Joanna Lowy is content manager at trip-planning platform, Tripening
It’s Penguin Awareness Day: What better time to press pause on our busy lives to appreciate some of the cutest creatures on the planet?
- Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
This corner of the world – enveloped in a stunning collection of volcanic islands – has always been something of a popular attraction. In fact, Charles Darwin himself famously studied many plant and animal species here! Today, things are no different, with travelers from all over the world drawn to this unique wildlife haven – and you’ll soon see why.
Indeed, it is not only that the Galápagos Islands thrive with wildlife, but that so much of the wildlife is endemic, meaning it exists here and here alone. Thus, if it’s a Galápagos penguin you want to see (or, ahem, hear – they’re known for their loud squawk!), you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s the Galápagos Islands you’ll have to visit. And boy, what a treat you’ll be in for!
This endangered penguin – the second smallest in the world! – is truly a sight to behold, and you can do so either from the comfort of a boat or while snorkeling around the island.
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- Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, Chile
A bird and penguin-lover’s dream, these breathtaking islands will get you up-close and personal with the adorable Humboldt penguins.
These penguins can also be seen on the Ballestas Islands in Peru – an incredible collection of islands that boast unique rock formations and an eclectic mix of wildlife.
Not just one but two notable areas to get your penguin fix here:
- Tierra del Fuego. Here you’ll get the chance to see up to three different species – the Magellanic penguin, Gentoo penguin and King penguin. You can book a day cruise from Ushuaia – the southernmost city in the world – to visit the main landmarks of the island and the King Penguin Park.
- Punta Tombo. This sprawling coastline and nature reserve, home to an impressive range of wildlife ,is nicknamed ‘penguin paradise’ due to the half a million or so Magellanic penguins who like to chill on the beaches (you and me both, amiright?)! Book your full-day tour here
There are two islands here that you need to know about:
- Macquarie Island. Despite being thousands of miles off the Australian coast, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is officially an Australian island – and a beautiful one at that! Home to three types of species, it is truly a penguin paradise.
- Phillip Island. Good things definitely come in small packages here – just take a look at the thousands of blue-furred Little penguins – aptly named for being the smallest in the world. And – as you might expect – they are just so cute! Catch them – in their thousands – waddling along the beach as they make their way back home after a hard day’s work fishing, just before sunset (another thing which this beautiful island does incredibly well too, by the way.). Book a penguin highlights tour here
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- New Zealand
Ok, we’re just spoiling you now, but there are three top spots here to know about:
- Oamaru, South Island. Both Little and Yellow-eyed penguins reside here, making it a perfect place to view these well-loved birds.
- Steward Island, Southland. As well as the Little penguins and Yellow-eyed penguins who also call this place home, you may be lucky enough to see the rare Fiordland penguin – identifiable by their blueish head and wide yellow eyebrows that spill out into a Rockstar haircut – on this gorgeous island, too! Explore Steward Island
- Otago Peninsula. As well as being born out of volcanic eruptions, this peninsula is also a hot spot for marine wildlife. The available tours are committed to maximizing your experience with minimal disruption to the animals.
- Boulders Beach, South Africa
A personal favorite of ours, and – if the idea of sharing a beach experience with thousands of some of the cutest ever penguins appeals – then this will probably end up being a personal favorite of yours, too! Just 45 minutes from Cape Town, a trip to this white-sand slice of heaven – backdropped by granite boulders – is an absolute must.
- Atlanta, Georgia
The Georgia Aquarium is one of the best globally, so it’s only fitting that it should be home to an equally impressive penguin exhibit. Not only can you learn all about the endangered African penguin but you can enjoy up-close encounters, too – complete with a professional photo!
So, where will you go first?