Secret Patagonia: the 6 safety pins of Puerto DeseadoDecember 11, 2018
A treasure to discover. A place that still holds the title of remote, secret, hidden. Puerto Deseado, in the northeast of the province of Santa Cruz, it is an amazing tourist destination.
It is true, it is not easy to get there: beyond the distance from Buenos Aires – just over 2,000 kilometers – the one who decides to go by plane must fly to Comodoro Rivadavia and then have a good distance to the city, about 3 to 4 hours by bus But once in place, Puerto Deseado fascinates.
The geography of the Patagonian steppe, the aridity of the landscape, that immensity cut by the river, the wind, the wide tides, the fauna – Penguins, birds, sea lions, dolphins … to name the first ones that come to mind- and history, from the stories of expeditionaries and naturalists such as Charles Darwin or Thomas Cavendish to the events of the Tragic Patagonia or the construction of the railroad.
The penguins of yellow plume are a great magnet for the tourists who arrive at Puerto Deseado, Santa Cruz (Ricardo Pérez / Darwin Expeditions)
Here is a highlight of the unforgettable walks for those who dare to discover.
1. Penguin Island
The trip from Puerto Deseado to Penguin Island It lasts about 40 minutes of wind, I say travel sailing … with wind. We are in the sea and feel. The island is part of the Isla Pingüino Interjurisdictional Marine Park, a protected area of almost 160,000 hectares.
On the way we passed by Chaffers Island – they say that there are 10,000 nests of Magellanic penguins – and by the island of Los Lobos where, as you can imagine, there is a large colony of fur seals.
Colony sea lions, Puerto Deseado (Travel)
Disembarking in Isla Pingüino is an adventure: there is no spring so to concentrate on the body balance and the wet rocks, with verdigris and slippery. Simply put one foot on the ground to start watching Magellanic penguins. In the general landscape there is a lighthouse of 1903 that worked with kerosene. It’s still working? Yes, but now with solar panels. As we approach, we see remains of dilapidated houses.
The lighthouse of Isla Pingüino, Puerto Deseado (Darwin Expeditions)
On the way, depending on the time you visit, there will be penguins with eggs, chicks or changing feathers. You will see them in pairs, giving away some pebbles, protecting themselves, making noises, raising wings to eliminate heat. Also fighting.
Magellanic Penguins, in Puerto Deseado (Travel)
Once we leave the lighthouse behind, we reach the other side of the island. There suddenly appears, a large colony of yellow plume penguins: they are also known as “rock jumpers”, they are white chest, black back, red eyes and their most striking details, yellow eyebrows and feathers forming a punk jopo on the head.
The penguin colony of yellow plumage in Isla Pingüino, Puerto Deseado (Darwin Expeditions)
We walk a little further and, in the distance, we see a colony of sea lions. In the past, sea lions were killed here to keep their fat. The activity was maintained until 1920/30.
Yellow-capped penguins are also known as rock jumpers (Ricardo Pérez / Darwin Expeditions)
On the way out or on the way back, while the boat goes swiftly through the sea, they may appear toninas overas (small black and white dolphins, the young are gray).
Toninas playing with the wake left by the boat, Puerto Deseado, Santa Cruz (Ricardo Pérez / Darwin Expeditions)
2. Ría Deseado
The estuary is a geographical feature by which an arm of the sea enters the continent. The Deseado River has 42 kilometers and it was known in the days of navigators and explorers as a place that offered shelter to boats in the face of storms. In fact, Puerto Deseado was born as “Port Desire” in honor of the British ship “Desire” by Thomas Cavendish, who arrived here in 1586.
Ría Deseado in kayak.
Besides the curious landscape that the river inland generates, today it is an incredible natural reserve that can be traveled by boat. In front of Elena Island, for example, cormorants and seagulls are seen and we also pass in front of a colony of sea lions. On the Isla de los Pájaros we again see Magellanic penguins, while on the Isla de los Conejos – we pass without disembarking – there is a huge colony of yellow and white rabbits.
