Penguins in South Africa: A Visit to Betty’s Bay
Did you know there are penguins in South Africa? You can find the African Penguin along the coast of Namibia through South Africa. There are quite a number of places to see them. The most popular destination is Boulder Beach, about a 45-minute drive from Cape Town. However, a little further along the coast, you’ll find Stony Point Nature Reserve.
When I visited Lynsey, I told her one of the things I was hoping to do was see some penguins in person. I mean, who doesn’t love those little creatures? I’m pretty sure they were on my pet wish list along with a monkey and a panda. On one of my last days, her parents took us on a fun road trip from Paarl to Stony Point.
Penguins in South Africa
The African Penguin is actually incredibly endangered. Currently, the population has dwindled to less than 10% of what it was in 1900. Each year it decreases about 2%. Conservation areas in places like Boulder Beach and Betty’s Bay are meant to combat this.
Stony Point in Betty’s Bay
Stony Point is located on an old whaling station, and Betty’s Bay itself is about 90-minutes from Cape Town between the Kogelberg Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. You can drive on your own like we did or take a tour there. Viator has a 4-hour tour for about $60, which you can book here, but it’s obviously much cheaper without one.
Visiting the penguins at Betty’s Bay was definitely a highlight of my month long trip to South Africa. I just loved seeing them hopping around and swimming. There’s also something pretty poetic about seeing a place once essentially used to kill animals turn into a place dedicated to saving them.
When you arrive you’ll already start to see them roaming around. Once you pay the entrance fee, you’ll be able to walk along this boardwalk and get pretty close to them. Either Lynsey or her dad mentioned that when they were younger you could definitely walk out the tower you see in the above photo.
It’s a fairly short trip and great if you’re driving along the coast. It’s one of the few places in South Africa dedicated to helping preserve the African Penguin, and it’s probably the most off-the-beaten if you’re hoping to avoid crowds.
Also, bring a sweater! We were there in January, which is summertime in South Africa, and out of nowhere the clouds came, and we were shivering in our sundresses. When we left Paarl and even along Clarence Drive, it looked like this:
And as soon as we made it around the bend, the weather turned to this:
Looks like two different seasons!
Logistics of Visiting Betty’s Bay
- Unless you’d like to take a tour, I’d recommend renting a car. You’ll want one to get around the Western and Eastern Cape in general. I’d suggest looking on RentalCars.com to see the different rates!
- Address: 2397 Rocky Ridge, Betty’s Bay, 7141, South Africa
- Opening Times: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- Entrance Fee: R20 or about $1.50 for Adults and R10 or 75 cents for Children.
- For more on the African Penguin, read here. Fun fact, they’re also nicknamed jackass penguins because their calls sound like donkey noises. Yep, that’s the English language for you.
- P.S. A lot of my shots were taken with a 55-210mm zoom lens, which is why they look so up close. This lens is awesome if you’re photographing animals.
Where Else to Find Penguins in South Africa
Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town
As I mentioned above, Boulder’s Beach is the most well-known place to visit penguins in South Africa. If you don’t have a car, all my friends told me to use the City Sightseeing to see the big sites. You’ll want to get the Cape Point Explorer for R530 or $40.
St. Croix Island in Algoa Bay
If you happen to visit Port Elizabeth (which you totally should), another place to find the African penguins is on St. Croix Island. While you can’t walk in the reserve like you can in Boulders Beach and Betty’s Bay, you can take a cruise around to see them from afar.
Do you have seeing penguins in South Africa on your bucket list?
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