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If you’re anything like us you will be at your happiest when you’re spending time with penguins, watching them for hours and hours as they waddle around their enclosures at the zoo.
As enjoyable as it can be going to the zoo to see your favourite fluffy penguins, nothing quite beats visiting them in the wild.
There’s something magical about being able to visit penguins in their masses, happily enjoying their natural habitat. For some, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.
To help you on your quest to find penguins in the wild, we thought we’d tell you the best places to see them, as well as letting you know which species you can find where. The list includes incredible destinations such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand - so why not make a trip of it?
Species: African Penguins
Although most people believe penguins are natively from cold climates, Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa is maybe one of the most popular places for people to go and see penguins. With a massive colony of African penguins surrounding Boulders Beach, penguin lovers will be in absolute heaven. If you’re looking for an incredible viewpoints of these African wonders in their natural habitat, we recommend visiting Foxy beach where there are also boardwalks for travellers with limited mobility.
Species: Magellanic, King and Gentoo Penguins
If you’re looking to see several different breeds in one region, Tierra del Fuego (Argentina and Chile) is a great place to start. Tours run regularly from the southernmost town in the world Ushuaia, but only one will give you the chance to actually walk among the penguins - the dream, right?
These amazing shots are from Penguin Island in the Beagle Channel - just take a look at how many penguins there are!
Photos © Alex Berger
Species: King Penguins
Although the remote island of South Georgia has no permanent human residents, it is home to a massive colony of King Penguins. South Georgia is a 2 day sail from its nearest neighbour, The Falkland Islands with the next closest landmass being the Antarctic, a massive 900 miles away! The most common way to visit the penguins is by joining a tour from Ushuaia, the city we mentioned in Argentina above. There’s definitely an option to do both tours, stopping back off in Ushuaia in between and crossing off 4 penguin species in the wild from your bucket list!
This does come at a bit of a cost however, due to the remoteness with tours costing around £10,000 but would be an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity.
Species: Rockhopper Penguins
This little-known island is considered to be one of the world’s most inhabited islands by humans, making it a sanctuary for lots of wonderful wildlife. Among this incredible wildlife is a colony of over 3,000 Rockhopper penguins. Out of all of the destinations listed in this article, Gough Island is one of the most difficult to get to and as their are only as many as 6 people living there at one time, there is absolutely nowhere for you to stay when you arrive. There are, however, day trips available from the nearby Tristan da Cunha.
Species: Little (fairy) Penguins
If you want to see the world’s smallest penguin (at just 12 inches tall), then you may want to visit Phillip Island, Australia. Although the public are able to see the Little penguins during their evening ‘parade’, everyday there are a few tickets available to tourists that allow you to get up close and personal. This includes a ranger-guided tour where you get to walk with them on a secluded beach. The ticket price helps contribute to the conservation of the Phillip Island penguins, including habitat restoration and climate change studies.
Species: Galapagos Penguins
The Galapagos islands are famous for their giant tortoises and it’s connections with Charles Darwin, but did you also know that they have their own species of penguin, the Galapagos penguin? The Galapagos penguin is the only species of penguin that lives north of the Equator, made possible by the cooling effect in the Humboldt current. This particular species of penguin is considered to be endangered, although it’s population has been slowly recovering since it’s decline in the 80’s.
Species: Little (fairy) and Yellow Eyed Penguins
If you’re a big fan of the smaller species, another place to see the world’s smallest penguin (the fairy penguin) is in Otago Peninsula, New Zealand. Due to its penguin population, it’s actually been nicknamed Penguintown.
With 17-20 species of penguins across the globe there are many more places you can see them in the wild, with enough colony’s to create your own around the world trip.
Where would you like to visit to find penguins in the wild? Have you been to any of our top destinations? Leave us a comment!