Waddler, Waverider, Wingman. Meet the Bird of Love…


“… Once a penguin finds its perfect other penguin, they stay together pretty much forever.”
― Anna Staniszewski

This is a whole other kind of birding safari. There is no waiting for the bird to take flight, so to better capture the details of its outstretched wings. There is no scanning the trees for the shake of a tail feather or the rustle of a nest. These are birds of the sea. Aquatic and flightless and known as the African Penguin. And here, at Boulders Beach in Simonstown, Cape Town, is the only place in the world where you can get up close to them in the wild.

Their tuxedo outfits and characteristic waddle aside, what makes these birds so charming is their unique love for each other. Penguins pair for life, climbing into their nests beneath the trees here at Boulders Beach with their loved one at night, every night (for better or for worse). They epitomise what it is that we celebrate this February, the month of love.



Between ancient granite boulders, Boulders Beach is itself a declaration of love – set up to protect and care for the African penguin. Part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, the beach is always clean, safe and crowd-controlled and the water is warmer than many other beaches in the city.

A short walk away is Foxy Beach, where you can lay down your beach towel between the penguins or take to the water, while the odd wave-rider flaps past you. This closeness between man and penguin is all the more special considering that the birds are currently listed as endangered.

Habitat loss, declining fish populations and encroachment by humans has seen their numbers dwindle from around one-and-a-half million in 1910, to a mere 26 000 breeding pairs in the world today. Funds from the over 60 000 visitors who visit Boulders Beach each year are vital in helping the penguin conservation efforts at work here.



“To help stop the loss of chicks, and provide a safe breeding environment, Boulders Coastal Park management has introduced artificial nesting boxes, which you will see when you walk through the area. Thanks to conservation initiatives by the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), the Dyer Island Conservation Trust, and SANParks, these precious penguins may yet survive to swim, and waddle, another day.” – South Africa Tourism



When To Visit

Summer is the best time to visit, weather wise, but the penguins are around throughout the year. During September and October, when the birds are feeding out at sea, fewer can be found on the beach. The best time of day to visit is early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Below is a look at our recent visit to see the penguins enjoying the summer sun, side by side.




Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach 2

Boulders Beach 4





Follow our Cape Town in the Summer series here on our blog for a look at our favourite things to do in the city while the sun is shining. Find out more about a visit to Boulders Beach from South African National Parks: Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111, e-mail: reservations@sanparks.org.

The Moonwalkers of Cape Town

Cape Town 1

In celebration of summer in Cape Town, the best season to explore the city’s outdoor life, we will be blogging about a few of our favourite things to do and see. This is perhaps the first thing you should do… the full moon hike up Lion’s Head.

A mountain rises up in the heart of the city. It splits off into new peaks, toward the vineyards of Constantia and Steenberg, toward the Atlantic Ocean, toward the southern most tip of the city, the Cape of Good Hope.

It was here before the bars and restaurants. It will be here long after the hotels and art galleries and cinemas. It is the true north of the city, resetting us on our path – we who live around it. It is part of the city’s personality, but more than that, it is part of us. The locals.

Travellers to Cape Town know its significance. It’s why most days and full moon nights you will find people from all around the world making the pilgrimage – whether to the top of Table Mountain or its outlying peaks, in particular… Lion’s Head. The mountain resembling that King of the bush but home only to the birds, lizards, dassies and people of the Cape.


As ingrained in my psyche as Lion’s Head is, in my past, present and future, until recently I had never embarked on the Moonwalk. Armstrong and Aldrin aside, this hike takes place each full moon. Hikers make the ascent up the mountain just before sunset and wait on top for the moon to rise. They leave only after the claps and shouts and exclamations of awe and disbelief as that round astronomical reminder of our place on earth rises, slowly, slowly. And then they start on the hike down – in the pitch black night, guided by the light of the moon (and each other’s head lamps.)

You understand everything better up there – watching the brightest and largest object in our night sky, the reason for our Earth being a more livable place, surrounded by people all finding delight in a rather simple phenomenon of nature. Simple, yet so mesmerising. And you fall in love with the city, again. And again.

Below are images from our first Moonwalk, our initiation into Cape Town’s tribe of Moongazers…

For a place to rest your head between these Cape Town summer adventures, take a look at Ellerman House in Bantry Bay, The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia, and Delaire Graff Estate in the Cape Winelands. These Relais & Chateaux hotels will also be able to help you organise your own Lion’s Head meander.






