22 May 2014 Punta Tombo – Largest Penguin Colony outside Antarctica
I walked down a sandy path wearing shorts and a t-shirt as I watched penguins lay in the sand seeking reprieve from the sun under the shade of scrub bushes. Travelling was dispelling the assumption penguins live only in cold climates. Lathered with gobs of sun screen, I walked along the dusty paths of Punta Tombo Reserve one hundred and ten kilometers south of Trelew, Argentina.
If wildlife viewing is your thing, this five hundred acre park was one of the best wildlife managed areas I visited in my South American travels. Punta Tombo is home to the largest penguin colony outside of Antarctica. Between September and April thousands of Magellanic penguins nest in their burrows and guard their young.
One of the reasons I found Punta Tombo so enjoyable was the orientation and presence of staff throughout the reserve. Visitors are greeted upon first arrival, walk through a smartly designed museum and are given an orientation. A staff member informs guest not to touch the penguins, throw garbage, smoke, eat food or make loud noises.
These are Magellanic penguins and have a deep red hue to their eyes.
A wide trail with roped boundaries kept all the visitors to one path through the reserve. Staff were stationed all along the reserve and their presence kept visitors following the rules, which made the experience enjoyable for all.
These cute little guys are called cuis. Scurrying quickly about, they can be easily scared dashing under trees and shrubs.
Holding its head high, the Elegant Tinamou boldly prances about pecking at the ground for seeds and insects.
After a high energy day of searching for food, penguins make the walk to their homes.
This one stopped for a scratch along the way.
A hillside where penguins build their burrows.
With a flash of white across their hind ends, these mara’s, or Patagonian Hares, take giant leaps through the sage grasses. I didn’t even know these guys existed before travelling through Argentina. These are now one my new favorite animals.
If you find yourself along the east coast of Argentina and you enjoy viewing wildlife, make sure you check out Punta Tombo Reserve. The park management has done an award worthy job of creating a clean, safe and positive environment for enjoying nature.
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If you go:
Entrance fee to Punta Tombo: $70 ARS pp.
There is no camping in Trelew and we stayed at the only hostel in town: Hostal El Agora, Edwin Roberts 33, (02965), $130 ARS pp.
Car tours, call Sophie, 154583309, the hostel will also call for you. You set up the day(s), place and time and she brings you the car. It should cost somewhere between $450-600 ARS for the day.