Posted by: Dave | January 24, 2009

Peninsula Valdes

Ok…  I think I´ve readjusted to hot weather as it´s now hot but very tolerable.

Driving here has been awesome. Imagine the remote roads of the desert southwest in the US. No add a relative lawlessness (passing on double yellow, blantant ignorance of posted speed), massive trucks that carry goods and supplies to/from the remote expanses of southern Patagonia, and incredibly monotonous terrain (so far) … you get the idea.  I´ll have more on the driving at a later date.

Peninsula Valdes is the first National Park that we´ve visited in Argentina. We have learned quickly that the definition of a national park down here is quite different… although the land and the wildlife is still protected. Puerto Piramides – a town inside the park – is a popular destination for beachgoers and there many of them… all packed into one campsite. This is a popular whale watching destination in the fall months, but right now it´s mostly Argentinians who are on their summer holiday. Crazy scene with crazy RVs and tents everywhere. Once you get away from the town, you can get to a couple of scenic viewpoints on the Atlantic to see some of the native marine animals, but the park is mostly inaccesible because it´s “private property”… there are several estancias (farms) inside the park. 

Magellan Penguin. Happy.

Magellan Penguin. Happy.

Anyway… the Magellan Penguins were awesome. We saw a colony of about  500… and tomorrow we´re heading to a park that has a colony approaching 1 million!  The babies who hatched in  November, are just about done shedding the grey fur and looking like adult penguins, but not yet. It´s really funny to watch them waddle around on the hills where they make their nests and then  swim so gracefully in the ocean.

We also saw a colony of elephant seals that was pretty big… and located at Punta Norte – a beach that´s world renonwed for killer whales storming the beach to catch seals and sea lions. Unfortunately, the orca season really starts next month, and we didn´t get to see any of the ominous black dorsal fins, let alone a beach attack. That must be an amazing sight for the visitors who are lucky enough to be there at the right time.  No orcas for me on the Alaska trip in June and now this one… I guess I´ll have to figure out where and when I´ll be able to try to see them next.

In lieu of writing some more,  here is some photo commentary:

The is a shot from the car on THE MAIN HIGHWAY to/in Patagonia - Ruta 3. The trucks are large and the road is small. And the double yellow line (when it exists) means nothing. Fun!

The is a shot from the car on THE MAIN HIGHWAY to/in Patagonia - Ruta 3. The trucks are large and the road is small. And the double yellow line (when it exists) means nothing. Fun!

Now add a dust storm in the middle of nowhere...

Now add a dust storm in the middle of nowhere...

Inquisitive pinguinos.

Inquisitive pinguinos.

The penguins build their homes in the cliff and waddle down to the beach... quite an adventure!

The penguins build their homes in the cliff and waddle down to the beach... quite an adventure!

Guanacos are all over this part of Patagonia. Nice of them to pose for this picture...

Guanacos are all over this part of Patagonia. Nice of them to pose for this picture...

Elefant Seal bulls can have "harums" of up to 100 females!

Elephant Seal bulls can have "harems" of up to 100 females!

Lounging on the beach.

Lounging on the beach.

Too bad there are no orcas storming the beach. But this is where the Elephant Seals and a few sea lions call home.

Too bad there are no orcas storming the beach. But this is where the Elephant Seals and a few sea lions call home.

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Responses

  1. I love pictures of the penguins! Did you actually get to pet them?

  2. No…. you can´t pet them. They might bite… but also it´s important not to change their behvaioral patterns… it´s completely wild and you have to be careful not to get between them and the water…

  3. great photos! love love love penguins!

    safe travels, .m

  4. Interesting. I’m reminded of two things. One – on my way to Florida I run into zoo people bringing animals back to the zoo (had been on a traveling exhibit)…penguin is waddling around the terminal. I’m thinking “how cute”…but you say that colony is a MILLION? Holy crap. That makes me realize I can’t fathom what a million even looks like (yes i realize they aren’t all sunning themselves simultaneously)…ever heard of the paperclip project? Just watched the documentary. For some reason – this made me think of it. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_Clips_Project)


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