Magellanic Penguins on the Beach at the Punta Tombo Penguin Reserve
Language and Currency
What is Puerto Madryn Like?
What is the Weather Like?
Where Does the Ship Dock?
Where is the Shopping?
What is There to Buy?
What is There To Do?
Is There Anything of a “Don’t Miss Quality?
Are There Any Great Restaurants or Bars?
A form of Spanish known as Castellano is spoken in Argentina and the currency is the Argentinean peso.
Puerto Madryn, Argentina was settled by the Welsh in 1886. The city street names still reflect that heritage. It is located on the northeastern side of the province Chubut, in the well protected desert bay of Golfo Nuevo, about 860 miles south of Buenos Aires. This coastal region is a mainland Galapagos, with a population of approximately 45,000. Puerto Madryn has become a popular destination as it is considered the gateway to the Peninsula of Valdes, one of the biggest sanctuaries in the world, ripe with abundant wildlife. It is also the Argentine capital of diving as calm, clear waters provide excellent conditions for viewing the varied fauna and subtropical species that inhabitant the numerous dive sites. Puerto Madryn prides itself on environmental consciousness and has declared itself as a non-nuclear municipality.
Puerto Madryn enjoys a hot/temperate climate. The average annual temperature is 57°F. Summertime highs can top 95°F, although average highs range from 75 – 85.
Cruise ships dock at Alte. Storni Pier, which is approximately 4 miles from downtown. Metered taxis are available at the pier. Cost of a taxi into downtown is approximately $5. USD, but may also be hired by the hour (negotiated individually) It is not advised that visitors try to walk into the downtown area as the area between the port and the downtown area is considered the poorer part of Puerto Madryn.
Shopping is somewhat limited in this port, but the main shopping area centers around the stores that line 28 de Julio and Av. Julio A. Roca. Near where these two streets intersect, is a small shopping plaza that offers a wide selection of goods.
This is a good port to purchase penguin souvenirs. Jewelry and leather goods are both of good quality, although a bit more expensive than the shops in Buenos Aires.
There are so many choices for exploring the vast and varied wildlife that call this area home that it is virtually impossible to see or do it all in one port day. But, this port provides the easiest and best opportunity for viewing Magellanic penguins. Punta Tombo Penguin Reserve, a secluded desert about 2 ½ hours away, is the breeding ground for over ½ million Magellanic penguins. They are so comfortable around humans that you can easily wander around their burrows and walkways throughout the colony. Guanacos, a llama-like animal indigenous to this area, roam freely on the preserve.
Guanaco on the Beach at the Punta Tombo Penguin Reserve
Although well worth the trip, it is a long, hot trek and the last ½ of the trip is over graveled road. If possible, make arrangements to use one of the air conditioned vans that offer their services at the pier. The Peninsula Valdes, declared a whale sanctuary in 1994, is about the same distance away and offers a chance to see sea lions, elephant seals, Magellanic penguins, guanacos, rheas and other shorebirds via a boat ride through the preserve.
Magellanic Penguins at the Punta Tombo Penguin Reserve
Closer to the port, only about 30 minutes away, but less impressive, is Punta Loma Nature Reserve. Two hundred and fifty sea lions call this reserve home. If nature preserves are not of interest, the Gaiman Welsh Village, Chubut’s oldest municipality and one of the few remaining towns to maintain the Welsh traditions, is about a 90 minute drive. Here you can wander the narrow streets with red brick buildings, sip on high tea, and listen to a traditional Welsh choir. If you wish to stay closer to town, the EcoCentro Puerto Madryn, a scientific outpost dedicated to observation of marine ecosystems, is 5 minutes outside the city. A Natural Science and Oceanographic Museum lies within the city limits, as does a casino. There are a number of beaches that offer good snorkeling, and the diving is excellent. Particularly popular is the Submarine Artificial Park. If you are a thrill seeker than sand boarding, surfing in the sand, or parapentismo, a form of hang gliding, are offered at Parana Beach.
Personally, I don’t think I will ever forget the awesome experience of witnessing the vast number of penguins at Punta Tombo, or how closely we were able to interact with them. It is certainly on my “Don’t Miss” list!
Appreciating nature, in all its glory, occupied most of my port time, leaving little time to explore the restaurant scene. Therefore, I don’t have any recommendations on this front. Maybe after my next trip, I will have some suggestions.