An Up Close Encounter with the Cute Magellanic Penguins of Patagonia

  • Visiting the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins in Punta Tombo

Get ready for a delightful encounter with some of the cutest and most charismatic creatures on the planet: the Magellanic penguins! The Punta Tombo Reserve is home to the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins, giving you the unique chance to get up close and personal with over a hundred thousand of these adorable creatures. And if you’re lucky, you may even be able to spot guanacos (South American llama), Patagonian hares, and many different species of birds. However, the main attraction here is the penguins, who arrive on the Argentine shores each year to breed, and for some, to search for their life-long mate.

Magellanic penguins are only found on the Falkland Islands and the coasts of Argentina and Chile. Although they cannot fly, they are excellent swimmers, making their way by sea every year in April bound for the warmer Brazilian coasts to escape the Argentine winters. In an impressive feat, they swim back the same route every September (a total of 1875 miles) when they return to Punta Tombo to mate and build their nests. Magellanic penguins are a monogamous species, mating with the same partner year after year. In fact, they can even recognize their partners from the sounds of their calls, as each penguin’s voice is as distinct as a human fingerprint! And there’s definitely no sexism between these birds, as both males and females tend to their nests and go out to sea to find food for their chicks.

Your tour starts off in the morning with an approximately 2 and a half hours ride to the Punta Tombo Reserve, which is located 112 miles (180 kilometers) from Puerto Madryn City. When we arrive at the reserve, we’ll spend 2 hours observing the penguins in their natural habitat as we walk along marked trails and boardwalks. Depending on the season and a little bit of luck, you may have the opportunity to see feeding, breeding, and egg-hatching, and of course, that famously cute penguin waddle. In fact, you’re so close to the penguins, you may even witness one crossing the path where you’re walking; a great opportunity to get out your camera and take plenty of close-up penguin shots! However, touching them is not allowed, to preserve the penguins’ well-being.

You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the Penguins Interpretation Center, which has plenty of information about the flora and fauna in the area.

Penguins’ season is usually from mid-September to mid-April, but the exact penguins season is defined by... the penguins! If you are booked for this tour during mid-September or mid-April and there are no penguins we’ll refund you for this tour or we’ll offer you another tour option.

Difficulty: none.

Duration: this is a long half day tour (the visit to the Punta Tombo Magellanic Penguins reserve lasts 2 hours), but it’s usually combined with at least 1 other tour option in the area making it a full day tour which lasts about 10 hours from the time you are picked up until you return to your hotel. Time for lunch is included but lunch cost is not included. Your tour guide will suggest places for lunch.

Guide: group guide. The maximum group size for this tour is approximately 20 travelers.

Vehicle: group vehicle. The transfer to and from Punta Tombo takes approximately 2 hours and a half each way as the total traveled distance during this tour is approximately 229 miles (366 kilometers).

Includes: entrance ticket to Punta Tombo Reserve.