Visiting the penguins at Betty’s Bay was definitely the highlight of our trip to South Africa. We just loved seeing them hopping around and swimming.
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.
We were enroute to Cape Agulus the Southern most point of African Continent when we decided to stop here.
Betty Bay is this quaint town with long and empty white-sand beaches surrounded by the mountains. Picturesque! The beach would have been a nice place for a picnic on a not so windy day.
We had visited the penguins at the Boulder’s Beach and this was equally fascinating. This colony was much bigger in size than the one we saw at Boulder Beach.
One could still see the structural remains of the whaling station as we parked our car. Just the thought that this place was used to savagely cull whales brought shivers down my spine. I felt a heaviness in my chest.
The penguin colony was established here in 1982 in an attempt to protect the dwindling species.
There is something poetic about seeing a place once essentially used to kill animals turn into a place dedicated to saving them.
It was a quiet day hardly any visitors. There was another family getting back in their car when we parked ours.
We bundled out of the car and headed towards the entrance. Although the sky looked clear the wind was bitterly cold and blustery. We were almost blown off our feet as we stepped out of the car. The kids squealed and I held Yahya’s hand tightly (my 4 year old) worried that he may fall down. I buttoned his jacket and asked him to put his other hands in his pocket.
This was July the winter month.
As we walked towards the entrance we saw two penguins walk up the ramp from the sea. The kids were excited. These penguins crossed right close to where we were standing and headed for their colony.
The kids and I were so tempted to touch them, they were so close. They waddled. However we resisted knowing that these were wild animals and they may peck at people when startled.
We paid the entrance fee, and got on boardwalk built slightly raised over the colony’s nests.
Yahya’s bewilderment was showing on his face. He was holding my hand tightly and said,
“Mama where are the cages”
I looked at him perplexed not understanding what he meant.
“Mama don’t the penguins run away”
I squatted down and looked Yahya in the eyes and said
“Yahya this is not a zoo, dear”
“Yahya this is the penguins home, they live here”
He looked around still looked baffled but slowly coming to terms with the reality. His eyes had a sparkle. I could tell that his tiny brain was working.
“Look this the penguin’s home” I said pointing to a hole in rocks.
This beach was not sandy and the penguins were hiding in the cracks in the rocks to cushion themselves from the mighty gales that almost made us fly in air.
As we entered the protected area we stopped to read the notice board to find out more about the Penguin colony at Stony Point.
Breeding season takes place from February to October, (we were bang in the middle of it), perhaps we’d be lucky enough to spot some of the babies.
Did you know that penguins are monogamous? That means they mate for life. Both parents share the nesting and feeding duties.
The Stony Point Penguin Colony is used as a research and monitoring facility hence the nests were colour coded, green indicating there are chicks and yellow indicating eggs.
We immediately spotted many nests in every direction. However most nests were empty. We were told that since it was early morning most penguins were out hunting for food.
We did see some penguins enjoying lying on the rocks, which must be where the name (Stony Point) comes from. Others were wandering in between the nests. We spotted many out on the sea.
We headed back to car all cold and shivering, partially with excitement of seeing the penguins in their habitats.
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