Argentinawithfriendstravel’s Weblog

December 18, 2010

Penguins, Dolphins, and Welsh History in Patagonia, Argentina

One of the most fascinating and enjoyable day trips from Puerto Madryn, Argentina is the journey south to visit the penguin reserve at Punta Tombo. With stops along the way for Dolphin watching and a traditional Welsh Tea in the historic town of Gaiman this is a full day of unequaled activities. The Flamenco Tour agency offers this day trip starting at about 9AM in the morning and returning to Puerto Madryn by about 6PM. With bilingual tour guides who are knowledgeable on the region and comfortable vehicles, this day trip is a must for those who enjoy nature and unique experiences.

The small peninsula of Punta Tombo is on the Argentinian Patagonian coastline. Thousands of tourists gather here to be amazed, entertained, and educated by one of the most fascinating shows performed by nature at the Magellan penguin colony. Approximately half a million penguins come every year in order to breed. The first of them arrive in September and stay until about mid-March, but the best time to observe them is after November, once the babies are born. One of the greatest features of this Nature Reservation is the fact that you can actually walk among the penguins, follow them and learn their habits, see how they feed their babies, the rites of pairing, the fights for the defense of their territories, how they build their nests, and the unending walks they take to and from the ocean. This is a truly singular experience with wonderful photo opportunities. Penguins and their individual style of waddling and behavioral patterns are always entertaining.

Punta Tombo is also a paradise for other sea birds that have chosen this site to nest. Kelp gulls and dolphin gulls, skuas, two species of cormorants—the king cormorant and the rock shag—steamerducks, snowy sheathbills, and several species of terns and giant petrels all make their nests in this region. Be sure to bring your binoculars to enjoy the bird watching.

At Puerto Rawson the boat tours head out to sea where the dolphin sightings are a major attraction.

Usually the Commerson’s dolphins—called Toninas locally—and also known as bottlenose dolphins, can be observed year-round. This is one of the few places in the world where these dolphins may be watched in their natural environment. Semi-rigid boats leave from Rawson’s harbor in the afternoon because in the mornings the dolphins remain feeding in the ocean depths. Theses dolphins are not at all shy and love to dart back and forth in front of the boats’ bows and leap into the air performing a great show for the passengers on board. On one boat trip it is almost guaranteed that you will be able to observe numerous of these fascinating sea creatures having fun in their natural environment.

For a change of pace the next stop is a visit to the town of Gaiman where the first settlers arrived in 1865 by boat from Wales. These immigrants were escaping from the English domination of their homeland as well as from the attempt of the latter to impose their culture upon them. They were looking for a virgin territory to be able to establish the “New Wales” where they could follow their own rules and customs without being attacked. Patagonia offered this safe haven. Today much of the Welsh culture is still apparent in the historic buildings, architectural style, and street names. Even the Welsh language is still spoken and taught in the schools, and real Welsh Tea Houses are open for all to enjoy a traditional Welsh Afternoon Tea. The Welsh village essence and small farms retain the charm and character created by these original settlers even in today’s modern society. This is a bona fide step back in time with historical overtones for an incomparable Patagonia experience.

From wildlife to local history this day trip from Puerto Madryn is a fascinating education of the local culture and yore. The gay and gay-friendly staff at Flamenco Tour agency will be happy to arrange this journey for your enjoyment and will also ensure that you learn from your time spent with nature and yesteryear.


JESS Kalinowsky Professional Travel Consultant

Friends Travel LLP

June 27, 2008

Outdoor Adventure in Argentine Patagonia with

Outdoor Adventure in Patagonia

This adventure combines challenging hikes, horseback riding and mountain biking. The journey will take you 142 miles from El Calafate to El Chalten–a trekkers’ paradise located in the shadow of the fabled FitzRoy massif.  This itinerary can be modified to fit a wide variety of skill levels and intensities.

Day 1: Arrive in El Calafate. Transfer by land to the small village of El Chalten (about 200 inhabitants) for three nights’ accommodations at a select hosteria or lodge.

Day 2: After breakfast at the hotel, full-day trekking to Laguna de los Tres. This is an eight-mile, seven-hour adventurous trek. You will see some of the most spectacular views of the Andes and the amazing Patagonian landscape. Pristine rivers and lakes punctuate the desolate beauty of this landscape. Box lunch included. Return to El Chalten for overnight.

Day 3: After breakfast, begin a horseback ride to the stunning Torre Hill, the landmark of Patagonia. After a six-hour ride, you will reach a lagoon at the base of the mountain. This starkly beautiful landscape is unparalleled, conjuring images of mythic towers and alien worlds. Box lunch included. Return to El Chalten for overnight.

Day 4: Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a three-hour mountain bike ride to Lago del Desierto. The scenery along the trail is spectacular: tall lengas and ñires trees, deep blue waters, and permanent views of the FitzRoy and Torre mountains, glaciers and waterfalls. In the afternoon, you will transfer by land to El Calafate for a flight to your next destination.

Note: The best months for this experience are November – April.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!” – W.H. Murray

JESS Kalinowsky will arrange for your First Class, Business Class or Coach special airfares from your hometown to Argentina, South America, and your pre and post tour or cruise arrangements.

JESS Kalinowsky

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