Where to find them? – Ten islands and two mainland sites support the African penguin along the Western Cape coastline, and a further six islands in Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape.

Seven of these support 80% of the world’s African penguin population. The most important in South Africa are Dassen Island, St Croix Island, Robben Island, Bird Island, Dyer Island and Boulders beach (technically not an island).

Did you know?An emperor penguin travelled 3 200 kilometres ending up on a beach in New Zealand, where he promptly swollowed a lot of sand, mistaking it for snow – he’s been nicknamed ‘Happy Feet’.

Namibia’s penguins are found in a group of islands and rocks along a 355 km stretch of coastline known as the Penguin Islands. Together they measure 2.35 square kilometres, the largest of which, Possession Island, is 0.90 km².

Mainland sites in South Africa include Stony Point, and Boulders Beach. Mainland colonies do well because the towns or human settlements function as barriers, keeping predators away from the penguins in much the same way as an island protects them.

Although for tourists these colonies allow a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the penguins in their natural habitat, endearing the diminutive waddlers to those passing through, living in such close proximity can bring its share of problems.

Betty’s Bay residents made news around the world, late in 2012, complaining about the ‘badly-behaved’ group of penguins who had taken advantage of a recently broken fence to wander into local gardens, braying all through the night and leaving numerous rather smelly calling cards in people’s gardens. Mainland penguin colonies then appear to be a safe haven for the African penguin, whose numbers have swelled in Betty’s Bay, despite their endangered status.

We recommend you visit Boulders Beach for the best viewing of the African Penguins.

Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town is a must for many reasons. It is tranquil, speckled with dramatic rounded boulders, lapped by the turquoise of the ocean, and home to scores of the endangered African penguin. In fact, it remains one of the most visited beaches in and around Cape Town, as visitors from all over the world come here to get up close to the cute and quirky birds.

The ancient granite boulders have been rounded by eons of wind and water erosion, giving them a romantic appeal. But, more than this, they provide excellent shelter from big waves or excessive wind. This makes the beach perfect for long, lazy days spent soaking up the sun. The waters here are still from the Indian Ocean, making them a tad warmer than those of the Atlantic Ocean just a little further on. So, Boulders Beach is ideal for little ones that prefer the warmer, calmer waters to tackling the waves.

But, the penguins are certainly the highlight of Boulders beach. And, to get the most out of seeing this massive colony (currently with a population of around 3 000 birds), there are three unobtrusive boardwalks as well as a penguin viewing area. From these, you can watch them play, swim, feed and care for their young. The African penguin was once called the jackass penguin because of the sound it makes (which sounds peculiarly like a donkey braying). Although they can be found all the way from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape to Namibia, they are most easily (and abundantly) seen here on Boulders Beach (and its neighbouring Foxy Beach).

Because Boulders is a sanctuary for the African penguin, it is crucial that all visitors respect it and care for it.

Simon’s Town is renowned as a naval base, and has a fascinating variety of boats in its harbour. More than this, it is quaint and charming, and a hotspot for excellent dining. It is less than an hour from Cape Town and the V & A Waterfront.

Source Credit: www.sa-venues.com