We have landed in what is known as "El Fin del Mundo,¨or the end of the world, here in these parts. Although Puerto Williams is technically more southern, they say that Ushuaia has earned the title because it is the most southern city, while Puerto Williams is just a village...sounds pretty fishy to me...
Anyhow, much to Aaron´s relief, we finally got to see the penguins up close and personal - for I have been occasionally (ah-hem) discussing the possibility since we entered Chile. We took the final ferry ride for the season out to Isla Magdalena, with fingers crossed.
On the two-hour ride, we learned from the spastic tour guide that there were 60,000 Magellanic Penguins nesting on this island due to the long summer days. Beyond that, her "informative" talk was no more than an opportunity for her to pretend like she was the star of a Broadway show, rather than a hostess aboard the Transbordadora Austral Broom. It was a bit embarassing to watch at times!
As soon as the ferry gate began to lower, the oohs and ahhs began; there were penguins everywhere - on every rock, on every hillside. When we disembarked, we felt a lot like cattle being unloaded from a trailer - a hundred tourists all exiting at the same time, and all onto the same trail. At one point, I felt like I had gotten sucked into a vortex of people rushing up and away from the "Welcome to the Pinguinerea!" sign to get their personal shot. However, once we hung back and let everyone run their course, we were left alone with our own group of penguins to observe for our hour on the island.
The penguins have become so accustomed to humans that you would often find yourself pausing for a "penguin crossing". While Aaron was off taking photos, I was taking some time to make friends with one penguin in particular. When I tilted my head to get a closer look, I noticed his head follow. Aaron returned to find "two very advanced life forms interacting" (this is what he said to me) - me cocking my head back and forth like some early 90s dancer and my penguin friend following along!
We didn´t arrive in time to see the babies, but the experience was well worth the trip nonetheless. With this small taste, we are now prepared to travel to Antarctica to see the giant Emperors...maybe next trip!