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Where in the world can you share a giant granite boulder with a few penguins while watching the waves lap up against the rocks? And as long as you don’t get too close, they don’t mind sharing their spot.
At Boulders Beach in Cape Town, the endangered African penguin has established the perfect breeding ground, free of predators – thanks to the presence of humans – and on a lovely sheltered beach. At last count, the breeding pairs at Boulders Beach amounted to around 2000, however, their numbers are dwindling rapidly worldwide and they are to be protected at all costs. The African penguin is endemic to the region and there are only 3 land based colonies on the African continent, 2 of which are on the Cape coast.
The waddling walk, curious tilt of their heads and tuxedo outfits make them appear cute and cuddly but be warned, they will nip anyone who invades their space or steps too near to their nests, typically a shallow hole in the ground.
When swimming, the African penguin transforms into a graceful creature as it glides through the water as easily as any fish.
Boulders Beach is rarely full and is an ideal place for a picnic while watching the comings and goings of the penguins. The beach’s large boulders break up the waves to give bathers a safe swim and park rangers patrol the area. There are 2 entrances to the colony, the beach side and a 2nd gate which has a lengthy wheelchair-friendly boardwalk to allow visitors for better views of their nests.
Boulders Beach is on the hop on-hop off bus route towards Cape Point and an average 60000 tourists visit here annually. There are a number of restaurants around the beach to enjoy a lunch. In the parking area, signs warn motorists to check under their vehicles for penguins before driving off, as penguins tend to rest under any shady spot they can find.