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Popping In On The Penguins At Boulders Beach, Simon’s Town, South Africa

Posted by on 23 June 2009

When our host in Capetown offered to take us to see penguins, my immediate reaction was to decline politely. After all, I’ve already seen penguins several times in various zoos and thought I’d be better off spending my very limited time in Capetown doing something else. Our host, however, insisted, saying that it’s just a quick stop on the way to Cape Point. So I had no choice but to play along.

Boy! Was I glad I agreed to go! Because I had no idea that I’d be getting up very close and personal with the penguins in their natural habitat.

a pair of penguins

The penguins were all over the beach in this place called Boulders Beach…

 Boulders Beach

Which is in a postcard-perfect little place called Simon’s Town.

 Simon’s Town, South Africa

And when I say the penguins are ‘all over the beach’, I mean ALL OVER the beach, so much so that you can find signs warning you to check under your vehicle for penguins before driving off!


See how close the nest is to the bench? Yup, that’s a papa penguin right by the bushes, guarding the entrance of the tiny hole in the ground that it calls its home.

nest near bench

I almost got my fingers nipped by this protective papa penguin, who feared for the safety of his fluffy baby.

papa penguin & baby

From what I’ve seen on National Geographic, it’s the papa penguins who take care of the babies. The mama penguins are the ones who go hunting. A refreshing reversal of roles for once…

This one’s almost a grownup — see how his soft brown fuzz is slowly getting replaced by dark, shiny feathers?

baby penguin losing fuzz

The added bonus was the fantastic view of the huge expanse of the sapphire-blue sea crashing against the huge boulders.

Boulders Beach

That small figure you see on the bottom right corner is DH, looking around for mussels. He managed to collect a small bag of them, which we steamed for dinner that night ;) Our hosts didn’t have the heart to tell us at that point that scavenging for mussels is not allowed on that beach. They only informed us that evening AFTER they had a taste of the fresh mussels! Oh well…

It was freezing though (it’s winter in South Africa right now) so I was bundled up like a baby — jacket, scarf, gloves and all. And the wind was so strong, I felt like I could get blown off the boulders very easily. It was definitely a challenge trying to remain upright AND keeping the camera still enough so that I could take my photos.

From what little I’ve seen of South Africa at that point, I’ve already started falling in love…

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