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Are Zodiacs Available For Hermanus Whale Watching Tours?

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Apr 19th, 2005, 10:56 PM
  #1
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Are Zodiacs Available For Hermanus Whale Watching Tours?

With my itinerary du jour, I will now be spending some time in Cape Town.

This will be my first September visit to Cape Town, and I am very much looking forward to visiting with the whales.

The last time I went whale watching it was in Quebec and it was possible to whale watch on the little zodiac motorized rubber rafts. Does anybody know if Zodiak whale watching tours are offered in Hermanus or elsewhere nearby? It would be so much more intense an experience aboard a little zodiak, rather than some bigger boat full of people.

Thanks.
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Apr 20th, 2005, 09:58 PM
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Anybody???
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Apr 20th, 2005, 11:43 PM
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Roccco,

To my knowledge there are no Zodiacs (or rubber ducks as we call them over here) available for hire to go whalewatching.

Whalewatching is very strictly controlled in the Hermanus area and one can only go boat based whale watching with registered operators who obviously know the rules set out as far as boat based whalewatching is concerned.

In terms of seeing whales in Hermanus I believe it is much better to go whalewatching from the land as one is very close to all that is happening and have a choice of where to go very quickly by car as the whales change their positions. Furthermore it is a lot cheaper too. The sensation of being on a boat with a whale close by is quite amazing BUT it does not always happen this way. On land your chances of seeing these wonderful mamamals are much higher in my opinion. Furthermore to see a whale breaching fully out of the water is quite spectacular and is something that you wont have the same expereince with when seeing the event from a boat on the same level as the whale in the sea.

All in all spotting whales in Hermanus is a wonderful experience be it from land or boat.

Just my twopence worth

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Apr 21st, 2005, 02:56 AM
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Rocco

I'd say do both!

When I went to Hermanus a year or so ago we were on a ski-boat with 14 passengers. The boats leave from the harbor in town and go out several times a day. Easy to book.

The trip lasted about 2 hours and cost R320 or so. I believe they can take up to 18 on these boats so it certainly isn't a Zodiac experience but knowing that Great White sharks also patrol these waters, I prefer the ski-boat!

There are strict rules and we had to stay 50m away but the whales kept on coming to check out the boat so we could almost touch them (not allowed). If they stayed next to the boat we had to move after minutes.

From the shore, it was easy to see them! Some came really close and from the vantage points on the rocks you can clearly see them from above! There are Whale Criers and hotlines available to tell you where they can be seen - all very easy if you have a rental car.

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Apr 21st, 2005, 03:20 AM
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I wanted to add that you can charter a private boat but unlicensed boats have to stay 300m away! In this case its better to watch from the shore!

I did not mind the crowd on the boat. I hardly noticed them once the whales were popping up about 6 feet away!
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Apr 21st, 2005, 06:08 AM
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Rocco, will you also be looking for zodiacs to go cage-diving with white sharks

Are you still considering going out to Gansbaai to go cage diving? Selwyn probably has more recent and better recommendations, but when we went last, in August 2003, we went with White Shark Ecoventures, who were great.

We also stopped in Hermanus on the return to CT and we saw several whales from the road.

Michael
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Apr 21st, 2005, 06:16 AM
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Thanks for the feedback. Hermanus sounds great!

How early should I start if coming in from Camps Bay? Should I rent a car or take a full day tour? Is it possible to make a full day of it with nice restaurants to take a lunch break?

I am considering a 5 night stay at this luxury self catering apartment:

http://www.capestay.co.za/campsbay/

The entire stay would only cost 6,250 Rand ($1,000 USD) and with 2 bedrooms, it would accomodate all of us. Even with the luxury link package at the Twelve Apostles, I would be paying a minimum of about $1,200 per room, so for two rooms it would cost me $2,400. I'll take the $1,400 savings and eat breakfast at the Twelve Apostles, the Bay Hotel, the Cape Grace or wherever I want and still come out over $1,000 ahead by the time I pay for taxis and my breakfasts. Really, that savings will pay for each and every Western Cape tour and transfer that I want to do over my 5 night stay (4 full days).

It wouldn't be worth it if it were only my wife and I, but since there is a third person (my mom), it makes it a tremendous bargain. 100 sq. meters is a little tight (about 1,050 sq. ft.) but I think it is sufficient.

