I don’t know when the penguin obsession began but after missing them in Argentina (Buenos Aires is too far north), I am determined to see them while I am on the Western Cape. And I don’t mean those benumbed beasts at the aquarium, either. I want happy, free penguins weebling around in the sun. Rumour has it that Boulders Bay, just ouside of Simon’s Town has a penguinery, so off we go.
We’re very lucky. Chapman’s Peak – a winding road etched into the edge of the mountains that run along the coast – has reopened just two days ago. Within 45 minutes of leaving town we are driving a route that is definitely in my top 5 ever.
After about an hour and fifteen we crest the mountain and are looking down on the ocean. A cluster of houses pepper the mountainside, architecturally different than the brick or cement homes I have become accustomed to. These are monied affairs.
We reach Simon’s Town at around 8:00am, and ask a parking lot attendant where we can get breakfast. He directs us to the restaurant at Boulders Bay, overlooking the penguin colony.
After breakfast we’re off to see the penguins. To begin, we take the scenic stroll alongside the beach.
We explore the paths, and then make our way down to the beach where a handful of people are enjoying the sun and sand. We decide we must have our privacy, and begin to pick our way over the rocks.
After a series of overs and unders and arounds we come to a small beach. It is gorgeous and the water is actually warm. I read somewhere that Boulders Bay has the most temperate water on the Cape because the boulders create a bay that is sheltered from the open ocean.
For the next 40 minutes we do what anyone would do in this situaton: frolic in the waves, make jokes about the Blue Lagoon, and take pictures of Craig wearing sea shell pasties… I am enjoying the water when Craig looks up from the Boulders Bay pamphlet he’s been reading and announces that he’s going to check to see whether the tide is coming in:
Ummm, DANGER! The tide is coming in so fast that the water level rises noticeably with every wave that hits the shore. Holding my camera high, I splash back to the beach and begin to frantically shove all of our stuff into my backpack. We wade back to the “path” we came in on. It is now submerged and the waves are coming in with force. The water pulls at our legs and the sand (some of the finest I have ever experienced) rearranges itself around and over our toes in a deceptively pleasant way that makes me think for a second that it’s not trying to suck me under. Despite the wooing of the sand, we make it back to the accessible public beach, drawing inquisitive looks as we emerge soaking and half-dressed from a crack between two boulders.
We have to be back in Cape Town for lunch, so we reluctantly return to the car, observing this most awesome sign in the parking lot.