Sunday, 8 March 2015

0224 Puerto Madryn to Peninsula Valdes

7-8th March
Lazing around, vultures, whales, and sea lions.

I decided to have a day off, so yesterday I went nowhere – I stayed in the Puerto Madryn camp site, did laundry, fixed some things up on the car (like the lights and charging the batteries !), tried to clean some of the dust out from the inside of the car
and the shelves etc (the books were becoming so dusty it was hard to pick them up !), and generally just lazed around. It was quite a hot sunny day, so I was in shorts all day, but the camp site shade was excellent and I was only in the full sun for a couple of hours.  And it was really pleasant just do “do nothing” – Driving from place to place every day is actually quite exhausting, even if it is fun, so I enjoyed the day immensely.  Finished it off with a walk over a nearby hill before supper, catching a lovely sunset of Puerto Madryn Bay.

So this morning I was ready to go again.  I intend to be fairly lazy at my next destination – Peninsula Valdes, and with only a few things to see and 7 weeks before I have to be in Montevideo to catch my boat, I am not exactly in a rush ! 

Before I mention today, you may notice that my “maps” are back in my blog – Each photo is copied onto a map which you can see in the blog, and you can then see where each photo was taken (roughly !), plus my route for that day.  For several weeks I was unable to do this, then just the other day I found out that the system they use for transferring the photos had changed without me being aware of it !  Before I could “drag and drop”, but then it would not let me do that and I thought it was a wifi or blog issue.  Then the other day I found out that you just click on the photo, then click on the map location, and it puts the photo there !  Duh !   So sorry if you missed the route map for a while, but it is now back !

The camp site last night was enormous – One of the biggest I have seen on the whole trip – Must be 300 spaces there !  And good facilities, with good rubbish bins and collections, and good amenities blocks, as well as good wifi.   It was ACA – Automobile Club of Argentina.  Very impressed with it.  First job yesterday had been to find out why my lights weren’t working – First fuse I pulled out showed why – Blown !  Why a fuse suddenly blows after 10 months of driving, I don’t know, but everything seems OK now.

In Puerto Madryn I made a quick stop at a supermercado and a panaderia for some supplies before heading out into the countryside for a few days, and having topped off my fuel tanks while I could, I headed NE.  I had expected P Madryn to be “more Welsh”, but apart from a few car stickers, not much else.  Certainly no shop names like “Daffyd” or “Huw Thomas” or anything !   And it isn’t really much more than an industrial centre, so not overly attractive.  Outside town, I turned off Ruta 3 fairly quickly and headed east out onto the Peninsula Valdes – Most of which is an enormous National Park as well as being a World Heritage listed site.

Just before I got to the Park entrance where you pay your money, there was some road kill in the middle of the road, and a few large birds having a feast.  They flew off to the side of the road when I came by, and wouldn’t return to their meal even though I was stopped and turned off the engine for 10 minutes or so.  They just looked at me !   God, those Turkey Vulture’s are ugly animals !!  And I can confirm that the “”eagle” I keep seeing is the same Crested Caracara that I have been seeing for several weeks now.  I am able to pick up many of the correct names from the signs and boards they have at the visitor’s centres for the various parks.  I also think the “cat” I saw crossing the road a couple of days ago was a Pampas Cat, or Gato del Pajonal.

It was then in to the Visitor’s Centre to get some details and maps of the park, and to look at the exhibits they had – Quite good, I thought.  The main features of the park – Orcas, Penguins, Sea Lions, Elephant Seals, Whales, and sea birds – are quite spread out – From the camp site in Puerto Pyramides it is basically a triangle with 80 kms sides to each of the main attractions, although there is other stuff in between. The Ranger kept telling me that I need to be at Punta Norte
tomorrow at 1.30 pm because the tides are tight for good sightings of various animals.  So I noted that, and after a quick sandwich in the car park I headed out to a small nearby attraction on The Isla de los Pajaros.  Not sure what a Pajaro is yet, but basically it is an island that is covered in birds.  Unfortunately it is quite a way offshore, and visitors are not allowed on the island (probably why the birds like it out there !), so all you can do is look through binoculars – And the island really is “covered” in birds !  There is a lovely story on a board their about a Frenchman called Antoine de Saint-Exupery who was an Aviator, a Writer, and an Adventurer. He arrived in Buenos Aires in 1929, fell in love and married someone in BA,  then in the war he was in the French
Resistance, and his plane went missing in July 1944, and later a German fighter pilot had proof that he shot down such a plane on that date in that place.  But he wrote a book called “the Little Prince” for which it is believed he used the Isle de los Pajaros as a basis for his story.  He also wrote a beautiful phrase – “ It is only with the heart that one can see rightly: What is essential is invisible to the eye”.  

There is also a little chapel there – A replica of the original that had been built in about 1780 by the Spanish.  Local aborigines attacked and burnt it in 1810.  A lot of history in this area.  Of course, with the animals here, you can understand that whaling, killing seals for their oil, and salt (from pans on the peninsula) were the prime reasons for the original settlers being here.

From there I went back down the main road to Puerto Pyramides, which is where the only permitted camp site is located.  By now it was after 3 pm so it was too late to go off to explore the peninsula, so I spent the afternoon wandering around the funny little town.  Being a Sunday, and quite warm and sunny, lots of locals are here, on the beach, having bbq’s (if you think the Aussies “do” a bbq, you should see the Argentinians !  They bring whole spits to the beach for lunch !!), and just sitting in some of the many little bars and restaurants in the little town.  All rather quaint, and a little like some of the little sea side villages in Devon or Dorset. 

I also found a possible new yacht for my friend Jamie – I am sure it could be bought for a good price, and although mast-less, the nearby electricity pole looks as though it would be perfect !!

I then came round a corner and found a car with a BIG Welsh dragon flag in the rear window !  And round the next corner saw a big sign saying “Whales Argentina” !  Their spelling isn’t too hot though !!

To pass some more time on things near town, I then went to a Whale Lookout point and a Sea Lion Lookout.  Unfortunately all the whales are currently on summer vacation down in Antarctica, so didn’t see any of them (The ones here are Southern Right Whales).  But there were lots of sea lions – And many little pups as well.  They seemed to be having a nursery up on the great flat area where they stay, and today was obviously swimming lessons because all the little pups were frolicking in the rock pools, while the mum’s all looked on !   

Then it was back into town, went to the camp site and set up camp for the night.  Odd camp site – No real “camp sites” as such – Just poles dotted around with power plugs on them, and you just park anywhere you like – In shade if you can find it, or out in the open if you can’t !    I have to get out and get moving in the morning to get up to the top of the Peninsula by 1.30 pm as advised by the Ranger.  

Pics are here :-


  1. Did you put a bid in on the yacht? J&S

  2. Yup - May have been a little low though !! Didn't want to have to tow it back to Aus on THAT trailer !!