At one with nature

Trip Start Sep 22, 2010
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7
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Trip End Oct 06, 2010


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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Harmony and I decided to start this day with a little hike. We passed by a little island on the way back from whale watching the day before in the boat. It had some seals on it so we wanted to hike to it to see them up close. We first hiked to the top of the first mountain to try and gage the rest of the hike. We realized it would be a long hike so Harmony went back to tell her Dad we would be gone for about 3 hours. The hike was extremely strenuous as we had to hike up to the ridge of the mountains in order to get down to the other side. It was a beautiful hike though. Much of it was on the edge of a cliff and it was so quiet up there.

The whole time we could actually hear the whales breathing and breaching because of the acoustics of the cove. It was worth the hike to be able to see the whales up close at eye level. We didnīt see any seals though. 







 










Lunch was waiting for us at the cabin when we returned. It was probably an 8 mile hike in total. Right after lunch we left for our long drive around the Valdez Peninsula. We first went to Punta Delgada to see some elephant seal colonies. We were on the edge of a 200 foot cliff and Harmony wanted to figure out how to climb down to the beach to see them. We let the large fences and security cameras deter us.

We then drove to Punta Cantor, first stopping at a trail head to go on a 1-2 mile hike to see elephant seals at a much closer range. The males are absolutely enormous at 1500-2000 pounds and the females are much smaller, though still intimidating. So many females had pups with them that were only a few weeks old. We were close enough to hear the babies barking and could even see their pink tongues. This was a very special experience. It is one thing to see this on a special like Earth or Life but, to see it in person, not in a zoo, is absolutely amazing!

















Our last stop was 10km up the road to a Magellan penguin colony. This colony was on the side of a steep cliff and there were hundreds, maybe thousands, of penguins everywhere! We arrived during the mating season when all of the males are pairing up with females. Many of the females were already pregnant and settling into their dens since their eggs will be laid in mid October. It was sad to see the male penguins that had not found a mate yet. They were standing near the dens they claimed, letting out a sad sounding mating call, hoping to attract a female so they could start a family. We were as close as inches away from some penguins which was a truly unique experience since this was real life, not a zoo. They didnīt seem to mind us at all.  They were very exhausted from climbing up the cliffs from the sea, mating, and building their dens. Once the eggs hatch, the female and male will take turns making the long trek to the sea to feed while the other penguin protects the eggs from predators. We could have spent hours here but it was freezing and we had a long drive back on a gravel road to our cabana.

















Not to mention the tons of animals we saw roaming free in between all of the drives. We saw Patagonian rabbits (huge monsters), tons of Guanacos (kind of like llamas), sheep with baby lambs, wild horses, hairy armadillos, birds that looked like quails, etc. You could just stop on the side of the road and observe all of these wild animals. Kind of like Lion Country Safari in Florida only in the middle of nowhere with no gift shop.


We had another great dinner that night. This is a great time to mention again how amazing the food is here but how far the dollar goes. The four of us had meals like filet mignon, chorizo, wine, beer, etc this night. The total was around 210 pesos or only $50! Amazing!

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