Argentina 15: Trelew and Peninsula Valdés


We continued northerly to Trelew, originally a Welsh settlement. At the ATM we had some bad luck: the commission the bank wanted for withdrawing cash was 20% ! – I cancelled the transaction, yet via my cellphone I got notification that my bank account was debited. In all of our 18 months travel this was the only such occurrence.

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Trelew had an important paleontological museum displaying fossil bones of the largest dinosaur, that ever lived. We decided to visit Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio.

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Museo Paleontologico Egidio Feruglio in Trelew

As we entered we met other South African overlanders Johann and Marianne Ter Verloren van Themaat from Pretoria.

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Meeting South African overlanders, Johann and Marianne Ter Verloren van Themaat,from Pretoria.

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The fossil remains of the biggest dinosaur that roamed earth – Titanosaurus, found in Patagonia
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Can anybody explain the measurement differences in the translation, please?

We enjoyed the visit together, had a good look at their vehicle, exchanged travel information and then unfortunately departed in opposite directions.

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House inspection -well kitted out Landcruiser 79 from South Africa

As they were still southbound, we continued northwards to Gaiman, another Welsh settlement where pastries and tea can be had.

As we left Trelew we passed a replica of the Titanosaurus – gigantic!

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The biggest creature that roamed the earth – approx 70 tons and 40m high.

Rawson was our next stop, right on the coast with a nice beach promenade, and we camped in Playa Union on Camping Issys – a well-run site.

The RP6 to Ninfas was a rough gravel road, in the beginning a lot of rubbish strewn. Then we returned to the RP1 via the RP5 and stopped at Puerto Madryn.

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Puerto Madryn

The wind increased and prevented us from much sightseeing along the coast and we sought shelter on the ACA Camping, being a little calmer due to rows of bushes that had been planted defining the camping sites, but we still had to prepare our supper inside the car to the drifting sand. At 9pm the wind disappeared and stayed down for the night – such a relief.

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At the camping site you know where to go.

Puerto Madryn was a midsized city that benefits from tourism during the season of the breeding Southern Right whales and was founded when the first Welsh settlers arrived in 1865 in the sheltered Nuevo Golfo bay between Valdés and Punta Ninfas.

Proceeding towards Valdés we kept on the coastal road and stopped at a few of the outlook points. During the whale season this must be fantastic as some of the spots lend themselves to very close observation of the animals ( August-September).

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Once we entered the Peninsula Valdés park we spent some time at the information centre, then tackled the 77km to Punta Norte and stayed there until late afternoon observing the Sea Lions, Black-capped Night Herons, Cuis Chico (like a rock hyrax/dassie)  and the larger Hairy Armadillo (Peluda).

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Skeleton of the Southern Right whale at the information centre of Valdés.
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Harmless Ciamidos or |Whale’s lice form the calluses on whales that are like a fingerprint on each animal
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Closeup of Ciamidos crustaceans
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Young Sea Elephant male
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A Sea Lion looks small even compared to Sea Elephant cow
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Digging in to scare insects

Since there is no camping at Punta Norte we turned back past Puerto Pyramides and turned towards Playa Villarino, where we had been told that wild camping is possible. It turned out to be true and we encountered many Argentinian campers with their converted busses and tents, most of them fishermen enjoying the holidays.

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Next morning we took a round trip to Caleta Valdés, then on to Punta Cantor where we saw some Sea Elephants (we first mistook them for grey rocks -then they started moving). Males can reach a weight of an impressive 4000kg, females are much smaller at 800kg and the Cachorros ( babies) are born at 44kg approx.

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Sea Lions enjoying their beach holiday in Peninsula Valdés
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Sea Lions pups were still being born while we visited

Since Orcas had been spotted in the area the previous day, we drove up to Punta Norte again, hopeful to see them in action catching baby Sea Lion. However, we were about 3-4 weeks too early – the adult Sea Lions still prevented the pups from entering the water and there were still pups being born. Best time to visit is early March to the Orcas in action.

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Stretch of coast where Orcas take Sea Lion pups
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Visitors attention is drawn to the problem of coastal pollution
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Magellanic Penguins at Peninsula Valdés

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Punta Pyramides

This night we spent on the camping site Punta Pyramides – a little touristic town with good food and reasonable camping sites.

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Good restaurants and shops in Punta Pyramides

At Isla de los Pajaros we met an Orca researcher, Roberto Antonio Raffa who can be contacted on Facebook and it may be worth finding out when the best season for the Orcas is if you intend to visit.

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Isla de los Pajaros
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Chapel atIsla de los Pajaros

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As we departed, we saw this beautiful Armadillo with its orange colouring .

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This post covers 5th – 9th February 2018