Boulders Beach near Cape Town
Boulders Beach, home of the South African Penguin is one of the more popular attractions while vacationing in Cape Town. Visitors, including myself are surprised to learn that penguins have established a natural habitat in an African nation, just outside of Simon’s Town.
Back in 1983, locals were also surprised to see two penguins walking along Boulder’s Beach. Within a year, those two love birds had an egg. Since then, the population has grown to more than 2,300. A similar colony of penguins has made their home on Robben Island.
Boulder’s Beach is aptly named. Giant boulders cover the beach. The huge rocks have been rounded by the pounding of the ocean’s waves.
Penguins frequently swim and play within a few feet of humans. It’s the only place in the world where you can swim among the penguins. A warning to the overly curious: Although the penguins are not afraid of humans, you should not intrude too much into their territory because their teeth are quite sharp.
The birds were originally given the name Jackass Penguin, because of the donkey-like bray sound like make. However, a species of penguins in South America had been given this name prior, so the name was dropped and replaced with South African Penguin. Both species have fewer feathers than the “March of the Penguins” colonies living in Antarctica. Also, the identifying mark of the African Penguin is a black, half-circle across its chests.
I love penguins so seeing them in the wild was quite a thrill. The colony has become part of Table Mountain National Park, which has enclosed the breeding grounds so the birds are not disturbed. However, you can still get quite close to them by using one of the three boardwalks and a perfectly situated viewing platform. I walked out to the beach where I saw a group playing on the boulders and wading out into the ocean. I could have watched them for hours.
The park entry hours vary depending on the season. FYI, since South Africa is in the southern hemisphere, its Summer is our Winter and its Spring is our Fall. So when you arrive in Cape Town, ask your hotel concierge for the park hours, if you are driving yourself. However, most tour operators and travel agents include a stop at Boulder’s Beach as part of their Cape Peninsula Tour.
Tags: South Africa