South America Living

Punta Tombo, Argentina – Magellan Penguins & Nature Reserve

Affectionate Magellan Penguins at Punta Tombo

Affectionate Magellan Penguins at Punta Tombo

Penguins, choiques (ostriches), maras (Patagonian hares), and foxes… oh my! Previously a private estancia (ranch) – Estancia La Perla – the land was donated by Luis and Francisco La Regina to Chubut Province and designated a fauna reserve in 1979. Punta Tombo is a wonderful daytrip from Puerto Madryn or Trelew.

From September to March in Punta Tombo (Patagonia region of Argentina) hordes of Magellan (or Magellanic) Penguins – over half a million! – descend upon the area to breed. Babies are most commonly seen December and beyond. As you see in the photos below, you can walk amongst the colony members, taking care to oogle and observe but not make physical contact with the friendly, curious & defenseless creatures. There is an abundance of caves, where the penguins lay their eggs and raise their young.

Ruffled Juvenile Magellan Penguin at Punta Tombo

Ruffled Juvenile Magellan Penguin at Punta Tombo

Penguin Herd on the beach, Punta Tombo

Penguin Herd on the beach, Punta Tombo

Nesting Magellan Penguin at the Punta Tombo Nature Reserve

Nesting Magellan Penguin at the Reserve

Note: Click here to view full-size images

Magellan Penguins Underneath Boardwalk at Punta Tombo

Magellan Penguins Underneath Boardwalk at Punta Tombo

Magellanic Penguins are medium-sized penguins and grow to be around 61-76 cm (24-30 inch) tall and weigh between 2.7 kg and 6.5 kg (5.9-14.3 lbs). The penguins you see in the photos with black backs and white stomachs are adults. They have two black bands between the head and the breast, with the lower band being in an inverted horseshoe shape. Chicks and juveniles are grey-blue in color, with a more faded grey-blue color on their chest.

Other species of sea birds that come to Punto Tomba to nest include: Kelp and dolphin gulls; skuas; King cormorant and the rock shag comorant; steamerducks; snowy sheathbills; terns and giant petrels. A magnificent display of winged (though penguins are flightless, sail underwater only) creatures – don´t miss it!

Curious Magellan Penguins at Punta Tombo

Curious Magellan Penguins at Punta Tombo

Entrance Fee to Punta Tombo: You must pay an entrance fee of approximately $17 USD at the ranger station. You receive information on where you can walk, to not touch the animals, etc.

There are many available tours from Trelew and Puerto Madryn. You can see Southern Right Whales during September and October.

Nearby Tourist Attractions:
Puerto Madryn – Patagonia, Argentina
Valdez Peninsula – Patagonia, Argentina
South American Grey Fox – Punta Tombo, Argentina

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All photographs courtesy of María Belen Herrera, all rights reserved.




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