Ok, it isn’t really the richest wildlife in the world, but we sure enjoyed it.
Let me back up a few steps first. After saying a melancholy adios to our Buenos Aires home two nights ago, we headed south for the beach town of Puerto Madryn on Argentina’s Atlantic coast. One very comfortable overnight 18-hour bus later (thank you, full cama Don Otto service), we arrived. Puerto Madryn is a very new-feeling beach town, with home/building construction seemingly booming on every corner and a coastline full of Argentinian families. We haven’t been able to determine if this is true, but it seems like this town caters to an upper-middle class local tourist. Even with the majority of tourists being Argentinians taking advantage of their summer vacations, there are still plenty of international tourists on this gringo trail stop.
I would discuss our very nice hostel, El Gualicho, more but we are planning on starting a section on our blog discussing our travel arrangements, accommodations, details of how we got from point A to point B, and more. So I won’t spoil the fun here. We recommend it, though. Good value, excellent staff, clean as you could possibly hope for, and a very useful kitchen.
But I digress. Right when we arrived we booked a tour of Peninsula Valdes through our hostel. The tour would take us by van/bus all over the Peninsula which is famous for whale watching (January is after whale season which was a bummer), penguin colonies, elephant seals, sea lions, and other, less interesting wildlife. Even without the whales, we got to see some pretty great wildlife.
Guanacos – kind of a vicuña-like animal:
We think these are just plain old rheas, although they could be some special Argentinian type thereof:
But these aren’t the animals you came here to see. They certainly weren’t the animals we paid to see. Without further ado, we present the penguins of Peninsula Valdes:
Unsurprisingly, we enjoyed the penguins. But the Peninsula wasn’t just penguins, there were other fun animals for us to observe and enjoy! For example, elephant seals:
That photo might as well have been a video. These things just don’t move all that much once on land. When they do, though it is hilarious. Something like a combination between a fat, drunk guy doing the worm at a wedding and a rocking horse. It was hilarious to watch but sadly it happened only about once every 5 minutes. Far more interesting were the sea lions, who were very active.
Roaring sea lion:
Apparently, it is very rare to see sea lions and elephant seals living together, but they get along here:
Because it is mating season and the sea lions are very territorial, we got to see a lot of fights. They reminded me of UFC fights: two oversized males slamming into each other for about 3 seconds, then it’s over. I guess the comparison isn’t that great because there’s no groin punching and homoerotic grappling when the sea lions fight. Anyway, here’s a still-life example (sorry the photo isn’t bigger…don’t know what happened there):
Even with all of this activity (or non-activity…looking at you, elephant seals), we were kindly reminded that we needed to respect the wildlife, so I will leave you with its not-at-all-subtle message: