Marine Reserve

Trip Start Aug 25, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We arrived in Puerto Madryn after a 17 hour bus journey from Buenos Aires, which included a hot meal, wine and a game of Bingo for our entertainment - not bad!

Puerto Madryn is a small town and not particularly inspiring (which may have been exaggerated by the cloudy day), apart from a deary looking beach, a few shops there was not a lot to do here. The main attraction of the area is the nearby peninsula, which the guide book claims is one of the richest marine wildlife reserves in the world. We were hoping to rent a car to explore it ourselves but found out that the rental price does not include insurance and because of the bad roads it often ends up costing a lot more than expected, so we decided to give that a miss. Instead we decided to do a tour, but after speaking to others they said the whales had gone from the peninsula, so there were other places to visit nearby where you could see the wildlife closer up. So we booked two tours, one to Puerto Nimfis, where you can walk amongst elephant seals and puerto Tambo to see the largest colony of penguins. 

We went to Puerto Nimfis the following day and climbed down to the beach where you could walk literally metres from the elephant seals. Our guide sat us near a group of seals and gave explanations about their behaviours and habits. Unfortunately the large alpha males had all left for the season, which can apparently reach up to 5 metres in length! The majority of the seals left were juveniles but even so, some were 3 metres in length. The seals were very lazy and did not do much except laze in the sun with the occasional stretch, bleach or even feeling energetic they may roll over. A few of the extremely energetic moved down the beach towards the water in a caterpillar style motion, having to stop every few maneuvers to take a break. 

The last day we went to Puerto Tambo to see the penguins stopping on route for a boat trip to see dolphins indiginous to Argentina and can only be seen here. They are the smallest dolphin, most only a metre in length and are white with a black nose and fin. As we were leaving the harbour we saw sealions playing in the water. As we got into open sea it became rough with large waves and Carla started to feel queasy. We saw three dolphins, but they were not very friendly, so headed further out and found a pod of 15 dolphins, who were very curious of us, swimming under and around the boat and putting on displays of jumps. The waves had got too much for Carla however, and to her embarrasment (and her dad's no doubt) she was sick over the side of the boat! After 30 minutes of watching these inquisitive creatures we headed back to shore (Carla was grateful of the sturdy ground). 

After that we continued on to Puerto Tambo to see the penguins, which had the largest colony on the continent with about 700, 000. They were Magellanic penguins, small with white bellies. They live on the dry land and dig holes in the ground for homes. As the reserve is so large it was not difficult to imagine there are 700, 000 penguins there, when stood still and looked across the plains you realised that what looked like twigs in the distance were actually penguins standing by their holes in the distance. There were also many other penguins much closer which would waddle across the path with their chest stuck out as if they are proud of their clumsy waddle - such funny creatures.  We spent two hours walking along observing the penguins and then headed to the nearby bus station to get our bus to El Calafate.  
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Carla's Embarrassed Dad on

Oh you bet, that is embarrassing!! I think some time is needed on the water when you get back, hanging out on ther wire!!

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