Swimming with Penguins

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Boulders Beach in Simons Town, Cape Town is one of the big tourist attractions and “must see” destinations when visiting the Mother City. Everyone who visits takes endless photos of the friendly penguins, amazed at how tame and docile they are. But have you ever swam with the penguins? I’m sure the answer to that is no because the water is so cold!

My main reason for going into the water was that I really wanted to test out my new GDome in the shallow clear water, and hopefully get some penguins in the shot too! A GDome is a device you attach to your GoPro or underwater camera to allow a split screen shot – half above and half under the water. I actually won mine in an Instagram competition from XtremeXccessories! I ended up staying in the water for over an hour (shivering from the cold most of the time!) so I got enough footage to make a little video. I was very careful not to disturb the penguins or get in their way, so I would kneel in the water and just wait for them to swim past. This meant that sometimes I would have to sit in the cold water for 20 minutes without one penguin swimming past me, but it was all worth it in the end! Being in the water so close to those beautiful creatures felt truly magical!

 

I always thought that the penguins at Boulders Beach were only tame because of the many tourists they encounter on a daily basis. But it turns out that some species of wild penguins are not afraid of humans since they have no natural predators on land. Of course I would not suggest trying to touch them or getting too close. Especially if they are making or sitting on a nest because they can bite!

Tips on visiting Boulders Beach:

  • It’s open all year round, but I would suggest going in summer when the weather is good so that you can take your time and enjoy the beach. But keep in mind December and January may be very crowded with tourists.
  • When you arrive at the main beach, KEEP GOING! A lot of people stay at the main beach with just a few penguins hanging around and don’t realise that the beach continues on. This means you will have to crawl under and climb over some rocks, but it also means you will get to see hundreds more penguins! Keep going until you see a sign in the water indicating the end of the public beach.
  • Try to go around low tide, otherwise you may have to walk in the water to get to the end of the beach and it’s cold!
  • Consider getting the Wildcard. It will give you free entry into Boulders Beach as well as a discount at the Table Mountain cable car and free entry into all the National Parks and nature reserves around South Africa.
  • There is also a lookout deck where you can view the penguins at their private beach area, but I never go there since I would rather see them up close in person!

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What is your spirit animal? I’ve always thought mine must be either a bird or a dolphin. Well if you think about it, what else is a penguin other than a swimming bird? They have the looks of a bird and they playfully swim like dolphins! That’s it. My spirit animal is a penguin.

 

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