South African wildlife without the safari.

"Explore your wild side."

All this talk about animals, reminds me that I still haven’t told you about the wildlife Mr F and I saw when we in South Africa earlier this year…

Beaded animals for sale at the side of the road in Johannesburg.

Full disclosure, you won’t be seeing the big five here ie. lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo, because we didn’t go to the Kruger National Park on this trip.

I’ll begin by showing you something as ordinary as a spider web.

The beauty, complexity, and enormous size of these webs reminded us that we really were hiking in Africa.

We’ve all seen penguins in the zoo swimming in their small pools,  but have you ever swum with them on the beach down the road from the house?

The penguin colony is on the beach in the middle of a residential neighborhood

I’ve never seen so many in one place.

African Penguin...

A large colony of African Penguins live at Boulders Beach, a sheltered cove between Simonstown and Cape Point. 

Previously called The Jackass Penguin because of their donkey like braying, there are now only about 150,000 African Penguins (compared to 1.5-million in 1910).

There are about 3,000 birds at the Boulders Beach Colony, which began with two breeding pairs in 1982.

Penguins sunbathing

They may look cute, but they have very sharp beaks and can cause serious injury if they bite.

"happy together"

Penguins are monogamous and the life-long partners take turns incubating the eggs and feedings their young.

When I saw these two penguins snuggling up together, I thought of my mom’s expression ‘happy together‘.


Have you ever seen a Baboon walking about, not in the zoo?

The mountain above our cabin

Early one morning Mr F saw a troop of baboons walking on the ridge above our cabin at the Forest Creek Lodge, several hours north east of Johannesburg.

He stared and they stared back.

I missed it. Sleeping in I was..

The Chacma Baboon is a protected species in the Cape Peninsula.

In the wild they eat fruit, roots, honey, bulbs, insects, but as the new housing developments have encroached on their home territory they have learned to break into houses, open the refrigerators, and with their nimble fingers can “unzip, unclip and rip open” almost anything   ….

There are signs at picnic spots and along the roads, warning drivers that baboons are dangerous wild animals, reminders to keep the  windows closed and the doors locked if you see them, and to never leave a bag in the car because in their search for food some of them have learned to open car doors. In other words, picnics are “Verboten“!

Even though the rental unit where we stayed [in Simonstown] was on the second floor, and there are special baboon “burglar bars” on the windows

the lines on the window are plastic bars to keep the baboons out the house

(which you can see in the photo on the left),

there were strict instructions to only leave the windows open a crack, and not to put fruit on the window sill.

The owners, who live downstairs, told us they’d had baboons break in a couple of times, and they shuddered as they recounted the mess of peanut butter, jam, granola, eggs, and turds smeared all over the walls, floor, table and beds…

This really is a baboon enjoying a snack in someone's house (photo from my friend Jean)

Baboon proof garbage bin on the side of the road

There are about 80 baboons in four troops in the Simonstown area, and the wildlife management authorities of the Table Mountain National Park and Cape Nature have been working hard to reduce negative human-baboon interactions.

I was relieved to learn that they haven’t had any “baboon break-ins” for about a year.

Do not feed seals

Guinea fowl at Kirstenbosch Gardens


Have you ever seen Guinea Fowl?

We met these two at the beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town.

Kirstenbosch Gardens

Thank you Mahalia for telling us to go there, and Suzy for being the best tour guide!

Cape Robin at Kirstenbosch Gardens

We never really caught up on our missed sleep in South Africa, because of this harmless looking bird, the Hadeda.

Adult Hadeda Ibis

An adult Hadeda

When the Hadedas start their  “haa-haa-haa- de-dah” calls around 5:30 a.m., it’s impossible to sleep in.

(Click this link to watch a video of the Hadeda from an earlier post.)


I haven’t told you about the dassies jumping on the rocks at Cape Point, or the Sacred Ibis at the lake, but this is long enough.

If you’re still with me here’s a slide show…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

About dearrosie

We think we need so much, when all we really need is time to breathe. Come walk with me, put one foot in front of the other, and get to know yourself. Please click the link to my blog - below - and leave me a comment. I love visitors.
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17 Responses to South African wildlife without the safari.

  1. souldipper says:

    A walk down memory lane for me, thanks, Rosie. I visited in 2009 and enjoyed this part of the world as well.

  2. Reggie says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post, Rosie. So pleased you enjoyed your visit to our part of the world. I am beaming…. 😀

    • dearrosie says:

      Thank you Reggie. I appreciate your beams and 🙂
      To be quite honest, it made me a wee bit nervous to write about South African when I know I have readers from there.

      You live in such a beautiful part of the world.

  3. Barbara Rodgers says:

    Wow! Those cobwebs are enormous! Hiking in South Africa sounds like the thrill of a lifetime! The penguins have interesting markings and that troop of baboons gathered on the ridge must have been an exciting thing to witness… I’m surprised how big they are – that one in the kitchen is huge. I never got a sense of their size before from watching nature programs. Love the pretty Guinea fowls with the spot of blue on their heads. Enjoyed the little hadeda documentary and the slideshow. Amazing the differences in wildlife from continent to continent.

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Barbara,
      Mr F is still excited over that early morning baboon sighting. He was also surprised to see how big they are.

      I’m very glad you went back to watch the hadeda documentary. It’s unbelievable that such a small innocent looking bird can wake up the whole country. it really is impossible to stay a-bed once they start their calling.

  4. Heather says:

    Amazing photos you took! The spider web and penguins and everything else too – mountains and gardens – what a lovely part of the world!

  5. Sybil says:

    Thanks Rosie. I’ll never be able to visit South Africa in person, so thank you for taking me along on this “virtual” trip. I’m enjoying the mental image of a baboon unlocking a zip-lock bag !

    • dearrosie says:

      Hi Sybil,
      I’m glad you also enjoyed my photos 🙂

      Baboons are smart and have human hands with fingers so it’s not difficult for them to learn to unlock a zip-lock bag.

      I didn’t mention that the owner of the house told us that it took two days to clean up the baboon mess, and they also left a disgusting *stink* that was hard to get rid of…

  6. Cindy says:

    Simonstown, my home 🙂

  7. Priya says:

    I am not able to gauge the size of the cobweb! It must be enormous, though, for it is clearly visible.

    How very ignorant of me. I did not know penguins had their species cousins in Africa as well. And they swim around you, close to a residential colony? That’s splendid. The “happy together” picture is a really, really happy one.

    And that baboon! We have a species of apes here in India, which is infamous for similar antics. I am happy I’ve never been introduced to any of their kind in any of the houses I’ve been to or lived in. I’d be very scared.

    And the beaded animals: Such fun!

  8. dearrosie says:

    Hi Priya,
    Unfortunately I didn’t think of asking Mr F to stand next to the web so you could see the size. I just asked him if he can remember how big it was but he couldn’t help. I have a feeling that you must have huge spider webs like that where you live?

    Yes one can swim on that beach but to be perfectly honest I wouldn’t get in the water near them creatures. Would you?

    Interesting to know that some apes are breaking into homes in India. Do you have to keep your windows closed to keep them out?

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