Alternately for perhaps an extra $100 per night I could stay in one of the luxury apartments opposite the Cape Grace, but I would only do so if the apartments were slightly bigger, as I do not necessarily consider being at the Waterfront a bonus over being in Camps Bay.
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Apr 21st, 2005, 06:20 AM
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Correction...the Luxury Link package is only for 4 nights, and I am sure they would get me for a minimum of $375 per room for a 5th night, meaning that I will save around $2,150.

That extra $750 will pay for my mom's airfare to Cape Town (Alexsandra and I have frequent fliers to burn on SAA) AND will pay for the 3 nights for my mom and Alexsandra at the Westcliff while I spend those final 3 nights at Simbambili.

Had this been my first or even second time to Cape Town, I probably would not consider this, but, hey, I have already been there and done that by previously staying at the Mount Nelson, Table Bay and Twelve Apostles Hotel. I need to shave costs so I can return again next April for Cape Town and Botswana!
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Apr 21st, 2005, 06:33 AM
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Michael,

I DEFINITELY want to go cage diving this time! That sounds like an amazing adventure and hopefully it will make my newlywed sister-in-law and her husband envious enough to join us next August/September for a Cape Town/Zambia trip. He wants to go cage diving and on safari more than anything but they are unable to do so until (northern hemispere) Summer 2006. I would have preferred to wait until late September/early October 2006 but my sister-in-law is a teacher and will likely need to be back by the first week of September.

So, with a little luck, here are my itineraries! (although they always seem to be in disappearing ink)

SEPT 2005

Kasaka River Lodge, Lower Zambezi (3)
Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa (4)
Camps Bay self catering luxury apartment (5)
Londolozi Bateleur (4)
Simbambili (3) for me / Westcliff (3) for the others

APRIL 2006

Twelve Apostles, Cape Town (4)
Savuti, Wilderness Safaris (3)
Tubu Tree, Wilderness Safaris (3)
Vumbura, Wilderness Safaris (3)
King George V Four Seasons, Paris (3) Something or other about April in Paris.

AUGUST / SEPT 2006

Camps Bay self catering luxury apartment (4)(if my sister-in-law and her husband join us, otherwise I will postpone this until late Sept / early October)

Lunga River Lodge, Kafue NP (2)
Busanga Bush Camp, Kafue NP (3)
Lunga River Lodge, Kafue NP (1)

Luangwa River Lodge, South Luangwa (4)

5* Hotel TBD in Amsterdam (2)

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Apr 21st, 2005, 08:36 AM
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Roccco,

Rutland Place looks fantastic. Well found on your behalf. I have arranged to see it tomorrow morning and will report back to you as to what I think of it as a venue to stay at.

Balfour Park and The Penthouse are occupied at the moment and I cannot view it tomorrow. Will probably do so next week dependant on what Rutland Place looks like

Till then.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 11:14 AM
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Roccco,

I went to take a look at Rutland House today. This is the place where you are thinking of staying in September. Just as a matter of interest the venue is diagonally across the road from Camps Bay Terrace which is an establishment that I use quite regularly as a place of stay for my visitors.

My impression and opinion is that you should not stay at this venue. The lounging areas which is what you see on the website pictures is fabulous to say the least HOWEVER as soon as you open the sliding windows of the room you cannot believe the noise that comes from the constant stream of cars that travel on Camps Bay Drive. I have to however mention that when the doors are closed the room is well sound proofed and you do not hear the noise at all.

The bedrooms are adequate but rather small. I find it interesting that you do not see much of these rooms on the website and now I know why. The main feature is the lounge area however to really appreciate the sea and its views you would more than likely want to open the doors and then the noise sets in.

The biggest problem is the fact that due to me having "inside information" from Camps Bay Terrace the land right in front of the apartment, which presently is empty, is about to have a building erected on it. I guesstimate that this will take away part of the views from the apartment. This wont effect you in terms of views because presently it seems as if building operations are going to start at the beginning of August onwards. So the building in front of the apartment wont be completed and you will be facing builders all around you as well as building noise added to the car noise.

All in all for the above reasons I would not recommend the venue as a place to stay. Brian Aldridge, a fellow tourguide, whose judgement I trust implicitly, went to the apartment with me and he rejected the venue even more than I did.

Hope this does not disrupt your planning as I have to be honest in my opinions relative to what I have experienced and know be it brutal or good.

