Orcas, penguins and armadillos!
25.03.2007 - 26.03.2007 27 °C
A trip across country to the east coast of Argentina again saw us arrive in Puerto Madryn. A nice, seaside town although it is a bit out of season for the hordes of summer bachgoers this time of year. It is however, the base for a visit to Peninsula Valdes.
The peninsular is home to a national park which houses some pretty spectacular land and marine wildlife. Driving out to the park we encountered guanaco, Patagonian Ostrich, sheep (the merino sheep live on pretty dry grass down here, which is why they produce some of the leanest, best quality meat to eat...the famous patagonia lamb!).
The first stop was to say hello to the magellan penguins, a seaside cliff leading down the the beach below. The penguins stand around right near the fence, you could almost touch them if the signs didn´t warn that doing so is forbidden, as they are protected. Gorgeous, they are so cute! Hundreds of them waddle about and fluff their feathers in the wind. No explanation why they have chosen this particular cliff and carprk to live, it´s apparently only a recent habitation.
Stopped next for a picnic lunch watching the elephant seals do pretty much nothing at Punta Cartor. About a dozen of them were lying like big slugs down by the water. Things got exciting when 2 big males starting making throaty growls at eachother, but they obviously couldn´t be bothered moving as it stayed at just growls and they went back to sleep again.
Afternoon saw us camped out waiting for a sighting of the Orcas (killer whales, although they are actually part of the dolphin family). One of the only places in the world where the orcas come in on the high tide and swim right in to throw themselves onto the beach to catch a meal of seal before allowing the tide to wash them back out into the water, still chomping away on a seal. We were very lucky that there were 2 orcas cruising the coastline whilst we were there and plenty of seals lolling about as easy targets on the shore. Unfortunately for us (or fortunately if you were one of the seals!) the orcas must not have been overly hungry that day as neither of them felt inclined to come in for a dramatic feed. Paling into less excitement while everyone was so orca focused, we had a couple of armadillos running about and also 2 grey foxes. Surprisingly tame, both seemed keen on turning on the charm for visitors in the hope of a scrap of touristy food.
Long but very rewarding day, about 12 hours on the road but thoroughly worthwhile for all the interesting wildlife we encountered.
Over to Bariloche next, so our next blog will be from the chocolate capital of the Argentine Lake District....yum!!
Alli and Jason