Sunday, February 22, 2009

SA Cruise: Puerto Madryn, Argentina and penguins

December 11 Puerto Madryn, Argentina
We had never heard of any of the ports we visited except the very, very large ones so we didn’t know what to expect.
Puerto Madryn (population 60,000) is on the Atlantic coast of Argentina’s famous region of Patagonia. This part of Patagonia looks almost exactly like the Lynndyl area. It is desolate and has a lot of sagebrush. It reminded me a lot of home.
I took a ship tour which visited a Welsh town of Trelew, I shouldn’t be mean, but Trelew was the ugliest town I have ever seen. The buildings were colorless and there was very little vegetation. We went on a tour of their Paleontology Museum which houses ancient dinosaur fossils that have been discovered throughout the region. No real skeletons were displayed here because they weigh too much. Instead they have cast lighter weight replicas.
Next we visited a Welsh town called Gaiman on the Chubut River. The town is a pretty spot of green down in a valley. None of the trees and vegetation are native to the area, but have all been planted and irrigated by man.....just like at home. We went to a Welsh tea house where we had tea and pastries, (I skipped the tea.) Then wandered about town for a was actually not as interesting as the brochure promised.
We ended the tour by traveling by bus to The Punta Loma reserve, home to a large colony of sea lions and sea birds. We traveled along dirt roads and I think our driver was so afraid of stirring up dust that he only drove about 10 miles an hour. We took so long getting there that we only stayed a short time and had to get back to the ship. The sea lions were fun to watch with their little ones. A few of the mothers took their youngsters out into the water to let them play.
Most of the rest just sunned themselves on the beach or enjoyed the shade of an overhanging cliff.
Greg took a 2 ½ hour bus trip to see a penguin colony. (I would have gone there except the ship brochure made the buses sound like they were going to be full of dust and hard to breath in. They were really nice and clean instead.) Punta Tombo, south of Puerto Madryn was home to one of the largest Magellan Penguin colonies in South America. Estimates of the number of penguins are upward of 2 million. (I am plagerising some of the ship’s descriptions.)
The penguins were quite small and hidden among the sage brush. They had little burrows under the bushes. Greg thought it was quite strange to see penguins out in an area that looked like the desert around Lynndyl, except by the sea.

December 11 At sea

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