Friday, February 3, 2012

Punta Arenas, Chile 28-30 Jan 2012

I took the 9am bus from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas, it took only 3 hours. 6 blocks from the terminal I found my hostel, the Blue House. Parul has checked in earlier as she took the 7:30am bus. Today I have plan to stay in and update my blogs and photos. Inge and Marga arrived the next day, they finally decided to head south. We reunited again! :-)

Magellanic Penguins
Magdalena Island

The only attraction here is the 69,000 pairs of Magellanic Penguins on Magdalena Island. The island has been designated as a National Nature Reserve to protect the breeding site of penguins. Commercial fishing has been ban around the island hence help increased in penguin populations. We signed up for a 4pm excursion. We boarded the car and passengers ferry, on the way to the island, we were greeted by Minky whales and dolphins. As we get closer to the island, we started to see some penguins in the water, those who were out hunting. From far, we could see the black and white dots all over the islands.

There is a proper walking path built for us, we are not allowed to cross into the penguin nesting ground or to touch them but on the other hand they can cross our path and come close to us if they want. :-) Every year in September, the penguins come to this island. The male Magellanic Penguins will first arrive and prepare their nest. Nests are built under bushes or in burrows. The females then arrived to pick their partner. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year. The male reclaims his burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his female partner. The females are able to recognize their mates through their call. 2 eggs are laid and incubate for 39 to 42 days. Both parents shared the responsibility in 10-15 days shift. By April, they will leave to warmer area in Brazil or up to Peru.

We have 1 hour on the island, we could walk up to the Light House but I only walked as far as 100m. It was a great moment watching them for that 1 short hour, they are so adorable. There are chicks, young adults, and pairs every few meters. Some are resting, some are watching us, some are calling, some are just doing nothing. With 69,000 pairs on this 1576 square kilometers island, we were surrounded. I have difficulty choosing which penguin to shoot. :-)

There is a famous cemetery in town, dates back to 1840's, with many local aristocratic families, English and Croatian inmigrants. It's famous for its magnificent mausoleums, architectural construction and shaped pine trees.

Parul finally sorted out her flight ticket, she wanted to go to Puerto Williams but she could not get a return ticket to Punta Arenas. As she holds an India Passport, she needs Visa to enter Argentina, plus she only applied for a single entry to Chile, she can’t return to Chile once she leaves. We teased her for touching the foot of the Magellan native in the Plaza de Armas square because according to the local legend, whoever touches his foot will return to the city. We teased her for not able to leave the city. :-) She finally bought her ticket to Cochrane after getting stuck in Punta Arenas for 4 days. So Inge, Marga and I continue to Ushuaia where Parul retreat up north.

On the last day in Punta Arenas, Geovanni whom we met in Navimag checked in to the same hostel, he cooked us an Italian pasta for our farewell dinner.

Hostel Blue House – P6000 with breakfast and wifi

Bus from Punta arena to Ushuaia – P30,000
Return transfer to port for Penguin tour – P1000

5 hours Penguin tour – P25,000

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