Edit Blog Post
Published: March 18th 2012
Today was an early morning. I was up so early that I even had time for coffee and a quick breakfast at the hotel before my taxi arrived to take me down to the docks. What an absolutely amazing trip this was today. Only 80 people per day are allowed on the Penguin Island, or Rookery, and in groups of 20 at a time. We drove in a mini bus for about an hour. Along the way we stopped to take some pictures of the trees that grow sideways. I don´t have the name of them with me, but the guide told us that they are the symbol of Patagonia. And wow are they incredible. Ok, I found out that they are called banner trees.
After the bus, we were loaded on a small Zodiac type boat and taken to the Penguin Island that I saw yesterday. We received strict instructions on how to respect the penguins, stay 3 meters away from them and a lot of great information on the different types of penguins on the Rookery. The largest population is the Magellanic Penguin. There are also about 40 Gentoo penguins with yellow feet and bills. These stay on
the island year round while the Magellanic ones will migrate in about a month. Today we were super fortunate to see a King penguin from Antarctica. It is not often on this island, so it was a treat to see him. I did take a ton of pictures today. It was windy as the dickens out there and colder than the dickens as well. I was glad I had the waterproof (windproof) pants, hat, gloves and a scarf. Even with all of that it was so cold from the wind.
More than just watching the penguins on the shore, this tour took us to see them in their nests. It was amazing to see a hole in the ground with a penguin happily staring out at us. The guide told us that the penguins did not pay much attention to us, that we were just part of the landscape to them. She was so right. We could walk right past these guys and they would just look at us. It was incredibly difficult to not reach out and pet them. They are, however, wild animals, so that was out of the question. But dang, I couldn't get over how
cute they were. I really wanted to touch one. The way they waddle when they walk, how they shake themselves and use their flippers was too fun. I have some action shots of them swimming and generally going about their everyday life. It is hard to imagine that this trip could get any better, but today has shown me that it can and has. I feel very fortunate to have been one of the few allowed on the island today. If you are another blogger who is planning a trip here, please feel free to contact me if you want the name of the tour company who offers this tour. It was truly an experience. I won't post it, because that isn't what this blog is about.
When we left the island we were all silent while looking at our digital pictures. Well, that and the fact that our faces were virtually frozen. Luckily there was a nice little restaurant-coffee shop where we disembarked, so I had a cup of coffee and the best rhubarb cake ever. I was talking with some other people on the tour while eating and to be honest, I wolfed my cake down before
I even thought of offering anyone a bite. Oops. But really, it was that good. The ride back to Ushuaia was very quiet. Most people were asleep. I sat watching the Andes Mountains pass in their magnificent glory. This place is one of the best places I have ever been. Actually, Argentina has been incredible. I don't know what I was expecting, but it surely wasn't this.
After the tour, I went for a hamburger, beer, coffee and dessert. I felt I deserved it after all the walking and cold I had been through today. My plan was to check out some more of Ushuaia, but everything was closed down for Sunday. No worries, I went back to the hotel, got a bottle of wine and enjoyed an afternoon of quiet time. Sometimes I feel guilty if I am not on the go every minute, so it was nice to relax a little today. I did take a walk along the Beagle Canal, but the weather was so cold and windy that I didn't stay out long. Anyhow, it is off to Buenos Aires tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing the City, but I have to say that
I am sad to be leaving Patagonia. It has been incredibly beautiful here and I will miss it. Until then, ciao.
Tot: 0.098s; Tpl: 0.053s; cc: 9; qc: 25; dbt: 0.0174s; 1; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.2mb