Argentina 14: Rockhoppers at Puerto Deseado and Sea Lions of Bahia Bustamante

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View of Puerto Deseado where the church tower doubles as a lighthouse, in front of it the old railway station
While in Puerto Deseado the railway  museum could be of interest as it gives insight into the importance of the railway in the early development of Patagonia. Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-2
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Memorabilia of the train company
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Watering hole
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Retired Station Master posing for us
In Puerto Deseado we found shelter on Autocamping inside the small Cañon Geminez (close to town), unfortunately with half functioning and dirty ablutions. We immediately booked a boat trip to the penguin island to see Rockhopper penguins the next day. The boat trip with Darwin Expeditiones with captain/owner Ricardo and guide Roxanne was worth doing, especially as they provided ample time to photograph the beautiful black and white Commerson’s dolphins (Toninas Overas) that we encountered on the way.
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Commerson's Dolphin - the smallest ocean dolphin
Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-7 We also had sufficient time on the island with the Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins near the lighthouse.
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Roxanne explaining the history of the lighthouse on Penguin Island
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Rockhopper Penguin
Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-12 Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-13 Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-14 The Brown Skuas were aggressive when we passed their nesting sites, other birds included Imperial-, Rock- and Red-legged cormorants, Flying Steamer Ducks, South American Terns, Snowy sheathbills and Dolphin Gulls(Leucophaeus scoresbii), sometime erroneously called red-billed gull.  
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Snowy Sheathbill
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Breeding Skuas
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Brown Skuas were aggressive making mock attacks
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Brown or Subantarctic Skua chick
On our way we passed colonies of Sea Lions.
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Sea Lion male with his harem
This time round we tried the Camping Municipal and spent the evening chatting to Paul from the Netherlands, our neighbour. The passing truck traffic can spoil a quiet night on this site, otherwise ok.
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Antarctic Terns photographed along the way
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Antarctic tern
Our route then took us past the town of Fitzroy, Caleta Olivia to Rada Tilly, a town with highrise holiday buildings on the coast and a dusty camping ground further back, where we stayed for the night – odd times to shower namely 9-11 pm and 9-11am – why? When we passed the city of Comodoro Rivadavia we could not resist shopping when we realized that the local Jumbo Supermercado was very well stocked – we assume it is to keep the many expatriates happy that work here for the oil and gas industry. We followed Ruta 3 for a while and then turned off on RP28 to reach Bahia Bustamante where Estancia Bustamante with it Reserva de Aves is a quiet place to stop and to explore. The owners allowed us to camp free of charge although they had accommodation and a restaurant.
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Camping on Estancia Bustamante
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Family Museum at Estancia Bustamante
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Restaurant on Estancia Bustamante
For a special fee of US$70 we participated next day in their 3 hr boat cruise to the various islands to see many different birds and Sea Lion. Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-28
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Our guide enjoying mate
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Flightless Steamer duck - The Chubut Steamer Duck
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Chubut Steamer Ducks
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American Oystercatchers
As we circled the various islands of Bahia Bustamante, we had wonderful views of Sea Lions and could observe their constant rivalry to keep their harems together. Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-31
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Sea Lion males keeping their harems in check
Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-38 In between we had sightings of Southern Giant Petrels (also named  Antarctic Giant Petrel) , Dolphin gulls, cormorants and shags.
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Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus)
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Magellanic Cormorant or Rock Shag
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Blue-eyed Cormorant
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Dolphin Gull
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Courting Sea Lions
Owners Mattias Sorano and wife Astrid farm here in the third generation – Mattias’ grandfather started harvesting and processing kelp for export. In recent years they even imported kelp from South Africa and Namibia as overharvesting has reduced the kelp on their coast and it can only be harvested by divers now. After taking a shower (arranged with the manager in the restaurant), we proceeded along the RP1, turned off before Camerones to reach Reserva Natural Turistica Cabo dos Bahias, where there was another Pingüinera and Loberia, all developed with walkways and penguins nesting around but the Sea Lions were far off on Isla Moreno -not worth photographing.
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Camping near Camerones
Our further route took us into sleepy Camerones that used to be important in the days of wool exports – now it dwindled into insignificance after the harbor of Comodoro Rivadavia was extended. Most buildings  were built of corrugated iron, the grocery shop dating back to 1901. Drawing money from the ATM here was impossible - empty.  
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Dollosse at Camerones Harbour
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La Brigade hostal on wheels -join in for the ride
We also met the bus "Natasha" of young french entrepreneurs of La Brigade that are pioneering a roving hostal idea - a sort of jump on,jump off travel idea for young travelers - will it be successful? Up the RP1 we decided to stop at the beach Playa Isla Escondida – a few other campers also enjoying this stretch of coast. Despite a thunderstorm during the night we enjoyed this part of the coast, the beach mainly consists of colourful pebbles. As the weekend had passed the beach became deserted and quiet and only one other camper remained approx. 500m away.
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Playa Isla Escondida
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Impressive morning thunderstorm
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Rock pools at Playa Escondida
Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-45 We realised, that no matter how remote you are, there is always somebody watching you... Argentina 14- Rockhoppers at Deseado and Bahia Bustamante-46 This post covers 29th Jan to  4th Feb 2018