Category Archives: Animals


Why You Should Visit Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is situated False Bay, just outside Simon’s Town, on the way to Cape Point. It is a sheltered beach made up of inlets between granite boulders.  The big round granite boulders are 540 million years old and provide some shade and shelter the cove from currents, wind, and large waves. Boulders Beach forms part of the Table Mountain National Park and is home to a colony of thousands of African penguins. In fact, the beautiful Boulders Beach is one of Cape Town’s most visited beaches and the only place in the world where you get close to African Penguins. Every year, over 60 000 visitors flock to Simon’s Town to photograph and watch the famous Boulders Beach Penguins.

African Penguins

african penguins

African penguins are formerly known as jackass penguins because of their distinctive donkey-like braying sounds to communicate. These penguins are the only penguins found on the continent. African penguins are flightless like all extant penguins. They have a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat. They are covered in dense, waterproof feathers which keep dry and insulated in cold water.  Their body upperparts are black and sharply delineated from the white underparts, which are spotted and marked with a black band. They also have distinctive pink patches of skin above the eyes and a black facial mask. The pink gland above their eyes helps them to cope with changing temperatures.  These penguins are pursuit divers and feed primarily on fish and squid. And they usually breed during the African winter when temperatures are lower.

In Boulders Beach, you should be able to see the penguins throughout the year. However, the birds spend much of September and October feeding out at sea, so the number of penguins on the beach at this time of year is lower. During the mating season which is from December to February is the best time to view the birds and their natural behavior.

Endangered Species

boulders beach

The story of this penguin colony in Cape Town started in 1983 when a pair was spotted on Foxy Beach at Boulders. They came to False Bay from Dyer Island. False Bay at that time was closed to commercial fishing so they had abundant food and breeding sites. Their population then grew. But over the years, their population declined due to things like over-fishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and irresponsible tourism activities. Today, these African Penguins have been classified as endangered species.

Boardwalks were then built as a measure to allow for viewing of the birds, whilst keeping them safe. There are wooden walkways above the beach where the penguins can be seen in their nests in the bush undergrowth. The walkways also lead down to a viewing platform at Foxy Beach, which is the most populous part of the colony.

Other Things to Do in Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach isn’t just a great place for penguins, it’s also a popular family-friendly swimming beach. Whilst tourists cannot go onto the beach at the colony itself, the adjoining section of pristine white sand and crystal clear water at Boulders Beach is great for swimming and snorkeling between the rocks as numerous penguins jump in and out of the water and swim playfully around you. It is also a great place for a leisurely picnic with the family. Visitors can also check the information center at the entrance to Boulders Beach to find out more about the penguins, including their conservation, breeding habits and their general history in Simon’s Town.

penguins at boulders beach

Important notices from SANParks

  1. Conservation fee: R60 for adults; and R30 for children under the age of 12.
  2. Boulders is a safe beach, with rangers on patrol each day.
  3. Do NOT feed the penguins or come too close. While they may look cute, they’re still wild animals.
  4. Parking is limited, especially during peak Summer, so come early
  5. Alcohol and smoking prohibited
  6. No vessels are allowed, including canoes and kayaks
  7. Because it’s part of the Marine Protected Area, it is a no-take zone, which means no marine life may be removed.

How to Get to Boulders Beach

There are a couple of routes you can take to get there: First, around the mountain via the Southern Suburbs, and leafy Bishops Court, past the Constantia Valley to Kalk Bay, then along the coast to Simon’s Town. Second, from Camps Bay via Hout Bay, along Chapman’s Peak drive, past Noordhoek and Kommetjie. Third, is through public transport. Catch a train from Cape Town Station all the way to Simon’s Town. The train runs along the Kalk Bay coastline. Boulders Beach is about two kilometers from Simon’s Town train station. You can either take the 30 or so minute walk through the historic little naval town or catch a taxi.


Lions Nelspruit

Kruger Trip 2016

Earlier this year we went to spend three weeks in the Kruger National Park here in South Africa. Along the way we stopped off in some Nelspruit accommodation to rest and enjoy a night of luxury.  Kruger is one of the best places in the world to see wild life in their natural habitat and we saw lots of beautiful animals including the Big 5. The Big 5 are called that because they are the most dangerous animals to hunt. Now they have become a selling point for game lodges and parks which contain some or all of the Big 5. Kruger park has all the big 5 which include Lions, Leopards, Rhino, Elephants and Buffalo.

A funny preconception with the big 5 is that the Hippo is not included in it even though it accounts for the second most deaths in Africa after the mosquito.

The Kruger Park is about 5 hours away from Johannesburg by car, and your drive takes you down the escarpment and through some beautiful country side on your way into the low veld. We had flown up from Cape Town to JHB, so we couldn’t make it all the way to our camp in one go.

We decided to stay in Nelspruit along the way and discovered the beautiful Shandon Lodge. The Shandon Lodge is run by Jane and Tony who are fantastic hosts and extremely welcoming. The rooms are beautiful and the pool and deck are are a fantastic place to relax and enjoy their spectacular view. There were a number of other guests staying there which included both fellow travelers  and some corporate businessmen in Nelspruit on business.

The food we ate there was delicious and we slept so well in their comfy beds. We would definitely recommend staying at the Shandon Lodge if you are ever in the Nelspruit area for business or vacation.

The next day we left the gateway to the louvered and the Kruger Park which is Nelspruit and headed through Paul Kruger gate to start our adventure.

We would have a couple of nights staying in Skukuza, Satara and Lower Sabi Camps and then we would be taking part in a three day walking safari in a  secluded park of the Kruger. The walking safari was definitely the highlight of the trip and it is so fantastic to experience nature and the African wilderness close at hand. We saw so many Rhinos it put hope back into our heart after the terrible poaching epidemic that has been striking down these animals.

On our walks we even bumped into Lions, but luckily they were not to close and we could enjoy them from a distance and revel in the excitement of seeing them on foot.

We love birding and are embarking on a Big Year this year, so we are keeping a record of all he birds we see in our travels. It was one of the main reasons for traveling down to the Kruger so we could enjoy all the species that are found there and not in the Western Cape and Cape Town where we live.

The most exciting bird we saw was a Marshal Eagle in a tree just above us on the last day of our walking safari. It was spectacular.

After our walking safari our time in the Kruger park was at an end and we had to start our long journey back to Cape Town by car and plane. We will be happy to be home and walking on the beach again, but we will always miss our adventures in the bush.