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Penguins at Punta Tombo

 Estimated reading time: 2 min. Texts Pablo Etchevers   Photos Jorge González
Penguins at Punta Tombo

One of the most visited sites on the Patagonian littoral where thousands of tourists arrive every year to see the Magellanic penguin continental colony.

Our destination: Punta Tombo. Dwelled by the famous Magellanic penguins from September to April, this is the site they choose to make their nests, mate, incubate their eggs and feed their offspring. All this natural process is a wonderful and tender show.

We left Puerto Madryn heading south along National Route 3. After having covered 70 kilometers, we took Provincial Route 1, which led us to Punta Tombo along a gravel road that travels a distance of 107 kilometers. Obviously, this kind of road forces drivers to be extremely careful, as it is very dangerous to speed up.

Reaching this location and watching these marvelous animals running from one side to another in search of their offspring and their nests is a thrilling experience. Animal nature is shown openly and that is a great thing.
Penguins at Punta Tombo
The venue where the penguin reserve is located used to be part of estancia La Perla and was donated by Luis and Francisco La Regina. The main purpose of this place is to protect one of the most important seabird colonies in Argentina and the largest continental Magellanic penguin colony.

The animals co-exist within a breathtaking environment. The scenery is unique. A 3-kilometer-long and 600-meter-wide rock formation may be seen getting out to sea. It is covered by sand, clay and gravel and it is surrounded by spacious sandy beaches. The soil is teeming with nests where the penguins carefully deposit their eggs and then raise their chicks.
Penguins at Punta Tombo
In silence, we watched the colony’s activity. Some penguins dug their caves, others fought for their territory, in turn, and the continuous murmur of the bleat (the penguins’ voice) dominated the surroundings. Unlike other bird species, both the male and the female defend the nest and feed the chicks with fish such as small anchovy and squid.

The male penguins are a little larger than the females and their beaks are longer and wider. They weigh approximately 4 or 5 kilos and they reach their sexual maturity when they are five years old. The females lay two eggs (in general early in October) and, after 40 days of incubation shared with the male, the chicks are born.
Penguins at Punta Tombo
Of course that there are other seabirds at Punta Tombo: grey and dolphin gulls, skuas, imperial and rock shags, snowy sheathbill, steamer duck and several petrel species.

Punta Tombo, a place in the world no one should fail to visit.
Useful Data
How to get here
Travel 70km along National Route 3 leaving from Puerto Madryn and then take Provincial Route 1. Travel 107 km along the rubble road until Punta Tombo is reached.
Do not stand on the penguins’ way, as they may try to peck at you. Do not put the lens of your photo camera in front of the penguins’ head; they will certainly peck at it and break it.
Help preserve this experience in nature carrying the waste you produce back to the city. Try not to leave traits of your presence in this site. Do not disturb the fauna, and remember that these animals have chosen this habitat to comply with an important part of their lives cycle.
All Peninsula Valdes
Martín Fierro 85 - L.5 (9120) Puerto Madryn - Chubut - Argentina
Tel: +54 280 445-3712 / 447-4110  Cel: 15-4698165  
Inter Patagonia

Tour Kind
Contemplative Tour
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The Viewpoint

In this column, I would like to highlight the almost titanic labor done year after year by the San Antonio Museum, located in the district of San Antonio Oeste, as regards the rehabilitation program for hundreds of penguins affected by oil spills that reach the shores of the central Patagonian area.
Oil causes serious damage to these birds plumage, which cannot swim properly or keep their body temperature. Therefore, they come to the beaches weak and hungry and those which are not rescued are finally intoxicated by the oil that irritates their skin.
The museum bathes the penguins in order to extract the oil from their skins. Furthermore, they are fed and supervised in case there are any reactions as a result of the intoxication.
The fishing company Trimar de San Antonio has joined this task and provides food for the penguins. Congratulations to you all.
If you wish to cooperate, call 56 - 35 - 203294 / 203399.

Marcelo Sola - Journalist

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