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Friday, November 12, 2010

Puerto Madryn - Day 3 "Los Penguinos"

Our final day in Puerto Madryn was another day of plan changes.  The road to Estancia San Lorenzo was still closed due to rain and since we were on our last day, we couldn't delay our plans any longer.  Again, the tour company that our Estancia San Lorenzo day was booked through, Cuyun Co Turismo SRL, called us the night before to alert us of the road closure and completely revamped our day.  Holy Godsend.  They even called the company that our airport transfer was booked through to rearrange all of our travel plans for the day.  This is our new final day agenda:
  • 10:00am - Travel from Puerto Piramides to Puerto Madryn
  • 11:30 - 2:00pm - Walk around Puerto Madryn and have lunch
  • 2:00pm - travel to Punto Toombo and hang out with penguins
  • 6:00pm  - leave for Trelew Airport
  • 10:55pm - flight back to Buenos Aires
Let's start with Puerto Madryn.  I had no idea how small this town really was until we had three hours of free time to explore.  There was not a whole lot of exploring to do - and it was incredibly cold and windy.  Luckily, a friend had highly recommended a seafood restaurant in town called
Mariscos del Atlantico(Ave. Guillermo Rawson 288), even more luckily she gave very specific instructions on how to get there because it is well hidden.  It also looks like a dump (pictured on the left).  If my friend hadn't said that it was hands down the best seafood she had ever eaten (including places in San Fransisco and Asia), we would have seen the building and kept on walking.  The inside decor was pleasant and surprising, a small place with a cute nautical, but not cheesy theme.  The only change I would recommend a stricter staff dress code, the only waiter in the place had a shirt that read "F*** SEX".  Classy.
Either way, they had incredible seafood, definitely the best we've had in Argentina, Jon had the Cazuela de Mariscos (seafood stew), it was pretty, well presented and delicious.  We would have loved to come back for dinner, if time had allowed.  Thanks for the suggestion Janet!

From there we left for Punta Tombo, the largest Magellanic penguin colony in South America where up to 500,000 penguins come to incubate their eggs each year.  The parent penguin pair take turns sitting on the eggs (they generally lay 2 eggs at a time) and going to search for food.  This area is the perfect place for penguin eggs because there are plenty of bushes to build nests under and it is right on the Atlantic Ocean, meaning close proximity to food.  There is a park entrance fee of $35 pesos/person, and after you pay the fee you have unlimited time to walk amongst the penguins - and you literally walk right along with them.  There are penguins everywhere, and again as with our whale adventures, you can get extremely close to the animals.

This entire beachfront area has been transformed into a landmine of penguin nests. 

The whole time we were there we battled wind, who knew the Atlantic coast was one long wind tunnel?  Jon's luscious wind-blown curls prove that Puerto Madryn puts Chicago to shame.

Some of the penguins spend time hanging outside of their nests, I promise that the penguin posing with Jon is not dead, he's just taking a breather.  
 Here are some of my favorite shots of the penguins we saw.  They are such hilarious, awkward, adorable animals.

video

Puerto Madryn was amazing, there are few other places in the world where you can get as close or see as many of these incredible animals.  This is one of those trips that needs to be strategically planned since whales and penguins are migratory, they are not in the area year round.  Generally speaking, September and October are the prime months to visit Puerto Madryn since the weather is warmer (remember July/August are the coldest months here) and you are almost guaranteed to see all of the key species.  A little packing advice before I round out this vacation tri-post:  bring rain/water resistant clothing and leave the dress clothes at home (even the maybe-I'll-wear-something-nice-to-dinner-one-night outfit, trust me, you won't).

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