Discover Wildlife At Stony Point Penguin Colony

Penguins at Bettys Bay
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I wanted to see African Penguins while I was in South Africa but I didn’t fancy battling through the crowds to get to Boulders Beach. So the Stony Point Penguin Colony, at Betty’s Bay on the Garden Route, was a logical alternative. Thousands of penguins, spectacular scenery and only a handful of other visitors. What more could you ask for?

A Breeding Colony For African Penguins

The Stony Point Penguin Colony is one of only two African Penguin breeding colonies in mainland South Africa (the other is the much more crowded Boulders Beach). Betty’s Bay was on the old Cape Whale Route, and at one time Stony Point was home to the Waaygat Whaling Station, which landed up to 300 whales a year. However, this trade was eventually discontinued and the station was abandoned in 1930. The first pair of penguins were spotted here in 1982 and the colony grew from there.

Penguins at Stony Point Sanctuary, South Africa
African Penguins: an endangered species

At that time it was very rare for African penguins to breed on-shore. However, it was seen as something to be encouraged. These birds had become endangered over the last century, their numbers reduced by oil spillage, over-fishing and competition for food from an expanding population of fur seals. Stony Point was established as a colony to encourage breeding, with a protected area and specially constructed breeding boxes. The policy has been successful and the number of birds has increased to 2500 pairs.

Getting Close To The Penguins

The first thing I noticed was the smell: 5000 penguins can produce a lot of guano! But I quickly got used to it and paid the modest entry fee to enter the boardwalk area where I could look down at the birds. From here you can read the information boards, watch the penguins coming and going, and listen to the waves crashing onto the rocks below.    

Penguin shelters at Stony Point Sanctuary
Shelters have been built to encourage the penguins to breed

You can also see the evidence of the whaling station with remains of machinery and other infrastructure. In particular, an old watchtower (possibly used as a lighthouse) still stands.

Watchtower, Stony Point Sanctuary
Cormorants cluster around the old whaling lookout tower at Stony Point

The Varied Wildlife Of Stony Point

But Stony Point is not just about penguins. This is a paradise for all kinds of wildlife. Even – unfortunately – for predators. In 2017 a Cape Leopard attacked the colony, causing substantial damage and leading to the installation of predator-proof fencing.

Girdled lizard at Stony Point Sanctuary, South Africa - www.worldwidewriter.co.uk
A girdled lizard sits astride a rock

There are three different types of cormorant to spot, and tiny lizards dart between the rocks. Then there are the dassies (properly known as the rock hydrax). Surprisingly, this inquisitive and furry creature is the only known relative of the elephant.

Dassie
A friendly (and inquisitive) rock hydrax

With so much natural life around us it seemed as if we, the humans, were the interlopers. I took a last look at the penguins and the sea and turned away, leaving the penguins to enjoy their sanctuary in peace.

How To Visit The Stony Point Penguin Colony

Stony Point Penguin Colony is open to visitors from 8 am to 4.30 pm (last entrance at 4 pm). The site is wheelchair accessible.

Betty’s Bay is around 90 km from Cape Town, and should take about an hour and a half by car. It is also possible to take an organised tour from Cape Town.

Pinnable image of penguin sitting on a rock
Pinnable image of an African Penguin at the Stony Point Penguin Colony

More To Do In The Western Cape

Looking for more inspiration on things to see in the Western Cape? Have a look at these posts

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4 thoughts on “Discover Wildlife At Stony Point Penguin Colony”

  1. I love penguins. Stoney point looks like a great place to see African penguins and other wildlife without jockeying for position with other humans. Very interesting that the rodent-like rock hydrax is related to elephants!

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Karen Warren

WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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