Seals! Sea Lions! Penguins (real and imaginary)!

Peninsula Valdes Travel Blog

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Making our way around the sand-covered shrubs.

Well this was another incredible day in our Patagonian Paradise. It started with a little hike with our nice guide from the hotel. (The hotel includes all these little excursions for no extra charge). This time we visited some sea lions on the neighboring property. It involved a very WINDY cliffside walk, until we could see the sea lions lounging on the beach far below. Because of the cliffs, it was impossible to get very close to them. Some of them were out in the water…playful little guys. I was watching closely but no Orcas came in for a snack. (They sometimes come right up to the beach... "I'll have a sea lion, to go, please!" )

Next, we went to a beach where we were able to climb down the bluff and sit on a rock next to three elephant seals.
Sure looks like penguin. Another false alarm.
They had no idea we were there. I waited patiently with my video camera poised, but they didn’t move other than to give a snort or two, then one guy finally turned around -- got it. After about 30 minutes with these guys, we walked back to the car, and then went back to the hotel.

From there, Steve and I drove around the entire peninsula for some wildlife viewing. Our first stop was in Puerto Pirámides, where we had a pretty bad (and overpriced) lunch. We didn’t see any whales in the bay, so we drove on to Punta Norte. All the roads are gravel and not great, but this road was much better than the one between Punta Delgado and in Puerto Pirámides. I was able to go up to 100km/hour (about 60mph).
Finally! And he's waddling along just like a penguin should. ADORABLE.


Our map showed a little penguin icon on Punta Norte, so we were on high alert even though they don’t usually come until September 15. Sometimes when you wish hard enough, you can see penguins everywhere you look… in fact, some rocks even start to look remarkable penguin-like. We knew it was too early for them, but still…we hoped.  And hoped. But we didn’t see any of the little guys there. Instead we saw more elephant seals, and some sea lions --- some were playing in the water and two were mating on the beach. We sure are seeing a lot of action here in Patagonia!  

From there we headed south, stopping on the way at an unmarked turnoff just north of Caleta Valdes. I was so sure we wouldn’t see much that here I left my camera in the car and sauntered over to the cliff where Steve was excitedly pointing to the beach with his mouth wide open… a PENGUIN!!!!!  I RAN back to the car faster then lighting, as if he was going to disappear right then and there.
Rheas look like a small ostriches. Here's a shot of their butts.
When I got back, I was happy to see not one, but about six of these “early birds.” When the penguins come alone, they often die… but I think a group like this has a better chance. In a couple weeks, there will be thousands of these Magellanic penguins on the beach. Oh I would love to see it! But I was happy enough to observe these guys waddling up the beach and poking around on the beach for a nest. They are adorable, and this is the first time I have seen them in the wild.

We made one last stop, at Punta Cantor. There was a nature walk there with many informational signs posted, but no animals to be found. There was also a nice walk along the beach, and of course we saw more elephant seals. Sadly, we saw a dead penguin washed up on the beach. One of the early birds I wonder? Steve speculated that he was just an old guy who couldn’t handle the swim.
A photo can't capture it, but here's my best effort.
I like that idea better… he lived a good long life :^)

On the way home, we saw lots more sheep, as usual. These sheep have two modes: 1) eating grass, and 2) complete panic. The Panic mode comes when they hear a car, then they run as fast as their little mutton legs will go. They’re not real bright animals.

We also saw a group of birds that looked like small ostriches. I looked this up…they're called Rhea and are often referred to as the Patagonian Ostrich. They were very nonchalant, and could care less about the tourists gawking at them from the car.

It was approaching sunset again as we arrived back at the hotel. Patagonia must have some of the best sunsets in the world. We enjoyed the spectacle once again, until I was once again chilled to the bone. If it wasn’t so damn cold I think this might not be a bad place to live. I’d never get sick of the sunset. Or the penguins.  





cmgervais says:
I would definitely recommend it! I liked it so much better than BA...
Posted on: Sep 27, 2008
LuckyMonkey says:
wow, i'm inspired to go south now for the wildlife and sunsets. cold, duly noted, its finally warming a bit in buenos aires, yeah!
Posted on: Sep 27, 2008
cmgervais says:
Thanks much! It is an incredible place, I wish I had planned for more time. I will definitely return as soon as possible.
Posted on: Sep 13, 2008
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Making our way around the sand-cov…
Making our way around the sand-co…
Sure looks like penguin. Another f…
Sure looks like penguin. Another …
Finally! And hes waddling along j…
Finally! And he's waddling along …
Rheas look like a small ostriches.…
Rheas look like a small ostriches…
A photo cant capture it, but here…
A photo can't capture it, but her…
Sunrise, taken from our hotel room.
Sunrise, taken from our hotel room.
Sea lion beach.
Sea lion beach.
Sea lion beach.
Sea lion beach.
The parking lot.
The "parking lot."
Just north of Punta Delgado.
Just north of Punta Delgado.
Such angst.
Such angst.
Brrr. The wind is killing us!
Brrr. The wind is killing us!
Our ride.
Our ride.
It doesnt FEEL like spring, but t…
It doesn't FEEL like spring, but …
We climbed down there to hang out …
We climbed down there to hang out…
Elephant seal butt.
Elephant seal butt.
Cold but still smiling!
Cold but still smiling!
A holiday card in the making.
A holiday card in the making.
Hey big guy.
Hey big guy.
A Patagonian Hare, aka Mara. And s…
A Patagonian Hare, aka Mara. And …
The Mara are a strange cross betwe…
The Mara are a strange cross betw…
Curious Guanaco.
Curious Guanaco.
Guanaco.
Guanaco.
The sign at Punta Norte. Shhh!
The sign at Punta Norte. Shhh!
White bird (not a penguin).
White bird (not a penguin).
Not penguins.
Not penguins.
Punta Norte.
Punta Norte.
DEFINITELY not penguins.
DEFINITELY not penguins.
Sea lion take a break from frolick…
Sea lion take a break from frolic…
Zzzzzzzz.
Zzzzzzzz.
Tis the season. Mating season, tha…
Tis the season. Mating season, th…
Mating is noisy business with sea …
Mating is noisy business with sea…
My first penguin. Finally!
My first penguin. Finally!
Penguins making their way up the b…
Penguins making their way up the …
She is pretending I am not there.
She is pretending I am not there.
Close up of the penguin feathers. …
Close up of the penguin feathers.…
Either a rebel, or illiterate...
Either a rebel, or illiterate...
This little gut didnt make it.
This little gut didn't make it.
What you can and can not do on Pun…
What you can and can not do on Pu…
Babies everywhere.
Babies everywhere.
Hes a new one!
He's a new one!
Big sky.
Big sky.
Sheep crossing.
Sheep crossing.
Rhea, or the Patagonian Ostrich.
Rhea, or the Patagonian Ostrich.
Rheas.
Rheas.
He lost his mom and made quite a f…
He lost his mom and made quite a …
Dusk.
Dusk.
Our hotel.
Our hotel.
Going home.
Going "home."
I cant help myself. I must photog…
I can't help myself. I must photo…
A map of the peninsula, with icons…
A map of the peninsula, with icon…
An elephant seal on the Valdes Pe…
Peninsula Valdes
photo by: cmgervais