Ahoy! 😀 Imagine yourself sailing on a sturdy boat called ‘Seastorm’ and swaying to the rhythm of curvy waves… Suddenly, the most glorious sea mammals: Humpback Whales, leap out of the water flipping over ever so majestically right before your eyes, with a huge splash!!
But then… why imagine, when you can experience this yourself? Yes, the Humpback Whale Migration in Watamu, Kenya is real! Welcome to Part 2 of the Twin Migration! 😀
A week or so ago, we ventured to Maasai Mara for the Twin Migration Part 1, featuring the Wildebeest Migration from the Serengeti in Tanzania…
(You can read about it HERE.)
The well-known Wildebeest Migration coincides with the Humpback Whale Migration from the Antarctic to our Kenyan Coastline; i.e. the Twin Migration! 😀
This past weekend, along with the Magical Kenya Team, Mwarv, Josh Kisamwa and I set off on the adventure of a lifetime: chasing Humpback Whales in Watamu!
By the time we left Nairobi, we weren’t quite sure what to expect… Weather reports from the Watamu Marine Association, indicated that deep sea conditions were quite unstable. All the same, we kept the faith!
>>It’s approximately a 1 hour 10 minutes, flight from Nairobi to Malindi. You can also connect to Malindi, via Mombasa by taking the 4 hours’ Madaraka Express train, then driving 2 hours to Watamu, from Mombasa. >>
A fiery sunset was brewing in the horizon as we pulled into Temple Point Resort for our stay.
Admittedly, I was thrilled to be back at Temple Point Resort, because it holds such fond memories! (Read my Post on Temple Point Resort HERE).
We had a nice seafood-themed dinner and as we said our good-nights, the fate of our trip still hang awkwardly in the air…
Neither of us could imagine not sailing to see the whales… That night, I remember texting my family and friends to pray for the weather to behave.
The next morning we left for Hemingways Watamu, shortly after breakfast. There, we got a warm welcome from Steve Trott, Project Manager of the Watamu Marine Association, together with the Hemingways and KWS teams.
Our hearts sighed with relief when they confirmed that we could sail that afternoon!! 😀
A Little History On Humpback Whales Migration In Kenya
The Watamu Marine Association (WMA) have been conducting studies on Humpback Whales, since 2011.
Humpback Whales, the biggest sea mammals at about 15 meters long and weighing 30 tonnes, migrate annually to the Kenyan Coast between July and September.
Swimming what’s possibly the longest journey on the planet, Humpback whales travel for over 5,000Km to breed and feed in our warmer climate, and away from Killer Whales that prey on newborns.
Fun Fact>> Newborn baby humpback whales need about 200litres of milk per day to make the journey!
Hemingways Resort in Watamu was the first hotel to offer guided tours for whale watching.
In most recent times, this has also been taken up by local tour and boat operators. Whale sighting in Watamu is currently a joint initiative amongst the local Watamu Marine community.
The Main Event: Chasing Humpback Whales
Our excitement levels were high as we boarded a smaller boat to take us to the main Hemingways boat: Seastorm.
Aboard the boat, Captain Jackson gave us a safety brief as we put on our life jackets.
He was clear that spotting the whales though highly probable, is not always a guarantee.
It was quite windy, and the waves were getting stronger and fuller by the minute. I was determined not to get sea sick, by all means!
Captain Jackson confidently maneuvered the boat through small and mighty waves alike. 🙂
The Ultimate Marine-life Experience!
About 6 nautical miles in, we spotted our first whale… He was shy though, promptly disappearing into the water…
Did You Know?? Each whale tail fin has a unique pattern that is like it’s thumbprint and can be used as an identifier…
All this while, I was praying hard in my heart for the whales to really show up and show out! I’ve dreamed of seeing whales since I was a kid; thanks to ‘Ocean Girl’, a TV series on KBC way back in the day! 😀
Our expedition soon turned into a cat and mouse chase… We would spot one whale tail here, and another one would appear somewhere else in the distance! 😀
Just as our hearts were growing faint, we spotted two males breaching quite a distance away…
Fun Fact>> Humpbacks use their gigantic tail fin, called a fluke, to propel themselves & leap out of water, landing with a terrific splash, i.e. breaching.
Our captain led the boat in that direction, super fast! In a remarkable fashion, the two whales breached 16 times!
Like a dream, dolphins swam by the boat before anyone could attain a shot.
All in all, we spotted 10 whales and 3 dolphins which was an answered prayer, if not miraculous! 😀
In the ocean, everything happens so fast, and you have no idea where to look next, plus the strong waves rocking the boat… You can’t really predict what will happen, but it’s a marvelous experience! 😀
Because of the time and strong tides, we had to turn back and head ashore. Despite all my efforts, I got sea sick towards the end of our boat ride… Even so, I would still do this expedition again and again! 😀
More Fun Facts About Humpback Whales & Watamu Activities
- Humpback Whales are known for singing, and it’s apparently the most complex song in the animal kingdom!
- Only male humpback whales sing; they sing to attract females and to warn off other males.
- New-born Baby whales double their length in a year.
- Their mothers nurse them for a year and they don’t stop growing until they are 10 years old.
