Ilha Magdalena


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South America » Chile » Magallanes » Punta Arenas
February 28th 2017
Published: July 19th 2017
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Our only goal in this port was to see Magellan penguins and from the ferry and on the island we also saw dolphins, petrels, skuas, cormorants, kelp gulls and small starling-like birds. The weather was intermittent rain but that did not affect our enjoyment of the trip. We had heard that cruise line companies charter the ferries so booked with them although speedboats with independent travelers did arrive whilst we were on the island. Loading and unloading the ferry was a tedious affair with a single file stairway and walk from the entrance to the seating area and almost 200 people doing so. Chile does not allow any foodstuffs to be brought ashore so lunchbags were issued as we boarded containing a sandwich, mini biscuit pack and drink. Boredom on the ride meant that we ate it.

On arrival at the island, the ferry was beached and it took over 20 minutes for everyone to get off and as we were at the back we worried that the promised hour ashore would be reduced for us. However, there was a system of walking around a mile long trail to follow so in fact we each had an hour there. Apparently there was an exhibition / information boards in the lighthouse building at the top of the island but the rangers told us we were too late to go in there. Along the shore and on the hillsides where they nest the birds continued their daily life ignoring the crowds of humans. The latter made the inevitable comments, "Gee, ain't they cute?" or chattered amongst themselves suggesting that the penguins were thinking 'Oh here they are, must be midday'. There were plenty of photo opportunities with birds almost underfoot at times so with even the cheapest / simplest camera it was possible to get great pictures. I use a videocam but I find on tours like this people's comments ruin what could be good footage with natural sounds. I do try to move away from folk chattering inanely but was sorry not to clearly capture the honking sounds made by the penguins. Due to the season the birds were mostly youngsters moulting ready to leave for the south as winter approaches. I am glad that we pre-booked this excursion as the Bluff Cove visit was added in last minute and it would have been my only chance to see the birds in the the wild.

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