The penguins of Boulders beach
So last month I decided to go on a trip to South Africa and of course I wanted to see as many animals as possible! I heart about two big places to see penguins in the western cape, Betty’s bay and Boulders beach. Initially I wanted to go to Betty’s bay, but without a car it seemed really difficult to get there. That’s why decided to visit Boulders beach near Simon’s town which is much easier to reach from Cape town. All the way I was so exited to finally see a penguin in his natural habitat, but my expectations were definitely surpassed! Not only will you see hundreds of penguins, cuddling, swimming and playing, but you will also find an amazing beach that gives you the feeling of being on the beautiful Seychelles islands. How to find that beach? Keep reading 🙂
These cute little birds are South African penguins and can only be found in the coastline of South Africa and Namibia. In 1982 there were only two breeding penguin pairs here. Now there are over 3000 of them! Despite that, the South African penguin is considered an endangered species. The biggest threats for them are oil pollution and a decrease in food supply. This place is protected by the Cape nature reservation to keep their colony safe and sound. The trawling has been reduced in this area to ensure that the penguins find enough food on their own in the sea.
How to get there
Most people visit Boulders beach, which is located near Simon’s town, in a day trip from Cape town. The easiest way to get there is certainly by car. It should be a 45 minutes drive from Cape town. Another option is booking a tour. I don’t recommend this because I simply think that you can save your money. Also, there is a much cooler option to get there: By the local train. The return ticket will cost you 33 Rand (around 2 Euros). The train ride takes about one hour and a half, but it’s so beautiful! The railways lay right next to lonely beaches so you get the feeling that you are gliding over the water. The train leaves from the Cape town railway station. It’s important that you ask for the direct line to Simon’s town, because there’s another train going there which makes a detour to the townships and is considered very dangerous. The train takes you straight to Simon’s town. When you exit the station turn to your left and always follow the main road for about 15-20 minutes. Then you see a sign which points to the penguins. Turn to your left and you will already see all the tourists in the street on their way to the cutest animals here.
When you google for the penguins, you will repeatedly find the name ‘Boulders beach’. It Like I said, it’s easy to find if you just follow the main road through Simon’s town. If you have doubts, just ask the locals (they are used to this here). You have to pay an entrance fee of 70 Rand (around 5 Euros) to enter this special part of Table mountain national park. Keep the ticket you get, that’s important! Boardwalks will guide you to the penguins and ensure that tourists keep a safe distance to the animals. I was surprised that the penguins didn’t seem to be bothered at all by all the people. Some were playing or sleeping right under the boardwalks. So you can get really close to them and take your amazing pictures (Note: Selfie-sticks are forbidden here). I could’ve spent the whole day here, but I decided to go explore a little further. When I left the park, I turned to my left and followed a small path for about 15 minutes. Here and there you can see some penguins, other birds and dassies along the way. And then I arrived at one of the most beautiful beaches: Boulders beach. Surprisingly there were almost no people! It seemed like all the people just went to the main entrance and completely ignored this beach! Okay, it was too cold to swim, I don’t know how crowded it is during hot days. You can enter the paradise with the ticket you bought earlier and voila: You are at a paradise beach and surprise: There are also penguins here! No fences, no boardwalks, basically you can swim with them (but keep in mind that these are wild animals, so please respect the distance to them). Just to give you an idea: There were hundreds of tourists on the other beach while there where only around 10 people on Boulders beach.
– Avoid wearing expensive clothes and brand bags, especially in the train.
-Avoid taking out your camera or Smartphone in the train, even if you would love to take some pictures. Keep your backpack or your purse in front of you.
-Try to avoid taking a train back later than 4 o’clock. Trains will be terribly overcrowded and (if you are a white, blond person like me) you will basically shine in the train screaming: ‘I’m a tourist, please rob me!’ By the way I didn’t get robbed, despite the thousand people surrounding me.
-Be polite to the locals. As a solo travelling tourist you will always stand out here and a lot of people will want to talk to you. I figured that a friendly smile and the words: “Thanks, but I have to go now, I’m already late’ will do best if you are tired of talking to people.
-Please respect the penguins. Don’t feed them and don’t get so close with your camera so that they will leave their nest and run away. Remember that they are wild animals, you are just there to observe them.
On my way to the other beach:
Would you like to go to Boulders beach? Don’t hesitate to contact me for more information 🙂