Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. --- Mark Twain

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Isla Martillo

Day 730,
82 710 km since the beginning of the journey,

The title of this post could easily be “The penguin - special”.

85 kilometres from Ushuaia on the island of Isla Martillo there is the greatest penguin colony in Patagonia, and in addition there are supposed to be a few dozen pairs of bigger Gentoo penguins. Only if one has a wish to pay them a visit- it is not so that you can go there any time you like. As it was at the Valdez Peninsula. In Ushuaia a number of half-day and also longer cruises take the visitors along the Beagle Channel and to the island of Isla Martillo, so that the penguins could be watched from the ship, but only The PiraTourTravel will take the tourists to the island.

The Duration of the visit and the number of the guests are limited as well. During a day 80 visitors are allowed – that means 4 groups, each consisting of 20 participants, and the time limit is one hour. What this means in short is - that the trip must be booked in advance for the next day, otherwise all the tickets are sold out already.

Tours take place twice a day, the first departure is at 8 o'clock in the morning and the second – at 2 pm and it would be better to take the morning trip, as the weather is usually more beautiful then.

Logistics - it was called a bus - boat trip, which meant that at first the visitors were taken by a minibus about 85 kilometres away to Estanica Harbertonto, which is the first settlement of Tierra del Fuego. Upon arrival we were told that if someone wants to eat - then it was the perfect time, because at the presence of penguins eating is forbidden. Then all of us were taken in a larger boat to the island that was about a kilometre away. 

Next - the pictures .The whole shore was covered with small penguins who were accustomed to the daily visitors, as at the arrival of the boat they slowly stepped only two or three meters away. Isla_Martillo_DSC01733



In fact, on this island, there are not two, but rather three kinds of penguins. Besides Magellanic and Gentoo penguins one can meet here King Penguins as well.

All three of them in one picture, two King penguins, next to them- a red beak Gentoo penguin and a Patagonian gray penguin on the background.

Some more Gentoo penguins. It was not allowed to go close to them, so no pictures of them in larger size.

But Magellanic penguins were everywhere.





A Magellanic penguin usually lays two similar-sized eggs in October and the parents grow up two penguin chicks – unlike the Emperor penguins who live in Antarctica and grow up in extremely hard conditions only one descendant. But I'm not going to retell the Oscar-awarded documentary “The March of Penguins”. Those who have seen it – understand. Natural conditions are different here and the Patagonian penguin digs a hole on the ground to be protected from gales during the hatching period. Anyway, almost the whole ground is full of holes and from all of them somebody`s beak or eyes are greeting you.

The paths for guests are marked with timber, while walking one should not step aside. And some nests are dug even on the paths. Generally a penguin digs the pit itself, but also the holed dug by rabbits are used when possible.








The boat with the next 20 visitors is approaching.




Isla_Martillo_DSC01875   Isla_Martillo_DSC02016 Isla_Martillo_DSC01812




Time has run out faster than expected and the boat takes the group back to the land, to Estancia Haberton. Link




The next visit is to “The Museo Acatushun” . It introduces marine fauna and there is a lot to be seen, but the time limit is only half an hour as the tourist bus is waiting to take all visitors back to Ushuaia


Most of the time the wind blows here from the south.

Another half an hour on the water and at 8 pm we are back at the port of Ushuaia. The day is soon over, there are almost 400 pictures and a quarter of hundred video clips of penguins in the cameras.

And finally, a few lines of blogging - I am still using Windows Live Writer (WLW) as it is convenient to write offline and add pictures between the text. But since the last few times it was almost impossible to load up post with more than 10 images - I do it another way. At first – pictures to Flicker and from there - the links to the blog. Or YouTube

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