Antarctica to Puerto Madryn, Argentina

puerto madryn flag

route sailed puerto madryn area map
Its a long haul from Antarctica to Puerto Madryn

Day 10 – North up through the Southern Ocean and on into the South Atlantic Ocean. When we woke up the seas were relatively calm and there was very little wind, although the sky was gray and overcast. However the Captains’ noon report predicts 28 ft seas and 60 kts winds tonight as we pass west of the Falklands. At 5pm the ding dong of the ship's PA system had the Entertainment Manager (actually by now we were down to the Assistant Entertainment Manager making these announcements) announcing that the ship was turning towards the Argentine coast to avoid 30 ft seas and 70 kt winds. We in fact had noticed the change of course on the GPS channel, some 3 hours earlier. For some unknown reason they had chosen not to keep the passengers informed of the change of course for some hours after the change had taken place.

We had late dinner and it was still calm when we went to bed around 11pm.. But by midnight the weather closed in with a vengeance. The ship was buffeted by high winds and seas. Waves were breaking up to deck 9 level. There were some violent impacts that stopped the ship in its tracks. This was a bad storm. Assorted objects were thrown round the cabin, but the ship handled it well.

Day 11. We carry on heading north in the South Atlantic Ocean. At 8am we are in following seas, and the wind is still reported as 50 kts and temp is 3C. But the sting had gone out of the storm, we had not escaped from its clutches, but winds continued to drop and by late afternoon wind had dropped to 30 kts and waves to 5 ft.

Brdge group on the Infinity Brdge group on the Infinity
The Bridge School met every day when were at sea from 2pm to 4pm for Duplicate Bridge

There were ongoing problems with the ship over Bridge. We did not expect a Bridge Director, but we did expect some assistance from the ship in publicising the Bridge Sessions. Guest Relations just refused to put anything in the daily programme as that would be against "company policy" Guest Relations were a particularly useless bunch on the Infinity for most things: they laboured under the iron hand of head office. Quite odd. when you consider that the ship publicised "Shuffleboard" and "Ping Pong" tournaments when there was a force 8 gale blowing and the decks where those things would have taken place were closed off. On average 30 players attended daily for Bridge, and if it had been publicised then numbers might have been twice that.

Day 12 – Puerto Madyrn. Arrived in port only an hour late at 8am. The ship docked at the aluminium factory quay, which meant bussing into town as it is a few miles out of town. By now the wind was down to nothing and temperature up to a bright 24C. We took the bus into town and picked up an Avis car, then drove to Punta Tombo penguin rookery with Amanda and Peter cowering in the back seat. As Infinity's stops were brief in port, were had no time to hang about. We picked the car up at 9 am, drove for over 2 hours to get to Puerto Tomba, then over two hours back, and had to meet an "all aboard" sailing deadline of 4.15pm.

The town of Puerto Madryn was founded on 28 July 1865, when 150 Welsh immigrants who came in the clipper Mimosa named the natural port Porth Madryn in honour of Sir Love Jones-Parry, whose estate in Wales was named "Madryn". The settlement grew as a result of the building of the Central of Chubut Railway by Welsh, Spanish and Italian immigrants. This line, opened in 1888, linked it to Trelew via the lower Chubut River valley. Today the town appears to have an economy based on tourism, and few of the original buildings have survived.

The drive was mainly on surfaced road, across empty, flat pampas - and by empty and flat, I mean empty and flat. One wonders how the original Welsh colonists survived in this area. But the drive was worth it when we reached Punta Tomba

Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba
Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba

The Punta Tombo reserve holds the largest reserve of penguins in South America, with an adult population of about 400,000 animals. Apparently there were 1 million in Magellan's day, when he discovered the place, but early seafarers butchered large numbers for oil or food. However the colony is protected today.  

The birds are 50-60 cms. tall and a white stripe surrounding their heads, necks, and fins, come to Punta Tombo every year. They mate around September, their offspring are born and mature to adult plumage.

Megallenic Penguins came in all shapes and sizes. Here they were mostly (hungry) young waiting for parents to return with food. These nests could be a mile inland, so the trek for the parents to and from the sea was long, let alone the swim offshore to find food

Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba
Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba

Penguins as far as the eye could see

Penguins at Puerto Tomba

And the occasional Guanaco

Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba
Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba

The penguins see enough humans to completely ignore them, this little fellow waddled right past me - or did I waddle right past him?

Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba
It is hungry work being a young penguin

And on the beach there were thousands of penguins milling around

Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba
Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba

Some were coming and some were going, and some were just swimming in the water. Happily the reserve has fenced off the beach from humans, so one gets an uninterrupted view of the beach.

Penguins at Puerto Tomba Penguins at Puerto Tomba
And the statutory photo of Peter and Amanda with penguin in background
...and the same scene with us

Afterwards, the necessarily fast drive back to Puerto Madryn - we did try to see Trelew, but there seemed nothing there to detain us.

Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
The Infinity docked at Puerto Madryn We visited the local museum, housed in sole old building left there.

When we got back to the quay, we were shocked to find these queues to get back on board. They stretched for a long way, and moved but slowly as there was only one door into the ship - quite bizarre!

Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn

Puerto Madryn

We had acquired a new member of the family at Punta Tomba "Penguino" and here he is enjoying supervising Chris in the finer arts of catching fish for supper.

On to Montevideo