I’d first heard about the penguin colony in South Africa via Pinterest. You’re probably thinking… wait a second, is that even real?! Do penguins really hang out on the sunny beaches of AFRICA? Turns out it is very real. Penguins have been migrating to these particular southern shores since the 1980s.
Naturally I had to go see for myself.
(Heads up: excuse the less than fantastic photos — these were taken with a sad little point-and-shoot nearly 3 years ago)
So this is how the beginning of the day went:
On my one free day in Capetown during the spring of 2011 I made plans with my new friend Rachel to take a train out to Simon’s Town in search of those adorable, tuxedoed Antarctic natives. Rachel and I had met only a couple days before when we were put together as “sisters” for a stay with a host family at a township outside of Capetown.
While we were grabbing breakfast onboard the MV Explorer we ran into Jonathan, a guy I had never met before but who was interested in seeing the penguins also, and we felt it wouldn’t hurt to have a guy apart of our group — it turns out this serendipitous meeting would later become one of the best things to ever happen to me, because Jonathan helped save my life this same evening, but more on that later.
The three of us started out at the Capetown train station where we bought round-trip tickets to Simon’s Town.
We boarded the train and off we went, on our quest to be as close to the south pole as any of us had ever been — not that we were close, but we were in the southern hemisphere and that itself was cool.
Out the window of the train we could view breath-taking landscapes at every turn.
We arrived and began leisurely walking towards Boulders Beach, stopping to get ice cream and look inside shops along the way.
After crossing the street and strolling along the wooden boardwalk we came to a viewing area where we could see the penguins, who shook themselves free of water and waddled toward us.
We turned and walked back the way we came to see if we could find another place to view these little guys.
Down one of the paths we came across a protected beach which required an entrance fee. We paid the fee, bought ourselves a South African “Iron Brew” soda, and started down the walkway towards the sand.
I rolled up the ends of my jeans and waded into the water. With a few quick maneuvers I climbed up onto a rock next to a group of the penguins and sat there for ten minutes, enjoying the view and the good vibes.
After leaving the penguins we headed back to the Simon’s Town train station in order to catch the last train back to our ship in Capetown…
We were completely unaware that I was about to encounter a near-death experience — check back later this week for that story!