Penguins, dolphins and whales
22.09.2007 - 26.09.2007 15 °C
On September 22nd, we arrived in Puerto Madryn. We checked into a hostel, and then walked down to the beach to have a look. The town itself is not much to look at, but the beach was nice.
And we spotted whales right off the beach! There were at least seven of them, rolling around and waving their tales.
On the 23rd, Jay and Milena arrived from Esquel, and we moved from the hostel to a shared appartment with them. We walked around town looking at some tours for tomorrow, and looked at the whales from the beach again.
September 24th, we did a tour of Peninsula Valdes nature reserve. First, we drove the peninsula, which took several hours. On the peninsula, we saw guanacos, rheas and maras.
On a point of the peninsula, there was an elephant seal colony, about 50-100 of them lounging on the beach. The females were separated into several harems, ruled by a male. Cool animals, and so huge!
From there, we drove to a different point, where several magellanic penguins were nesting.
Then, we went to the town of Puerto Piramides, located inside the nature reserve, From there, there are boats that take you out to see the whales close up. The tour was amazing! The boat was surrounded by whales on either side - so close that the sound of them letting out their breath was extremely loud. The whales here are Southern Right Whales, and so they are not the largest of whales, but they still looked huge close up!
After the boat ride, we went back to Puerto Madryn.
September 25th, we did another organised tour, this time to the penguin colony at the peninsula of Punta Tombo. The 3 kilometre long, 600 metre wide peninsula is covered with sand, clay and gravel. Between September and April, up to half a million penguins come to this site to nest - the largest such colony in South America. The penguins were everywhere, although they were more spread out than I expected. Still, it was great fun to walk between the nests and watch them - they are hilarious animals really.
There were other animals in the area as well - we saw lots of guanacos, and even an armadillo.
After the penguin colony, we went to Puerto Rawson, a small town from where they do boat tours to see Commerson's dolphins. Commerson's Dolphin has a very distinctive patterning. It has a black head, dorsal fin, and fluke, with a white throat and body. The demarcation between the two colours is very clear-cut. In shape and size—the creature is stocky and grows to around 1.5 m. Milena and I went on the boat tour, while Jay and Alan decided to stay on land. Their loss, as the tour was fantastic! The dolphins were so pretty, and they were zipping around the boat at high speeds, playing in the bow wave. Amazing. As icing on the cake, there were also whales all around, some coming really close to the boat. It looked like the dolphins were playing with the whales, swimming circles around them.
After the boat ride, we went to Trelew's dinosaur museum, but it was quite small, and all the dinosaur bones were plastic. The only interesting thing was the model of the front legs of an Argentinosaurus - the largest dinosaur ever found. It was huge! Done with the museum, we returned to Puerto Madryn again.
The 26th, we spent in Puerto Madryn, just chilling out and taking care of some practical stuff.