This was one of the last stops in my two week trip around Argentina with my partner Daniela, and we came across it almost by accident.
Our original plan was to spend a few days on Peninsula Valdes to see the various sea lion and elephant seal colonies there, before driving down to Punta Tombo for the day to see the well known Magellanic penguin colony there. After doing a bit of research on the colony, it seemed a good idea to spend the night in accommodation near the colony instead of the 2/3 hour drive away in Trelew, in order to be up early the next morning to get to the colony for 8 when it opened and avoid the crowds of coach-tour tourists that arrive in their numbers mid morning.
What isn’t so well known (in fact it seems pretty unknown) is that there is an Elephant Seal colony about 20km up the coast from Punta Tombo. The reason for this is that the colony is only a few years old, and is inaccessible except over private land. I found this out from the land owner who by coincidence owns a ranch that we stayed at the night before visiting the penguin colony, and who does excursions to the Elephant Seal colony for his guests in his 4×4.
The great this is as you can see from the photos is that he took us pretty close to the Elephant Seals – maintaining an approximate 10 metre distance from the Elephant Seals, to avoid startling them and disrupting their behaviour. Being able to quietly observe these amazing creatures (and watch them watching us) just the three of us so close was incredible. In contrast, as great as Peninsular Valdes was, we were at least 50-100m from the seals at the various fixed observation points, and sometimes even further still.
Give the ranch a look if you’re planning on visiting the area – Estancia La Antonieta – its on Booking.com. The owner Guido was still refurbishing it when we visited so it was pretty basic and was over priced for the facilities, but the proximity to the Penguin colony and the Sea Lion excursion made it well worth it for us.
Links to my blog posts of the other places we visited in our jaunt across Argentina below:
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Richard Isaac Music Photography
According to Guido these were just playing, but if you ask me the one on the right was getting a little frisky while his lady friend just wasn’t in the mood!
A depression in the pebbles where one of the huge Sea Elephants had been sleeping the night before.