3. Darwin’s viewpoints
View of the Deseado estuary and the large triangular stone, Puerto Deseado (Travel)
About 40 kilometers north of Puerto Deseado there is an unforgettable panoramic of aridity, river and a huge rock in the middle. The famous triangular rock that Darwin had Conrad Martens draw It’s still there, in the middle of that wide ravine. Nearby, you can visit a cave with cave paintings.
4. Facing the Livertá
The circuit is organized in 12 stations and tells part of the events of the Tragic Patagonia, the strikes of workers of 1920 and 1921 under the government of Yrigoyen that ended with the execution of strikers.
The car 502 is part of the circuit “Facing the Livertá”, Puerto Deseado, Santa Cruz (Ricardo Pérez / Darwin Expeditions)
As part of the tour include, among others, the Railway Station, the cemetery, the Port of Jenkins, the Spanish Theater Theater, the Argentina South Company, the Graphic Workshops The Order, the Confectionery and Cinema Columbus, the Hotel Argentino, the Muelle Ramón and the paddle ball court.
5. Mario Brozoski Museum
It was created in 1983 with the aim of protect the pieces of the corvette Swift, English warship that sank 50 meters from the coast in 1770.
Mario Brozoski Museum, Puerto Deseado (Travel)
His remains were found in 1982 by young divers from Puerto Deseado. Its importance lies in that it was the first rescue of underwater archeology in Argentina. The showcases display various objects rescued from the bottom of the sea and you can also watch a video with the story.
6. Train station
The train is part of the history of Puerto Deseado. The old station is huge and keeps the Railway Museum inside.
Train station, Puerto Deseado, Santa Cruz (Ricardo Pérez / Darwin Expeditions)
The construction of the station began at the beginning of the last century and in 1909 a locomotive traveled the first meters of the branch. A great future was foreseen for the area since the train conceived as “facilitator of national integration and foreign trade” would unite Puerto Deseado with Nahuel Huapi, Bariloche.
But everything ended in 1978, with a telegram announcing that the branch closed. The museum exhibits that telegram, as well as old minute books, personnel records, huge typewriters, a safe, stamps, bronze bells, etc.
On special occasions they play a little fox, a great delight for boys and adults.
The visit to the old station must be complemented with a round the corner of San Martín and Almirante Brown, where the car 502 is, which the protests of the neighbors saved from disarmament.
How to get. By plane: to get to Puerto Deseado you can fly from Buenos Aires to Comodoro Rivadavia. The air tickets cost from $ 6,000 to $ 8,000. From Comodoro, there are transfer services with Compañía Sportman or La Unión, with three daily frequencies. It costs $ 600 for the bus trip.
By car: 2,028 kilometers through Ricchieri, Cañuelas highway, route 3 to Fitz Roy and route 281. Total of 5 tolls, 135 pesos.
Where to stay Las Nubes Complex offers cabins for two people from $ 2,500 per night and for four people, from $ 4,000. At Isla Chaffers hotel, from $ 2,000 the double room. Tower Rock is a comfortable apart for 2 to 4 people and costs between $ 3,000 and $ 4,000. Residencial Los Olmos costs $ 2,000 for a double room. Hotel Los Acantilados -the largest hotel capacity- between $ 2,000 and $ 2,500 per night per double room.
Where to eat. Puerto Cristal specializes in seafood, meat and pasta. Lo de Piola, good grill and pasta. El Refugio de la Ría, grill and minutes. Fifth Pizza for those looking for a pizzeria.
Whale watching, Puerto Deseado (Darwin Expeditions)
Excursions EcoSafari – Ría Deseado, navigation with bird watching and marine fauna. From $ 1,500 per person. Ría Deseado + Van Noort, full day with navigation, bird watching and marine fauna, from $ 2,500 per person. Isla Pingüino expedition: full day, coastal navigation in the open sea, bird watching, marine mammals and hiking. It is the only place accessible to tourism with yellow tufted penguins in Patagonia. It costs from $ 3,000 per person and includes lunch and snacks (Darwin Expeditions, 0297 6247554, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.darwin-expeditions.com).
Where to find out Undersecretariat of Tourism: telephone (0297) 4870-220; email@example.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/subsecretaria.turismo.puerto.deseado
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