January 29, 2015
Tierra del Fuego
Penguins! What else can I say? Morning came too early after the “night of bells and whistles.” We anchored off Punta Arenas (see separate post) and got on a bus to take us to the Otway Bay Penguin reserve. It is a section of beach where they hatch their young. There are sheep farms on either side and while the fences keep the sheep from crossing into Penguin breeding ground they don’t stop the Penguins from going the other way onto the sheep fields.
According to locals there are fewer penguins here now than usually. We don’t know if this is yet a sign for concern but there were plenty for us to look at. These are Magallanes Penguins, also called Jack Ass Penguins because they bray like a donkey. To get to the reserve it is a little over an hour drive from Punta over mostly gravel roads through farm country that is both lonely and lovely. Normally I would have taken the boat trip to a penguin rookery but I enjoyed the drive and scenery almost as much as the penguins, but only almost. Along the drive there are grazing cows and sheep, some Llamas and some non-flying indigenous birds that re related to the ostrich. There are also condors. Here are some pics from the drive out, the drive back and the penguins we saw while there.
Penguins have no natural enemy on land, they fear sea lions, seals and orca. So on land they are approachable, in fact they don’t even seem to notice us.
We hope to see a lot more penguins before this trip is over but this is a good start. I can’t begin to tell you how much we are enjoying this despite missed ports, rough seas and alarming evenings.