Three Places to See Penguins Wild and Free
In 2005 the world was introduced to two phenomena which have equally shaken popular culture today. We were introduced to the feature-length wonder of a film narrated by Morgan Freeman and to the incredible lives of Emperor Penguins, until then, hidden behind the white curtain of the Antarctic wilderness. March of Penguins brought this ever inspiring flightless bird into the cultural spotlight and sparked a global love affair with these huddled masses enduring life in one of the most inhospitable pockets of the world.
The rise in eco-tourism has seen an increase in explorers seeking out the opportunity to see penguins in the wild, with many saving up for an Antartic expedition to huddle in a zodiac to see the OG Emperor Penguins in their natural habitat. The world of penguins is far more diverse though than just the orange cheeked emperors and includes 17 different species, all living in the southern hemisphere. For those looking to knock off the dynamic duo of penguins and polar bears in the same trip, I regret to inform you these two childhood favorites literally live a world apart, inhabiting opposite poles of the globe. There is good news though for you penguin lovers out there, with so many species of penguins in the world you do not need to follow in the frozen steps of Shackelton to see the world's best-dressed bird. Here are the top three countries to find penguins not requiring a dogsled.
1. Argentina and Chile
At the tip of South America, Argentina and Chile come together in a region known as Tierra del Fuego. Meaning the Land of Fire, this is true wilderness and represents the southernmost tip of Patagonia and well, the new world. Tierra del Fuego is home to the King Penguin, the second largest species of penguin in the world, they share a striking resemblance with their larger, Hollywood, cousins. Alongside the king penguin, you'll also see Magellanic penguins, gentoo penguins, Humbolt penguins, and rockhopper penguins.
Less than 90 miles south of Melbourne, Phillip Island is home to the world's smallest penguin. Not the most creatively named, Little Penguins rarely stand over 12 inches tall but put on a hell of a show each day on Summerland Beach where nearly 4,000 members of this Little Penguin metropolis race to their burrows at the end of each day.
3. South Africa
Perhaps the most accessible place to see penguins is in South Africa. Flying in Cape Town puts you just a short drive from nearby Boulders Beach and their world famous tuxedo-wearing locals. The African Penguin can be found all along the coast of Namibia and South Africa, but Boulders Beach's residential penguins have become insta-famous as millions visit the Mother City each year.
Whether you fell in love with these sentinels of the ice through the sultry tones of Mr. Freeman or always dreamt of having your own troupe of performing penguins a la Mr. Popper, the opportunity to see these adorable birds is not confined to an expedition to the southernmost continent and is much more accessible than many people think. If you've got penguins on the bucket list for 2020, join us on Boulders Beach next year as we return to South Africa!
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