Discovering a Penguin Colony Close to Cape Town


Penguins in South Africa

I was surprised to learn, just a few weeks ago, that there is a penguin colony in close proximity to Cape Town, South Africa.

I was also delighted: As you might remember if you read about my experiences with kangaroos in Australia, pandas in China or tigers in Thailand, I love interacting with local wildlife.

I won’t lie: This post mostly consists of photos of African penguins, and me gushing about how cute they are. But it also contains valuable information about how to see the penguins, so it’s not complete fluff.

The African penguin colony near Cape Town is located on Boulders Beach, in the coastal village of Simon’s Town. The easiest way to reach Simon’s Town is to take the M3 or M6 south from Cape Town to Muizenberg, then travel south on the M4 until you see the (conspicuous) signs.

Go to the left of the ticket booth, and this is what you'll see


Go to the right, and this is what you'll see

Alternatively, you can take a train from Cape Town’s central station to Simon’s Town Railway station, then walk approximately one mile to the entrance of the Boulders Beach conservation area, which you’ll pay 45 South African rand to enter.

They call it Boulders Beach for a reason

(This is another reason)

Regardless of which approach you take to reach the penguins near Cape Town, you should note that the park has two sides. If you choose the path on the righthand side of the ticket booth, you’ll be taken to a sterile, tourist-filled boardwalk where you can look down on the penguins.

You might say the quantity of penguins on Boulders Beach is large

Alternatively, go left to walk down onto the aptly-named Boulders Beach, where you can actually interact with the penguins. Well, sort of: They are particularly friendly, so be careful.

I wonder what they're talking about

Both Lindsay and I found this experience to be much more in line with what we expected when we heard that there were penguins in South Africa, and agreed that we would’ve been disappointed had we not known about it.

This is probably as close as you're going to get to the Boulders Beach penguins

(But thankfully we did learn about it and were not disappointed – penguins rock!)

Robert Schrader
Robert Schrader is a travel writer and photographer who's been roaming the world independently since 2005, writing for publications such as "CNNGo" and "Shanghaiist" along the way. His blog, Leave Your Daily Hell, provides a mix of travel advice, destination guides and personal essays covering the more esoteric aspects of life as a traveler.
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