Penguins!

Trip Start Aug 17, 2009
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28
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Trip End Jul 15, 2010


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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Thursday, February 18, 2010

We got to Puerto Madryn in one piece and made our way to the hostel weŽd found online.  Brian had emailed them to tell them we were coming and that weŽd like two beds please and thanks, the guy emailed back saying no problem but when we got there all they had available was a double room and it was going to cost us twenty pounds for the night!!!  Shafted!!!  We could have left and gone looking for another place to stay but we just couldnŽt be bothered so we sucked it up and stayed there for the night.  We were able to move into a dorm the following night which was much cheaper.  One night wasnŽt going to kill us.

After a feed of the best empanadas weŽve ever had, seriously, we went to the beach for the afternoon and Brian promptly fell asleep.  When Sleeping Beauty was awake we went for a walk to check out the town.  Not a whole lot to see.  It reminded me alot of Salthill in Galway or Bray where John and Marie live.  A big prom where people were walking dogs, cycling, rollerblading or just out for a stroll like we were, lots of touristy shops where you can buy knick-knacks of all shapes and sizes and restaurants and coffee shops all over the place.  We went for a big walk right to the end of the pier and then went back to the hostel.  WeŽd booked our tour for the following day and it was an early start.

The bus collected us at half past seven and took us to Rawson where us and another two went for a big walk along the beach.  There was a boat tour out into the sea to see some dolphins, the smallest of their kind in the world apparently, but it was extra money and we really couldnŽt be bothered.  It was just as well we didnŽt.  One of the people who did go on trip was very disappointed when they got back, angry even.  They had only been out at sea for about thirty minutes and had hardly seen anything.  Lucky us.

From Rawson we continued on south to Punto Tombo.  This is a huge National Reserve where there are one million plus magellan penguins living in their natural habitat.  I was so excited.  We got to the park, had a bite to eat and then we were off.  It was the most amazing experience, really it was.  All of these penguins waddling about, up to their own business and taking not a blind bit of notice of all these humans taking their photos and being among them.  We got there when the chicks were at their molting phase so they werenŽt the tiny little cute things I was hoping for.  Their fluffy fur was coming off in patches and they were pulling away at it so it was quite patchy on the majority of them.  DidnŽt stop them looking adorable though.

The penguins are about fifty centimetres high when fully grown and make nests in the surrounding bushes.  We saw them waddling about, basking in the sun with their heads up and their eyes closed (bliss), swimming and fishing and standing about either on the beach or up by their nests.  The park was amazingly well laid out.  You followed a distinct path that took you right down to a cliff overlooking the beach where they entered and exited the sea.  The penguins crossed the path at so many different points and there were even some penguins lying out in the middle of the path, you had to step around them.  They had look out bridges where the penguins could hide from the sun underneath and a look out point where you got an amazing view of the entire colony.  We were able to walk out to the tidal pool too.  This was in a cove a bit away from the beach where the moms teach the babies how to swim.  It was an incredible day.  IŽve never been that close or been able to see them without cages surrounding them.  Amazing.

We spent another two days in Puerto Madryn on the beach and around the hostel.  We ate an awful lot of empanadas and took many other people down with us.  We met a couple from England who were near the end of their year long journey and a Dublin couple who were only beginning.  There was good craic in the hostel swapping stories etc. 

We took a night bus to Necochea further up the coast in the hope of some beach time.
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