Free travel home page with storage for your pictures and travel reports! login GLOBOsapiens - Travel Community GLOBOsapiens - Travel Community GLOBOsapiens - Travel Community
 You are here: Member pages
 Forgot password?
sign up

Top 3 members
wojtekd 70
pictor 33
el2995 17
Member snaps
krisek Punta Tombo - A travel report by Krys
about me      | my friends      | pictures      | albums      | reports      | travel log      | travel tips      | guestbook      | activities      | contact      |

Punta Tombo,  Argentina - flag Argentina -  Chubut
23314 readers

krisek's travel reports

World’s End. Argentina Trilogy 3. Penguin At Heart

  13 votes
Page: 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Punta Tombo and Peninsula Valdes, were my last stops in Argentina. I suspected that they were not going to impress me as much as Perito Moreno and the surroundings of El Calafate. But they certainly would have if I had not been a few days late.

Punta Tombo travelogue picture
I wanted to see the whales at the Peninsula Valdes so much. A traveller met in El Calafate a day before told me I would love seeing the young ones tossing their tails. But a girl at a travel agency in Puerto Madryn, who didn’t speak English, told me in Spanish that it wasn’t safe to see the whales (‘no es seguro’). She used a wrong term to say that viewing wasn’t guaranteed. It was true though that the whales had departed from the peninsula two days previously! Well, I went to another agency a few steps away, Flamenco Tours ($20 all day), who explained the situation. Yanina at the agency started to elaborate about the trip I could do the next day and I had to interrupt her to say that I wanted to go immediately. She looked a little surprised but radioed a driver and a car whisked me to the van, which was already on the way to the peninsula. Tourists on board couldn’t believe the personal service I got.

In Puerto Pirámide, the only sizeable town on the peninsula, (waterproof) beach tractors put boats in and pulled them out of the ocean! Tourists were already on the boat. There was no pier and this method allowed getting people on board without wading in water.

I was full of hope to see a whale’s tail. However, the last whale must have left the area a day before and I was told to consider myself lucky that I saw some dolphins. The tour included also stops to see other sea mammals. The sea-lions (and allegedly sea-elephants, which I didn’t spot) at Punta Delgada, Punta Cantor and Punta Norte. They were too far to have a proper look at them and it didn’t feel that this place was any special at all. Apart from the small colony of Magellanic penguins, which didn’t mind camera lenses pointing right in their eyes. And there were also a couple of small armadillos hanging around, almost dancing tango, at one of the car parks, which was an amusing sight. They were fearless but were moving very fast, so it was difficult to photograph them. I think I was lucky once or twice.

Favourite spots:
Punta Tombo travelogue picture
The next day, I paid the same agent $20 for the trip to Punta Tombo. The only reason to go there was to see a large colony of Magellanic penguins. Apart from the penguins, there was absolutely nothing else to see. And I mean absolutely nothing! Nada! The landscape was flat and significantly boring. There were few estancias (farm houses) on the way to the main penguins site, which were a gentle reminder that there were actually people living there, but these were very few and far between. And they were nothing special, just plain houses often looking like barns or warehouses.

Reports regarding the number of the penguins were very inconsistent. I read about 600,000 birds but I heard about 2 million. I chose not too worry too much about this discrepancy, I wasn’t a zoologist to care. I thought I’d judge the number as I got there. Not to count them but have a helicopter view (I mean bird’s view - ah, that’s ironic, because penguins cannot fly...) and see which of the repots might be true.

What's really great:
Punta Tombo travelogue picture
Nests made under small bushes were spread out around a large area. I didn’t think there could be more than 300,000 of bird couples. However, they were absolutely everywhere!

Two separate colonies were lingering around the beaches, one pebble beach, the other rocky beach. Every now and again the birds were jumping to the water for fishing, so they could feed their young. Many others were nursing their babies or sat on the eggs, and a significant number were still wandering about looking horny, searching for a partner to mate.

There were many baby penguins around! Their presence generated a particular scent, which simply by definition was ‘unpleasant’. That’s what I thought when I came there, but I quickly changed my mind when I saw the actual feeding of the young penguins. If feeding was ‘unpleasant’ by definition, then the smell must have been divine. How should I put it? Adult penguins chewed the fish they had caught in the ocean and vomited it directly to their younglings’ throats.

Oh, I saw one small baby penguin being rejected by its family. It wasn’t being fed and by comparison with its sibling, it was fragile and at least half the size. Clearly, it wasn’t going to survive much longer after I visited the place.

Anyway, I was glad I saw the Magellanic penguins. It was rather great to be able to approach the birds, including the feeding parents so close (at the distance of shooting excrement - a defence mechanism) and look at them properly. I obviously took a few pictures but was happy I didn’t stay too long...

The tour also stopped at Gaiman, a small village retaining a traditional Welsh architecture and pieces of culture, like the teahouses. Apart from sampling of ‘traditional Welsh’ tea (which I didn’t feel I needed to do!) there was nothing else to do there. As my tour drank tea, I went on wandering around this sleepy little place. It was picturesque and unusual in this part of the globe, I guess.

While visiting Punta Tombo and Peninsula Valdes, two main accommodation bases were possible: Puerto Madryn and Trelew. Well, there would be more options, closer to the sights - I think I spotted a hotel in Puerto Pirámide, but both Puerto Madryn and Trelew were between the sites, were larger, better organised, with better tourism infrastructure and were better communicated with the rest of the country.

