Boulder’s Beach – January 2016

“The most beautiful in the world is, of course, the world itself.”

Wallace Stevens

Boulder’s Beach is home to a breeding colony of Jackass Penguins or African Penguins, these penguins are only found on the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia. The penguins were originally called Jackass because of the donkey like braying call they make.  However as the penguins make a similar sound too several South American penguins they were renamed African penguins as they are the only penguins which breed in Africa.  The penguins are on the verge of extinction, it was estimated in 1910 to have a population of 1.5 million, but by 2009 it was down to just 26 000 and due to harvesting the penguin eggs for food and guano scraping. 

Boulder’s Beach began with two breeding pairs in 1982 and it is believed that the colony has grown to about 2 100 penguins  in 2011. The penguin population growth is due to a decrease in commercial trawling in False Bay, which has increased the supply of pilchards and anchovies, the diet of the penguins. 

The area is managed by the Table Mountain National Park who have established a penguin viewing area and three boardwalks around Foxy’s Beach which allow you to see the penguins nesting and moving around without getting too close. Boulders Beach is surrounded by boulders and protected from the wind and large waves, so it makes it a great place to swim with kids, if you can stand the cold water and offers the unique opportunity to swim in close range of penguins.  The beach only allows a certain number of people in at a time and the day we went it was already full.  While we did not do it, you can organise a tour at the main visitor center, where I imagine you will learn more about the penguin project. 

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This is a sign you don’t see very often.  Unfortunately as the area is surrounded by residential homes penguins are often hit by cars or run over in car parks when sheltering from the sun under cars.

We went to Boulder’s Beach in early January, to see the penguins with Totem and Morning Glory.  While the kids wandered were busy chatting we all enjoyed the beautiful views afforded from the boardwalk, the sunny weather and of course the penguins.

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Andrew joked that although they are very cute, he was disappointed that they weren’t dancing around like in the movie Madagascar.

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As you wander the boardwalk you can see the nests that the park has installed but it appeared that some of the penguins preferred to create their own on the beach, where we saw quite a few empty eggs. There main nesting period is between February and August, so we were a bit early to see the nesting.

Boulders Penguin Colony Tourist Information

Entry Fee:

  • South African Citizens and residents with ID – R39 per adult/R20 per child
  • SADC Nationals with passports – R76 per adult /R39 per child
  • Foreign Visitors – R152 per adult/R76 per child

Note child is 11 and under

Opening Hours

  • Winter: April – September – 8 am – 5 pm
  • Summer: December – January – 7 am – 730 pm
  • February – March –  8 am – 6.30 pm
  • October – November –  8 am – 6.30 pm

Further information can be found by either clicking on this link or going to the following website: https://www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/tourism/attractions.php#boulders

Information on prices and opening hours updated April 2019

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