Tuesday, 3 January 2017

South Africa – Pick up a penguin on the Cape coastline

December 18-19

Hello everyone!

Actually, don’t pick up a penguin – that’s illegal. But feel free to gaze in wonder at these adorable creatures…


Boulders Beach is one of largest and best-protected penguin reserves in the world. For African penguins, mind – emperor penguins, the larger ones you may have seen on Planet Earth, are located further south in the Antarctic.

Somewhat harshly, these particular penguins are also known as ‘Jackass’ penguins, owing to their braying sound rather than any douchebag behaviour.

The penguin is still listed as endangered, even though numbers at Boulders are continually rising from two breeding pairs in 1982 to over 2,000 today. Mating season is normally between January and February, though some were perhaps keen to get started sooner…

December is their moulting season, when the previous coat is shed. That explains the occasional splotches of brown on the penguins and some ruffled coats. They don’t feed during moulting, which results in them standing still on the land. Perfectly still. It’s incredible how statuesque they are.

Boulders Beach is near a village called Simon’s Town. It is a lovely train ride along the coast from Cape Town, shared with many other passengers. This point is important – I was told to move to a different, more populated carriage ‘for my own safety’ before my train to Stellenbosch departed.

One of several lovely views from the train
I think this was Fish Hoek

Simon’s Town is a pleasant place, one of many which I’m sure dot the coastline south of Cape Town on the Cape Peninsula. This particular site has had a famous British visitor: Lord Nelson, who spent a month here after the delightfully-named HMS Dolphin docked here in 1776. I wonder if he saw the penguins…

Simon's Town

The harbour in Simon's Town

In between the city and the peninsula there are many southern suburbs which are adorned with beautiful beaches.

Camps Bay, Cape Town

Camps Bay, Cape Town

The water kissing the sand is the Atlantic Ocean, a sea mass not known for its warmth. I did dip my whole body in (briefly) but you can see from my ghost-like feet.

This water contains the Benluega current, which comes from Antarctica


There are many other places along the Cape Peninsula which I would have liked to visit, such as the southernmost point of the African continent and the point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet; ultimately, time is my enemy once more. My time in South Africa is almost over and it is now time to head north, taking tens of videos of static penguins with me as a treasured memory.

Everyone together now…AWWWWWW!

Love you all


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