Everybody likes penguins – who can resist their pudgy looks and cute little waddle? But ask anyone about places to see penguins and their usual answer would be the aquarium. Or maybe Madagascar if they’re trying to be funny.
Luckily, Agness and Cez of eTramping have traveled the world far-and-wide and want to share some of their knowledge with us today. If the aquarium isn’t enough for you, here are seven places that have these wonderful waddling creatures.
#1 South Africa
Ever thought you’d hear about penguins in Africa? Neither did we, at first. But they’re very much real, and you can swim with them along Boulders Beach, close to Cape Town. Of course, you can also see them on several other islands off the coast, but this beach is one of the more accessible areas.
Fun fact: the African penguins should (theoretically) stick to the Table Mountain National Park. They don’t care much for the park’s perimeters, however. As such, don’t be surprised if you find some of them on the streets of Simons Town nearby. Do you think the locals have that “why did the penguin cross the road” joke?
What better place to see penguins than the chilly southern continent and the outlying islands? Four of the most iconic species nest around the area: the Emperor, Chinstrap, Adélie, and Gentoo. These will be the stars of the show whenever your Antarctica cruise comes to a halt on the icy shores.
For one, none of the animals on the continent are very used to seeing humans. With only around 37,500 people visiting each year, you’re not likely to see them running (or swimming) in fear. In fact, you’ll stir up their curiosity as these tuxedo-wearing rascals approach you, looking you up and down. At this point in the southern hemisphere, you’re the exhibit.
You won’t find it hard to find penguins here. What’ll be more difficult is not laughing as they slide down a snowy slope on their white bellies. The Emperor penguins are particularly hilarious since they’re the chubbiest of all the species!
© Sandra Petrowitz-Oceanwide Expeditions
#3 The Falkland Islands
Antarctica is one of the best places to see penguins – that’s a given. But following close on its trails are the Falkland Islands. With five different species, numbering over 1 million individuals, it’s no wonder. Compare that to just around 3000 people living here, and you start thinking who actually owns the island.
The King and Gentoo penguins can be found here. Along comes the Magellanic penguin – a relative of the Galapagos species we talked about earlier. Perhaps the most humorous of the bunch are the Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins. Their feathery heads and deep red eyes make them both look like they woke up on the wrong side of the beach.
In any case, if you decide to visit the islands, you don’t need to worry about actively searching for penguin colonies. Go sunbathing one day and they’ll likely come up to you instead.
#4 The Galapagos Islands
Now here’s one of those places to see penguins you would never expect. How do they even survive the Ecuadorian temperatures? The answer is pretty simple. There’s a junction of two ocean currents in the area (Humboldt and Cromwell). As such, the temperatures are just cool enough for the Galapagos penguin to survive.
There’s something interesting to note about these penguins (other than they live at the equator). As members of the banded penguin genus, they emit sounds that sound almost like those of a donkey. Quite a marvel of nature, if you ask us. Hopefully, you won’t be shocked by any “hee-haws” as you go scuba diving with them around the islands.
“The land down under” is actually one of the greatest places to see penguins. In fact, there is even a place called Penguin Island that’s a short ferry ride off the coast of Perth! That is the home of about 1200 specimens of Little Penguins, the largest population in the area.
Though, this species looks a little more like a penguin wearing a pigeon mask. Far removed from the “tuxedo”-wearing look the Emperor species has. Still, the area is beautiful enough to visit on its own and is part of the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park. Garden Island lies close by and is another habitat for the small critters.
Perhaps the best attraction is Phillip Island, however. This is where the “Penguin Parade” happens every evening. While the name sounds festive, don’t start picturing carnival lights. It’s just large groups of penguins “parading” away from the ocean and onto the beach where they make their little beds in the sand.
This country is the land of extremes, with the Atacama Desert towards the north, and icy fjords in Patagonia to the south. If you’re looking for places to see penguins around the country, try the Isla Magdalena first. It has flourishing colonies of Magellanic penguins – thousands upon thousands gather up on the shores, and they don’t shy around travellers.
You can also take a boat from Punta de Choros to the Damas, Choros and Chañaral islands nearby. Here you can admire Humboldt penguins swimming around in crystal-clear waters. Of course, places like the Isla Damas also have white sandy beaches perfect for a summer holiday.
#7 New Zealand
New Zealand tourism has been flourishing since The Lord of the Rings came out. Unfortunately, Isengard is not one of the places to see penguins on our list. However, the Oamahu Harbor on the south island is an excellent spot to hang out with Little penguins. And have a swim in the meantime.
The only bad news is that you can’t take pictures with the small fellows. Not that they’re camera-shy, it’s just that camera flashes might hurt their eyes. Pretty social creatures, otherwise!