Penguins at Punta Tombo – Argentina


I’ve personally started sharing more of the photos of the trip on Instagram and I realize that we don’t really give Hodori the attention he deserves. He has been our home, our place of refuge and emotional security.

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Silly customs officers aside, Hodori allows the complete freedom of travel, which in itself brings a great sense of security. Imagine that you are in are part of town that just seems shady, “oh, but Ivan, we are here to see and experience new things”…no not that you know what I mean…when you butt hole clenches up a bit and you need to turn up the AC all of a sudden..
So, unless you hit a dead end, the car can get you out and fast.

Personally only a number times on the trip so far we have felt that clenching feeling: a few time in Mexico, definitely in Honduras and surprisingly, once in Cuzco, Peru.

But we digress, here in the open Patagonia of Argentina…we just sleep wherever we can park our car.

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And last night we arrived so late that only in the morning we saw that we parked next to and beautiful crater lake.

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We had the energy to walk to the edge, but decided that it was too “dangerous” to climb down to the lake. Come on, I can see a trail from here. We are just too lazy…no, we have become too lazy. In not so distant past we used to do climbing…like actual rock climbing. Damn, overlanding is great…unless you want to get in shape.

Oh and if you have issues that you need to talk over with yourself I got just the place for you. I’m not sure why we were shouting at the volcano in the morning but it has an amazing echo. We definitely released some stress from the day before by yelling at the top of our lungs.

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“Back on the road agaaaaaaain”… the drive from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires is really, really boring. It’s like 1600 miles of the same freaking thing.
Overlanding is all about the journey and not the destination, but that entails the journey being interesting in some way.
Luckily, Argentina’s government thought ahead and made put some points of interest along the boring – ass road. Like some rivers, trees and bridges.

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Next up, the government decided that it has too much money and built some angels with horns, put up some flags and a beautiful road. You know the overlander’s moto by now: “if there is a road we must drive it and if there isnt, we must try it”. We drove down, feeling like welcome guests that arrived at day too late…all the decorations there, but the party is done.

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Aaaah, is that the Pope? Wait, is he from Argentina? I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before. Eitherway just another reason for Argentinians to feel like they are above everyone but god himself. Went into the little town looking for an ATM that would actually work with our card…no luck as usual. Really, something wrong with their banking system. Back to the never-ending road and our fight with boredom.

Audio books are the only escape, thanks to a suggestion by our dear friend Kelly, we got the top 100 Sci-fi audio books and have been working our way through them. Since all the books on the list are truly great, we choose which one to listen to only on the quality of the voice. So far we skipped a lot of great books just because the were voiced over by a farm animal with a cold.

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The only good thing about this drive is the meat….and damn good meat.

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By the way, last night was our very first night by the Atlantic ocean. If any of you read our Facebook or Instagram, this is the photo that you saw.

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Delicous breakfast of meat and onions and we are on our way. Drove through a town that really wants people to turn off their water taps, how is the drought back home?

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Finally some other shit that is not just the road and dirt in all directions. Too bad this coastal drive lasted only long enough to take this picture and then back to the lobotomy road.

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There is hope here though, in Ushuaia we got a lead on a penguin colony and luckily it’s on the way to Buenos Aires. Yay! So we drove to Punta Tombo (aka penguin town) but were told that we couldn’t camp anywhere there. We had to drive back out pretty far on a dirt road and I wasn’t really in a mood for that. Not too far from the penguin town, we saw a ranch on the way out and asked them if we could camp on their land.

This is a momentous occasion for us, it is the first time that we drove up onto someone’s land and asked them if we can sleep there. The husband was not very keen on the idea, but his wife saw no harm in us and managed to convince him to let us stay.
Holly shit, we just talked our way into sleeping in someone’s garden. I feel like we should get a scout’s badge for “overlanding”.

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I have to admit that the skies in Patagonia are beautiful, look up at first few photos, you’ll see what I mean.

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These are Magellan penguins and the colony is about 300,000 adults at this moment and for some reason growing. Many other colonies around the area are collapsing possibly due to over fishing but Punta Tombo is going strong.

Just a week earlier we drove to a colony in Chile only to find it permanently closed due to lack on cute penguins.

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If you are thinking of visiting, quit thinking and just come, worth it.
Now that you have decided to visit here is what you should know – try to arrive at 8am or as close to it as possible. We got there around 9:30 and were barely ahead of the huge rush.

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The park is just a single trail through the colony. It’s not a loop, so you walk back the same way you came in. Not long though about a mile and a half each way. But how long it takes you to walk it is solely dependent on how many times you stop to take yet another picture.

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Omg but how can you resist, they are soooo cute.
We were there just early enough to be almost by ourselves on the way in.
But on the way back we saw more people than penguins.
Masses of retired, for some reason only retired people, from all over the world were marching along.

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We were warned of the strong smell of digested fish that would be everywhere within a two mile radius of the colony, but maybe the wind was just right because I only noticed that I haven’t showered in a few days.

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They walk just as funny as you think they do. They are so small but walk with such self-importance that it is hard to take them seriously or watch without smiling.

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This is a little baby penguin, shedding it’s baby feathers. In March only a few adolescents remain, while most of them are at sea fishing and doing penguin stuff.
The park rangers are very helpful and eager to talk to you in whatever language you two can muster up. But they are there mostly for the protection of the penguins.

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Besides not harassing the animals the only rule is to give them the right of way when the try to cross the trail.
Sometimes you get lucky enough to have a penguin walk right next to you as you stand there motionless.

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Oh man…I can relate to this guy. A good breakfast and then a nap.

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The male and female come back every year to try to raise another chick in the same nest. That sounds like the rest of the year they go their separate ways…hm…tell me more, I’m listening.
When it’s time to reconnect they recognize each other by sound alone. Can you imagine doing that in a group of 300,000 humans? Just by yelling: “honey, it’s me!”
Thank god for cell phones.

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Got lucky enough to see a penguin right by the trail and without a ranger in sight.

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Taking a selfie.

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And just like their human equivalent this female is unhappy with the angle…let’s redo.

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This one was penguin-approved.

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Sheesh Ivan enough with the steaks…said no one ever.

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Okay, I’m diversifying…here is a picture of something else – blood sausage. Korea has a variation of this, called soondae, both damn delicious.

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Happened to park at a truck stop, got out of the car and heard the loudest racket in the world. What in the hell?
Birds, thousands of birds. Migrating north.
Just like us they stopped to rest for the night, but unlike us they wouldn’t shut up the whole night. Birds in large numbers give a very ominous feel to the surroundings…but luckily it’s just our wild imagination.

Next up…more driving? But I don’t want. You say I have to?
Fine…next up, thank god, something new – Buenos Aires.

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