Monday, February 27, 2006

Penguins and people

If you are in Cape Town and have an urge to see wild penguins its pretty easy to achieve. You turn up at Boulder's Beach (34 12'20.89"S 18 27'37.94"E for google-earthers), just south of Simon's Town, pay your money at the reserve gate and in you go.

The penguins are pretty much completely unafraid of people, hence this sign in the car park. This obviously has been put up because of an incident in the past which is sad but I can't be the only one to find the graphic in the bottom left corner slightly ridiculous, can I?

You walk down this boardwalk which is absolutely packed with tourists and stare at the big group of penguins on the right of this photo. At that point if you are like most of the tourists I saw there, a shouty tour guide will collect you up turn you round and you will leave...which is pretty underwhelming in my opinion. If you are like me you won't have a tour guide as you'll like exploring new cities on your you'll notice the large number of penguins sheltering under your feet in the shade.

You'll wander a bit more and see more penguins quite close and perhaps take quite a few photos, because lets face it they are pretty adorable aren't they?

You'll walk up through the woods to see where they nest in the forest. Seeing penguins in a wood is weird. These are African penguins by the way, they used to be Jackass penguins until someone pointed out that lots of penguins sound like donkeys. They've always been Spheniscus demersus though.

If you walk on you'll find a bigger group in a slightly more traditional penguin-type setting. This colony has apparently expanded massively since a few pairs started nesting here. Most of the population of this species nest offshore on islands so these guys are special and there's now loads of them.

In some spots you can watch them swimming fairly closely which is where penguins become really graceful and free of their clumsy earth-bound posture. Watch them in the water and they actually move like a bird. Then as you sit on a rock chilling out and enjoying the scene they'll jump out of the water and walk up to you because thats the way they are. They're particularly curious about Slipknot fans for some reason (I don't get it either).


Pam in Tucson said...

Well - you really got me on this one. I can never resist penguins. So glad you avoided shouty tour guides and went exploring on your own so we can see these great photos.

tai haku said...

Its an interesting experience hereing guides shouting at stragglers in 4 different languages! glad I went solo and glad you liked the pictures.

bard catheters said...

Cute penguins. I love them.
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