Silky soft sand, sparkling water underneath the hot African sun and the pitter patter of webbed feet on pebbles; not quite what you’d expect from a day out at the beach, but it is a very realistic image of a day out at Boulders Beach, Cape Town.
The webbed feet I speak of are in fact a colony of African penguins that have made a very unlikely home for an Antarctic bird on a beach just outside Simon’s Town. These mischievous, quaint little creatures first chose the secluded beach as a home back in 1982 when just two sets of mates waddled on to the sands to lay their eggs.
Since then, the colony has become a major tourist attraction for anyone that visits Cape Town and is especially popular among families with small children. There is a small entry fee to access the beach, which is also part of the Table Mountain National Park, but once in, you are free to picnic, bask in the sun or explore the various pools around the boulders and even swim with the penguins.
The beach is protected from the wind by immense boulders creating shallow pools that are perfect for young children to paddle in. The sheltered, warmer waters of False Bay allow older kids, to swim out with the penguins or climb amongst the rocks surrounding the beach. You can spend a whole day down there; start off with a picnic and then enjoy the African sun, letting your children run free in a fun and safe environment.
In recent years an information room has been established with a series of pathways allowing the public access to the birds nesting sites, where you can see eggs being incubated and the other penguins basking in the sun. Here also, you can see the young penguins with their blue and grey backs and lack of markings being taken care of by some of the older members of their family. There are signs throughout the walk explaining in detail the type of penguins and various other nuggets of information such as their habits.
Many people include a visit to view the penguins with a trip to Cape Point, driving through the Nature Reserve where you will most likely find at least one, maybe even a group of baboons on the roads. Although these animals are fascinating to watch as they go about their daily business totally oblivious of you, they cannot be trusted, and should be treated with some caution as they have a habit of taking things!
Throughout the reserve you will discover other wildlife including buck, ostrich and Cape Mountain zebra. If you’re lucky enough to be around during the period of July to September, you may see one of nature’s greatest animals, the huge Southern Right whale, where it comes to breed and give birth to its young, before moving down to the cold, stormy waters of the Antarctic to feed.
The excitement of seeing these beautiful animals in the wild completes your holiday in a way that a visit to the zoo never can. Make your Cape Town holiday memorable …
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