Just my two-pence worth.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa

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Apr 22nd, 2005, 05:03 PM
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Selwyn,

Thank you very much for taking the time to go look at this place for me. That would have been a disaster had I looked out my window and seen a giant crane and other construction equipment parked across the street.

Now, where would you recommend for the very best in self-catering luxury apartments? Likewise, for the very best guesthouse, where do you recommend?

Lastly, what do you think about Waterfront Village? A one bedroom apartment is only $143.50 per night on Travelocity and a 2 bedroom apartment is $287.00. I would be able to get separate apartments for a little more privacy and spend only $1,435 for my 5 night stay (5 x $287).

Camps Bay Terrace looks pretty nice and I assume that it will not be impacted by the construction that you mentioned, right? Are there any noise issues with the Camps Bay Terrace?

It appears that 5 nights in the Penthouse would cost me only about $1,675, although these would be 2004 rates, as 2005 rates are not yet listed on their website.

I am just amazed at the number of different places there are to choose from on a couple websites. I guess my maximum budget is about $375 per night (about 2300 Rand per night)...anything more than that and I may as well get two rooms at the Twelve Apostles through Luxury Link or consider a last minute booking at the Mount Nelson.

Thanks.
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 07:55 PM
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Roccco,

In terms of Camps Bay Terrace being a place to stay in September the answer unfortunately is a 80% negative. Gila Marshall (a highly professional guesthouse owner) has been big enough to warn all who intend staying at CBT about the potential noise beforehand. Please note that if you feel that you wont be at the apartment daily between 08h00 and 17h00 then Camps Bay Terrace could well be a wonderful place to stay. The penthouse is ABSOLUTELY fantastic and under normal circumstances would suit your needs perfectly. Please be aware that the venue is a self catering venue.
Also realise that the building construction that will be taking place is NOT in front of CBT; it is on the side so it wont be disturbing your views. The cost of the total penthouse would be R1995 per night and as per my usual style of trying to help Fodorites coming to Cape Town I am sure that I should be able to obtain a further tour operator commission/discount on this price for you.

In terms of other suggestions I have to first ask you 3 questions:

1. Will you have a car at your disposal?

2. Does the venue have to be self catering or would a B&B tariff also suffice?

3. How imperative is it that you are close to the sea? By this I mean would a wonderful panoramic view of the bay where your accommodation is about 4 km from the sea suffice your needs?

An example of what I am talking about is Abaco Villa in upper Camps Bay. http://www.abacovilla.co.za/accommodation.html hiring the The Abaco suite and any other suite like the Colonial Suite for the third person in the group. Cost of Abaco suite = R990 (US$160) per night on a bed and breakfast basis whereas the Colonial suite costs R890 (US$145) on a b&b basis. Furthermore I am once again quite sure that I should be able to obtain a further tour operator commission/discount on these prices for you.

When you talk of the Waterfront Village could you please send me to the website that you are referring too as I do not know where you are talking of? Is it the Village and Life Waterfront Village or another one? Unsure??

Lets hear from you in response.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa


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Apr 22nd, 2005, 08:21 PM
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Selwyn,

Thanks for the feedback on Camps Bay Terrace.

Yes, it is, in fact, the Village and Life Waterfront Village to which I was referring.

http://www.waterfrontvillage.info/

http://www.waterfrontvillage.info/apartments.htm

I am attracted to the Waterfront Village especially now that I have read that the 2 bedroom apartments are as large as 159 sq. meters. That is roughly 1,650 sq. feet, and anything over 1,400 sq. ft. would be perfect for me.

It would be kind of nice to be next door to the Cape Grace and have so much right outside my door.

The website says that it is only 1,800 ZAR per night for a luxury (5 star) 2 bedroom apartment. This would make my total 5 night stay under $1,500 USD, quite a bargain if you ask me.

So, Selwyn, what is your honest opinion of Village & Life Waterfront Village?

Regarding your three questions.

>>1. Will you have a car at your disposal?

I prefer not to rent a car. I drive enough at home and I would just as well hire a driver for the day when I require one, or take a few tours.

2. Does the venue have to be self catering or would a B&B tariff also suffice?

I am flexible here. I just want very comfortable (luxurious) and significantly less expensive than I can bargain hunt for the Mount Nelson or Twelve Apostles. I figure that even with 2 rooms, I can get each of these places for under $3,000. My goal is to save a minimum of $1,000 (6,000 Rand) if I am going to do self-catering or B&B, but it still has to be only the very best available.

