We arrived at Tierra del Fuego via Ferry (check out our previous post)! Time to find some penguins – yeeeee!!!!!
We arrived still somewhat early in the day, around 12:30, and had time to make a full day on Chile’s side of Tierra del Fuego. We left Porvenir and headed South along the coast line. Although the weather was a little crappy, we were still able to get amazing views. We drove to Parque Pingüino Rey, and ate lunch in their parking lot. After lunch we paid $12,000 CLP each, with the hope we would see a King Penguin colony. King Penguins are one of four breeds of penguins here in Tierra del Fuego, and are often found in Antarctica. The colony we visited is 6 years old, which is relatively young. The office we paid at said they were a nonprofit organization that is studying the penguins with GPS and monitors their activity. Steve and I are not 100% sure if this is true or not. Regardless, we crossed our fingers and hoped the penguins would be generous and show themselves. We walked to the first wall, where we stopped about 50 meters from the penguin colony. To our relief, they were there! I giggled like a little school girl. I love penguins. In my life, I have obsessed about 5 animals: dogs were my first love as a little girl, whales became my elementary school obsession, ducks started in middle school, and my cow obsession started in high school. Penguins were my love starting middle school when I first remember seeing them at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Even today, I can’t go to Monterey without at least 30 minutes dedicated to watch them. Although King Penguins are a different breed than what you see at Monterey, I was happy, excited, and giggled; not even the cold and wind could ruin this moment. We looked closely to see if we could see any eggs. We arrived too early in season for baby time, which might be for the best as that might have sent me over the edge to pure craziness – can you imagine that awkward call home for bail money: “Mom, I tried to hug several baby penguins and got caught, my bad”. Steve and I wandered to the next observation area which is closer to the beach. We saw only two penguins there walking back and forth. We went back to the big colony and stared a little bit longer before it was time to leave.
We got back into the car and I was on pure penguin madness. I wanted to call everyone I knew in that moment and shared that life as I knew it had changed, but with no service, Steve had to suffer while I relived the moments again. We headed towards a free campsite at Lago Blanco. Along the drive, the weather took a turn for a worse, and the heavy rain started again. We had to stop at a logging company to buy gas off of them, which was the first time someone in South America actually filled our gas tank to full. We made it to camp during the storm, and had no idea what the lake actually looked like. We cooked inside, and for the first time, we were really cold. We were wet from the few times we had to go outside, and with the cold wind, we were cold. We went to sleep, hoping tomorrow we would have a better weather day.
We woke up to sunny skies – and hey.. that’s what the lake look likes, quite beautiful! Time to hit the road and cross into Argentina. We arrived at the immigration office, and were the only ones there. It was the tiniest space, and as the only customers we made it through very quickly (I think we may have woken up the National Police officer with our arrival, he was a little grumpy). The Argentinean office was the same way, we were again the only ones. It was a little slower there, as they had computers but I don’t think they have ever been turned on. They instead wrote everything down in a giant book. While waiting, I asked (with Steve’s help as no English was spoken here) about this drink we saw everyone enjoying. It was Mate tea. Which they put the loose leaves into a small bowl/cup and pour hot water into. They then sip it out of a small curved straw that also works as a sieve to keep the leaves out of your mouth. They were kind enough to let us try. Tasted a lot like green tea we have back home. After getting all our paperwork done, we headed South towards Ushuaia.
More to come from Tierra del Fuego!