Puerto Madryn, ArgentinaHmmm…Peninsula Valdes or Punta Tombo? I don´t like tours but don´t have many other options to avoid them in this part of Patagonia if I wanted to view the regional wildlife. The prices in Argentina make things that were once possible in Central America prohibitive. $150 for one dive?! $75 for a tour? Absurd. But, I´m here and [...]
Puerto Madryn, Argentina
Hmmm…Peninsula Valdes or Punta Tombo? I don´t like tours but don´t have many other options to avoid them in this part of Patagonia if I wanted to view the regional wildlife. The prices in Argentina make things that were once possible in Central America prohibitive. $150 for one dive?! $75 for a tour? Absurd. But, I´m here and will probably only be here once so I´ll have plunk down at least $75 for a tour to see this part of the world. Did I want to see sea lions, seals, foxes, possibly orcas and various other wild life in Peninsula Valdes or dolphins and penguins in Punta Tombo?
I opted for penguins and dolphins. Seeing orcas wasn´t a sure thing and the sea lions and seals were only viewable from a distance. I can view sea lions and seals from a distance at a zoo but when would I ever get to walk through a massive field of penguins again? I swallowed hard and paid the $75 for the tour and $9 entrance fee.
Before the penguins was a boat ride out into the Atlantic to view dolphins that looked like the offspring of an orca whale that mated with a bottlenose dolphin. More commonly referred to as Commerson dolphins. Twenty of us filed onto the boat all wearing bright orange life vests and camera´s in hand. The ´touristy-ness´ of the scene left me feeling like it was Sunday morning and I just woke up next to a stranger. Two 250 hp outboard motors roared to life and we were off into the Atlantic. It´s not guaranteed that you´ll see the dolphins but you have around an 85% chance. After 30 minutes into an hour and half tour I was begining to think my trip would fall into the improable 15%.
¨Delfín! A la izquierda!¨ cried out the guide followed by a mass of people hurdling themselves onto the left side of the boat shoving each other aside to get the best view.
¨Delfín! A la derecha!¨ The same mass of humanity darts to the right side of the boatt and I take my cue to move to the front of boat on the left side while everyone is drooling for a view on the right.
¨A la izquierda!¨ Suckers. I park myself in my location and stay for the rest of the ride enjoying the view of black and white dolphins effortlessly moving through the water.
|From Patagonia 2011-02
Male Commerson dolphin swimming upside down
Off the boat and a two hour ride through the void land of Patagonia I was in the Punta Tombo Penguin Reserve. Each year penguins migrate to Punta Tombo in April and stay until September to breed and raise their young. It´s the largest penguin colony in South America with an estimated population of around 800,000 penguins. 800,000 penguins walking, sqauwking, sleeping, feeding, fighting and breeding.
|From Patagonia 2011-02
800,000 penguins and no ice anywhere
For all the penguins care you might as well be one of the scrubby Patagoninan bushes dotting the landscape. They´re everywhere and your a foot away. Try touching one and risk getting bitten or scolded by one of the reserve workers. You can´t do that in a zoo.