One of the wonders of the expansive open land of Argentina is when you encounter one of the original inhabitants of the land; these inhabitants being the animals. There are a number of different species of animals you will discover along your travels. If you make it to the southern Patagonian lands while in the country, there is one animal that stands out and can not be missed. The penguin.
Penguins can be found in the southern tip of the country. They roam the lands of Tierra del Fuego and can be seen on the beaches of Ushuaia. No doubt this is beautiful country, but if you find yourself short in time to travel to the far south there is still another option – Punta Tombo.
Punta Tombo is the name of the penguin colony that lies outside of Puerto Madryn on the eastern coast of Argentina. Full day tours are offered from Puerto Madryn. However, the tour involves a three hour bus tour down a boring dirt road that would be much more enjoyable in a rental car with a ground of friends. Both options are available, but given the option the rental car is much more appealing. The dusty roads to Punta Tombo lead to one of the most important breeding colonies of Magellanic penguins on the continent. It is home of hundreds, or even thousands (if you arrive in high season), of penguins that waddle around their community and go about their regular lives as if you were a part of their village. They act as if they don’t even notice you are there. Visitors can walk around and mingle with the creatures while snapping some pictures. It makes for some great up-close-and-personal shots to send home to the family. They will allow you to stand within feet of them, an arms length away. However it is critical to maintain this arms length. Getting to close and taking that extra step may threaten the penguins and gives them reason enough to snip at you with their sharp little beaks.
There are a few different paths to follow throughout Punta Tombo. As you enter, if you follow the path to the right there will be a number of signs posted to give visitors a little background information on these perplexing creatures. Their life cycle, the role of the males and females, and what they do for food, are all topics that can be learned while walking around. At the end of the day you will be much more educated on their lives and existence. The opposite path on the left hand side will lead you through the penguin breeding grounds and up to the waters edge. If you are there during the spring you will notice the holes that have been dug across the land. The penguins lay their eggs inside the holes and while reproducing they can be seen sitting on top of their eggs inside to keep them warm. At the waters edge there are layers of different colored rocks that stretch into the ocean and create beautiful formations and viewing areas where one can witness the playful nature of the penguins from above. A large group of the penguins can always be found here swimming in the water and enjoying the beautiful beaches.
The carefree nature of the penguins is very intriguing and before the day is over you will surely have broken out in laughter a time or two at their unique characteristics and mannerisms. Their happy feet provide great entertainment as they waddle around Punta Tombo and give you insight into the life of a penguin.