Punta Tombo

Penguin at Punta Tombo

Magallanic Penguin Colony at Punta Tombo

Punta Tombo - Federico Piergentili

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Punta Tombo is truly a unique and pristine part of Patagonia. This area provides a nesting ground for the Magellan penguin population. Each year during the warmer days of spring over half a million penguins come to the Patagonia coasts in order to breed. One of the greatest features to the Punta Tombo is that you can actually experience the walk along side the penguins and observe their intricacies first hand. It is the perfect spot for a curious eye. Become a part of the 'march of the penguins.

The penguins live mainly on the coast of Chubut Province. The best time to see the penguins is just after November once the babies have been born. You could be one of the first friendly faces a penguin sees as it embarks on its journey through life. However, the penguins arrive in September and stay around mid march. If you cannot make it in time to see the miracle of a baby being born, you can still see them as they learn for the first time how to be a penguin. It is an amazing sight to see. The only thing you have to remember when walking with the penguins is never to touch them. You can get inches away from these friendly animals, but if you touch them they might be inclined to peck you. It is a unique experience to walk or waddle among these peaceful creatures, but remember not to touch!

Provincial authorities have fenced off most of the nesting grounds and human visitors must stay on marked trails and boardwalks; still, since the penguins themselves do not respect the fences, it’s possible to get up-close-and-personal photographs while respecting the birds’ distance. Note, though, that penguin beaks can inflict a nasty gash.

Punta Tombo’s infrastructure is still very limited—a visitors center is in the works, but local estancieros are disinclined to part with any more property than they already have. Still, the simple confitería, while nothing special, has fresh-baked lamb empanadas and clean, modernized toilets.

At the entrance, provincial authorities collect US$5.50 pp for adult foreigners, US$2.50 for Argentine residents, and US$1 for Chubut residents. No camping is permitted; if you’re driving, penguins have right-of-way.

While it’s also possible for a group to hire a taxi for a day trip to the reserve, renting a car in Trelew or Puerto Madryn would make it possible to follow the scenic desert coastline south past the ghost town of Cabo Raso to the picturesque fishing port of Camarones and the wildlife reserve of Cabo Dos Bahías, which has both penguins and sea lions. From Camarones it’s possible to return to Trelew or Puerto Madryn via paved RN 3.