After the fabulous time in Torres del Paine we headed to Punta Arenas, the biggest town in southern Chile/Chilean Patagonia. The town itself is nothing special: It has two main streets covered by clothes, telecommunication stores and occasionally restaurants. More recommendable is the nice walk along the shoreline of the Street of Magellan.
So why did we at at all come here? The two main reasons to come here: The Magellan penguins and the brewery Cerveza Austral. About the latter one we cannot really say anything because we did participate in it at all since there was an age restriction (18+). This was quite disappointing since we timed our arrival to the restricted hours of the brewery (Mon -Fri 15-17h) and not a single word about age restrictions was mentioned in the confirmation e-mail. Nevertheless, it’s still a very tasty beer and we keep on drinking it 🙂
A funny coincidence happened at the parking lot along the shoreline: The local firefighters were raising some money and offering to clean our car 🙂 What a great opportunity since we were talking for days that Oscar needed a wash.
Isla Magdalena is home to penguin colony of ca. 120,000. It is an island in the Magellan bay and is also inhabited by cormorants and sea gulls. Currently, only two tour operators are available which in the end turned out to be only one company: Solo Expeditions. The tour started 6:30am in front office where everybody had to pay then (which led to huge lines – anything but efficient 😉 ). Luckily, we had our own transport which brought the price per adult down from 73,000clp to 57,000clp. Kids under 4 were free – luckily no passport checks involved 😉
The boat ride was 45min and it was a beautiful day without any rain and the fewest wind in days. In fact, it was so strong that it woke me up two nights in a row. There’s a marked loop on the island which has to be followed. We got lucky as we were among the first ones off the boat. This helps if you’d like to avoid having other herds of tourists on your pictures! One good trick is to walk the loop anti-clockwise as the majority of people tend to walk the other way.
The Magellan penguins themselves were not shy at all. They got closer to us and crossed the visitors trail many times which allowed for cool shots. The kids had a blast! There were so many of them that the officially stated population number seems to be credible.
Penguins start shouting when they get lost from their partner/home. We got lucky to experience one of these moments:
We had an hour on the island before the boat left which was sufficient. The next stop was Isla Marta which is inhabited by a huge sea lion population. Here we just took pictures from the boat as one is not allowed to step on the rocky island. Overall, all four of us enjoyed the tour and we would recommend it.