The Hermanus Cliff Path is very special, covering the whole route along Hermanus’ coastline. It’s an easy walk and much of it is surfaced and suitable for wheelchairs and strollers. For a break or to look out on the scenery, there are 120 benches along the route and signposts to tell you what to look out for. You can choose only to do a section, but if you’re intent on doing the whole walk, you can call a Tuk-tuk to take you back to your car.
Originally constructed by the Hermanus Botanical Society, the Hermanus Cliff Path has been reconstructed and is maintained by the volunteer Cliff Path Management Group (CPMG). The CPMG has managed the resurfacing of the entire path through private donations and contributions from the Overstrand Municipality.
The Cliff Path meanders for almost eleven kilometres along the rugged and beautiful coastline from the New Harbour in the west to the estuary at the mouth of the Klein River in the east. It is wedged between the Kleinriviersberg mountain range in the north and the broad expanse of Walker Bay to the south.
Wheelchair and pushchair-friendly sections have been created wherever possible for the benefit of the disabled, elderly and infants in pushchairs, notably the entire Westcliff and village seafront sections from the New Harbour to Protea Road and from Kraal Rock to Kwaaiwater. These sections are identified on the map and on the place name signs along the path.
There’s a restaurant at Grotto Beach and the walk passes alongside Hermanus’ CBD where there are many places to stop for food and drink.
You won’t find better spots for watching the giants of the deep. During the months July to December, when the Southern Right whales arrive from their Antarctic feeding grounds to calve and mate along South Africa’s southern coast, the Cliff Path affords some of the best land-based whale watching in the world.
Of the 37 species of whale that exist in the Southern African waters, the Southern Right, Humpback and Bryde’s whales are seen in Walker Bay. Southern Right whales can number between 80 and 100 at the peak of the “whale season” in October and can be seen breaching, lobtailing (slapping the water loudly with tail flukes and fins), sailing (displaying their tail flukes above the surface), spy-hopping (head out of water) and mating.
The Cliff Path not only affords some of the best land-based whale watching in the world from June to December, but it is also a nature lover’s paradise. It winds through a diversity of vegetation types and provides many fascinating points of interest: the active New Harbour (constructed in 1951); the historic Old Harbour in the village, now a museum; and the village market square.
Eastwards from the village at Sea Road the cliff path follows the Main Road for 800 metres before rejoining the coastline at Mollergren Park opposite the Golf Club. It affords spectacular views of turbulent seas at Sievers Punt and Kwaaiwater. Near the wooden footbridge at the mouth of the Mossel River, signs poetically depict the graves of two southern right whales that beached at this point.
Beyond the Mossel River mouth, the path continues around the narrow but safe Langbaai bathing beach, to the Kammabaai and Voëlklip beaches and on to the main Grotto beach that sweeps for nineteen kilometres around Walker Bay to De Kelders and Gansbaai.
To ensure protection of its fragile ecosystem, the Cliff Path and the fynbos vegetation through which it passes was incorporated into the proclaimed Fernkloof Nature Reserve in 2000.
For your safety and guidance the Hermanus Cliff Path is patrolled during daylight hours by Hermanus Public Protection (HPP) patrol officers.