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A Big Surprise… Penguins in South Africa!

Don't smash a penguin.

How bad would you feel if you ran over a penguin?!  We didn’t take any chances and I did a thorough check.

Continuing on with Darren’s Peninsula Cape Tour, we arrived at Boulders Beach which not surprisingly is riddled with giant granite boulders that date back 540 million years.  Darren left the best for last!  He had mentioned that I would see penguins, but I thought he was joking!

Prior to today, I had no idea that penguins could live in a warm climate.  Did you?  Am I the last to know?!

There is a common entrance for Boulders Beach, where you can swim in warmish Indian Ocean waters (with penguins!) and Foxy Beach which is for penguin use only, however there are boardwalks throughout the penguin colony and within meters of the penguins on the beach.

African Penguin Facts:

  • They are indigenous to Africa (the only penguins in Africa) and have adapted over millions of years to handle the heat.  They’re found in 27 sites, mostly on islands.  That’s what makes Boulders Beach really special – it is one of only three mainland colonies and is so easily accessible.
  • In the 1900’s there were millions of African penguins.  Now, they’re endangered with about 200,000 left in the world.  There are about 2100 penguins living in the Boulders Beach colony.  Oil spills, overfishing, climate change, and loss of habitat has hurt the population.
  • These little guys stand about 60–70 cm (24–28 in) tall and are always dressed nicely.  Their coats shine like ribbon candy.
  • The African penguin is also called the Jackass penguin because they make braying sounds that sound just like a donkey!  Really!
  • They can float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.  Wait a minute…that’s Muhammad Ali.  Scratch that.  They can dive to depths of 35 meters and look like torpedoes when they leave the land.  In a flash they are gone.  In the water they can swim 24 kilometers (15 miles) per hour and can swim up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) for food.
  • They used to nest in bird droppings that were several feet thick.  But last century, the guano was removed and used for fertilizer.  Now, the penguins have done their best to adapt and nest in burrows in the sand under trees or plants or in the barrels provided by conservationists.  The burrows protect the eggs from the heat of the sun.
  • They mate for life.  No divorces allowed.  No pre-nup required.
  • Every type of penguin in the world lives below the equator.
Penguins at Boulders Beach

African Penguins at Foxy Beach

Now back to the tour – penguins or no penguins, Boulders Beach is magnificent!  There are lots of little coves of shallow, clear blue water.  I can’t think of a better place to enjoy a day with family or friends.  Kids would go bananas.

After the beach, I checked under the car for penguins.  I imagine that will be the first and last time I will ever have to perform such a search.  All clear and we headed back towards Cape Town.

Darren pulled over to talk to the shark watcher.  This guy sits on a cliff above a popular surfing beach and watches for incoming sharks.  All day.  While this seems like a cool job, can you imagine how slow time goes?  How mesmerized you would be if you watched the ocean all day?  I would undoubtedly fall asleep and be responsible for a bloodbath.  Thankfully, I’m not a shark watcher.

We had a final coffee in the surfing town of Muizenberg where I appreciated the brightly painted changing rooms on the beach.

The day was amazing and I hope one day you’ll get to see these sights for yourself!  Pictures can’t do the beauty justice.

Visiting Boulders Beach:

  • Entrance Fee is 55 Rand for adults (about 50 cents US) and 25 Rand for kids.
  • Accessibility: The boardwalk through the penguin colony is wheelchair accessible.
  • Operating Hours: 7 days a week,
  • December – January: 07:00 – 19:30
  • February – March: 08:00 – 18:30
  • April-September: 08:00 – 17:00
  • October – November: 08:00 – 18:30
  • Bring a swimsuit!

Photos of the Day:

 

4 Comments

  1. Yes, you are the last to know that there are penguins in Africa! But good thing because what a fantastic surprise! Love you, lady!

    • Really? The last? Love back at you!

  2. I heard today that in Australia they are fitting sharks with devices so that when they get within a certain distance of a beach they send out tweets to everyone in the vicinity announcing their presence. (Beware the shark not on twitter though.)

    • Sharks on Twitter?! What is the world coming to?!

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