3. How imperative is it that you are close to the sea? By this I mean would a wonderful panoramic view of the bay where your accommodation is about 4 km from the sea suffice your needs?

Given the fact that I am not going to have my own car, I do not think this would work out. It would more than likely have to be Camps Bay or the Waterfront area. But, I wish to avoid any construction in Camps Bay.

Thanks for all of your assistance thus far, and I will gladly take you up on your offer should I end up going with one of your recommended venues.
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Apr 22nd, 2005, 09:33 PM
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Roccco,

The Village and Life (V&L) apartments in the Waterfront are pretty good value and have an excellent position in the Waterfront. My only problem with V&L is that they seem to not want to commit to a particular apartment in that they hire out the apartments on behalf of owners and sometimes these owners suddenly pull the rug from under V&L and the apartment does not become available or is worked on or whatever. This is quite important because the apartments vary greatly and it would be best to know exactly what apartment you will be allocated beforehand. Unfortunately V&L will not guarantee this and I can understand their position fully in this regard.

Thus if you are prepared to stay in whatever apartment is allocated to you then I would say the deal is a good one however it gets even better. For starters please bear in mind that I am not making a formal business deal type offer to you to obtain discounts as there is nothing for me to gain financially from the deal. What I am prepared to do in the hand of friendship is to gain a discount for you with the expressed purpose of luring you to Cape Town and also to see the joy of seeing Roccco, STD and family happy in Cape Town because of nice cheap lodgings. I am purposely highlighting this fact so as to make it clear that I am NOT using the Fodors board as an advertisement. It is very important for me to be sure that all Fodorites understand this concept. I will help all Fodorites, including yourself) in this manner and as I have already published this web address before on Fodors if anybody goes to www.CapeTownTour.com they will see exactly why I am doing this deed.
With that said the discount that I can attain for you at V&L is a HUGE one. Unfortunately I cannot publish this info as V&L will crucify me in that these figures are confidential however I will tell you what I can help you with discount wise in a private email.

Over to you.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Apr 23rd, 2005, 07:27 AM
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Selwyn,

Thank you kindly for your genorosity.

I have e-mailed you with one other property on which I would value your opinion.

It pleases me to no end that I may be able to get very nice accomodations for about half the price than even the best deal that I, as big a bargain hunter as I am, can get at a 5* hotel.

This savings would pay for possibly each and every one of my tours (Hermanus Whale Watching, Cape Winelands & Great White Shark Cage Diving) and at least all of my breakfasts that would have been included at the hotels, if not for the majority of my meals.

Now, one final question for this post...has anybody ever done a day tour of the Grootbas Nature Reserve? It seems like there are quite a few different activities here.

For 650 Rand per person ($107 USD pp), they offer a six hour tour, including lunch.

ITINERARY (For non-resident guests)

10h00 ARRIVAL AT GROOTBOS LODGE

10h00 - 10h30 WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee while your guide outlines the
activities of the day.

10h30 - 13h00 THE GROOTBOS NATURE TRAIL
Your expert nature guide will lead you on a journey of discovery
into the complex and fascinating world of fynbos ecosystems.

13h00 - 14h00 LUNCH
A time to relax and enjoy a gourmet meal, the
spectacular view and our 5 star hospitality.

14h00 - 15h45 COASTAL EXCURSION
Enjoy a tailor made afternoon of whale watching in season
(June - December), a visit to the Klipgat cave, or a stroll
along endless white beaches.

15h45 TEA AND CAKE
Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee with a slice of delicious cake
before departure.

R650-00 per person (Fully inclusive)


---The only thing I don't like is that there is not an opportunity for whale watching by boat, so I would still need to go to Hermanus for that.

With only four full days, some things are an absolute must:

1. Cage Diving
2. Hermanus Whale Watching
3. Cape Winelands
4. OPEN...not sure that this Grootbos tour that would take up my full day is worth it or not, as I still would like to get to Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch Gardens (my mom loves her gardens and would really appreciate seeing all of the South African flora).

Just wondering if anybody here has done the Grootbos day tour. If I chose to stay here overnight at Grootbos, I would get about 1.5 days for the three of us for the same price as I can get a self-catering luxury apartment for 5 nights, so that is not an option or rather not a consideration.
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