Thursday, April 12, 2018

Next stop Punta Arenas - time to visit some penguins.

After a fabulous few days in Puerto Natales which left us wanting to return for more, we made the return journey to Punta Arenas where we were staying for New Year. We were booked to stay at the boutique hotel La Yegua Loca which translates into English as The Mad Mare. This is a great hotel, the vision of a couple to renovate an old house and turn it into a hotel. In their own words "not any hotel, but something unique and very special, that recovers the traditions and trades of a land of adventurers and explorers. Loaded with dreams. Also with a small dose of madness". They have really succeeded in translating their vision into reality, it really captures the spirit and excitement that you experience when visiting Chilean Patagonia. We loved our time in this special place.

La Yegua Loca

After an early start from Puerto Natales our goal had been to visit Isla Magdalena to see the colony of Magellan penguins, unfortunately bad weather led to a cancellation. Plan B was quickly established and we arranged a driver to take us to Fuerte Bulnes, a 40 minute drive from the city. The fort is a reconstruction, the original was founded on a hill overlooking the Strait of Magellan in 1843 under the command of Manuel Bulnes Prieto.

Fuerte Bulnes

After an interesting afternoon at the Fort we returned to Punta Arenas and the hotel with our fingers crossed that our rescheduled visit to Isla Magdalena would go ahead the next did!! Situated a relatively short boat tide away from Punta Arenas the island is home to a huge colony of Magellan penguin couples and their young. As you get close to the shore line you get your first view of this once in a lifetime sight, it was quite incredible to see so many penguins close up. After docking you get around an hour on the island to walk around a roped off pathway from which you get a close up view of island life.

On our way back to Puenta Arenas we passed a smaller island colonised by sea lions. Again the sheer numbers and size of some of these mammals is staggering, as we had to take photos from distance on the boat which was bobbing up and down the quality isn't so good as they were on the island.

That evening was New Year's Eve and the staff had pulled out all the stops back at La Yegua Loca to prepare a fun evening for all the guests which culminated in watching the fireworks being set off by the coast. A fitting end to 2017 and a great start to 2018.

Happy New Year