You don't need to freeze your buns in Antarctica to see penguins. There's an incredible place on the coast of Argentina where up to half a million magellanic penguins gather each year for breeding season. To see these adorable birds, Punta Tombo is the place to go.Friendly penguin, checking us out
My first impression of Punta Tombo was "this doesn't look right". This penguin paradise is in a dusty desert area that just didn't fit with my ideas of penguin life. Little did I know! Magellanic penguins nest in holes in the ground, and there are thousands upon thousands of them at Punta Tombo.
Like the surface of the moon - with penguins!
Imagine the surface of the moon, with penguins popping up here and there out of holes in the ground, like some giant whack-a-mole game, and you get the picture.
Penguins, penguins, penguins
Punta Tombo is located on the coast of Argentina, about halfway between Buenos Aires and the tip of South America. Something about Punta Tombo in general. One of the largest penguin rookeries in the world. Nature reserve. Largest colony of magellanic penguins in the world.Penguin youngster out for a walk
Magellanic penguins are named for the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who saw them on his voyage around South America in 1520. Like other penguins, these birds are excellent swimmers who "fly" through the water as they hunt for fish.
Each September, the penguins arrive in Punta Tombo, where the males find their same nesting hole from the year before. They call out for the females, and couples are reunited. Breeding soon follows, and the young are raised and fed by both of the parents. Within a few months, the youngsters are ready to fend for themselves in the ocean, and by April the penguins depart for the year. In all, Punta Tombo can have up to half a million penguins during the breeding season.
What you'll see at Punta Tombo
Penguins everywhere! Penguins in their burrows, penguins sunning themselves, and penguins wandering down to the ocean and back. This is a nature reserve, and you need to stay on designated paths, but the penguins can come and go as they choose, so sometimes they may get very close to you. Also, some of the nesting burrows are right beside the path, giving you an excellent view.Penguins walk down to the ocean for fish Guanaco at Punta Tombo
What else will you see? Guanacos. These mammals are relatives of the llamas in Peru. Guanacos live in the desert aread of Patagonia, and you'll see them all around this coastal region.
Punta Tombo travel tips
- Where it is - Punta Tombo is midway along the coast of Argentina. See map below.
- When to go - Penguins arrive in late September and leave by early April.
- How to get there - The easiest way is to fly into Trelew, about 65 miles away. You can drive or take a tour from there.
- Where to stay - You can stay in Trelew, or a bit further away in the pleasant beach town of Puerto Madryn (about 100 miles from Punta Tombo).
- Weather - It's usually sunny and dry here, and the seasons are reversed from North America, so January is a summer month here. See weather averages
- What to take - During penguin season, it's normally warm and sunny, and often windy. Take a packable sun hat with a strap to keep it on in a breeze.
- Find out more at puntatombo.com
Have you been to Punta Tombo, or would you like to visit this cool penguin place? Leave a comment, and let us know what you think!