Punta Arenas and Magdalena Island
After hiking the W trek we headed to the southernmost destination of our trip to find some penguins. Penguins are my favorite animal and during the worst parts of the hike I actually thought to myself, "Get through this and in a few days we will be surrounded by Penguins!" It was great motivation for me. After arriving into Punta Arenas, we went to the ferry agency to book our tickets for Magdalena Island the next morning and then explored the city. Punta Arenas was a surprisingly large town that is the capital of the southernmost region of Chile. It sits on the Magellan Strait so there is a deep history with exploration of the Antartic region and trading routes. There's a lot of Croatian, Spanish and Italian influence that can be seen on the older buildings, especially the ones surrounding the Plaza De Armas. We walked to the lookout overlooking the colorful city and the strait. On the way we passed a distance sign pole that listed how far we were from different places. We were surprised to see a GA Tech plank!
The next morning Chris decided the W trek didn't give us enough exercise so we walked the 3 miles to the Ferry Port. We boarded and took off for the 2 hour ferry ride to Magdalena Island, home of 120,000 penguins. The island is completely bare except for the penguins and a lighthouse. There is a path marked off the goes up to the lighthouse and back down. You have to stay on the path and cannot get within a meter of the penguins. We contemplated playing ignorant of the metric system and touching the penguins anyway... but people are posted all along the path and if you try to break the rules they start screaming at you in Spanish. I tried to sit down in front of a penguin to get a photo and one came out of no where screaming. After that we followed the rules. Most of the Penguins slept or groomed themselves away from the path, but we were lucky enough to get a couple right beside the path. The Magdalena Penguins nest under ground, so all along the island we could see little holes. The penguins were either adults or in the process of losing their down feathers, but at the end of the path we found a chick that was just starting to shed. IT WAS SO FLUFFY!!! It took everything in me to not hug it. The ferry only docks for an hour on the island so sadly we had to return to the boat. There were lots of penguins out swimming in the water as we left. They looks like black ducks when they float on the surface, but as they dive underwater they become little torpedoes. It was an incredible experience visiting the penguins and makes us want to travel to Antarctica to see them on ice sometime!
Back in Punta Arenas we tried to go to the Cerveza Austral brewery tour. Unfortunately when we got there there was a sign saying that the tour was cancelled for the day. Instead we hit up a local chocolate shop that had been packed every time we passed by. We grabbed the last table and ordered some incredible hot chocolate and the best raspberry cheesecake we have ever eaten. We then got dinner at a little restaurant near our hostel. Up until this point we had eaten mostly empanadas, pizza, spaghetti, or sandwiches so we were pretty excited to get something new. We forgot it was Valentines Day and the place was very busy with many reservations. Luckily that had a table for two left. We had a seafood platter with some pisco sours. Not too shabby for an unplanned date night!
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Chris & Taylor
Read our travel blog as we visit three continents in 2017.