2/19 Traveling from Argentina to Chile
It was a long travel day from El Calafate, Argentina back to Punta Arenas, Chile (via Puerto Natales). Not only was the bus ride long, but getting through the border wasn’t very efficient. It was quite disorganized and confusing, and a group of us got the wrong date stamped on our passports on the Argentina side, which had to be fixed before we went to Chilean officials. Once we made it to the Chilean side, they did a full inspection of all the luggage looking for any fruits/veggies/meats that could contaminate the Chilean agriculture. Luckily we expected the border hassles and had scheduled a long layover in Puerto Natales. Turns out we would have missed the earlier bus by about 20 minutes. By the time we made it to Punta Arenas we only had time to grab dinner. We also found this odd street sign that still remains a mystery.
Snow-women are to the right??
2/10 Last Day in Patagonia
On our last day we took a boat to Isla Magdalena, which is a small island inhabited by the Magellanic Penguins. These penguins are pretty small, only standing a couple feet tall, but full of personality!
The boat ride to and from the island is pretty long without much to see and no entertainment, so we should have brought something to read. The ferry fit a surprising number of people, but seemed like it was really designed for non-human cargo, so it was often hard to find a seat.
Once we arrived, everyone flooded the island after getting strict instructions not to approach, chase or touch the penguins. You also are required to stay within a roped walkway that follows the coast from the boat to the light house on a hill. This is to protect the penguins since they have nests all over the hillside.
Although the people can’t leave the walkway the penguins continually cross as they return from the ocean to their burrows or nests.
This can cause some humorous reactions and photos as people (like Katharine) are focused on the nests and don’t even realize a penguin is sauntering across the path.
Pretty much everyone decided to walk up to the lighthouse, but we chose to hang back and spend some time just watching a few different penguin families. We saw them digging and cleaning their burrow as well as others defending their nest with vicious bitting and squawking.
We saw these two love birds taking a walk on the beach.
There were a variety of different ages, some were too young and didn’t have their stereotypical tuxedos.
The hillside was just covered in penguins, quite a sight.
As we were warned, it was very cold and windy on the island! (kind of a theme in Patagonia…)
This was a great way to end our trip laughing and enjoying ourselves watching the cute birds waddle around their island.
All in all it was an amazing trip with so many memories and photos. With all the hectic traveling in Patagonia, it took a little while for the entire trip to really sink in. Now we enjoy reminiscing about backpacking along the mountain and lakes in Torres del Paine, the relentless winds of Fitz Roy, giant ice walls calving into the lake, and last but not least, the awkward waddle of a Magellanic penguin!