The Cape Peninsula: penguins, baboons and spectacular scenery

2015-03-22T00:23:18+00:0018 February 2013|Animals, South Africa, UNESCO World Heritage|


After my recent re-visit to Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula, I’ve a series of posts coming up. I’ll cover a cheetah, lion and rhino rescue project and Hout Bay – another self-declared micro-nation. I’ll talk about the infamous prison at Robben Island and a thought-provoking visit in a township. I might even say a word or two about Cecil Rhodes and his garden. But let’s start with the easy bit: stunning nature.


Cape Town probably has one of the most beautiful settings of any city on earth, rivalled only by Rio de Janeiro. If you’re in town for more than a day or two, do get out on the Cape Peninsula to see it all from different angles.

The legendary Cape sits at the tip of the peninsula, making it Africa’s most southwesterly point. It’s not the southernmost point, that honour belongs to Cape Agulhas 150 km away. However, as is often the case, the geographic extreme isn’t always that dramatic. This is the case at Europe’s northernmost point (Kinnarodden in Norway) and also at Cape Agulhas. Thus, the more spectacular rocky headlands of North Cape and Cape Point get all the attention.

Cape Peninsula, South Africa

Cape Point

Somewhere between Cape Agulhas and Cape of Good Hope, the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. Seas are rough here, and Portuguese sailor Bartolomeu Dias, the first to round the Cape, named it Cabo das Tormentas, Cape of Storms. His king would have none of that and renamed this headland Cape of Good Hope. Best to be optimistic…

Cape Peninsula

Cape of Good hope and Dias beach

At the top of Cape Point is a light house and a marker signifying just how far you are from home:

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Cape Peninsula flora and fauna

The Cape Peninsula is part of Table Mountain National Park and is one of eight areas which together form the UNESCO World Heritage site Cape Floral Region Protected Areas, one of the richest areas for plants in the world.


Just as abundant is wildlife, notably the famous, or perhaps infamous, Chacma baboons. Last time I was here, it was early evening and the baboons had taken over the parking lot. They pulled at my clothes and climbed into the car and were generally a bit intimidating. Too much like humans, perhaps – humans without inhibitions.

This time I spotted signs everywhere warning of dangerous baboons, but most of the day they were nowhere to be seen. In fact, I felt lucky to finally spot a few along the road, not at all aggressive. According to the South African Parks Department, the baboons are critically endangered. Much can happen in 20 years…

Penguins at Boulders Beach


A major highlight of the Cape Peninsula is another animal, the African penguin. Just the sight of these little creatures wobbling about on the beach is surely enough to make anyone happy.

I travelled with Ingrid from Norway, Mauricio from Brazil and Pip from Tassie. Between us, we represented three continents, meeting on a fourth. Such a small world. Pip was a bit blasé about the penguins – they’re everywhere in Tasmania, so no need to see these. The rest of us happily paid the 45 Rands entrance fee to enter the protected beach area.

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The African penguin was recently classified as endangered, as the population is decreasing due to the destruction of their habitat: oil spills, overfishing, irresponsible tourists, pets and other animals are all contributing factors. As I walk from the beach to the car park, this is aptly illustrated: most homes in South Africa seem to have tall gates, electric fences and barred windows. Watch dogs are equally common. Boulders Beach is no different. On one side of the street, ferocious dogs bark at anyone walking by; across the street, two penguins come out of the water pipes. It’s all too easy to picture these two little creatures as victim of the dogs – or a passing car. Best to see them before it’s too late.


Cape Peninsula Practicals:

  • Driving is the best way to explore this area and Cape Point is about 1 ½ hours from Cape Town. We drove via Hout Bay, then across to Fish Hoek and Simon’s Town, but there are several alternative routes. The train from Cape Town stops in Simon’s Town and takes about 1 hour.
  • At car parks, locals will offer to look after your car. Sadly, this is a necessity. Remember to tip when you pick up your car.
  • Entrance to the Cape is R90 (R40 for children 2-11).
  • If you don’t feel like walking up to the light house on Cape Point, you can take the Flying Dutchman Funicular up and maybe walk down. (Sgl/return R39/49 – R16/21 for children up to 16).
    Child**    R21            R16Adult R49 R39

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The Cape Peninsula is part of the UNESCO World Heritage serial site Cape Floral Region Protected Areas.

Here are more UNESCO World Heritage sites around the world.

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  1. Deise de Oliveira 18 February 2013 at 1702 - Reply

    Wow! Great pictures. This place is on my wishlist!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0509 - Reply

      Thanks. Easy to get great photos of such a beautiful spot.

  2. Italian Notes 18 February 2013 at 2035 - Reply

    I keep hearing about the crime rates in South Africa, but the nature looks as if it beats all.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0510 - Reply

      There is crime, no doubt about it. But nature does win out.

  3. Ana O 19 February 2013 at 0107 - Reply

    How beautiful! I look froward to the rest of the posts 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0511 - Reply

      Thanks, Ana.

  4. Laurel 19 February 2013 at 0935 - Reply

    I haven’t been to this part of South Africa yet, now I want to go back and explore it.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0512 - Reply

      Know what you mean. I’ve so much left to see of South Africa, even though I’ve been quite a few times.

