Following my first two nights in Buenos Aires, I was headed for my next destination in Argentina. I was shuttled to the airport around midday to catch my early afternoon flight to Trelew, a small town located about 1350 km south of the Argentine capital. It was about a two-hour flight over, and soon enough arrived to pouring rain outside of the airport. My private transfer picked me up and it was an hour’s drive to Puerto Madryn, the main city in the Chubut province of the country. It was a notable change from the sprawling metropolis of Buenos Aires, as it was a sweeping landscape of grass, all flat and stretching as far as the eye could see. For some reason, it reminded me of the landscape in Iceland, at least during the spring months.
We arrived at my accommodation, a small sort of BnB a bit far out from the city center. The room was a lot smaller than what I’d gotten in Buenos Aires, but it’d do for three nights in town. There were a few eccentricities, including a finicky lock (which didn’t feel very secured) and a king sized AND a twin sized bunched together for a maximum of three people inside! I was only one traveler, and I had the room all to myself, so I suppose this was the accommodation’s definition of an “upgrade” as I would’ve otherwise only a king-size bed. Go figure.
Overall, I would say that my accommodation in Puerto Madryn was a hit-or-miss: besides the rather old and creaky state of the building (despite attempts at superficial renovations), I also found reception was either super friendly/helpful, or absolutely standoffish. I could understand that less people spoke English here (compared to the big city like Buenos Aires), but it was still jarring for me to get hot-and-cold reception, despite trying my hand at speaking (terrible) Spanish. Oh well, can’t all be perfect…
Any case, I spent the first night hole in the accommodation, as the rain was not letting up to go outside for dinner. I ended up eating at the restaurant inside my accommodation: it was pricey, but tasty: I opted for paella the first night and while I know that it’s a Spanish dish, I’d heard that Argentina does a solid rendition of it. Portions were large, and I was very satiated afterwards.
I began my sightseeing in and around Puerto Madryn the following morning. I was picked up around 7h30 and, after picking up a few more passengers, we headed out for a full day of sightseeing at various stops in the Península Valdés. En route, we even caught glimpses of guanaco, which are a breed of four-legged animals related to the llama– they were adorable!
We first stopped for views of the peninsula itself, along with sea lions laying around on the rocky shores before heading to Puerto Pirámides where we’d take a two-hour boat ride for whale watching, which was the main program of the day. We joined multiple tour groups on a big boat, taking it out about 45 minutes before turning off the engine and waiting for the whales to appear.
If you look closely, you can see sea lions!
…and so they did! I was surprised to see so many whales around us, and so close to the boat! They showed their fins and their tails, even spouting water. It was pretty neat, and we even saw the calves! On our way back to shore, we also saw a whole pod of small dolphins jumping through the water, chasing our boat and putting on a spectacle; we’d been informed we were lucky to have seen them that day, as it’s usually rare to do so.
Next was an unexpected stop at a small reserve with…Magellanic penguins! I’d be taking a tour to see them the following day, but I was very happy to get a sneak preview of them. There were a good handful of them chilling out, some waddling and looking absolutely adorable. I love penguins, as they’re my favorite animal, and I’m glad I finally got to see them in person!
We had a 90-minute pit stop for lunch at one of the rest stops. I ordered a sandwich milanesa, which is essentially a baguette sandwich stuffed with a beef schnitzel. My sandwich was MASSIVE, and I could only finish 70% of it before I called it quits. Certainly filled me up, though! After lunch, I had a bit of free time to wander the rest stop area, which is situated along a small hiking trail with views of the sea from above– apparently, one can see orca whales here, but alas, we didn’t see any that day. However, I did catch a glimpse of an armadillo– it was so tiny and so cute! I’d never seen one before, and along with the Magellanic penguins, it made my day. 🙂
We had one more stop at an Interpretative Center before we concluded the tour and headed back to Puerto Madryn. An unfortunate incident happened in which one of the passengers got really sick and our coach had to pull to the side of the road about three times to let the poor guy vomit on the grass– I figured he must’ve eaten something bad at the pit stop for lunch…not the greatest, but the tour guide was patient and allowed him to throw up until he felt better.
It was late afternoon once I got dropped off back at my accommodation. Although it wasn’t raining anymore (like it did the day before), I was feeling much too tired to go out for dinner, given that I was far from the city center and services like Uber or Lyft weren’t available in this smaller, isolated town (and taxi service wouldn’t be worth it just for dinner). So I opted for dinner again at my accommodation, this time having a delicious white fish with white wine: it did the trick!
My tour in Península Valdés was a solid introduction to Puerto Madryn and its surroundings. While I do appreciate seeing the biodiversity in its wildlife, it’s really not my cup of tea. However, I really did love encountering animals like guanaco, dolphins, Magellanic penguins, whales, and even armadillos! Definitely a fun time, and I’d be seeing more wonderful wildlife the following day…stay tuned for the next post!
— The Finicky Cynic
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3 thoughts on “Destination: Puerto Madryn, Argentina (Part 1)”
During my time in Argentina, out of the cities, I felt that travellers are easily surrounded by nature in this huge and sparsely populated country.
I’d have to agree! So much rugged beauty in Argentina that it’d take a long time to see them all!
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