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After loosing my flight home, I decided to stay in South America for 2 more months and visit Patagonia. I bought a flight from Santiago de Chile to London and rested for a week in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay.  After recovering from the shock of this sudden change of plans, I traveled south all the way to Puerto Madryn in Argentinian Patagonia. That town is a jumping off point to Peninsula Valdez, a treeless splash of land full of amazing wildlife.  With 3 other people I met in the hostel we hired a car and followed a gravel road to the northern part of peninsula Valdez.  November is not a good time to see killer wales hunting for sea lions, but the lions were there.  In  the car park we had an armadillo running around looking for food.  It moved so fast that I had a hard time trying to catch it on camera!

From there we took the gravel road following the shore.  After a few kilometers we stopped in the middle of nowhere and walked to the beach made of small stones.  To our surprise and joy, it was full of sea elephants, including a huge male yawing with boredom.  They didn't seem to be bothered by our presence, only one of them looked at us following every move.  In my case, the only part of my body that moved was my finger, pressing the button on the camera.

Our next stop was a penguin colony, where hundreds of little Magellan penguins carried on with everyday life despite constant presence of people just a few meters away.  It was a great site, but people come to Peninsula Valdez to see more than this.  Every year between June and October (winter) over 2000 Southern Right Whales come to breed in bays around the peninsula.  They are called "right whales" because whalers thought the whales were the "right"ones to hunt, as they float when killed.  Whale watching trips are the best way to get close to them.  Sightings can not be guaranteed, but we saw a few whales, including a female with her calf, swimming slowly next to the boat.  Other whales were sticking their tales above the surface or even jumping out and landing with a huge splash, but only a few hundred meters away.

Another great way to see those magnificent animals is visiting the beach at Doradillo at high tide.  The water is deep enough for whales to swim just 20 - 30m from the shore!  Considering their size (up to 18m) they seem to be even closer.  Walking along Doradillo beach was definitely one of the highlights of this Patagonian trip.    photos