Every Single Country Where You Can See Penguins IRL
I've considered planning entire vacations just to see certain animals. Though my number one boo will always be the manatee, penguins are a close runner-up. The slick, sometimes furry flightless birds are native to more places than you may think. Antarctica, home to the largest species of penguins, the Emperor, is a safe bet to see some pudgy penguins. Then again . . . not all of us love those Arctic temps. For those of us who are more tropically inclined — or at least those of us who want options that aren't below zero degrees — here are all the countries where you can see penguins!
Ecuador (Galapagos Islands)
Sedentary and mostly quiet, the Galapagos penguins are the only species that live in the northern hemisphere — meaning you don't need to freeze your tush off to see them. You'll find these peaceful, quiet little guys mostly concentrated on the Isabela and Fernandina Islands.
Not only does New Zealand have the smallest species of penguin, the Little Blue penguin, but it's home to the most endangered species: the Yellow-Eyed penguin. If you're planning a trip to Marlborough Sounds, Akaroa Harbour, Oamaru, Dunedin, Stewart Island, or the Catlins region, go see the unique animals.
The best place to see penguins in South Africa is Boulders Beach, near Simon's Town. It's a national park, so the habitat is well cared for and visitors are welcome. You'll definitely want to invest in earplugs; the penguins that live here are African penguins, otherwise known as "jackass penguins" because they bray like donkeys.
New Zealand isn't the only place with Little Blue penguins. Australia has them too, and the best place to see them is on Phillip Island. Every night, the lil' guys come back from fishing and march up the shore. Tourists line up to see them, and there are a number of ways to view the Penguin Parade.
While several species of penguin live in Argentina, a giant group of Magellanic penguins made headlines in 2017 as they prepared to migrate off the coast of Punta Tombo. If you missed that, however, you can still see the Magellanic penguins, plus Macaroni, Southern Rockhopper, and Gentoo penguins, at a handful of breeding grounds around Argentina's coast.
The Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory off the eastern coast of South America, are one of the planet's greatest "penguin capitals." Five species live there, and the island boasts the largest population of Gentoo penguins in the world. It'll take some effort to actually get to the remote isles, but come on . . . penguins.
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
If you want to extend your trip further into the South Atlantic Ocean, stop by South Georgia or the South Sandwich Islands, where Macaroni penguins rule. Seriously, look at this guy. For being one of the more aggressive and territorial penguins, he's absolutely ridiculous looking.
Chile is home to five penguin species: Humboldt, King, Macaroni, Magellanic, and Rockhopper. Because Chile is naturally diverse, tours offer the chance to see penguins, pumas, and whales.
Peru also boasts a large population of Humboldt penguins. Though you can also see the threatened species at the St. Louis Zoo, it's more fun to visit them in their natural habitat. They live on sardines and anchovies and bury their eggs in their own poop.
Uruguay is yet another South American country you may not think of while planning your penguin expedition, but some species migrate through La Paloma in the Winter along with the whales.
While it's not as commonplace to see a penguin in Brazil, groups of Magellanic penguins will migrate as far as Rio de Janeiro. In fact, you may have heard of the penguin who migrates to Brazil every year to see the man who nursed him back to health after he was caught in an oil spill.
Namibia, Mozambique, and Angola are a few other African countries that are host to the flightless birds. At one point, there were so many penguins on the islands off the coast of Namibia that the South African government named the string the Penguin Islands!
Seven out of the 17 species of penguin call Antarctica (and its surrounding islands) home, including the photogenic Emperor penguins. You'll need to invest in a very warm coat to see them and their cousins, Macaroni, Rockhopper, King, Gentoo, Chinstrap, and Adélie penguins. But would the lengthy travel time be worth seeing Happy Feet IRL? Totally.