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Penguins Galore at Boulders Beach, South Africa

South Africa . 2017 . May 22


This post is part of our South Africa / Zimbabwe / Botswana Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here

If you’ve heard of the world famous Penguin Parade at Melbourne's Phillip Island, you’ll find that there’s a similar place here at the other side of the Earth at the Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town, South Africa.

The official name for this place is called Boulders, although many call it Boulders Beach, which is home to thousands of African Penguins.


The African Penguin is the only penguin that breeds in Africa, and is restricted to the coastline and seas of South Africa. The population of the African Penguin is estimated to be around 55,000 after years of drastic decline, and it’s status is now listed as ‘Endangered’. If the African Penguin’s decline continues to progress unhalted, it is projected to be extinct by as early as 2026!


Boulders Beach is located in the midst of a residential estate – the unlikeliest place you would think of looking out for penguins.


A short 5-minutes’ walk through some really fanciful-looking private estates brings us to the gates of Boulders where a small tariff or conservation fee of 70 rand (about SGD $7.50) is charged per adult entry.


The price is a relative small one to pay though, for an experience that you will get nowhere else in the world.


Boulders is made up of a long and winding boardwalk that brings visitors to various viewing points to see the penguins at the closest range possible without causing disruptions to the penguins.



Boulders also plays a strong conservation role in providing nesting sites for the wild penguins. They also do lots of vegetation rehabilitation, as excessive penguin activity has caused gaps in vegetation and eventual soil erosion, making it unsustainable for other penguins to inhabit the area.


This picture truly brings a smile to my face. It looks just like an elderly couple talking a leisurely walk back to their apartment.


The species of penguins at Phillip Island are the Little Penguins, or what we remember vividly as the Blue Penguins due to the blueish hue of its feathers.


They are also known as fairy penguins because of their small size. In fact, the penguins at Phillip Island are the smallest penguins in the world. Over here at Boulders, the African Penguins are just that tiny bit bigger than the Blue Penguins of Phillip Island, so they still look really cute wobbling around on their tiny unsteady feet.



This was as near as we could get to the penguins – which was close enough for us to have a good look at its features, and for them to have a good look at us in return.


Visitors are not allowed to touch or feed the penguins though – for good reasons. These are wild penguins in their natural environment and as visitors, we should respect their need to live in an environment as natural as possible.


Boulders overlooks False Bay which gives a good view of the peaks and mountains beyond.


It also means that the African Penguins which feeds primarily on fish and squid, have a good source of food from False Bay.


With such a view to boot, it is almost like a luxury resort for the penguins.


At Boulders Bay, where the boardwalk leads visitors to, hundreds of penguins take a sun-tan, some of them occasionally taking a dip in the ocean to catch a quick meal.


There’s a cacophony of sounds here, very much like a fish market, for each and every one of these penguins makes their own donkey-like braying sound.


This is probably the best penguin viewing and observation spot for visitors to Boulders.


Judging by the number of human shadows here, one can gauge just how popular this viewing platform is.


In many of these burrows made by the penguins lies one or more chicks. These chicks are easily distinguished by their brown and furry coat of feathers. If you’ve watched the movie Happy Feet, you’ll know what I mean.


A close-up of the chicks. Ultra-cute!



A mother and chick pair fooling around in the sand. Taking time to observe the penguins’ interaction with each other can be pretty rewarding sometimes.


I took particular notice of this old bird (ok, I don’t actually know if he is old, but his face kind of looked mature to me even though I am not a penguin) who stood like a sentry near the boardwalk.


It was as though he made himself responsible for keeping watch over the colony in case there’s an invasion of humans. I thought he was kind of cute. And stern at the same time.


Watching the penguins return from their hunt reminds me very much of the Penguin Parade at Phillip Island, Melbourne. But unlike those penguins at Phillip Island who return daily at a fixed hour in the evening, the penguins here take their dips in the ocean and return whenever they want to. I am not sure how penguins work, but I am pretty sure if I were a penguin, I would want to swim and return whenever I wish to.


Some of my favorite views of the penguins.


I know what it’s like to feel contemplative, especially when you have the view of a borderless ocean in front of you.



And it looks like the penguin was totally oblivious to the crowd behind him as he continued to stare ahead in silence. Good for you, penguin!


Boulders was a thoroughly enjoyable destination for us, mostly because we loved animals. Very soon, it was time to head back to Cape Town as our one-day trip out of the city drew to an end.


On the return journey to Cape Town, our guide made a pit stop for us to show us this beautiful view.


It was such a rewarding day at the Table Mountain National Park, and we would urge anyone who is visiting Cape Town to invest that one day to drive out of town. You’ll see and experience so much more!

Join us next as we spend our last evening in Cape Town at Hotel Verde.

This post is part of our South Africa / Zimbabwe / Botswana Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here


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