A whale-watcher’s paradise in the Overberg
Walker Bay is a coastal nature reserve in the south-western Cape, just east of Hermanus. The reserve includes five coastal areas between Hermanus and Die Dam near Struisbaai.
The largest area, known as Walker Bay, stretches from Klein River to De Kelders at Gansbaai. Die Plaat is the area’s white sandy beach, with rocky limestone outcrops and the occasional southern right whale offshore. The scenic Klein River lagoon, north-west of the reserve, flows into the sea at times.
Walker Bay is also historically significant, with records of Middle Stone Age people (65 000 to 85 000 years ago) living in Klipgat Cave. There is also evidence that Khoi and San people lived in the area about 2 000 years ago.
Walker Bay is a picturesque, pristine reserve with an abundance of coastal and marine life. It is known as one of the best spots in South Africa to do land-based whale watching. Every year, hundreds of southern right whales gather in the sheltered bay to breed and calve their young.
To find out more, download the Walker Bay Nature Reserve brochure and map.
How to get there
From Cape Town, take the N2, turning off at the Hermanus/R43 off-ramp. Take the R43 past Hermanus, and continue on to Stanford. Visitors can access the reserve through Mierkom at Stanford, De Kelders (Die Plaat) and Uilkraalsmond. Walker Bay Nature Reserve is approximately 160 km from Cape Town. Please note that the Walker Bay office is located in Hermanus, and not at the reserve entrances. Please call ahead to clarify which entrance you must use to access your activity.
GPS: 34 26 19.24 S 19 20 43.24 E
Office hours: 07:30–16:00
Tel: +27 (0)28 314 0062
Accommodation and permit bookings Tel: +27 (0)21 483 0190
The Klipgat cave, accessible via the De Kelders gate at Walker Bay Nature Reserve, was home to Middle Stone Age and Late Stone Age humans, and is one of the most remarkable examples of early human dwellings in South Africa.
Accessible via a boardwalk, and a small amount of rock-hopping, the Klipgat Cave has two chambers. The first has a rocky floor that leads to the sea (as seen below).
To the left of this chamber is a small entryway that leads into the main site of the cave. Featuring a circular boardwalk that takes you on a journey through the historical significance of Klipgat Cave, the site is a reminder of our tremendously rich natural heritage in the Western Cape.
There are also spectacular views of the Walker Bay coastline stretching down to Hermanus in the distance, as seen below.
A beach as far as the eye can see with whales – and sometimes dolphins – frolicking in the ocean is what you will find at Walker Bay Nature Reserve. Just a few kilometres east of the popular seaside town of Hermanus, there are always plenty of whales to see along this stretch of coast.
Walker Bay is one of the best land-based areas to view whales. Take a scenic walk along the coast to see the southern right, humpback and Bryde’s whales play in the sheltered bay.
Walker Bay is a popular fishing spot, with galjoen, kabeljou and steenbras inhabiting the area. Angling sites include Galjoenbank, Sopiesklip and Skeurbank.
Marine and coastal management regulations apply to the removal of bait and other marine organisms. Permits for marine angling are available at post offices. A freshwater angling licence from CapeNature is required for angling in the Klein River lagoon and estuary.
The Walker Bay Fishing Trail provides 4×4 access to popular angling and picnic spots along Die Plaat. Visitors can access 4×4 routes from the Stanford gate (fishing trail), De Kelders Gansbaai gate and the Uilkraalsmond Franskraal gate. The fishing trail brochure is available by clicking on the image below.
4×4 Fishing Trail
The popular 4×4 Fishing Trail is located in the Lê Bos section of Walker Bay Nature Reserve. A variety of marine fish are found along this coastline, including kabeljou, steenbras and the sought-after galjoen.
The route gives visitors easy access to popular angling sites along this stretch of coast, such as Die Polle, Sopiesklip, Groot Duifklip and Klein Duifklip.
The route starts at the reserve entrance next to Wortelgat, leading through the reserve to the first stop: Die Polle. From here, the route continues to Sopiesklip – an ideal spot to stop for a picnic. Anglers can also travel further along the route and try their luck at Groot Duifklip or Klein Duifklip.
The fishing trail is open daily from 07:00 to 19:00. At the gatehouse, visitors are required to pay the standard reserve conservation fee as well as an activity fee to access the trail.
Walker Bay is an important conservation area, home to lowland coastal fynbos, the endangered African black oystercatcher, the Cape clawless otter and many sought-after fish species.
The reserve’s predominant vegetation, known as strandveld, is characterised by bietou, blombos, sour fig and waxberry. In the past, parts of the dunefields were stabilised using alien rooikrans and Port Jackson. These invasive species, together with uncontrolled coastal development, pose a threat to the indigenous vegetation. Dense thickets of old milkwood trees line the banks of the Klein River lagoon.
Most of the mammals found in the reserve are rarely seen, although visitors may spot the tracks of the Cape clawless otter, bushbuck, duiker, grysbok and steenbok. The bay is a popular playground for southern right whales between June and November. Bryde’s and humpback whales, and various dolphin species, can be seen throughout the year. Marine fish include galjoen, kabeljou and steenbras, which may be caught at Galjoenbank, Sopiesklip, Skeurbank and other fishing sites.
Walker Bay Nature Reserve encompasses five coastal reserves between Hermanus and Di Dam near Struisbaai. The largest of these is the picturesque Walker Bay which stretches from the Klein River estuary to De Kelders at gansbaai, covering over 17km of shoreline. The white sandy beaches interspersed with rocky limestone outcrops make it a beautiful coastal spot for filming.
[…] Walker Bay Nature Reserve is a coastal nature reserve only a few minutes from Grootbos. The reserve has the whitest sands, bluest water and the most interesting rock formations. What could be better than that you ask? Well chances are you will be alone on the beach to soak up the sun and explore the rock pools. […]
[…] www.capenature.co.za […]
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