South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo National Reserve, Argentina

South American Cruise_ Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo National Reserve Argentina
Visiting a penguin rookery is an amazing adventure!The closest I’ve ever come to seeing a live penguin  is looking at a photo in a book, so I jumped at the chance to visit a penguin colony on a shore excursion during a cruise around South America.

To get there, we took a three-hour bus trip (one way) from Puerto Madryn to the Punta Tombo National Reserve in Argentina’s Patagonia region, located on Golfo Nuevo, a large bay of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s part of a UNESCO World Heritage site in the Valdes Peninsula that houses the world’s largest nesting colony for Magellanic penguins.

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo
For starters, the ride through Patagonia wasn’t what I expected: it was a vast, desert-like wasteland with scrubby plants and weeds (I’d pictured something a lot more scenic). The tour guide pointed out small herds of guanacos — a deer-like animal that lives only in South America.

And the rookery also wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be like a zoo controlled by humans who tend to the animals, but that wasn’t the case. It’s simply a protected refuge for penguins, where they mate, nest, raise their chicks and do their own thing in their natural habitat — and it’s staffed by park rangers.

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo
When we got off the bus, we followed a dirt path through a desert-like area (another myth buster: I expected snow and ice like penguins in the movies!) and then followed a wooden walkway. A two-foot-high roped fence on the edge of the walkway was the only thing between tourists and members of the huge penguin colony.

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo

As we walked, we saw single penguins, couples, mothers and babies and groups, standing still and walking around. A lot of them were standing or lying in burrows they dug in the ground (another surprise), and some of the nests were nearly hidden under scruffy bushes.

They communicated with each other using a soft cooing or chirping sound.

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo

Although they were stinky (like the smell of a sea lion colony), the penguins were adorable — especially when they ruffled their feathers and waddled around (that was just like the movies)!

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo

Although they didn’t seem afraid of humans at all, many penguins stood near the rope fences with their backs to people passing by. Others stood facing the visitors with their eyes shut. (I guess that was their way of blocking out the passers-by — like a toddler who closes his eyes and thinks because he can’t see you, you can’t see him.)

I took this photo with a penguin at my sister’s suggestion…

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo

The further we walked, the larger the penguin population grew. At one point, we saw about a hundred penguins in the sand under the wooden boardwalk.

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo

When the boardwalk ended at a scenic outlook, we saw the most incredible thing — hundreds of penguins lined up on the shore near the water, facing the sea. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen!

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo
We couldn’t stop taking photos!

Before boarding the bus for the three-hour ride back, we got to stop in a gift shop for 10 minutes, where I bought a small stuffed penguin as a souvenir from our penguin adventure; it makes me smile every time I see it.

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo

South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo

Related blog posts:

South America Cruise: Adventures in Punta Del Este, Uruguay
South America Cruise: Buenos Aires Shore Excursion
Crown Princess Review: South America Cruise

South America Cruise Buenos Aires Shore Excursion
Traveling Solo: Why I Love Princess Cruise Lines
W
eird Solo Travel Adventures
Regal Princess Review: Top 20 Amenities
Cruisin’ Solo and Lovin’ It
9 Things People Hate about Cruises
Ode to Lost Luggage
Mediterranean Cruise: Lost Luggage Second Year in a Row
Mediterranean Cruise: An Adventure in Montenegro
Mediterranean Cruise: A Day in Santorini, Greece, Climbing a Volcano and Exploring a Mountaintop Village
Mediterranean Cruise: A Day at the Beach in Katakolon, Greece
Mediterranean Cruise: Touring Athens
Mediterranean Cruise: Fabulous Venice
Mediterranean Cruise: The $847 Hotel Room
Mediterranean Cruise: Weird Incidents
Mediterranean Cruise: Souvenirs from Italy and Greece
Mediterranean Cruise: Palma de Majorca
Mediterranean Cruise to Malta
Mediterranean Cruise to the Greek Islands and Venice: Off to a Bumpy Start
16 Ways to Save Money on Cruises
12 Reasons Cruises are Better than Land Vacations
Why I Love Solo Cruising
Celebrity Equinox Review: 14 Cool Features

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

This entry was posted in South America cruise and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to South American Cruise: Penguin Rookery at Punta Tombo National Reserve, Argentina

  1. Elisa says:

    So glad you got to see all of this.

  2. exciting trip
    I want to go there once
    Health Fitness News recently posted…10 best fruits for your healthMy Profile

  3. Pingback: South America Cruise: Ushuaia, Argentina -- the End of the WorldThoughts, Tips and Tales

  4. Pingback: Women's Kayaking and Hiking Weekend: Wonderful Except for the Near-Death ExperienceThoughts, Tips and Tales

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge