The African Penguins were formerly called the ”jackass Penguin” because of their donkey-like braying call. They breed on 25 islands and 3 mainland sites between Algoa Bay in South Africa and central Namibia and nowhere else in the world. It ‘s the only Penguin that breeds in Africa. They feed mainly on oil rich fish that occur in the upper water, squid and small crustaceans. The Penguins are social breeders and nest in colonies, but defend an area around the nest site. Peak moulting time is during December, after which they head out to sea to feed and they return in January to mate and begin nesting from about February to August. Unfortunately they are listed in the Red data book as an endangered species. Of the 1,5 million penguin population estimated at the beginning of 1900, only same 10 % remained at the end of the 20th century, and the uncontrolled harvesting of penguin eggs and guano scraping, nearly drove the species to extinction.
The amazing places where you can meet the Penguins colony are Boulders Beach and Betty’s Bay.
Boulders Beach is enclosed in a sheltered area between the historic Simon’s Town and Cape Point, along the Cape Peninsula. With its soft white sand and enormous granite boulders, forms part of the expansive Table Mountain National Park and offers these birds complete freedom to live their lives in a protected, entirely natural environment. Boulders beach is one of the few sites where this endangered birds can be observed wandering freely well and truly close. After the entrance gate , there are two boardwalks taking you to within a few meters of these funny birds, so that you can see them going about their daily activities at an incredibly close range. Once got the beach, you’ ll enjoy these comic birds while there are waddling across the shoreline, darting in and out of the ocean and soaking .
Betty’s Bay is a picturesque seaside village situated along the scenic Clarence Drive Route (R44) between Pringle Bay and Kleinmond. The town is positioned in a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the Kogelberg Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, and bordered by fresh water lakes and the Palmiet River. Betty’s Bay lies within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, the first UNESCO declared Biosphere in South Africa. The penguin colony at Stony Point is one of only 3 breeding colonies on the African continent and declared a municipal nature reserve in July 2002.
Since then this important seabird colony has grown in size due to the breeding of both the endangered penguins and cormorants. Even in Betty’s Bay, after the gate you follow a boardwalk along the rocky outcrops through green flora, spotting penguins resting or crossing your path until you get to Stony Point, an abandoned whaling station. Here, with no doubt, you’ll enjoy fewer crowds and a smaller fee than those at Boulders Beach. If you are lucky, you can find the penguins playing and resting along the unfenced beach in front of the car park before getting to the entrance gate.
Boulder’s beach fee: 70 rand;
Getting there: From Cape Town, Boulders Beach is a one hour drive south on the spectacular Cape Peninsula Route, close to Simon’s Town on the way to the Cape Point. The best way is to rent a car but many bus tours with local tour operators (even the Sightseeing bus tour) include the beach in their itineraries along the Cape Peninsula.
Betty’s Bay fee : 20 rand;
Getting there: Betty’s Bay is around 1 hour and half from Cape town, driving along the beautiful scenic R44 , known as the ‘’whales route‘’ . If you start your day in Hermanus, it is around 45 minute drive.