I stayed at both cities. First at Puerto Madryn. The hotel was right at the ocean front, appropriately called La Playa, although the beach was across a busy waterfront highway. My single room ($27) was modern and the facilities were really good. The entire hotel looked very well kept but the personnel might have been friendlier and a little more helpful.

In Trelew, I checked to Hotel Galicia ($9) with a magnificent and grand entrance and rather shabby rooms, relatively clean but very, very small and stuffy. Hot water was sporadic and the bathrooms must have seen better days.

Punta Tombo travelogue picture
Puerto Madryn, although smaller but complete with its beach having gained a somewhat resort status, developed slightly better nightlife than Trelew, it appeared to me. A few places were concentrated near Avenida Julio A Roca, and one, Havana, was literally across the street from my hotel. It was fashionable with a fusion of trendy and conservative decor. It was popular mainly with the locals. Their selection of drinks was curious, but the bar did have Havana Club rum in stock! The other club, Margarita, was just 90 meters away! It was actually a mix of bar/pub/club, which offered simple food (pizza) and as the night developed, the scene became more lively as more people get packed inside. Unusually, the night in Puerto Madryn did not always last long. Many travellers tended to get up early in the morning for the wildlife viewing and the escapades like mine. Surely the locals sticked around a little longer, but not too much longer. Except weekends, of course.

Trelew Paleontological Museum
Trelew Paleontological Museum
In Trelew, two main streets ran parallel - one from the train station and the palaeontological museum and the other along the main square of the town, complete with an old church. Both streets were perfectly and Americanly straight but only one the latter was considered the commercial shopping avenue. I even stopped for a glass of local beer at one of the remarkably atmospheric pubs, which dubbed as an ice-cream bar. I tried those too. They were great. I toured the avenues twice looking for something significant or some interesting action, but could not find anything. Apart from the rather interesting dinosaur museum and a park in the centre (Plaza Independencia), and a few cafes, Trelew didn’t have many magical places to hang out. Since, I could not find any action in the town, I went to back to the hotel to catch up on some sleep. This is how I spent my last night in Argentina.

Punta Tombo travelogue picture
In Puerto Madryn, I could find only two mediocre restaurants in the town, one near the extremely ugly concrete pier (Muelle Piedrabuena - not a nice rock at all!), and other at the main waterfront street (Avenida Julio A Roca). None of them served fresh grilled fish. I was not at all impressed! The former and the scruffier, Placido, looked like could have served fresh fish but they all served it with terrible sauces. This did not make me happy. The latter had a grilled fish fillet on the menu, however it was not fresh and over treated with lemon sauce, possibly to kill the stench of an old fish. I still ate it. I had no choice. Actually, this is not entirely fair. There were other restaurants in town, probably much better, but since the ocean was right there, I wanted to try fish. Now, I know that I should have stuck to the lovely steaks instead.

I skipped dinner in Trelew...

Other recommendations:
If one is interested in dinosaurs and palaeontology, there is the Bryn Gwyn Geological Park ($2)just about 10 km from Gaiman. It is a real fossil reservoir of over 600 acres large, running along the valley of the Chubut River. Almost half of it is reserved for the palaeontological research. The Lower Field Station is however open for visitors. The park offers one hour and two hour tours. The tours go over rather easy slopes pointing to the different geological layers and explaining the different fossils found partially uncovered in the ground. There are places where some new species of dinosaurs were discovered, previously not known to the science. In the park, there is also an arboretum, with paths that go through different species of plants that live in central Patagonia. Actually, the arboretum forms a part of the institute of plant research, and was created by the management and the research team from the Trelew museum.

Published on Friday April 4th, 2008

send travelogue via e-mail    Publish on Facebook  

Tue, Jun 03 2008 - 09:41 AM rating by magsalex

Great pictures and interesting report.

Fri, Apr 25 2008 - 01:04 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Only for the pictures this report deserves 5 points

Tue, Apr 15 2008 - 02:41 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

some times i am surprised as how you write such nice description and that too for so many report in a series ,goood

Mon, Apr 07 2008 - 04:00 PM rating by aufgehts

Sounds like this trip was a lot of work but at least you got some great pics of the penguins!

Fri, Apr 04 2008 - 01:38 PM rating by rangutan

Tourists? sounds like pure nature to me. Are the armadillos an April fool joke?

Login if you are a member, or sign up for a free membership to rate this report and to earn globo points!

   Esfahan average user rating for this report
   Persepolis average user rating for this report
   Shiraz average user rating for this report
   Yazd average user rating for this report
   Cork average user rating for this report
   Bellagio average user rating for this report
   Como average user rating for this report
   Varenna average user rating for this report
   Venice average user rating for this report
   Tokyo average user rating for this report
   Saint Helier average user rating for this report
   Petra average user rating for this report
   Almaty average user rating for this report
   Turkistan average user rating for this report
   Lamu average user rating for this report

Publish your own story!
 More on Argentina

   Buenos Aires average user rating for this report
   Buenos Aires - willow average user rating for this report
   Puerto Madryn average user rating for this report
   Perito Moreno average user rating for this report
   El Calafate - bielle average user rating for this report

  Terms and Conditions    Privacy Policy    Press    Contact    Impressum
  © 2002 - 2024 Findix Technologies GmbH Germany    Travel Portal Version: 5.0.1