Top 6 places... for penguin spotting
Cox & Kings’ Katie Cosstick has come up with a guide to some of these lovable seabirds and where in the world you can see them.
With their bushy yellow eyebrows and bright orange beaks, rockhopper penguins are the most entertaining to watch. Their habit for hopping around, rather than waddling or sliding, gives them their name, and they can be found on rocky outcrops in the Falkland Islands, Argentina and Chile.
The second largest of all penguin species at 70-100 cm, the king penguins are extraordinary parents. With a long incubation period of the egg, the parents – which remain faithful to each other for life – share duties to guard and shelter their eggs. Their breeding grounds are in the north of Antarctica and South Georgia but can be seen on the Falkland Islands and Tierra del Fuego (which spreads across Chile and Argentina).
The largest and most majestic of all the penguins, emperors stand at up to 120 cm tall. Endemic to Antarctica, they are the only penguin that breeds in the winter. Once the egg is laid, the female passes the egg to the male, who will incubate it under their feet. The females head to the sea to feed, while the males huddle together for warmth. Although similar in appearance to the king penguin, they have much more vibrant orange plumage.
On the equator in the Galapagos, you can find the most northern of all wild penguins. Surviving so far north in warm temperatures, they rely on the cool Humboldt Current that comes from Antarctica, and live primarily on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela. Many of the Galapagos boats offer the chance to go snorkelling – either from the beach or straight from the boat – so if you're lucky, you may find yourself swimming alongside one of these endangered penguins.
Found from southern Namibia to Port Elizabeth in South Africa, these penguins used to be known as a jackass penguin because of their donkey-like bray. The most popular place to see them is at Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town, an hour’s drive from Cape Town. The huge granite boulders protect the beach from wind and large waves so not only is it an ideal spot for families to swim, its perfect penguin territory. Although you won’t see the biggest numbers directly on Boulders Beach, Foxy Beach is close by and the boardwalks will take you through dunes and dense vegetation to get up close to the colony.
As the name suggests, this is the smallest of all penguins, standing at an average of just 33 cm. Also known as fairy penguins, they are found in southern Australia and New Zealand. For one of the best ways to see these penguins, head to Phillip Island off the coast of Melbourne for the nightly ‘penguin parade’, when they waddle out of the sea and back to their burrows in the sand dunes.