If you want to see penguins and don’t want to travel to faraway Arctic places, then South Africa is the place to be. Just a short ride from Cape Town two African penguin colonies are easily accessible. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. At both the penguins are equally cute.
Some African penguin facts
Because of their donkey-like call they were previously known as Jackass penguin. The African penguin is an endangered species. The uncontrolled harvesting of penguin eggs and guano (penguin poo) nearly drove them to extinction. Now about 150.000 are left worldwide.
The birds feed on squid and shoal fish like anchovy. The black and white coloring is a camouflage against predators at sea, like sharks, seals and killer whales – white for predators looking upwards, black for predators looking down onto the water.
Boulders Beach African penguin colony
Just south of Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula and only a one hour drive from downtown Cape Town, the 2.200 strong penguin colony at secluded Boulders Beach draws huge crowds of tourists. We were a little bit taken aback by how many people we saw here and wondered where the famous beach was where you can mingle with the penguins – we only saw a boardwalk with a view of the beach at Foxy Point.
We found out that we’d entered through the main entrance where most tourists are herded to, but had to follow another boardwalk to get to a secondary entrance with access to the actual Boulders Beach a little bit further away. There were fewer penguins here (and much less people), but it was enormous fun to see them sunning, dozing or just waddling past you for a dip in the cold sea.
Stony Point African penguin colony
The penguin colony at Stony Point near Betty’s Bay is about 1.30 hours from the city center of Cape Town. Despite this colony only being a half hour further away, it attracts just a fraction of the visitors that Boulders Beach gets. There are more penguins here (over 5.000) but there’s no way of mingling with them, you have to stay on the boardwalk.