Most penguins live in the southern hemisphere, but you will also find them in Cape Town, South Africa. My Dutch friend’s daughter was shocked to find out that there are penguins living in Cape Town. Boulders Beach is not too far from where I live. It’s also just a hour‘s drive from Cape Town’s CBD. I went back there to visit the penguins in October 2020. I haven’t blogged for months but, I have been travelling around Cape Town. Boulders as it’s locally known wasn’t always home to the African penguins. In 1983 a few penguins beach front property and stayed. They started off from just two breeding pairs now there’s roughly 2,000 and 3,000 birds talk about a big family.
Sadly the African penguin is endangered. Luckily Boulders is now art of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. This means that the beaches are pristine, protected and safe. South Africa National Parks (SANParks) and Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) does an amazing job to ensure that the penguins at Boulders thrive. Every year, more than 60 000 visit Boulders beach to meet the penguins there. You have to pay a small conservation fee to see these cuties which helps penguin conservation.
WHAT TO DO
You can walk the boardwalk which is also wheelchair friendly and see all the penguins. Be careful they can bite and it will hurt. Don’t feed them and don’t get too close the fence is there for your protection. When penguins move their heads from side to side chances are they are going to bite so be careful. Dogs are also allowed on the wooden boardwalk but you have to have a leash. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed on the beach itself as penguins are known to swim and waddle around there. When penguins move their heads from side to side chances are they are going to bite so be careful.
Soak up the scenery
Enjoy the views there’s fantastic views of the beach below from the boardwalk and on the beach itself you will be able to see the beautiful boulders. You might spot a whale, seal or even a shark in the bay if you’re lucky. There’s also boats and kayakers often around the area.
Swim with penguins
The boulders around the beach are 540 million years old and provide shelter from the wind (which can be pretty strong) and large waves. This is where the name Boulders beach comes from. Boulders is family friendly and a great beach for children, but do practice beach safety. Don’t touch or try to feed the penguins on the beach. Sometimes they even with bathers but give them space and respect them.
You are allowed to eat on the beach just remember to leave it as clean as you found it.
Learn more about penguins
Boulders Visitors Centre has expert guides which will give lots of information about Africa’s penguins.
Boulders has it’s own little shop that you can support. Outside in the parking lot is another little curio shop which I won’t support since the staff was unfriendly. But, I was going to purchase some things there before walking away. Maybe you will have a better experience.
Explore Simon’s Town
There are many restaurants, art galleries, shops and stalls around the area. You can also hop on to a boat trip or kayak, scuba dive, visit a museum etc. Once I have explored the area properly I will post on it for now click here to find out more: https://www.simonstown.com/
WHEN TO VIEW THE PENGUINS
Summer is when you will see the most penguins. But, there are penguins whole year through. Between September and October there are less penguins on the beach as they spend a lot of time eating out at sea. In January the juvenile birds are moulting on the beach. Visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon if you want good photographs as it’s the time when the birds are most active.
HOW TO GET THERE
Boulders Beach is situated in False Bay, you will find it on the way to Cape Point. It’s roughly an hour’s drive by car from the CBD.
There are a few routes :
- Around the mountain via the Southern Suburbs, past Constantia to Kalk Bay, then along the coast to Simon’s Town
- From Camps Bay via Hout Bay, along Chapman’s Peak drive, past Noordhoek and Kommetjie (The drive offers stunning views)
- Find more here: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/tourism/get_there.php
Via public transport:
- Catch a train from Cape Town Station all the way to Simon’s Town. The train runs along the Kalk Bay coastline, look out the window of the train the views are breathtaking. From Simon’s Town you can either take the roughly 30 minute walk or catch a taxi.
- The newly launched City Sightseeing’s Cape Point Explorer also stops at Boulders on its way to Cape Point and it’s a convenient and affordable trip to take.
- Some hotels and tour operators offer transfers from the CBD and back.
There’s a conservation fee so bring cash or your card:
|South African Citizens and Residents (with ID):||R40 per adult per day|
R20 per child, per day
|SADC Nationals (with passport):||R80 per adult per day|
R40 per child, per day
|Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors):||R160 per adult per day|
R80 per child, per day
• Free entry for a year for all Wild Card holders. You have to purchase the card but, it is cost-effective if you plan to visit many South African National Parks. The card is valid for a year learn more at: https://www.sanparks.org/wild_new/tourism/pricing.php You can purchase the card at any of the SANParks.
WHAT TO BRING
– An umbrella, hat, and sunscreen for a beautiful day on the beach.
– Clothing to match the weather in winter it can be cold, rainy and windy so bring a warm jacket and a durable umbrella.
The Rules from SANParks:
- Boulders is a safe beach, with rangers on patrol each day
- Do NOT feed the penguins or come too close. Penguins need social distancing.
- Parking is limited, especially during peak Summer, come early
- Alcohol and smoking is prohibited
- No vessels are allowed, including canoes and kayaks. You cannot bring your own but, there are credible kayak tours you can take. These kayakers have a guide with them to ensure they give the penguins their space.
- It’s a no-take zone, DON’T take anything no rocks, shells, plants. Just take stunning photos.
- For entry and exit times, please check the SANParks website
ENTRY & EXIT TIMES
|Boulders||Winter: April – September||08:00 – 17:00|
|Summer: December – January||07:00 – 19:30|
|February – March||08:00 – 18:30|
|October – November||08:00 – 18:30|
Boulders Penguin Colony Beach area is open. The boardwalk and information centre remains open. Subject to capacity restrictions. South Africa is now under an adjusted lockdown.
HOW TO HELP THE PENGUINS
You can volunteer adopt an egg or give a donation to help SANCCOB or simply see the penguins at Boulders. Your entry fee will help save these precious penguins. Read more : https://sanccob.co.za/
Bouders Penguin Colony
Simon’s Town | +27 (0)21 786 2329
Thanks so much for reading. If you have any questions send them my way.
The number of penguins at Boulders Beach really is amazing to see. We had never been able to guess that there would be so many when we visited a few years back 🙂
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They are all over the place. But, sadly their numbers are dwindling it’s why Boulders is a conservation area. Thank you for your comment and for the visit to Boulders beach 😊
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