Every year, thousands of visitors come along to Punta Tombo in order to see the Magellanic penguin continental colony, one of the most fascinating shows put up by Nature on the Patagonian coastline.
To reach Punta Tombo Natural Reserve
, visitors must take National Route 3, then turn into Provincial Route 75 and travel 20 kilometers to take Provincial Route 1 up to their destination. The road is made of gravel; therefore, it is advisable to drive carefully.
About 25 kilometers before reaching the reserve, there lies the site known as Dos Pozos
(Two Wells), where the old post and telegraph office may still be seen. Estancia
La Antonieta, founded in 1918 by Mr. Vicente Martino, is also located at this spot.
occupies 11,000 hectares and in addition to being devoted to sheep husbandry to produce wool, criollo
and quarter mile horses are also raised at the venue. As well, the estancia
works with tourism, as it offers an exclusive accommodation option at an ecolodge for those who travel on their motorhomes. Various activities such as hiking and horseback rides are also available.
As we approached Punta Tombo Natural Reserve, we enjoyed the scene displayed by the Patagonian high plateau, where choiques
herds move around freely, sometimes even crossing the road.
Photograph enthusiasts find an ideal environment to capture local wildlife, for in addition to the mammals that may be spotted on the way, as the sea comes nearer, it is possible to observe various types of sea birds.
The purpose of the reserve is to protect the largest Magellanic penguin colony in the world, with almost two million specimens.
The Magellanic penguin is characterized by its white and black feathers and its size: it can reach 50 centimeters of height. Besides letting it become mingled with the surroundings, its plumage helps the bird to avoid losing body temperature.
Males reach their sexual prime at the age of 5. They are barely larger than the females and may weigh up to 5 kilos. Besides, their bill is longer and thicker than the females'. The females generally lay two eggs early in October and after 40 days of incubation – a task shared with the males- the eggs hatch.
Punta Tombo Natural Reserve lies on a rocky formation of 3 kilometers of length and 600 meters of width. The soil is covered by sand, clay and gravel. It is the site containing the higher concentration of sea birds in the entire Patagonian coastline.
Penguins lay their eggs near the coast, on sandy soil, where their natural caves are formed. Their bray was the soundtrack of our visit.
Punta Tombo Natural Reserve is one of the most visited bird fauna watching sites in the world. Among the species that have chosen this site to nest, the most outstanding include two species of cormorant (rock shag and imperial shag), snowy sheathbill, skua, kelp gull, steamer duck and various species of petrel and tern.
It is important to respect the natural habitat of the species and to follow the instructions provided by the guides. Thus, Punta Tombo will keep on offering a natural unspoiled scene that may be enjoyed by the generations to come.
Duration: 3 hours.
How to get here: From Rawson, take National Route 25 and then turn into Provincial Route 1and travel 107 km up to the provincial reserve.
Bear in mind: The Reserve is closed from abril to september.
Do not stand on the penguins’ way, as they may try to peck at you. Do not put the lens of your photo camera in front of the penguins’ head; they will certainly peck at it and break it.
Help preserve this experience in nature carrying the waste you produce back to the city. Try not to leave traits of your presence in this site. Do not disturb the fauna, and remember that these animals have chosen this habitat to comply with an important part of their lives cycle.