Whales √ Sea Lions √ Elephants Seals √ Dolphins √ Penguins √√√
We have finally arrived in Puerto Madryn after a 19-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires. Only an hour late…not too bad. While we opted for the upgraded seats it was still long and exhausting. However, it was the most economical way to get here.
One thing we have learned in our short time in South America is patience is necessary since nothing runs on schedule. One guide put it like this “there are no rules just suggestions” and “if everyone is late than nobody is late”.
We are often asked why Puerto Madryn? Well Kimberli has an affection for penguins AKA “pinguinos” and other marine wildlife. There is something about them that just sparks joy and laughter. You cannot help but smile at the funny way they walk and their quirky movements. So, when we began planning our trip to South America we knew we had to see the penguins.
After some careful research, we found the nature reserve of Punta Tombo which is home to one of the largest colony of Magellan penguins in the world. When realizing that it was within 3 hours of the Valdes Peninsula another magnificent wildlife area we knew we had to visit Puerto Madryn which sits between the two.
After our late arrival yesterday, we realized we were much more exhausted than we thought so we got a late start on our day. Mission for today… book our tours to Peninsula Valdes (whale and sea lion watching) and Punta Tombo (pinguinos and dolphins).
Mission accomplished and we still had time for a bike ride up to the Ecocenter and Punta Este.
Our trip out to the Peninsula Valdes (UNESCO World Heritage Site) began with an 8:00 am pickup. There was a small group of 12 with us being the only English speaking participants. A few others spoke a little English and we all did our best to communicate. Fortunately, the guide was bi-lingual and kept us up to date and included in the conversations.
Our first stop was the Ameghino Interpretation Center for a little background. It provided information on the history of the region, its ecosystems, flora and fauna. The information on the whale’s baleens was pretty interesting.
From there we headed up to Puerto Pirámides, a small little village on the peninsula where we would board the boat for whale watching. Kimberli went out solo since True was unsure about his sea legs.
The Southern Right whales can be found in Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San José, protected bodies of water located between the peninsula and the mainland. These baleen whales come here between May and December, for mating and giving birth, because the water in the gulf is quieter and warmer than in the open sea. Most of the males had already left the golf so we only saw the mamas with their babies.
We had a little lunch and then proceeded on with the tour. Along the gravel roads we saw typical Patagonia wildlife like guanacos (native to South America and similar to llamas), rheas (also native to South America) and maras (which are actually large rodents found only in Argentina and a very interesting looking creatures).
The next stops included sea lions, elephant seals and a few penguins (nothing compared to what we plan to see tomorrow in Punta Tombo).
We returned tired but fulfilled from all the wildlife we saw. Tomorrow we will be heading south to see the Commerson dolphins, one of the smallest dolphins and to Punta Tombo to see the Magellan penguins.
Today’s pick up was at 7:45 am. Yikes! We are heading south to Puerto Rawson where we will board a boat to ride with the dolphins. Kimberli will be going solo again as True still does not trust his sea legs. That’s too bad, you all would have seen better pictures of the dolphins if he had gone.
Instead, True found himself a nice secluded surf beach to enjoy while Kimberli when out with the dolphins.
Next stop, Punta Tombo the highlight of our trip to Puerto Madryn. We will walk among the penguins along a path of about 2000 meters. This is the time of year they create their nests, incubate the eggs, raise their chicks and prepare for migration. Couples will stand in front of their nest protecting the eggs from predators. Occasionally one adult will go to the sea for food.
Unfortunately it was time to head back to Puerto Madryn. This was an incredible day!
Tomorrow we have an early morning departure to get to the airport in Trelew. From there we will fly to Ushuaia, “Fin del Mundo”.