Friday, December 23, 2011

Boulders penguin colony, Cape Town, South Africa

There are few places in the world where you can get this close to a breeding colony of penguins, swim close to them in the sea and enjoy their private sandy beach. Boulders Beach is situated near Simon's Town in False Bay between Fish Hoek and Cape Point. It’s about 2km from the Simon's Town train station, which is the last stop on the scenic Southern Line railway route. The sea here is good for swimming and the big, round boulders on the sandy beach provide some shade and shelter. Since it forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, there is an entrance fee, which goes towards paying for conservation of the endangered African penguins that live here.

A good way to see the 3 000 African penguins (Sphenisus demersus) is from the wheelchair-friendly wooden boardwalk at Foxy Beach, accessible via the information centre on Kleintuin Road.These flightless birds roam freely around the area, so you can get close to them, but please don’t disturb them. They can bite – a warning sign is when they move their heads from side to side. The Boulders colony was set up in 1983 and is one of very few mainland penguin colonies. These fast-swimming, deep-diving, braying birds have thrived in their protected home. Their nesting season is from February to August – they nest in simple burrows in the sand or under plants – and the birds moult in November and December.

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