Trip Start Jan 13, 2010
91Trip End Dec 20, 2010
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Where I stayed
So after a lovely few days chilling in Bariloche we made our way to Puerto Madryn on the east cost of Argentina. The town and the surrounding area of Northern Patagonia is famous for two things: 1) its amazing sea-life on the coast and 2) the welsh settled here. We ventured to Puerto Madryn on a recommendation of the amazing Penguins that we could visit and also on further investigation that we could also visit one of the Welsh tearooms for some proper afternoon tea, right up my street.
We arrived into Puerto Madryn pretty early on Sunday morning and spent a lovely lazy morning going for a stroll along the 6km beachfront, which was lovely. We then explored town which was pretty much dead due to it being a Sunday and siesta time. Puerto Madryn, like many smaller Argentine towns, has a siesta between 1-4 in the afternoon where pretty much the whole town shuts down. Mark then dragged my fat backside out for a lovely 6km jog along the beach just as the sun was starting to set. Although my body didn't particularly enjoy exercise (particularly after all the chocolate I have been eating lately) it was a nice setting to go for a run.
The following day we rented some bikes from the hostel and headed off in the direction of Punto Loma, 17km’s away, in the prospect of seeing some wild sea lions. We set off early along the pretty beachfront, however after 4kms the road turned basically into a dirt/pebble road for 13kms. Well, I must say it was an experience that left my backside tender for a few days – bumpy as hell it was but we persisted and when we got to Punto Loma we spent time watching the Sea Lion colony chill out which was pretty cool.
Finally the day I had been looking forward to came. On the Tuesday we had arranged a tour to Punta Tomba where a massive colony of Mallagan Penquins live and also to visit the little Welsh town of Gaiman. Two and a half hours after leaving Puerto Madryn we arrived at Punta Tomba (2.5 hours driving in Argentina is pretty much on par with us at home getting in the car and driving for 20 mins – you seriously cannot fathom how large this country is and how blasť the Argentines are about spending hours getting anywhere).
Once we got there we had an absolutely fabulous time walking among a colony of Mallagan Penguins, many of whom were young juvenile penguins waiting in their nests for their parents to come back from fishing to feed them. It was really something to see penguins for literally as far as the eye could see. They were pretty cute wee fella’s and pretty comical to watch as the waddled about and played in the sea. Some were incredibly shy and others were very inquisitive. One even tried to attack Mark when he walked by which I found pretty funny – no one told me penguins could sense evil too (only kidding!!!!!).
The colony settle in Punto Tomba from September to April each year to make nests and have their babies. In April, once the babies have grown and lost their baby fluff they head off to Antartica before returning again the following September to go through the whole cycle again. It was an awesome place to visit.
After we unsuccessfully tried to steal a penguin to take home we then headed off to visit the Welsh town of Gaiman. Apparently the Welshies (as the Argentine Tour Guide called them) arrived in Puerto Madryn in Argentina in the 1880’s. They then travelled inland and settled near the river where they integrated with the locals bringing with them choirs, cake and education to the area. The Welsh are well liked and respected here and the highlight of our visit to Gaiman was visiting a wee welsh tearoom for afternoon tea were I tasted the best custard tart in the whole wide world. Happily stuffed with cake (I know, I eat a lot) we left Puerto Madryn to head back to the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires where we will two nights before catching our flight to Lima in Peru.