Hey, give me your hand, I’m taking you to the south. Imagine that you are a dandelion bubble and that you can fly away to warmer areas just like the migration birds have the privilege to. If you accidentally land in the city of Cape Town, rush to a beach, but not any beach! It must be Boulders Beach, the place where we are waiting for you together with a black & white gang.
We melted out of joy when we saw penguins, those little creatures with a sophisticated look, gorgeous outfit and a charming walk. First you will see the ocean and the beach with huge oval stones that record all those sweet feet bathed with ocean water. And the penguins are everywhere. In the bushes, splattering in the ocean or swaggering in the sand. There is also a big warning that the crossing of the concrete curb and entry into their territory are strictly prohibited and punishable. Hope you will resist! It is almost impossible not to get closer and make a black and white décor with photos. And here we are, for only a few minutes, but the sweetest minutes, so close to them. On this beach in Simons Town, people can easily swim in the ocean as the penguins swim around or sunbathe a few meters away. Unfortunately, it was April, when it is rather cold and windy on the southern hemisphere, so we did not experience this.
Along the beach with penguins, there is a hiking trail. A few inches away from you, the life of the penguins takes place. Some are lying on eggs, some are walking, some sharing their intimacy with their chosen ones. That part of the beach, near the wooden path for tourists, is covered with overgrowths under which the penguins often hide. If you hear a sound that reminds you of a donkey neighing, it can only be a penguin.
And let me introduce them. These are African penguins, better known as Jackass penguins. You know why they are called like that? Because of the specific, donkey-like sound they make. Yes, it is unusual, onomatopoeia for donkeys and penguins is exactly the same. It’s best to visit them early in the morning or before the sunset. If you visit these water birds on this beach in January, you can expect an unusual scene, because they are then in the process of molting when they lose their feathers. It’s interesting that they are short-sighted but underwater they see perfectly. The female usually lays two eggs which are cared and protected by both of parents for about 5-6 weeks. Unfortunately, they are classified as endangered species. When they move their heads from one side to the other, it’s a sign that they are angry. And do not be deceived by their charming appearance, they have a very sharp beak that can hurt a man. If you notice a pink spot on their heads, those are actually the sweat glands, which become darker if penguins feel hot. As much as they seem to be the same, each has a monochrome mark, like a fingerprint in a man.
For me, this walk with the penguins is the embodiment of pure luxury. A man, a penguin and an ocean – a great combination. In this place you can hear them, feel the smell (but not very pleasant one) and get closer to them. It is possible that you will be “monitored” by a dassie rat (Petromus typicus) from the stones around.
And at the end of a tree-paved-walking path you reach the sandy part of the beach, where the penguin flock is clapping. And exactly this end of the track is Mecca for the photo objective. What a pleasure that is! The way they dive into the water, their walk, and in general, their mutual interaction is something that you can not stay immune to. You look at them while they walk on rocks, dive in search for fish, interact, or when they kiss … For a moment you become a part of their life story. Each one is occupied with a certain activity, and then, seeing that, you ask yourself if they have any worries in their black & white world. They seem so happy and zestful. A little fish, a beautiful beach and a loving partner – quite enough for an idyllic life, right?
And this would be the end of the adventure. I know that you will return here in this dandelion bubble, on Builders Beach – the eccentric among all the white beaches. Next time, pick a summer and tell me what it looks like swimming with penguins. Perfect waffles at the restaurant at the beginning of the beach are a must. Do not be surprised if a penguin walks through the restaurant. You do not have to go to Antarctica to meet these lovely, unique birds…you can meet them on the Boulders beach near Cape Town.
And, let me tell you something more…. you can also find penguins in Cape Town at the World of Birds Wildlife Sanctuary and Monkey Park (already mentioned in the article about the adventure with monkeys African tale part I- Monkey business ), then… they are hiding in Two Ocean Aquarium together with a popular Nemo fish, crayfish and big sharks.
I will certainly not forget to mention honey penguins with a strict but magical look that warms your heart and makes you smile immediately. They are Rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes moseleyi) with lemon yellow feathers, rare beauties. They are about 50 cm high and are also considered as endangered species whose population is rapidly decreasing. And what a charm they have…. enchanting…. they slide on their stomachs on rocks, jump from stone to stone, and then, suddenly, they sternly look at you. They raise their yellow eyebrows, doing that somehow haughtily, and then they throw themselves back on their stomachs and slide up to the next stone.
I should say this tiny part of our adventure is enough to wake up that travelling bug in you…isn’t it?