As we travel we love to see new animals and birds. Generally we keep our expectations low and that seems to guarantee great happiness when we are lucky enough to actually spot something new. What were our expectations when coming to Patagonia? We read somewhere that sightings are easy since there’s not a lot of cover for animals and birds in the short shrubby landscape, but conditions aren’t conducive to large numbers of animals and birds. Bad news for us, we thought.
The good luck was in choosing to come to Bahia Bustamante. 480,000 acres of land, many miles of coastline, and stewardship of both means there’s a lot of wildlife. On one of our first days we went with other guests and a guide to “Penguin Island”. The timing had to be just right since we needed to walk over to the island at low tide. We were all offered walking sticks and that helped as we balanced on slippery rocks making our way to the island.
When we arrived we wondered where the penguins were. Low bushes covered the interior of the island and at first we didn’t see any penguins. Then, we saw where to look.
We walked slowly around the bushes on little paths, seeing penguins on nests at every turn, many only a few feet away from their neighbors’ nests.
Another day we took a boat ride to see other islands of the Malaspina Bay, each primarily occupied by a distinct species. The Magellanic penguins are on another island, as well. We used binoculars to watch the sea lions on their island. Steamer-ducks, gulls, and neotropic cormorants occupied different islands.
On walks from our little cottage every afternoon, we saw many things of interest: fading seashells on the beach; shore birds; new flowering plants; and exotic animals to us, like mara (an animal that looks like a cross between a kangaroo and rabbit) and armadillo.
We never imagined we’d spend so much time and be so close to the penguins. We realized at Bahia Bustamante that each time we met a new bird or animal or plant we had time to get to know it. It’s a rare place that offers that kind of experience.