A trip to Cape Town wouldn’t feel complete without visiting the African Penguins at Boulders Beach.
Let’s arrive early, we thought, and enjoy a swim with the penguins at Boulders Beach. Okay, but only after devouring the hotel’s five-star breakfast that started at 7am. Well, early out of season is a lot different to early in season. After discovering that not a space existed at the main car park we ended up parking along a residential road past the second car park.
With the sun beating down in a blemish free sky, already melting the suntan lotion from my body, we discovered hundreds of bodies down on the beach. Families sprawled out on the soft, white sand, up on the impressive granite boulders that naturally protect the beach from the wind and unruly waves. What an idyllic swimming spot, albeit it slightly colder than Durbs’ Indian Ocean. A few penguins, feathers ruffled, languorously basked in the sun, on the sand, on the rocks. Others dipped in to the sea to get away from the larger two-legged creatures. Four or five juvenile birds were moulting on the beach. And a rogue couldn’t resist attacking a sandal: starving little fella.
Skipping the swimming spots, we attempted to get to the other side where the majority of the penguins inhabited. Squeezing beneath and climbing over boulders, through the sea we eventually reached a sign that warned us against trespassing. No! We had to turn back. The vegetation below the boardwalk, where the penguins lay their eggs, appeared too thick to intrude upon. Instead we backtracked and headed to the main penguin viewing deck that consisted of boardwalks snaking through dunes and further lush vegetation.
With abundance of food readily available in False Bay, the penguins migrated from Dyer Island in 1983. By 1910 the colony grew rapidly, reaching 1.5 million penguins. Less than a century later, the African penguin was added to the endangered species list with only 26,000 breeding pairs remain in the world.
Paying the minimal conservation fee is worth saving such adorable creatures.