Day 7 – Boulders Beach African Jack-ass Penguin colony

On day 7 of our South African holiday we took a breather. After the previous days exhilarating visit to the Darling Farmlands and Langebaan Lagoon we decided to restrict the driving to the Cape.

Our holiday apartment on the Cape Peninsula happened to be within a few minutes drive of an African Penguin colony that since it first became established in 1985 has become one of South Africa’s top tourist attractions.

The main colony is centred around Boulders Beach to the south of the old navel port of Simons Town. Despite concerns it would be too touristy we popped down to check out what all the fuss was about.

Letters on map represent approximate locations of wildlife sites
Holiday Introduction
A – Holiday accommodation
B – Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
C – Strandfontein
D – Paarl Bird Sanctuary
E – Paarl Mountain Reserve
F – Cape Of Good Hope
G – Cape Point
H – Darling Farmlands
I – Langebaan Lagoon
J – Boulder’s Beach
K – Rooi Els
L – Simon’s Town
More Cape birds
Summary of holiday and travel experiences

Within a few yards of the car park we were greeted with the impressive sight of hundreds of Penguins dotted around the rocks, on the beach, in the water and popping in and out of burrows. And they certainly weren’t camera shy!

It felt surreal standing in the heat, amongst sand dunes lapped by glistening blue water yet surrounded by birds normally associated with ice.

Living with Jack-ass Penguins

So acclimatised have the Penguins become to humans that some have even moved in with them by burrowing under their houses.

For all their charm these dapper looking chaps must be a landlords worst nightmare. They squat, smell of fish, are noisy, stay up all night and when not indulging in openly promiscuous sexual behaviour are frequently found prostrate under vehicles by day. They are also protected by law. But for the visitor they are an absolute delight.

Penguins avoiding shark attack

The spectacle of Penguins returning from fishing far out in the bay was one of the highlights. It is when entering shallow water they are at their most vulnerable to a Great White Shark attack! We watched them gathering just off shore before making a fast, coordinated underwater swim for the beach. Looking down through crystal clear water from over hanging rocks they appeared to be flying.

Boulders Beach, coastal path

Whilst there we took the opportunity of have a short walk along the coastal path checking out the scrub and rocks. A mix of water and land birds included Swift Tern, Black Oyster Catcher, Cape Canary, Rock Pigeon, Egyptian goose, Cape Cormorants, Hautlaubs and Cape Gulls, Blacksmiths Plover and Cape Bulbul


Boulders Beach is a wonderful spectacle and we found it well worth the visit but didn’t see any reason to spend more than a short time there. Above all this is a great attraction that all the family can enjoy, providing guaranteed close up sightings of a very charismatic bird in a wonderful setting. Keen birders would probably be best advised to drop in to see them on their way up the Cape to better birding sites. Or, if on a trip further east to the Rooi Els region to see Cape Rock-jumper, you could call in at the smaller colony of African Penguins at Stoney Point, close to Betty’s Bay.

Day 8 and we went on a twitch in search of one of our most wanted to see birds – The Cape Rock-jumper. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our South African holiday.

South Africa 14 day account itinerary, travel information and accommodation

Please note that although we have attempted to give an accurate account of events these are only our opinions, others experiences may differ and things may change. If traveling to South Africa it is recommended that you contact tour operators, travel companies and professional guides for advice before booking.