Saturday, January 28, 2023
Table shuffleboard all tied up at 4-4. There will be a championship match before the end of the cruise.
We had another table for six in the main dining room. The service was so slow that by the time I got my food, I inhaled it without taking a photo. Chuck and I each had the chicken scallopini. It was very good.
Tonight’s main stage program was another BBC Planet Earth movie. We skipped it and went to the Rolling Stone Lounge. We only stayed for one set because of our early excursion.
Slept fitfully but got up with the alarm at 6:00. Room service breakfast was delivered at 6:50. Got to get ready to see some more penguins!
We had a HAL tour entitled “Best of Puerto Madryn: Punta Tombo Reserve.” The tour description states
About the Excursion – 7.5 hours
Puerto Madryn is the stepping-off point for at least two of Argentina’s most exciting Natural Parks — the Valdes Peninsula and Punta Tombo.
The Punta Tombo Nature Reserve, which you will visit today, is world renowned as perhaps the finest spot from which to view Magellan penguins. It is located 111 miles from the city of Puerto Madryn and will afford you the truly unusual experience of observing the Magellan penguin at close range in its natural habitat. It is estimated that more than 450,000 penguins come here each year, and from November onwards it is possible to also see baby penguins leaving their nests.
As you quietly stroll along the footpath through the colony, the lovable and endearing penguins will not be afraid of you. They are used to having visitors, and the visitors’ code of conduct, explained by your guide, ensures that disturbance to the birds is minimal. You will learn about how the Magellan penguins mate for life — the female lays two eggs each year, which the male and female then brood and raise together.
Notes: A box lunch is included. Travel time to Punta Tombo is approximately 2½ hours each way. The road is unpaved and dusty in places. Due to Puerto Madryn’s remote location, the standard of transportation used may be more basic than that in some other ports. Restrooms are available only at the rookery entrance and at the gas station during the ride. This tour is available only on select sailings due to time in port. It is essential that you wear warm, layered clothing in order to fully enjoy and participate in this excursion. Outer layer should be waterproof and windproof. Bring gloves, a warm hat and a scarf.
Met in the main stage and were quickly directed to the tour buses. So glad today was not another tender day. The gangway was a little steep from Deck 2 to the pier but at least there was no bobbing boat to have to get in and out of this morning.
The bus had comfortable seating, but the air conditioning did not work very well. Our tour guide is a teacher during the school year and does tour groups through the summer. She teaches English reading comprehension. Her English was excellent and the sound system in the bus worked well. She discussed many topics about Argentina and Patagonia. Made the time pass quickly.
The bus ride was about 2 hours – mostly on the highway but the last 30 minutes is on a bumpy dusty road. There is not much to see once you leave the city. We did get a bathroom break at a truck stop. There were lots of cars and trucks there, so I assume it was the only available one for miles around.
The landscape reminded me of southern Arizona (except for the large wind mills). We did see some sheep, a few horses, and some Guanacos – camelids native to South America that are closely related to the llama. Also saw several small make-shift religious shrines along the highway. Wondered who put them there and why.
I did not expect to see a life-size dinosaur statue. The guide told us that Argentina boasts some of the biggest dinosaur fossils ever found. She said this dinosaur was advertising the Museum of Paleontology Egidio Feruglio located in Trelew, Argentina.
While it would be interesting to see the fossils, I was looking forward to the encounter with more penguins. I was glad to finally get to the entrance of the rookery. As we took the opportunity for another bathroom break, our guide went to get our entrance tickets.