From 11 April 2016, for six days, 16 penguin lovers from all over South Africa (plus one from the UK) will be walking 125 from Gansbaai to Boulders Beach in Simonstown. The mission behind this meander: to raise awareness for the endangered African penguin, and to encourage everyone we meet to take action and make a “penguin promise”. What’s good for penguins is good for all animals, including ourselves. The Waddle for a Week campaign, now in its sixth year, is led by African penguin conservation initiative Penguin Promises and the Two Oceans Aquarium.
The day before the big day, on Sunday 10 April, all 16 waddlers plus our driver – honorary waddler Bertram Anderson from De Kat Safaris – met up at the African Penguin and Seabird Sanctuary (APSS) in Gansbaai, where we were treated to a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour from seabird rehabilitator Xolani Lawo.
APSS is a one-year-old, state-of-the-art facility where injured, diseased or distressed birds are treated and rehabilitated. During their first year of operation, APSS received a total of 114 African penguins and have successfully released more than 90% of these endangered birds. The penguins admitted to the facility suffered from shark or seal bites or fishing-line entanglement, or were covered in oil. Some were also abandoned chicks.
After our tour (and coffee and cake), we were taken to our accommodation for the night – Saxon Lodge in Gansbaai – one of the last times we’d be driven anywhere! This is the fourth year that Saxon Lodge has provided a stunning setting for the night-before-the-first-day, and the first year that De Kat Safaris are on board.
Thank you for your generous support, from the African penguins and from us.
As a team, the waddlers are going vegetarian for the week. Becoming vegetarian, or simply committing to eating less meat, is one of the “promises” you can make for a better earth. But how you contribute is really up to you – leave a note on the Penguin Promises website to let us know what your one small change for the environment will be. To support us on our meatless mission, Blue Goose restaurant in Gansbaai put together an amazing vegan menu for our first dinner and lunch for our first day. Delicious! And we also had vegetarian options for breakfast at Saxon Lodge.
This morning we returned to APSS, where we were greeted by the largest group of supporters yet.
Representatives from the Strandveld Hiking Club, Cape Nature, Whale Coast Conservation, Gansbaai Tourism and Gansbaai Academy joined us at APSS and on the first few kilometres through Gansbaai.
When the local SPAR store’s staff members joined us, singing and dancing was added to the mix and we caused quite a commotion!
Our first snack and water stop was at the turn-off to De Kelders, and the Waddle was officially on – minus short-distance supporters. As per other years, we’ve got big yellow signs asking passersby to “hoot for penguins”. On day one we counted 640 hoots. If you see us, give us a resounding "bleeep" please!
In Stanford a group of environmentally aware kids from Okkie Smuts Primary showed us how they do a proper penguin waddle. They also added hundreds of penguin promises to our post box and did their own little march around the rugby fields.
By 2:30pm the waddlers made it to their first night’s stop beautiful Stanford.
105km to go.
Watch the highlights
A big thank you to the sponsors who make the Waddle possible:
- Two Oceans Aquarium
- uShaka Sea World
- Old Mutual Finance
- De Kat Safaris
- First Ascent
- XXL Brands
- Badges Unlimited
- Better Earth
- SPAR Western Cape