Odyssey are well-versed in reading whale behavior and have all the necessary accreditation to prove that they always put the ocean and the whales’ needs first.

Rates: Adults: R 1500 p.p. | Kids Under 12: R1 190 p.p.

For more ideas of what to do on your winter getaway to Knysna, click here.

Stay With Us

If you’re longing for a winter beach escape to come and see whales along our coastline, consider The Turbine Hotel & Spa for a magical Garden Route stay.

Not only are we located on the trendy canals of Thesen Island, making us central to all the Garden Route’s fun activities, but our rooms and suites offer everything you need for a cosy, luxurious break in and of its own right.

Explore our rooms and make your booking online.

Alterrnatively, get in touch with us directly at book@turbinehotel.co.za and we’d be happy to help you with the process.

We look forward to seeing you for some whale-watching in Knysna!


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