Penguins is Penguins, so sayeth Jimmy! Monday, Dec. 23rd

Yesterday we made excursion reservations with Solo Expediciones to tour Los Pinguinos National Monument in the Estrecho de Magallanes for this morning, Monday.  That would translate to visiting the huge Magellanic Penguin colony on Islas Magdalena and Marta in the Straight of Magellan.  We can disembark on Magdalena Island, but the zodiac can only circumnavigate Marta Island.  Numbers of penguins on Magdalena Island are in the 150,000 range. Wonder how it smells?

We arranged for a taxi to pick us up at 6:50 am and deliver us to Solo by 7 am.  So far so good.  But in our hearts we knew it wouldn't happen.  Wind is THE factor down here.  Many a mariner has despaired of the tempestuous winds in this latitude, many a vessel has been lost, and our trip to the Islands was a goner, as well.  We had rain in the night and Jimmy heard some pretty stiff wind gusts.  Not me; I had ear plugs in.  The sun was shining brightly when we got up at 6.  Though the trees were nearly bowled over, we suited up and showed up.  Our trip was canceled.  (I suspect this trip to the islands will be canceled all week due to high winds.)  Well, and anyway, in my haste to get out the door, I forgot the small pocket camera I always carry.  Phooey.  Good news:  Jimmy had the new GoPro.

Disappointed faces milled around at Solo, as we'd all looked forward to the outing.  However, another option was offered.  An overland trip to Seno Otway (Otway Sound) to see a smaller Magellanic Penguin colony would begin immediately.  We signed up.  Penguins is penguins, Jimmy said.  Two vans full took off for an approx hour's drive NW of Punta Arenas.

 Taken from the van a few minutes out of town, you see few clouds, bright sun.

Not looking as good where we're headed (left).  The geese you can barely make out are called caiquen (Upland Goose or Magellan Goose) in Chile.  We saw a lot of them, inc plenty of youngsters.  Also spotted Patagonian mara, aka the Patagonian cavy, Patagonian hare or dillaby.  They look like giant jackrabbits, tho we both saw a resemblance to kangaroos!  The wind was whipping across the Patagonian steppes.

When we emerged from the van, the cold wind took our breath away, and we faced a lengthy loop walk. Jimmy and I had dressed in many layers, inc long johns, T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, down vest (me), and wind breakers, gloves, hats, sox and closed shoes.  And I wore the soft, knitted cowl thingee I bought yesterday to keep my neck warm and protect my face.  We were as prepared as we could get.

Penguins at the water's edge had just hopped on land from the water (brrrr!!).  We made our way to a "blind," which served as minor wind protection... and then rain began pelting us... which turned to blowing sleet.  Mercifully, the icy rain was brief.  HAPPY SUMMER!  We were freezing, BUT, hey, isn't everything an adventure? 

The penguins don't look cold!

We do.

This is the kind of rain that turns on and five minutes later it's off, and then an hour later, it cranks up again.  So be it.  See those little Magellanic Penguins marching toward us?

We think they were off on an EXplore, as Pooh used to say.

A boardwalk keeps humans on a path w/o disturbing the nesting penguins.  They nest in bushes or burrows.  Oh look, a rainbow.  And maybe a peek of sun?  Yes, sunshine!

These two lovebirds (being watched over by the guy behind them) were cooing and preening each other.  Penguins mate for life and return to this place where they were born only for the mating season.  No singles come with them.

These guys were amazing.  Braying like donkeys; never heard the likes.  I have it on video, what a sound.  The two in the center were playing leap-frog or... uh, one hopped on top of the other!  The penguin on the right has his head up and is hee-hawing to beat the band!! 

The biting wind never quit, but our group spent time here admiring the "cute" little penguins.  "Braying" penguins could be heard all over.  The flora looked alpine-like, tiny flowers and mosses; a tundra landscape.

Into the wind.  I look like the Michelin Woman. 

Signboards are really useful.  Hope you can read this one.  The Seno Otway Penguin Colony numbers around 8,000-10,000  birds.  This was quite an experience.  We wanted to see penguins whilst at the "bottom of the world," and so we did, we saw penguins, and plenty of 'em, up close!!


  1. I think a trip to see the penguins was well worth it. Cool beans!!

  2. Well now you done near-bout EVERYTHING, even penguins! wow!

  3. There's nothing quite like seeing penguins in large numbers. Glad to see an alternative was offered to your scheduled boat trip. Sounds like booking the land trip is a more guaranteed way of seeing penguins in Punta Arenas ... something to keep in mind for our upcoming SA cruise.


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