Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Puerto Madryn and Peninsula Valdés

Well, it´s been a while since I´ve blogged anything, been lazy I guess. We´ve been in a town called Puerto Madryn for the last six days or so, which has been really nice.

From Puerto Madryn

This place is super famous for Whale watching and also, curiously, for decendents of Welsh settlers. Unfortunately for us the Southern Right Whales are only around between June and December, so we missed them. There are quite a few Sea Lion and Seal Colonies, as well as Penguins. Also, there are Killer Whales that come to feast on the baby seals, but we´re a bit early for that as the babies aren´t yet old enough to get in the sea (and become Whale breakfast). Despite missing out on the Whales, we did go and investigate the Wales connection, which is a town an hour or so away called Gaimen. There you can have some seriously over priced "Welsh Tea" and scones, and there is also a theme park made entirely of rubbish. Actually it was curious for us as only a month before we were having tea and cake in Wales and then there we were surrounded by Welsh memorabilia thousands of miles across the globe. Unfortunately explaining our Welsh conection didn´t result in anything of a discount, nor did the conection with Sri lanka and tea...but then we were the only people in the cafe so someone´s got to pay for their dinner.

Following that excursion we ventured to Peninsula Valdés for a night. This is a world heritage site just north of Puerto Madryn where all the Sea Lions, Penguins and Orcas (Killer Whales) hang out. There is loads of other bird and animal life there too. On arrival we set off on a 5km treck to find the near by sea lion colony (my idea). But missing the sign for the headland I decded to hack off cross country (not entirely to Leah´s liking I have a feeling). The ground was dry scrub land, and the sun was baking hot as it was just after midday. We were both thinking privately about how perfect snake country this was when I glanced in to a hole and saw one all curled up and sleeping. Well, that certainly stops you in your tracks! We made for the road like gazelles and thought better of "short cuts" after that. After an hour or so we made the colony, which was a treat.

From Peninsula Valdes

It lies on flat rock outscrops and there were loads of young seals romping around in rock pools. They´re really noisy, sounding a lot like a heard of sheep actually!

From Peninsula Valdes

We made the walk back to the Puerto Piramides and collapsed on the Hostel bed! It was really windy there and the combination of wind, sun and sand had taken it´s toll.

The following day we decided to pass on the fairly expensive tour round the penisnsula as the Orcas were not yet dining and spending 6 hours bumping around in a tour bus to then gawp at more sea lions with a load of other tourists for 15 minutes didn´t butter our muffins. Instead we retreated Back to Puerto Madryn and to our second Hostel there; Posada del Catalejo.

Our first hostel (Viajeros) was a mistake really, overpriced (105 pesos/night) and under-friendly. Plus the included "breakfast" consisted of a mug of coffee served with some small stones disguised as bread and some butter and jam, a-lo-stingy.

Posado del Catalejo on the other hand has been a real treat, and it will be a shame to leave it behind as we make the mammoth journey this evening to Rio Gallegos and then onto Calafate. We´re going to be on a bus from 6 this evening until 11.30 tomorrow morning, then another bus for 5 hours or so to Calafate. However, this is where the Fitz Roy range of mountains are to the found, and the Perito Moreno glaciar...So we´re leaving the sea behind for the next month or so, which is a shame as it´s lovely, though a bit nippy if you decide to go for a swim.

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