About 22 hours from Buenos Aires lays a small wildlife paradise, called Puerto Madryn. I stumbled upon a YouTube video from some travellers when I was doing some research on Argentina. They were showing what there was to do in Pto. Madryn, and it was looking amazing! After finishing the video I added it to our Google Maps, because this was a place we would be visiting
And I’m so glad we did!
Getting to Puerto Madryn
From Buenos Aires bus terminal we took a bus from Via Tac, straight to Puerto Madryn. We got comfortable in our camas ejecutivos, hoping we’d be able to get some sleep on our 22 hour overnight journey. Or, I should say that I was hoping that, Luis tends to sleep just fine in planes and buses, bastard.
In advance I’d downloaded the last season of the Netflix series The Manifest. I was getting close to the end so a 22 hour bus seemed like the perfect place to binge-watch the finale. Or so I thought, seems I have another season to watch when it airs.
I have to say I slept pretty good, for someone that usually struggles to sleep when not lying flat. The chairs reclined around 160 degrees, and I had my sleeping mask and earplugs on. The only thing I wish I’d have had, was a blanket, ‘cuz it was cold! As soon as the sun started to rise the bus warmed up amazingly, so I had another snooze after enjoying the sun rise with very small eyes.
Arriving in Puerto Madryn
We arrived around 11 in the morning, a bit tired and stiff from the bus, but overall feeling pretty good. We walked to Hostel La Tosca to dump our backpacks and get some lunch afterwards. Our room was already ready for us, however, so we took a bit longer to get settled, before getting some much needed food.
Then, while we were walking around the city, we found a dive center and booked our first tour: snorkelling with sea lions!!! Like, I don’t have a bucket list, but this would for sure have been on it if I did have one. The following day we would be in the water with sea puppies, so exited!
At the hostel we had also been told about sea lions at the pier in the city, so naturally we had to pop by and see for ourselves. Sure enough, 3 sea lions just chilling on a metal stair case. Not at all bothered by the wind that was crashing down on us (see for yourself). Pretty great first day if you ask me.
Snorkelling with sea lions
Now, for the snorkelling… literally the best thing ever!
We had to be back at the dive center (Buceo Scuba Duba) at 9 in the morning to get fitted with a wet suit (there are no Brazilian tropical ocean water temperatures anymore, haha), and for some further explanation about the trip. Everything at that point was in Spanish, but I was told the people on the boat would speak English and they would go over it again in English for me.
Putting on a wet suit is a workout on its own. And then, wearing the wet suit itself is also intense, everything is compressed. You temporarily become a more dense version of yourself. You especially feel this with breathing, as you can’t make your lungs as big as you can without the suit. And then you just look really funny, especially with the head part 😀
Finding the sea lions
From the dive center we walked to the beach, in to the water, all the way to the boat that would be taking us to the sea lions. On the boat we were fitted with even more gear: flippers, the snorkel set of course, and gloves for those that wanted them (read: Luis). And before we knew it, we were at the spot where the colony was.
Unlike with diving, you go in to the water flippers first, so the only parts that are uncovered (hands and face) hit the water last. When that happened I realized this water was indeed… cold. Without the wetsuit, this was impossible, you’d last not even 5 minutes.
Our group of 12 was divided by 2, each group staying in the water with 1 guide. They’d have a buoy in the water you could hold on to if you needed to. Or you just swim around, staying close to the group. Once everyone was ready, we headed a bit closer to where the sea lions were to see if they wanted to interact with us. And boy, did they.
We arrived back at the beach in town around mid day, and after getting out of the wetsuits (a whole lot easier than getting in one!) we headed to the beach. It was a warm day, and it was an easy place to relax for a bit.
Our second tour in PM was to Peninsula Valdés, where we’d get to see lots of sea lions (again), elephant seals, penguins, and several other land animals like guanacos and choiques. There was a possibility of seeing orcas as well, but unfortunately we didn’t.
This tour was a lot of driving, as the places on the peninsula are very far apart, but we still very much enjoyed it. And, we got to see quite a lot of animals!
Punta Loma by bike
So far we haven’t really made any bad decisions yet, but this was one, hahaha. We’d seen some signs for bike rentals, and the guy that checked us in at the hostel also mentioned cycling to Punta Loma. So we checked it out, decided it would be fun. But, we came back on that…
We rented some mountain bikes (the cheapest ones) and set off, we had 4 hours to get to Punta Loma and back. It would be approximately 17 kms one way. It has a little bit of up and down, but we figured it would be doable. And that was the case… until the asphalt turned in to gravel. Man, when I tell you my ass and wrists still hurt 2 days after, I ain’t lyin’. We made it to Punta Loma, but don’t ask me how.
Puerto Madryn is a great destination, with all the wildlife you can spot here almost year round. Might have to come back for the orcas and the whales some time. But for now… the snorkelling with sea lions will keep me satisfied for a little bit ;).
Time to head west to the Andes mountains!