P-P-P-P Pick up a Penguin

Trip Start May 10, 2011
Trip End Apr 15, 2012

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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Wednesday, November 23, 2011

So we were only meant to be in Ushuaia to party but we couldn't pass up on the opportunity to get to hang with some penguins and there is only one tour here with Pira Penguins that you can actually go onto the island with thousands of penguins and walk amongst them but at 60 each it wasnt cheap - Argentina is killing our budget but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity  !!

The official Penguin stuff ..
Martillo Island, is home to magellanic penguins between September and April. The rookery hosts around 1000 nests, and is one of the three magellanic penguin rookeries in Tierra del Fuego. There is also a small colony of 9 breeding couples of gentoo penguins (Pygocelis Papua), the only one in South America.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The colony started to grow sometime around the '70s. Male penguins arrive first on the island, late in September or early October, and choose the best place to build their nests or fix up some old nest used during the last breeding season. The nests are deep underground holes, dug into the sandy or soft ground. Some of them are around one meter deep. Some days later, females arrive, and usually mate with the same male, year after year. Egg laying takes place at the end of October and early November. Magellan penguins usually lay two eggs.The first chicks are born in mid-November and first weeks of December, and stay in their nests for around a month. They can't walk nor stand up on their own, and their parents will have to nourish them for some time. Once the chicks are two months old, they're big and strong enough to walk on their own and start to come out of their nests, but if they sense danger they quickly go back in to get protection.

During the last days of January, the chick will have reached around sixty/seventy days of age, weighing nearly as much as an adult penguin. They then start molting their baby feathers and get the juvenile plumage, and will soon leave the rookery. These juveniles may stay at sea for many years until they come back to the island; others may come back every year until they reach adulthood.

The long and winding road...
So we head off on the bus for an hour n half along the windiest bumpy road which did nothing for my travel sickness !!  First stop was to look at trees, yes trees haha, but these were mental - the wind there is soooo bad that the trees actually grow sideways and look well funny - see the pics!

Penguins everywhere..
We got to our boat and boarded it for the 10 min ride to the island, as soon as we got off the wee penguins were right beside us and as you looked up the beach there were hundreds all just waddling around and others snoozing.  We had to follow the guide and she showed us the nesting areas as right now the chicks are due to hatch but unfortunately we didnt see any.

We spend an hour n half on the island and it was so amazing to be so close to them I just wanted to pick one up and take it home hehe we were carefully guided around their nesting areas but some of them were so close we got to peek in and our zoomy camera got some amazing pics too. Check out one of the videos below of it making its mating noise it was so loud they look like they are hyperventilating haha amazing.

The whole thing was just incredible to be with them in their natural habitat like that defo wont forget that in a hurry.  It was also utterly freezing although the sun was out it was brutally cold brrrrr.

After we went to a museum with skeletons of whales and dolphins then it was on the bus back down the winding road!


Bed in 4 bed dorm - 13 each
Penguin tour - 60 each !!
bus transfer - 7 each
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