Patagonia and Altiplano Expedition | #20 – Punta Tombo

After two weeks we finally left the Península Valdés and continued our trip south. Instead of driving the direct way to Puerto Madryn, we chose the 42 via Playa Las Canteras.

If the weather is good it’s a lovely and easy-to-drive gravel road.

But when the road is wet it’s incredibly slippery, similar to driving on polished ice. Without engaging 4×4 we would have had no chance of reaching Puerto Madryn. Under these conditions, it was one of the toughest tracks on our trip so far.

The main reason to take this detour is the chance to see more whales in the Golfo Nuevo next to the beaches. We were lucky and saw a couple of Southern Right Whales at Playa Bañuls, Playa Las Canteras, and Playa El Doradillo.

Since the access to the road was closed on the Puerto Madryn side (due to the dangerous weather conditions) we were completely alone there and could thoroughly enjoy the lovely landscapes and beaches.

After another short stop at Western Union in Puerto Madryn (to get some more pesos at the blue rate) we drove along the Ruta 3 to Trelew.

Trelew has a population of about 100,000 people and is the main hub for wool processing in Argentina. It’s also famous for its paleontological museum (Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio), which is considered to be the most important one in South America.

Close to Trelew, you can also find a 1:1 reconstruction of the largest dinosaur in the world, the Patagotitan mayorum.

It has a length of 40 m and a height of 20 m. The original skeleton (70-80% of it) was found 260 km from Trelew. The weight of the dinosaur was estimated to be around 70 tons. The reconstruction has a weight of 20 tons and was built in Germany and then shipped to Argentina in pieces.

We also had our first minor problem with our vehicle. The rear right tire was losing air. A stop at a Gomería was therefore necessary. The problem was fixed in just a few minutes for less than 4€.

We stayed the next two nights in an apartment in Playa Union.

From there we did a day trip to Punta Tombo, a peninsula with the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in Argentina. The colony size varies between a few hundred thousand penguins and more than one million. It’s a two-hour drive from Playa Union to Punta Tombo, the last part on a gravel road. The entrance fee is 8€ per person. At the visitor center, you can find a small museum with information about the local wildlife.

Everything is very regulated at this place and you are not allowed to leave the wooden boardwalks.

A sign that for sure can only be found in Argentina 🙂

In addition, you definitely won’t be alone there. Hundreds, if not thousands, of tourists arrive there every day. Therefore the many regulations are probably justified to protect the area. But nevertheless, it’s worth visiting the colony. The area is large and the landscape is beautiful.

One of the highlights of this place is, that you can get pretty close to the shore and watch the penguins entering and leaving the sea.

Under the right conditions, it is also possible to get some beautiful reflections of the penguins on the wet beach.

Not only near the sea but also on land it was easy to find some attractive backgrounds for penguin images.

Birdlife is also abundant on the peninsula (the last two bird images and some of the penguin images above were shot by Linnéa).

Our visit to Punta Tombo ended with a very dramatic sky on the way back to Playa Union.

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