African Penguins

It’s difficult to pick a highlight when everything is new, but the African Penguins really made us happy. One wonders if these comical birds are aware of the entertainment they provide to visitors to their habitat or if we’re simply an intrusion into their ‘busy’ lives. It’s difficult to watch them scurry about building their nests, taking shade in the brush, or playing in the calm waters of Boulder Beach and not think that they’re on a stage for us lucky humans able to visit them. Then I suppose that with or without us they’d be doing their thing, looking cute, and enjoying their folly.

Near Simon’s Town on the Cape Peninsula is Boulder’s Beach. It is a picturesque area with inlets sheltered between granite boulders. Surprisingly, at least to me, the penguins settled here recently in 1982 beginning with just two breeding pairs and do not migrate. This is their permanent home. Today the colony has grown to number over 3,000. Apparently the anchovy population is sufficient to sustain the colony and given the scenery I’d like to live here too!

The South African Penguin is also known as the “Jackass Penguin” for its donkeyesque braying calls. They definitely have a marine smell that you notice as soon as you emerge from you car in the parking area. After a short walk along the trail you’ll enter the conservation area where you are physically separated from the penguins by a boardwalk just a few feet above the beach and the friendly black and white locals. The adjacent beaches are designated for swimming a safe distance from the colony.

All along the boardwalk you’ll encounter the penguins in various states of nesting, slumber and play. The photo opportunities are endless. Some seem to be sunning themselves on the smaller boulders. Others rest in their shallow nests. Some scurry about fetching dry materials to improve their nesting areas, while others, I’d like to think the teenagers, run (waddle) in and out of the water. As much as they are hilariously clumsy on land they are swift and graceful in the water. The Cape Town area provides plenty of variety as well. Plan to spend an hour just watching the African Penguins and you’ll have a smile on your face all day.

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