We sailed on the Strait of Magellan to Magdalena Island to see penguins yesterday.
The half-day tour, which cost about $50, left Tres Puentes harbor and took two hours to reach the bare island, where we were greeted by the incessant chatter of thousands of penguins.
Penguins bunched on the beach, lounged in little nests, scurried across our paths, trumpeted, preened, waddled, and swam like bullets in the crystal clear waters.
The penguins, who shared their little lighthouse-tipped island with gulls, were just hatching young, who tentatively peered around their parents at the tourists who snapped their photos.
People who seemed sullen or expressionless on the boat trip were all smiles and giggles; one American man waddled to an unimpressed penguin, who fled, and on being rejected the American said, “Please, penguin, love me!”
The penguins weren’t very impressed with us, but didn’t mind us too much, either. One hour to walk up to the lighthouse and back wasn’t enough for any of us, as the tour guides had to walk behind our crowd of 200 or so and constantly goad us back to the boat. “Please, we must go now.”
No one wanted to leave.
On the way back we saw a seal poke his head out of the water and look at our boat curiously. We saw the spray of whales in the distance. Dolphins swam around our boat back at dock.
We got back at 8 pm, the sky still pure blue. After dinner gold and pink painted the clouds in a languorous sunset that was officially at 10 pm, but wasn’t really over until after I fell asleep.
On Monday or Tuesday we will start our 10 day trek in Torres del Paine National Park. I’ll schedule best-of posts from 2015 for those two weeks, and then I’ll tell you all about our trek.