Posted in travel

Simon’s Town Penguins

With my time in Africa running out, I found myself in Cape Town with only a few days and yet so much to do. Fortunately I’d done so many things on my trip that I could have no regrets, but I wanted to make sure that I saw as much as possible.

Cape Town is a cool city. I honestly don’t like cities and even supposedly nice ones like Durban had been pretty disappointing for me… but Cape Town was incredible. There were simply too many things to do there, and so I picked one almost at random – the penguin colony at Simon’s Town.

Getting there requires a train from the central station. It’s a long ride, but after a while you’re out of the city and running along the coast – Table Mountain National Park rising up to the sky on one side, and False Bay’s azure waters on the other. It really is a stunning ride.

I saw many places along the way that I thought would be perfect to get off and explore, but I stayed on until my destination – Simon’s Town – and explored from there. Simon’s Town is a charming, quaint little place filled with old buildings. There are lots of cafes and souvenir shops if that interests you.

I bought some fish ‘n’ chips from a little harbor side cafe and then walked south to find some penguins. On a random, hidden beach I found six penguins just sitting around. I was surprised how close I could get.

I walked on until I found the actual penguin colony – the protected one intended for tourists. I paid to get in but was disappointed to find it crammed with Chinese tourists. They acted just like they do in China – pushy, noisy, and rude.

Still, there were an abundance of penguins to see. Most of them, at this point, were nesting. They seemed unperturbed by the aggressive hordes of Chinese, but were sometimes attacked by giant seagulls. In one case, a seagull pushed a penguin off its egg and flew off with the egg, only to land and attempt to smash it repeatedly on a rock. Nature is merciless.

After strolling along the short boardwalk filled with Chinese people, I wandered off in search of something a bit more interesting and found part two of the protected penguin colony – a beach where you can actually mingle with the penguins. I was able to swim alongside some of them in the icy cold water. Thankfully, because it was shallow, the water was nowhere near as cold as it had been while doing the shark dive.

By a huge coincidence, I met a girl I’d stayed with in Victoria Falls – neither of us knew the other intended to go to Cape Town. She and some friends had rented a car and offered to drive me back to town. I had a return ticket for the train but scrapped it and rode with them instead. On the way back we stopped off at Fish Hoek and Muizenberg to see the beautiful white sand beaches and the scores of surfers.

Back in Cape Town, I headed home to my hostel (Once in Cape Town) and my friends to theirs (91 Loop). Both places are wonderful – although to be fair most hostels in South Africa seem ridiculously good. Then we headed out to Jimmy’s Burger for dinner and the Beerhouse for beers.

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Author:

I'm the editor of Beatdom magazine and author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult'.

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