- Whales spend about 90% of their time beneath the water’s surface.
- During the migration journey, Humpback whales survive on fat reserves stored up in their colossal bodies.
- It costs about Kes. 40,000 shared, for a group of 8 people to partake the Whale watching expedition in Watamu.
- Watamu Marine Park Fees: 170USD and 130USD for non residents adults and children respectively. And it costs 130 Kes for Citizens.
- Read my posts: Top 7 Things To Do In Watamu and Wild Wild Waters of Watamu for ideas on more activities in Watamu
- P.S. Look our for a blog post on the Watamu Marine conservation efforts at Eco World and Crab shack, coming soon>>
Looking back, I am still in great awe knowing that this amazing experience is available, right here in Kenya!
Many thanks to the Kenya Tourism Board, the Watamu Marine Association, KWS and Hemingways Watamu for a wonderful opportunity to experience another piece of #MagicalKenya! 😀
Mwangi Kirubi (Mwarv)
Team Magical Kenya
Thank you for reading my friends! I hope you enjoyed this post! Have you been to Watamu or Whale watching? What’s your favorite activity at the Kenyan Coast?
I would love to read from you; leave a comment/questions/input down below! 😀
<<Love and Light. Stay Inspired Always>>
Dorothy MaingiOctober 3, 2019 at 12:57 pm
reminds me when we saw two humpback whales in wasini, best sea creature i have ever seen, such a show off they are , loved your article and photos too
Scrapbook JourneysOctober 14, 2019 at 4:03 pm
Wow! I get goosebumps anytime I think about humpback whales! Wasini island is so on my bucket-list!! Thank you for reading! 🙂
Pusat JagaanOctober 10, 2018 at 6:08 am
Its always been my passion to go whale watching.
ALthough, the only opportunity that I got was taking photos of sick whales who had been washed ashore.
Hmm… Watamu, might add it to my travel list 🙂
Love your blog design btw 🙂
Scrapbook JourneysOctober 23, 2018 at 2:27 pm
Hi Pusat! Great to hear from you… Aaw that is so sad, about sick whales 🙁 Yes, I think you should definitely add Watamu to your bucket-list and catch some happy, healthy Whales! And thank you for the kind words! 😀
MukuhiSeptember 17, 2018 at 10:50 am
What an incredible experience! Putting it on my bucket list 2019.Thank you for sharing.
Scrapbook JourneysSeptember 20, 2018 at 8:17 pm
Hi Mukuhi! Great to see you here again! And yes, Whale chasing is totally worth putting on the bucketlist- go for it! Cheers to 2019, whoop whoop! 😀 My pleasure to share, thank you for reading! 🙂
Ule Msee Wa B4September 5, 2018 at 11:47 am
Can I be allowed to be swimming with the whales and dolphins while there. I would definitely not mind at all. Are they (whales) dangerous? Watamu is a gem and I would love to visit it again within the whale migration duration.
Scrapbook JourneysSeptember 5, 2018 at 12:07 pm
From my understanding, Humpback whales are only curious and harmless… Though with the rough waters in the deep seas, it’s advisable to watch them from the boat.
Considering their weight/size killer whales (apparently they’re actually dolphins) have been known to drown people… And I wouldn’t advise swimming in the ocean with either whales or dolphins without a trainer/expert around.
In Wasini Island, people do swim with dolphins, so that might be an option, because you are likely to have experts to advise on best way to go about it.
Refer to this article for more expert info: https://www.whalefacts.org/are-whales-dangerous/
Ule Msee Wa B4September 5, 2018 at 12:40 am
Whales and dolphins at the same time,I would have dived in and enjoyed the swim with them. Are whales dangerous in water?
Watamu twasija tena…
Scrapbook JourneysSeptember 5, 2018 at 12:03 pm
Hahaha I bet you would have! Yesss!! Let all roads lead to Watamu!! 😀
I understand that whales are curious beings, and not exactly known to be dangerous… HOWEVER, it’s always good to be safe and one shouldn’t approach them in their natural environment without an expert or trainer.
Christine MuneneSeptember 3, 2018 at 10:41 pm
It’s such a treat to read this! Again! !
..and to think whales sing! Thank you for taking us along on the chase!
Watamu here I come!
Scrapbook JourneysSeptember 5, 2018 at 11:56 am
Yaay! Twice? Now that’s awesome to hear!! Thank you for reading Christine!! And yes, it’s amazing that whales sing! Cheers to visiting Watamu!! 😀
Victor OderoSeptember 1, 2018 at 1:33 am
I’ve read through, a lot ‘caught’my eyes I have to say.
All that I’m left wondering is Why I shouldn’t visit Watamu…even with no Humpback whales migration to watch.
This is sure a top notch write up my friend!
Scrapbook JourneysSeptember 2, 2018 at 7:05 pm
Really nice Victor! I agree- you should totally visit!! Watamu is a lovely place to visit, the whales just make it all so much sweeter!! Thanks a lot for reading!! 😀
MarciAugust 31, 2018 at 1:56 pm
I’m currently experiencing serious FOMO
Scrapbook JourneysSeptember 2, 2018 at 7:03 pm
Hahaha! Mission accomplished maybe?? Hehehe, thanks for reading dear!