Today the plan is to head out to the Valdes Peninsular which is renowned as a home to some fantastic wildlife. So, even though it was late when we went to bed we have agreed to meet Marcel at our hostel nice and early to sort out the paperwork for the car hire. Having had a chat the night before re Latin American punctuality (or more accurately the lack of), we continue to score badly for the Europeans by sitting down to breakfast as he arrives!
Eventually we get the car all sorted out – a well-used, dusty Corsa – and with Marcel at the wheel, we set off for the Peninsular. One of the possible, all be it rare sightings we are hoping for today is to see Orcas (Killer Whales ~ which are apparently dolphins?!) swimming up the beach to catch seals and sea lions. This only happens around high tide so the schedule is determined for us. After an hour and a half in the car we reach the park entrance and visitor centre where a very friendly park ranger gives us the low down on what to see where. The peninsular is about 100km by 70km and all the roads are dusty gravel tracks which means we are in for a bumpy day.
The park is very scenic and reminds us of Dorset´s Jurassic coast with a bit of Cornwall and lots of sunshine thrown in for good measure. One the way round we get to see lots of small family groups of Elephant Seals which didn´t do much but sun bathe, a small colony of Magellan Penguins at which the nearest penguins are only a meter or two away and a huge number of Sea Lions at Punta Nord. These guys were much more active especially the baby ones who would chase each other up and down the beach. This is also is where an Orca sighting is possible. Unfortunately, even though we are there for high tide and stick around for an hour or so no Orcas turn up 🙁 The last sighting had been two days earlier so obviously the orcas are still full from that trip. Never mind it has been a fab day anyway and to cap it all there are a couple of friendly Armadillos in the car park that we get to say hello to 🙂
We break up the long drive back to Puerto Madryn by stopping off in the nice rustic village of Puerto Piramides which is the only settlement on the whole peninsular. After a walk in the sea and a nice cold Quilmes or two we head off back home. Marcel has done a fab job of driving all day, clocking up 420km, even if he did give the girls a bit of a scare overtaking a bus on the gravel roads of the peninsular!
Back in Puerto Madryn the plan is for us to cook and as the only proviso is that it can´t be midnight again we decide on spaghetti carbonara. We drop Marcel off at the supermarket and the girls stop off for ice cream from the Heladeria and pasta from the home-made pasta shop.
Back at the hostel, we chill out over a beer, have showers, prep dinner and by the time Marcel arrives and dinner is served it is midnight again!!! Doh! Oh well we had a great evening chatting to Johan, our new roomie who is a Dutchman living in South Africa, Mark and Clare from – yep you guessed it Vancouver, and Cody from New York.