But before telling that story let me tell you that I already saw thousands of penguins in Antarctica (from three species: Chinstrap, Adelie and Gentoo) before going to see more at Bahia Inutil, close to Punta Arenas. But I haven’t seen the King Penguins. While in Antarctica I sent postcards for family (because yes, there’s a british post at Port Lockroy) and the one for my mom had these penguins. “Dear mom, these are the penguins I haven’t seen in Antarctica…” But I saw them after all, later. As I said before, the plans in Antarctica are very much dependant on the weather, king penguins were there but we just didn’t got to see them.
After Antarctica we went to Puerto Natales to do the W trekking in Torres del Paine and after the trekking my travel companions of the last three weeks went norther and I went back to Punta Arenas decided to see the king penguins at last.
Getting to the hostel I found out that everything was booked for next day for the Pinguino Rey excursion. I decided to go next day to Isla Magdalena for half day trip to see Magellanic penguins and the other day to Penguino Rey park.
I went to get informations at the post about sending a box with personal stuff in USA and then to a nice museum located in the center of the city which was actually the house of a rich colonist and his family donated it to be a museum. After that I took a “collectivo” which is a great idea for transport, is like a cab driving on specific routes (has different numbers to indicate the route) and has fixed price (400-500 pesos day/night). Of course it stops until gets full, but still is great, much cheaper than the taxi and much better and faster than the bus. The collectivo left me at the port where I embarked for the trip to Isla Magdalena (30000pesos). In two hours we got to the island where the magellanic penguins live and we disembarked. These penguins don’t smell as bad as the ones in Antarctica and they actually sleep and nest in holes made in the ground. They are also even more noisier but as cute as the ones I’ve seen before. There’s a trail marked with ropes which leads you uphill to the lighthouse where is a small museum.
Came back to the hostel and prepared for the next day because I knew is a long day and will start early, what I didn’t knew is that will be actually even longer and will start bit weird.
There I am in the very early morning waiting to be picked while freezing and smoking outside. Half hour after the picking hour I had to ring the bell at the hostel, wake everybody up, and ask to call the guys with the excursion. They finally picked me and when I came back at night I found out that there was another company coming also to pick me, I guess the guy from the hostel did some sort of confusion when reserving my excursion. Our guide wasn’t actually a guide, she was a girl from the office sent for a field trip and didn’t spoke much english, therefore I practiced my spanish with her. It turned out that she didn’t knew much about the trip either so our driver was the guide that day (the trip with the car and ferry is 48000 pesos).
We stopped at a place where there’s abandoned farms and also a ship wreck and we did some photos. At Punta Delgada we crossed the Magellan Strait with a ferry, saw dolphins and continued the drive to Bahia Inutil (yes, Useless Bay :)) ).
Arriving at Pinguino Rey Park we paid entrance fee (12000 pesos) and we got a bit of info about the rules in the park and none about the pinguins. Luckily there was a girl coming with us and she answered our questions. The penguins had eggs and chicks and so we had to watch them from 20 meters far hidden behind a fence in order not the stress them. Which in my opinion is good. But if you want to make the perfect selfie with the beautiful penguins don’t go there.
On the way back the driver stopped for me to take a photo of a guanaco (a cameloid like the llamas) because I was complaining I saw so many but I haven’t got a photo of them.
Now, the real adventure begins on the way back, waiting to pass the Magellan Strait again. We got there, stopped the car and went to buy food and drinks, and in 5 minutes we were informed that we won’t cross until the weather will get better, being very windy. And that’s how our next 3-4 hours passed, full of rumors about how we will spent the night there because the winds are getting stronger and stronger. Fortunately I met a group of guys from Moldova, my country neighbour which was a part of Romania before, and spoke my sweet mother tongue with them. They had a rented car and traveled throughout Patagonia.
And so the time passed pretty quick and we were on the road again and arrived finally and late at the hostel. Next day I went to post and sent some things to USA (around 60$ for almost 4 kilos), and that was two months ago and the box didn’t reach the destination yet. But I still have a hope. And the experience of being robbed. And the wisdom of letting go.
And just before going to the bus for my next destination I went to a museum of the Magellan ship replica and also other ships replicas located on the Magellan Strait (3000 pesos entrance).
On the way back to Puerto Natales, I went back there for the connection with El Calafate, I did a not very good photo with the nandu (an ostrich like bird), my only photo with them although I saw so many from the buses I took. (actually a capture from a video)
Now, a bit of advice. Don’t hurry! Take your time to make good bookings for good tours. I actually really loved the tours to see the penguins, they are really really beautiful. And I didn’t mind spending an entire day in the car just to see them for two hours. But some people might feel it’s not worthy. For me it was. Also, just try to learn spanish in South America, helps a lot and sometimes is the only way. Lots of patience is needed and once you just relax everything is wonderful. 🙂
For me Antarctica was about surreal icebergs and a mix of wonderful unearthly feelings and landscapes, but the place for pinguins was actually there, at Bahia Inutil, where the King penguins colony is located.