Edit Blog Post
Published: February 14th 2009
Animals nr Puerto Madryn
Penguin at Peninsula Valdes
Day 666 (24.01.09)
With our early start we arose at 4.15 and were out of the hostel soon after. As it was sooooo early we were fully expecting to come out into the pitch black, cold and windy night only to be treated to the startings of a vivid sunrise on the horizon - superb.
Only managing to stay awake for the first part of the journey, which was stunning in the early morning light, we both drifted off to sleep only to be woken as we arrived at the ferry across to mainland south america once more.
As we waited a few of the black and white commerson's dolphins swam around the boat and as we boarded these were joined by many more playing in the backwash of the ferry's propellers.
After another truly amazing wildlife spotting crossing where we were treated to more dolphins, penguins and birdlife we reached our dock and continued north to the hassle of the Chilean border. Chile has strict regulations about what food/drink etc. you're allowed to bring into the country and therefore on every enrty into Chile (and we've had plenty!) all hand luggage and often hold luggage is
checked making the border crossing a more lengthy affair. Crossing into Chile (which we would be just driving straight through) we carried on through more border crossings back into Argentina and our final destination for this leg of the trip, Rio Gallegos.
Aiming to get out as soon as possible we eventually opted for a bus out that evening up the coast and booked another overnight monster to Puerto Madryn - another 24ish hours on a bus - yipeeeee.
Settling in on the bus we met a couple travelling from Sweden, chatted for a while and settled in for the night.
Day 667 (25.01.09)
Most of the next day was also spent on the bus and we eventually pulled into the bus station 4 hours earlier than we had expected (we think it was Mark's Spanglish that could have confused things - ooops). As we arrived, the diference in the climate was really noticable and we pulled off the jumpers we'd worn in Ushuaia and were still hot in the fierce sun. We went for a walk around town to find a hostel opting for Chepatagonia with views over the beach and out to sea.
The draw of the beach was too much so we all pulled on our swimmers and went for a bit of R&R to recover from our travelling.
As the afternoon progressed we managed to book a car for the four of us for the following couple of days to tour the local sights before cooking up a feast and going to bed.
Day 668 (26.01.09)
Our first road trip was to the Peninsula Valdes. This is a protected reserve north of Puerto Madryn which is home to many land and sea life from Whales and Orca to Penguins, Armadillos and Guanaco (a Llama type thing) which you can see depending on the time of year. It is also one of the few places in the world where the Orca swim up and beach themselves on the sand to catch baby sealions (you might have seen it on TV).
We knew it wasn't whale season yet but there was the possibility of seeing the orca all be it a month earlier than their busy time in the area. Excitedly we drove up to the Peninsula and started a loop up through to Punta Norte where there is
Animals nr Puerto Madryn
Elephant seals, Peninsula Valdes
a huge colony of Sealions and prime Orca spotting territory.
When we arrived in the carpark we were greeted by a little hairy armadillo scuttling around - strange little thing. He was quite happy just pottering around and seemed not bothered at all by the small audience of tourists it had attracted.
Further along the path we came out to an area overlooking the beach and hundreds of Sealions. Along with the huge adult males with their mane-like hairdoos and the smaller females were tiny (pretty much new born pups). We stood for ages watching the males lumbering back and forth torn by the dilemma of protecting their chosen mate or scaring off potential competition, and watching the young cubs beginning to find their 'feet' as they set off on their own little missions along the sand. It was an amazing sight.
Unfortunately as we continued along the path and found the ranger hut we learnt that it was a little early in the season for regular sightings of the orca with the last visits being over 20 days previous.
Settling in for some lunch and to watch the Sealions playing in the surf we decided
the chances of an Orca sighting were slimmer than hoped and jumped back in the car to continue on our tour of the reserve. Our next stop was with the local magellanic penguin colony. As we stopped we were amazed how close the penguins were and again how comfortable they were with people around. We had great fun watching them waddling about on the cliffs.
Back in the car and further along the gravel roads of the peninsula we reached another one of our planned stops to see the local Elephant Seal colony. Walking down to to see them we found a lot of sleepy seals. They were all laid out on the beach with the very occasional flick of the flipper to cover themselves with sand or to shift into another sleeping position. Lazy buggers!
Doing a loop walk where there were some more long distance wildlife views and lookouts over a natural lagoon we finished up and got back on the road.
With another hour so driving we aimed for our final area on the penisula wildlife tour, Puerto Piramidas. Here there is both another Sealion colony and a little further on the only settlement
Animals nr Puerto Madryn
sea lion, Peninsula Valdes
on the peninsula. First stopping for the Sealions we continued on to the village and a quick swim before heading home.
Day 669 (27.01.09)
Starting off at a slighty more leisurely pace we packed the car and hit the road south this time toward Punta Tombo which boasts the biggest penguin colony outside of Antarctica with around half a million magellanic penguins. However, before we were to see a single penguin we had a 2 and a half hour drive due south.
Navigating the crazy Argentinan drivers, lack of good roadsigns and more gravel roads we arrived and bought our tickets for entry to the reserve. As soon as you get through the ticket check point you can hear the penguins calling for each other, chicks screaming for food and mums calling out to find their homes. As you walk along the paths through the reserve the number of the penguins becomes denser until every available nook and crevice is taken up by a family.
We had arrived as the most recent babies were shedding their fluffy outer feathers to become slick watergoing adults. Each of the chicks were at various stages of malting their feathers
with some looking like fluffly bundles and others who still had patches like a strange haircut or a straggly scarf. The impressive thing about the colony was the sheer number of penguins. Everywhere you looked there were penguins sleeping, squeaking, or waddling to or from the sea.
As we neared the end of the path we sat on a rocky outcrop overlooking the beach and watched as the penguins gathered on the waters edge, swam out for a spot of lunch or returned with a belly full of fish. It was enchanting and really hard to tear oursleves away.
On the way back through a friendly guanaco kindly came to say hello and posed for a couple of pics before running off again into the bush. It was an incredible place to visit and well worth the journey. After all the wildlife we'd been lucky enough to see over the past few days we felt like David Attenborough!
Another great picnic and we made the journey north again to Puerto Madryn finishing the day with a steak dinner.
Day 670 and 671 (28.01.09 - 29.01.09)
After a couple of fairly pricey days we decided to
have a couple where we did nothing. We read our books, chilled out and chatted and spent a little time on the beach when it wasn't so windy that we'd get an all over sandblasting!
Day 672 (30.01.09)
Today was a travel day so we packed up, headed to the bus station, waited at the bus station until our bus finally arrived 3 hours late, and sat on our bus for a long long time...thrilling stuff!
Tot: 2.423s; Tpl: 0.083s; cc: 50; qc: 171; dbt: 0.0978s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.8mb