(Sea) Lions, and Penguins, and Cormorants…Oh My!

If you read Henrik’s previous post, you know that we have been in electronic hell. Well, I was able to purchase a (used) notebook in Neuquen, Argentina. It works fine but the system and all of the programs are in Spanish. Oh well, a bit frustrating but I certainly need the practice.

We recently left Patagonia and have traveled through the pampas (beautiful part of the country – warm weather, lots of sun, and tons of fat cows happily grazing on grass, not corn.) Right now, we are taking a break from traveling and spending the next 3 days at Estancia Las Verbenas – hiking, horseback riding, relaxing, and eating copious amounts of beef and drinking copious amounts of red wine. Life is good!

We spent approximately 3 weeks or so on the Atlantic coast of southern Patagonia, Argentina. Our drive along the coast took us from Rio Gallegos to Las Grutas. Along the way, we visited beautiful national parks, natural reserves, and small coastal towns. One of our favorite parks was Parque Nacional Monte Leon located in Provincia Santa Cruz.

We arrived at the park on a sunny and windless (not common in Patagonia!) afternoon. At the Guardaparque office, we learned about the different animals, birds, and sea critters in the park. We also learned that we had arrived at the perfect time of the month to experience the highest variance in low and high tides. At 6:15 that evening, we experienced the lowest of the low tide which allowed us to explore the ocean floor for up to 200 meters! Very other-wordly…or, as Henrik said, very Captain Nemo-ish from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (which he recently re-read and warned me, “if you are going to re-read it, read the Children’s Illustrated Classic version – it has not aged well…”).

High tide

Low tide (the shiny stuff is not water, it's sand!)

Low tide

On our walk along the ocean floor, we were able to stroll around the “Bird Island” which is home to 4 species of cormorants. Now, as my friend Caroline can attest to, I’m not a big fan of cormorants. I’m referring specifically to the Olivaceous Cormorant that is pervasive on almost all continents. However, I discovered other species that are far more interesting and exotic. Our favorite, the red-legged cormorant:

Beautiful!

We were also able to explore multiple tide pools where we saw some interesting sea creatures:

 

It was a fantastic day and, that evening, we witnessed an equally fantastic moonrise.

 

The next day, we took a few hikes to visit the sea lion colonies (sea wolves in spanish):

Sea Lion colony

and afterwards to the penguinera to view the Magellanic Penguins. I thought it was going to be similar to my experience in New Zealand…i.e., seeing the penguins from quite a distance away (binoculars necessary), but that certainly was not the case!

Henrik and penguin contemplating...

Binocs NOT necessary!

So fun – what an amazing park! We highly recommend it!!

More to come!

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3 thoughts on “(Sea) Lions, and Penguins, and Cormorants…Oh My!

  1. Red wine and red meat–Las Pampas at their best!

    The Argentinean coast has, as I recall, a certain bleakness to it that the Pacific doesn’t have. Probably the psychological effect of the map’s picture of an almost empty South Atlantic. But look out for the bull sea lions–they are territorial.

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