I arrived in Puerto Madryn early in the morning. It is not the most beautiful place to say the least, but I had come for one purpose only….whales! After arriving I learned there was a lot to see and do but it all came with a cost and a pretty hefty one at that. Besides whale watching, which was my main priority, you could swim with the sea lions and visit a penguin colony. I decided to opt out of both swimming with sea lions and visiting the penguin colony to help save money. I have swam with sea lions before and I am hoping to see penguins in Antarctica therefore cutting costs where I can. Since it’s pretty hard to explore Puerto Madryn without a car (or on an expensive tour) and everyone at the hostel already had plans when I arrived, I took the day to figure out future travel. High season is quickly approaching in Southern Argentina making last minute bus and hostel decisions more difficult and planning ahead more imperative. That night I went to dinner with one of my roommates, a guy from France. He was on a month vacation from work. The dinner conversation was a bit awkward (as we were both kind of awkward), but at least he was easy on the eyes 😉
I had absolutely no plans the following day, so I had a lazy morning and slowly got ready for the day. I finally got to wear my shorts I’ve been carrying around for weeks! It was a beautifully sunny day out, but it was also warm something I have been missing the past couple of weeks. Seeing as it was such a beautiful day out, I slowly walked along the beach soaking in the sunshine. I walked the entire length of the beach and back (roughly 3 hours). I tried to reflect on my thoughts and meditate like most people swear by, but I just couldn’t do it, my mind likes to wander all over the place. Without expecting it, I looked out to the ocean and saw whales! It was incredible, they were so close to shore. I even saw one smacking its tail on the water. It was such an unexpected delight, which made me even more excited for my whale watching experience the following day. Whales are such incredible massive creatures who move so gracefully in the water. I was mesmerized by them when I saw them out in the distance. I tried to take a few pictures, but they were just too far away. Sometimes (although it should be all the time) it’s not about the picture or capturing the moment, it’s about the experience and living in the moment. Therefore I put my camera away and sat there in awe as I watching these beautiful creatures glide through the water. After an incredibly relaxing day and unexpected surprises, I headed back to the hostel to cook up some delicious Argentinian meat.
*Side note: I don’t normally take selfies (in fact I actually despise them), but when by yourself you don’t really have any other options hence my pictures below.
It was whale watching day and I could hardly contain my excitement. The tour company I booked with picked me up around 8:00 am along with about 50 other tourists, but even the massive size of the tour group couldn’t get my excitement down. Unfortunately when booking a big tour like this, we sometimes stop at places that no one necessarily wants to explore, but nevertheless we stop there anyway. Our first stop was at the information center, which seemed unnecessary since our tour guide was explaining all sorts of things about whales and the various wildlife, but I grabbed a coffee and admired the skeleton of a baby Southern Right Whale. We were supposed to head to Punto Norte next, but it was closed due to damage to the roads, so instead we headed to Caleta Valdes to observe the penguins and elephant seals. Because the area is protected, visitors are only allowed to admire the animals from a distance. I completely understand why visitors are not allowed to intrude on the wildlife’s habitat, but I sure wish I could have got closer. Around this time of year people have been known to spot groups of orcas on the hunt for baby elephant seals, therefore you can imagine my excitement at the possibility of spotting an orca. As we were observing the elephant seals, our tour guide explained that because the tide was low the possibility of seeing an orca was unlikely as they usually hunt during high tide. Low and behold about 20 minutes later and to everyone’s surprise and amazement, we spotted a family of 4 orca whales out in the distance. As they drew closer (but still at a pretty far distance) you could actually see the black and white of their skin. It was awesome to see orca whales in the natural habitat cruising in the water. I was sad to leave the orcas, but we were headed to board the boat for our whale watching extravaganza.
We stopped to see some sea lions around the port before boarding the zodiac. While observing the sea lions, out in the distance we saw a whale breach 3 times as well as a mother baby pair swimming not too far from shore. These sightings got me even more excited to get out on the boat already and observe the whales even that much closer. Myself along with 10 others got to take a smaller zodiac out on the water since our group was too large to all fit on the bigger boat. We found a mother and her baby to hang out with and much to my surprise they didn’t mind us being there at all. It was mind-blowing how close they come to the boat. Sometimes they were so close you could reach out and touch them! They are just as curious about us as we are about them. At one point, the mother was directly underneath our boat with her tail sticking out one side of the boat and her face on the other and she continued to swim underneath us! It is difficult to describe in words what an incredibly unforgettable experience it was for me.
The Southern Right Whales come to Puerto Piramides from June to December to mate and give birth in the bay. As it is nearing the end of the season, most of the whales have begun their migration south to feed. The whales still hanging out in the baby are mostly mothers and their young. The mothers stay as long as possible with their babies to help nurture and protect them, but soon they too will all leave Puerto Piramides heading south. Hopefully we will meet again as I too am making my way south, but I’ll be feeding along the way 😉