We piled into Macy’s spotless BMW with our backpacks, water, and enthusiasm. This was not the original plan, but it was what it took to see the penguins of Boulder Beach.
Earlier that morning I punctually arrived at the red bus tour stop, ready to see the sights of Cape Town. After a week of non-stop work repairing the boat and organizing contractors, I was ready to see something. I patiently waited for my new friends Macy and Lauren. I met Macy a few days earlier at the gym and since we were both Americans, we became friends. She worked for the US Consulate, but was moving back to the US shortly, so she wanted to see the sights one last time. Her friend Lauren was from London and her vocation was dressing actors and actresses for movies and TV. They soon appeared and we started chatting to the bus tour salesman about their packages. We wanted to see the penguins, and there was only one bus a day for that tour, so we decided to take matters into our own hands and Macy took over as tour guide.
We set off to the south in our climate controlled transportation, happy to be away from all the German tourists with fanny packs and cameras dangling proudly from their necks. Our first stop was Cape Point, better known as the Cape of Good Hope. There was a queue of cars waiting to get through the gate, but Macy cleverly diverted to the left lane, which was empty. It was for good reason, since it was the bus lane. We sweet talked our way through and continued the adventure over the dramatic landscape. By the time we got to the parking lot, the wind was howling despite the clear sky. As I opened the car door, a gust nearly ripped it out of my hand and off its hinges. Sand flung from the beach peppered our legs, and I was having second thoughts about the short hike to the viewpoint. Macy and Lauren were braver than me and said we came this far, we may as well go the rest of the way.
We hiked a trail to the left of the crowded parking lot. The strong winds kept the majority of the tourists close to their cars, so we had the peak to ourselves. The view down the coast was spectacular and I was grateful the boat was in the marina rather than the raging sea. After several pictures, we were covered in sand and salt spray. We quickly stopped by the sign for the Cape of Good Hope and returned to the car for the next leg of our journey.
Boulder Beach We as the next stop and it was packed as well. Most visitors were content with looking at the five penguins next to the entrance, then settling in with a book on their beach towels. We were not most people. Macy led us to a gap in the boulders and we shimmied through. She then said, “Uh oh, I think it’s high tide, it needs to be low tide to take this path.” This time, I had the courage and said, “Well we came this far.” I climbed over boulders, wedged myself into gaps, and really just had a great time bouldering while the girls waited for my report. I made it to the other side, but without a little bit of rock climbing ability, it would be challenging. They opted to wade through the icy water instead. Our reward was roughly 20 penguins looking at us like we showed up to the wrong party. We were able to get within a foot of them, but they seemed like they might take your toe off if you got any closer. Many of them were babies and mottled, losing their warm feathers to reveal their slick oily swimming skin.
By this point, we were famished. Nobody brought snacks, so we went to lunch in a nearby town at a well known, local fish and chips joint. It was a hole in the wall, but packed. We ordered and waited at a picnic table in the sun, taking in the scene and admiring the beach. The food did not disappoint, and I opted for a combo with both calamari and fish and chips. It was just what I needed, and the girls were similarly content.
Originally we planned to stop by the botanical gardens on the way home, but the food took away our energy and we all decided that we should go home. They dropped me off at the marina and I took a phenomenal nap, the perfect way to end the adventurous day.