Tierra Del Fuego - Penguins!
29.04.2015 - 30.04.2015
After my trek in the TDP I had a couple more nights in Punta Arenas before flying North, and decided to take a day tour to the Tierra Del Fuego (Land of Fires), where you could see some penguin colonies. All the large Magellan Penguin colonies had headed off for the winter (not sure where - out to sea maybe?) but there was one colony of King Penguins that were resident all year round.
The tour started by heading even further South on a 2 hour ferry, to the Island at the very tip of South America. The main thing that struck me on the 3 hour drive to the colony was - for the southernmost place outside Antarctica it's really quite boring here. I don't know why but I'd expected the romatically named Tierra Del Fuego to be a bit more exciting. It turns out the name simply comes from the fact that early explorers saw "mysterious" fires on the Island here from their boats, but actually the fires were nothing more than local shepherds keeping warm. I think they must have been at the rum.
Gone was the dramatic scenery of the Torres Del Paine, and instead we just had mile after mile of flat moorland. Still - we stopped for a while to watch Dolphins hunting fish in the kelp near the shore which was pretty cool, and there were plenty of vicunas (a wild and rarer cousin of the llama) about to keep us company.
When we finally arrived at the colony the penguins weren't doing much, but hey, how many chances do you have to see penguins in the wild? They're pretty cool creatures.
Back in Punta Arenas that night I headed out to a local restaurant to try some of the local seafood speciality - baked centolla (King Crab). As I was tucking into the delicious food I got talking to some locals, who were alarmed to find out I was planning on flying out the next day.
"Haven't you heard? The volcano has erupted again, and all flights were cancelled today! We don't know when they'll start again."
They were a bit surprised by my lack of reaction.
""You don't seem too worried?"
"Nah" I said. There are only so many times you can panic about these things.
"I'm sure it'll all be fine".