Few places in the world inspire so much awe, mystery and sense of adventure as Patagonia. Spanning a massive 402,734 square miles (1,043,076 square kilometers) across the countries of Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is covered mostly by steppe-like plains. The weather is unpredictable and harsh at times, but the feeling of being there at the edge of the Earth is truly unriveled. Being in any part of Patagonia is so far removed from everyday life that it has been a hot spot for adventurers and thrill seekers for decades.
Patagonia comes from the word patagón used by Magellan in 1520 to describe the native people of the region. The Europeans considered the indigenous population to be giants, some even describing them as 9 to 12 feet tall! Today, historians are pretty sure the locals were actually the Tehuelches.
Our journey into Patagonia started with a red-eye flight from Easter Island, Chile. Due to weather, our flight from Easter Island was delayed and we almost missed our connecting flight in Santiago, Chile. Being experienced travelers however (travelling with carry-on luggage only), we made it from one plane to the next in under 15 minutes. We ran, but we made it. We arrived in Punta Arenas, Chile at 5:30 am and were greeted by the endless steppes and frigid weather of Patagonia.
Exhausted, but excited…we were ready to get going on this Patagonian adventure. And this is what we encountered:
1. Visit the Magellanic Penguins on Isla Magdalena: The hotel we stayed at in Punta Arenas did not have our room ready that early in the morning, so we spontaneously decided to go and visit the Magellanic penguins near by. We went to a tour company and they didn’t take us because they were fully booked. We were kind of bummed out, but oh well, we moved on. We decided to go ahead and pay for our day tour for the following day to visit the King Penguins on Tierra Del Fuego. While at the second tour company, we mentioned to the travel agent there that we were disappointed to not see the Magellanic penguins, since all tour companies were fully booked. She proceeded to tell us, that you didn’t need a tour company to see them, you could just take the ferry on your own…what? Excellent! In a matter of minutes we garbed a cab and we were off to the ferry terminal.
It was cold, windy and rainy, but we were very excited to get our tickets and impatiently waited to embark on our journey to Isla Magdalena. Once on the ferry, it took about 2 hours to get to the island. The ride was bumpy at times due to rough waters, but the view was also quite stunning when the seas were calm.
Finally, we made it to Isla Magdalena and we were instantly greeted by the sight and sound of approximately 120,000 Magellanic penguins scattered around the island.