The view

Night lights


City life


Moongazers 1


Night 1


The Things We Do For Love | The Benguela Diamond Safari


“She smiled and said with an ecstatic air: “It shines like a little diamond”,
“What does?”
“This moment. It is round, it hangs in empty space like a little diamond; I am eternal.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, The Age of Reason

The search for a diamond, the right diamond, usually occurs at some time, sometimes many times, along the path of love – for instance, when couples begin plans for an engagement or celebrations of anniversaries and other special events. The art of celebration, though, is and should always be about more than mere materials – it should be about the moments, about a greater experience, one as everlasting as a diamond itself.

Ellerman House’s Benguela Diamond Safari, in partnership with Benguela Diamonds, is just that. Guests at the hotel are invited on a ‘diamond safari’ to the mineral-rich west coast of South Africa, to go in search of their own ocean diamond – and at the same time, to embark on not only a celebration of love, but an adventure in amour as well.


The journey begins at Ellerman House – from here a chauffeured limousine transfers you to a private terminal at Cape Town International Airport for a scenic early morning private charter flight on board a Swiss-designed Pilatus PC12 jet or a Kingair 200 aircraft. Travelling from Cape Town to Port Nolloth on the west coast, the flight is around an hour and 15 minutes, following the coastline.




First stop: a luxurious, contemporary villa on the coast, between Port Nolloth and McDoogles Bay, in front of Benguela’s private offshore concession. The morning begins with a cup of coffee or a glass of freshly pressed fruit and vegetable juice, followed by breakfast, while the host presents an introduction to the day’s activities.


By mid-morning, the adventure gets under way with the option of joining the Benguela dive masters under the water. A current Padi Open Water 1 certificate is all that’s required, as the dive is an entry level one, in fairly shallow water.



For those who choose not to dive, it’s just as exciting to be on the boat waiting for the precious seabed gravel to be brought up to the surface. The gravel runs into a classifier that separates the larger stones from the gravel. The remaining gravel is then ‘jigged’ which means that the diamonds are sorted from the gravel using a vibrating pan system. The heavier gemstones, such as garnets, olivines and diamonds, fall into the pan. Only then does the final sorting and grading process begin.



A gourmet lunch awaits you on the terrace of the villa after being on the sea. A private chef accompanies guests for the day to take care of all your culinary needs. Ellerman House villa guests will be accompanied by their personal in-villa chef. A gourmet lunch of your choosing – perhaps a seafood dish of fresh line-caught fish or west coast crayfish, depending on the season – is paired to award-winning South African wines, handpicked from Ellerman House’s wine collection.




After lunch it’s time to sort through the day’s richest pickings with an expert from Benguela’s sorting team, and learn more about the grading of diamonds. This is the time to select your rough diamond to be cut, polished and set into a piece of jewellery at the design studio in Stellenbosch. While nature determines the colour, carat-weight and clarity of a diamond, only a skilled craftsman can determine the cut, displaying the fire, sparkle and beauty of the diamond. When a diamond is cut to perfect proportions – not too deep nor too shallow – light will reflect inside the stone and disperse through the top of the stone, giving it an inner radiance.

HyperFocal: 0

HyperFocal: 0

By late afternoon, guests are en route back to Cape Town aboard their private aircraft. Safely back at Ellerman House, round off the day by indulging in the hotel’s signature Dom Perignon Experience. As the sun sinks into the ocean, pop the cork on a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon paired to a delicious bento box-style dinner prepared by the Executive Chef.

Ellerman House at night

The Facts

  • For visitors to Cape Town, the biggest advantage of investing in a diamond through Benguela is that it only takes three consecutive working days to get a diamond cut and polished, and a piece of jewellery designed, made and certified.
  • Recently opened, The Studio at Ellerman House also offers a full range of Benguela Diamonds for the convenience of its guests.
  • Available for a maximum of 6 guests, the trip includes road transfers, return air transfer on a private jet, and all food and beverages including the Dom Perignon Experience at Ellerman House.
  • For more information on the Benguela Diamond Safari Exclusive to Ellerman House or reservations contact info@ellerman.co.za. View or download the brochure online.