Friday, April 13, 2012

A day in Peninsula Valdes

we were first greeted by the photogenic bird at entrance
We were lucky to find Rich and Mariana from Australia to share car with us for the visit of Peninsula Valdes. Having been reluctant to pay for 240 peso(each person) for a guided tour, we were finding among hostels to find people sharing our hired car, and then found them when seeing the couple hiring bikes riding out. I had a hard time familiarizing myself on the manual car, after the last rental with automatic. Rich the very competent driver did the driving for the whole day and we thank him a lot for that.

We started off at 8am and went along the coast which was supposed to see whale, but we saw nothing and later heard that the first entry of whale was a few days later (while we were hitch-hiking to Rio Gallego). We went straight to the peninsula and passed the center of interpretation, something like a tourist center. We should have visited that so to check the tide hour. We turned out not going anti-clockwise as we heard from advice in the bus station. The consequences was that we were on the less likely spot of orca-seeing during high tide and, as mentioned later, we slid the car and flattened the tyre that took two hours to repair.

Back to the trip, it was a long drive of 100km on a flat land to Punta Norte, which was the most popular spot of seeing orca in high tide. On the way we saw different animals such as guanaco, armadillo (mulita), mara, mactineta copetuda, liebie (rabbit), fox. It was like safari trip of patagonia version. They went away when our car on gravels scared them. In this long trip we chatted and heard from the Australian couple how they sold their belonging to travel around for one year. They were married three years ago in Bali. Mariana who was a counsellor would have a project in child center in east Africa so they would have a chance to go safari there. After 1.5 hour we reached Punta Norte, the famous national geographic pictures and videos about the orcas catching young seal on the beach were filmed there. More information about higher chance of seeing orca, you can visit our travel tip. When we got there,finally it was low tide and saw many patches of green sea bed showing. Seals were playing happily among them. There were also sea-elephant sleeping in comfort under the sun. We also saw other people going the same direction with us, which had made me feel less discomfort about no luck on high-tide (and south wind) and orca seeing. Human is like that. According the self-fulfilling properties and other social or cognitive theory of psychology, I tended to think the way that made me feel more composed of a reality which was less expected or favorable. If I let myself less composed by accepting the cruel fact of failure and less self-competent (for example, having good memory about previous information by Yamilla that the tide in Punta Norte was 3 hours after Puerto Madyrn), it was a challenge of self-composure. Life would then be a difficult one with consistent challenge of self. With this journey of consistent problem-solving, one more was a bit much for me.

We then went to another point of interest, Cere Valdes, where Magellan penguin bred. It was my first time seeing the penguin so near to us. Lots of baby penguins herded a few months ago and now they were larger kids with changing feathers. Their walk was always funny to watch. They were enjoying the sun and playing around in the water and on land. Seal could come to catch them but the low tide closed the sea opening of the sand dome; the penguins were safe. There were English descriptions on the information box telling us how to differentiate male (with a higher bump on the top of the beak) from female. We had some good time enjoying just watching the penguin moving around. Seeing more of the same penguins in Punte Tombo (which was 100km away from Trelew, another 60km from Puerto Madryn) seemed not necessary for us. But the hope of seeing orca was still lingering with us.
The hope shattered after we visited Punta Canra where we walked an educational trail about wild life but not much was seen except a few sleeping seals and sea elephants. We tended to drive the big circle passing Punta Delgada, but it slided on one downhill slide and luckily the car did not flip over. One tyre leaked. There was spare tyre in the car but no tool. Rich ran for four kilometers back to the ranger house to borrow one, but it was not working. We went to the ranger’s 4x4 and Rich drove the car slowly back to the ranger’s office, where I changed the tyres for the first time. The ranger(ess) put a lot of effort to ensure that there were no gravels stuck in the tyres; that took us two hours before we went back to the road. We had to return the car by 8pm so Rich drove all the way. We missed the hat-like island (Isla de los Pajaros) which inspired the little prince’s author Antoine de Saint-Exupery about the snake with elephant in it.

We left with some regret not to see the orcas, which were still hovering in our mind when leaving.
Orca in Punta Norte, we cannot see one, just to show the youtube of the place we visited, it just happened a month ago. Such catching behavior only happened here from the whole world.

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