  5. Michael 19 February 2013 at 2324 - Reply

    Cape Town is on my list of must see places when I finally go traveling. Thanks for the beautiful pictures.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0527 - Reply

      Thank you – and here’s hoping you’ll go soon 🙂

  6. Jennifer 20 February 2013 at 0332 - Reply

    Great post! I’m really hoping to make it to South Africa this year and would love to see everything you covered in this post.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0528 - Reply

      Thanks, Jennifer.

  7. Kim 20 February 2013 at 1216 - Reply

    I’ve wanted to check out Cape Town for ages but have never heard of the peninsula… and they have penguins!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0528 - Reply

      And baboons 🙂

  8. jade 21 February 2013 at 0552 - Reply

    Oh, wow- this is beautiful. And of course I love the penguins, any time I get to see animals and beautiful scenery than I am all aboard!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0529 - Reply

      All you could want in the Cape Town area then 🙂

  9. Andrew Graeme Gould 21 February 2013 at 1429 - Reply

    What a stunning location, Sophie. Beautifully illustrated in your post!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0529 - Reply

      Thank you, Andrew.

  10. Andrea 21 February 2013 at 1533 - Reply

    Oh wow – haven’t seen photos of Capetown before – those views are stunning!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0530 - Reply

      Stunning country, indeed 🙂

  11. Stephanie - The Travel Chica 23 February 2013 at 0000 - Reply

    High on my list of destinations.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0530 - Reply

      and rightly so 🙂

  12. Freya 24 February 2013 at 1658 - Reply

    Stunning photos and nature, this place is definitely on my list. Maybe for next year.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0531 - Reply

      Hope you’ll make it next year 🙂

  13. InsideJourneys 25 February 2013 at 0132 - Reply

    I agree: Cape Town is definitely one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen. It’s breathtaking! You touched all the spots we did when we were there.
    Great shots of Cape Point and the African penguins. Even after I saw them, their braying sound made me think of donkeys. Incidentally, I was watching a travel show yesterday that did a segment on the African penguins and the work of an organization that takes care of them. Can’t recall its name now.
    We also took Hout Bay and Simon’s Town and the funicular to the top. South Africa in general was such an amazing experience, I can’t wait to go back!
    Before we left, everyone warned us about security but we never had any problems.
    Can’t wait to hear more about your trip.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0533 - Reply

      Thanks. And same here, one does hear a lot about security, but nothing even remotely threatening has ever happened to me in South Africa. Common sense goes a long way. As everywhere.

  14. [email protected] 25 February 2013 at 1808 - Reply

    I loved Cape Town and the whole Cape Peninsula; they were simply stunning. Your images brought back very fond memories of my trip. Aren’t those penguins in Boulder adorable. I remember those baboons. We were driving to Cape Point and we had to stop because they were in the middle of the road and wouldn’t move! Such divas! But they were adorable, too. Looking forward to your next series.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0427 - Reply

      Thanks. So adorable the Cape wildlife.

  15. sojourner 26 February 2013 at 0521 - Reply

    Your photos are stunning! Cape Town looks so beautiful. I wasn’t able to make it past Jo’burg during my last trip to South Africa. I have to return to experience Cape Town.

    I’m just curious, did you bring your child with you when you visited Cape Town? I have a two year old, and I’m wondering if you could provide a bit of insight regarding the safety of traveling to Cape Town with a toddler.

    Best 🙂

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0426 - Reply

      Thanks 🙂
      I didn’t bring my kids this time, but I will next time. Will probably hire a car and travel along the Garden Route then, stopping to see animals along the way. With the usual precautions (incl. listening to local advice), I would have no qualms about bringing a toddler.

  16. Abby 28 February 2013 at 0156 - Reply

    I was going to say, “I love that baboon,” but then I got to the penguins… Love all the animals!!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0416 - Reply

      My 11-year-old is upset she didn’t come along this time because of all the animals.

  17. Yes, that`s it. Capetown and its surrounding is one of the most extraordinary places of the world.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 4 March 2013 at 0414 - Reply

      It really is. Thanks for stopping by.

  18. Ursula 4 March 2013 at 1953 - Reply

    Oh my god those penguins look adorable! Do they live in those tubes? I can see one of them climbing inside that pipeline. Your shots are awesome, did you use a telephoto lens for shooting them?

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 5 March 2013 at 1400 - Reply

      Some of the more curious ones walk from the beach up in the street through the pipes. No telephoto lens, they were that close, close enough to touch some of them.

  19. Sensibletraveler 9 March 2013 at 1518 - Reply

    Cape Point gives the impression that you are at the end of the earth!

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 12 March 2013 at 0957 - Reply

      Not that far from it … 🙂

  20. Mzuri @ Amani Afrika 2 March 2014 at 0938 - Reply

    Hi Anne-Sophie, beautiful photos! The penguins are so cute. Thank you for sharing. We enjoyed the fish and chips at Hout Bay and wine tasting at the Cape Winelands.

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 3 March 2014 at 1103 - Reply

      So much to like in South Africa.

  21. Sebastien 13 March 2015 at 0859 - Reply

    Oh my god, it looks so beautiful ! I want to go to south Africa now and do cage diving with great white sharks…

    • Anne-Sophie Redisch 22 March 2015 at 0025 - Reply

      Sounds scary. And thrilling 🙂

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