'Wild, Wild Life'

Puerto Madryn Travel Blog

 › entry 7 of 10 › view all entries
my chariot

The Joyurney here almost deserves its own entry. If blogged, it would have been called 'Ode to an Argentinian Bus'. On second thought, considering I slept nine hours straight on such a bus, perhaps a Sonet or a new Psalm is in order, if there's still room in scripture. For those uninitiated, the deceptively long distances and a decaying British-built train system here have created the need for a mind-bogglingly enormous bus network. The people have answered, and in style; but unlike the super-elite world of business class flights, style here is within reach.

guards at Buckingham Palace
Enter the “Super Cama” bus seat, for which I admit a certain level of affection. I love thy180 degree recline. I love thy unlimited wine refills. I love thy magical suspension. I love thee. I digress.


Conveniently sandwiched between a pair of 18 hour buses, Puerto Madryn was my first stop on the way south. Technically Patagonia, I gleefully awaited the magestic scenery promised, nose pressed to the glass. Instead, I discovered why Patagonia is often as sparsely populated as the Saharah: it's mostly desert... endless, endless desert. Had I done even a modest amount of research before leaving, I would have discovered this; but not to worry. You see, it's also part of the backpacker's credo to “just buy your ticket and go.

sea lion colony #2 of 5
.. figure it out alog the way,” and so far I've embraced this strategy. Besides, with Super Cama buses, who cares.


Despite the desert locale and lackluster city center, multiple shoreline reserves surrounding Puerto Madryn host a smattering of wildlife as exciting as any in Patagonia, and enugh entertainment for two soild days. I made a decision early on to get my penguin visitation out of the way early and all in one go, despite the penguin mania currently afflicting the female backpacker population. So, with three female backpackers, we set out in a rickety rental car for the biggest pengiun colony in South America: Punta Tombo. Though not the bustling mass of birds I envisioned (offered by some colonies down south, limited to a rock or two), Tombo was nice. An impressive piece of land has been granted to some 500,000 penguins, and they happily fill all available space.

armadillo
Thus, touring this 'colony' is a good hour's walk. The penguins were on the small side (not that I would know), but the opportunity to catch them tending eggs, teaching adolescents, and generally being themselves (at a distance of less than a meter) was a treat. Watching some old man get snapped at for getting too close was something hilarious (they told you “no less than a meter”, compadre). Red rocks on a point were a useful lookout for anything I secretely hoped might eat the pengiuns, but that was for tomorrow. Rather, this evening was focused on finding a comically large teacup in a randomly placed Welsh village en route back home.


Getting used the gravel ('ripia') roads and the 65km speed limit that cramps your explorer style, we pressed the car into service again under the time pressure of the next 18 hour bus that evening.

el vacuum
I decided dawdling in Puerto Madryn would give diminishing returns, especially considering the impending change of seasons, and my paltry allotment of time to South America as a whole. So the second full day was my last, and essentially became a fun-filled wait for an anticlimactic feeding. Armadillos enthusiastically welcomed us to Parque Nacional Penninsula Valdes, and diligently waited for anyone to dispense any remaining drop of sour cream available after lunch. No, we didn't feed the animals, but watched others and got a great video without the guilt (grin) (see album). The lunchtime wait was supposedly in a premier Orca feedking zone, where juvenile sea lions are snatched right off the beach, as you down your sandwich. Five colonies of sea lions dot the north point of Penninsula Valdes, two right under a viewing platform. Waiting around ensures you'll see a fairly interesting display of sea lion social behavior, but offers only a 3% chance of catching an attack.
camarones!
Suspiciously, the one attack (after nearly 4 hours) occurred not at our “prime viewing location.” but at the $100 per day location, reserved for professional photographers and videographers who setup camp inches from the action. For us, the action consisted of a dorsal fin cruising up and down the surf for hours, then a quick drive into the shore followed by a cloud of white as sea spray surrounded what may or may not have happened (hard to tell from half a mile away). Zooming into someone's lucky shot tennuously “proved” that we were one of the lucky 3%. The killer whale killed, just in time for me to catch that next bus.


ALBUM: http://picasaweb.google.com/matt.schumpert/09_03_Puerto_Madryn


Join TravBuddy to leave comments, meet new friends and share travel tips!
my chariot
my chariot
guards at Buckingham Palace
guards at Buckingham Palace
sea lion colony #2 of 5
sea lion colony #2 of 5
armadillo
armadillo
el vacuum
el vacuum
camarones!
camarones!
Puerto Madryn
photo by: dan2105