Where to see Cape Town’s beloved penguins

Seeing African penguins in Cape Town is a must for anyone visiting the city. Whether you take a photo of one waddling past a scenic backdrop or a sneaky selfie from a distance, these cute animals will make you smile.

In honour of World Penguin Day, we highlight the conservation efforts of the African penguin, as well as where you can find them in the Mother City.

The African penguin 

There are more than 20 different kinds of penguins in the world, including the African penguin. These black and white coloured birds are also known as the Cape penguin or the South African penguin.

Despite the inability to distinguish sexes physically (a blood test can determine their gender), the African penguin has a patch of skin over each eye that helps it deal with the hot temperatures in South Africa and Namibia.

Penguins mate for life and share equal responsibility before and after a chick is born.


The African penguin is on the brink of extinction. Many organisations in and around Cape Town are doing their best to protect the species. SANCCOB, for example, is a registered non-profit organisation that aims to reverse the decline of the African penguin and other seabird populations by rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing sick, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds.

SANCCOB’s clinical veterinarian Dr David Roberts and his team work closely with rangers on the ground and collaborate with local conservation departments to protect the species.

“Penguins are incredible to work with as patients. They are tough, heal well and can get over bad injuries that most animals will not survive.

“Once rehabilitated, they are released into colonies within Cape Town and monitored via a microchip,” he explains.

SANCCOB also cares for penguins and other seabirds unable to survive in the wild.

Where to go 

Boulders Beach

This instaworthy attraction offers a spectacular view of the African penguin colony. Frolic with a good book while the penguins stare from the distance or snap a selfie with the lovable creatures.


Two Oceans Aquarium

Get up close with the northern rockhopper penguins during an educational and interactive Penguin Experience. The experience takes place from Tuesdays to Sundays at 10h30 on the roof of the Kelp Forest Exhibit. The Penguin Exhibit is equally popular.


Stony Point Nature Reserve

This gem in Betty’s Bay allows you to marvel at the African penguin colony as you stroll through an elevated boardwalk.



Learn about the behind-the-scenes operations at SANCCOB in Table View. The 45-minute tour takes place every hour daily from Monday to Sunday. Booking is essential.


Respect boundaries

If you visit places with penguin colonies, please give them their space.

“Keep 2m distance. Do not get up close and personal as it causes them to stress,” Dr Roberts concludes.

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