SA: Punta Arenas, Chile (part 2)

As soon as we docked, we were greeted with Magellanic penguins.

Once we gathered at the meeting point, we were given the rules – Don’t touch the Penguins, Don’t feed the Penguins, Stay on the path and, if a penguin wants to cross the path, stay 6 ft away and let it cross.

The path was a one-mile loop trail that went up to the lighthouse and then back down to the dock. We were given an hour to be back at the ferry. If you didn’t want to make the walk, there were places to sit near the shore and there were plenty of penguins to watch.

So many Magellanic penguins –


Chicks (most as big as the parent)

I thought the information about their burrows was very interesting. Each breeding season, the males come back first and go to the same burrow as they used last season. Unless, it wasn’t a good burrow (ones nearer the shoreline could get flooded in heavy rains killing the chicks, so more experienced penguins dug burrows near the top of the hill). The female arrived in a couple of weeks and went to the burrow. How did they know their burrow and their mate? By the smell of the penguin poo around the burrow (all the white coloring). Nature is amazing.

And what happened if a single male penguin tried to move into another male’s burrow instead of digging his own? A very nasty fight, of course. The winner got the burrow and the arriving female.

The Magellanic penguins were very territorial and really didn’t like it when other penguins even came close to their burrows. I
didn’t know how they could help but get close because there were burrows everywhere.

Stare down – thought there might be a fight – just a lot of squawking:

I liked watching them run around –

The penguins would sometimes enter the path and just stand there. If he/she stayed too long looking at us, a ranger would step near it to encourage it to move on. One of the penguins just came into the path, turned around and basically had us following it down the path. A true March of the Penguins.

Penguins weren’t the only inhabitants of this island. There were many gulls and their chicks. The penguins had a wary relationship with the gulls. The gulls would not hesitate to grab a penguin egg to eat, given an opportunity.

There was also a few Magellanic geese hanging out:

I didn’t get any picture of the Skua which preys on both penguin and gull eggs and baby chicks but there were several flying around. Both the penguins and gulls put up a fuss if the Skua flew too low.

When we got to the top of the hill to the lighthouse, we saw another large colony of penguins on that side but there is no path to get there.

The view from the lighthouse was very nice. We could not enter the lighthouse. Nearby we could see an island that the guide said was populated by sea lions. They come over to this island and swim around it hunting for penguins. I am glad I did not see any sea lion catch one.

Chilean flag in front and the Patagonian province flag

We made it back to the ferry with about 5 minutes to spare. I thought an hour would not be long enough since I like to take so many photos. However, we didn’t walk fast, and I never felt rushed so one hour turned out to be fine.

Everyone was on time back to the ferry, and we were soon headed back to the pier. The ride back didn’t seem to take as long but it was about the same two hours. Once we were back, we thought about walking around the town but ultimately decided to get on the next available tender to the ship. We did get our photo made by the Magellan Strait Crossing sign with the whale tail.

I decided that the afternoon was perfect for downloading all 200 of my photos and taking a nap until it was time to get ready for the evening.

We had a really great time on the tour, and I would highly recommend it.

P.S. This port was our last one in Chile. Nobody ever asked us to show our Chilean agricultural affidavit.

Travel Trivia

Punta Arenas, Chile

Since 2017, the city and its region have their own time zone: they use summer time during the whole year (UTC−3).

Means “Sandy Point” in English.

Punta Arenas is the most populous southernmost city in Chile and in the Americas, and due to its location, the coldest coastal city with more than 100,000 inhabitants in Latin America.

Punta Arenas was originally established by the Chilean government in 1848 as a tiny penal colony to assert sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan.

In the 1880s and early 1900s, waves of European immigrants, mainly from Croatia and Russia came to Punta Arenas attracted to the gold rush and sheep farming boom.

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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