Puerto Madryn and the Valdes Peninsular

8th July 2003.

Puerto Madryn was founded by Welsh settlers in 1886, it is a sheltered desert port city that gives you access to Peninsula Valdes, one of the worlds most important wildlife reserves. We took a day out of our busy snowboarding itinerary to endure a 14 hour bus journey there and arrived at 7am in the morning ready to catch another bus back at 9pm that night. We would like to thank the economic bus company for the leaking roof, wholesome food and really really bad 80's videos.... never ever rent a video called Turbulence and if you do don't make yourself watch it twice.

Once arriving in Puerto Madryn, we rented a car and drove to a nearby beach on the way to the Valdes Peninsular.

Along the coast we saw several whales bobbling by the waters edge.  Like little excited children we left our hired car unlocked on the beach and ran like idiots chasing the whales. After 30 minutes of giggling and chasing the whales Jason looked back to car that now some 2-3 kilometres away. Such was the awe of seeing these giant creatures.

The Right Whales were only 10 metres away from us.  They were huge, they grow up to 13 metres and these must have been close.

It was amazing, they made an odd groaning noise as males danced around the female trying to seduce her into a love-making episode that we have been told is quicker than ..... (insert name of ridiculed friend here).

We had many chances to get the perfect picture but it is really hard as they had popped back into the water by the time the photos had been taken. It is something that we will never forget.

...... Jason ran up and got the car while Claire stood there fascinated. It was a truly magical morning, that we should stumble upon such a natural display.

Jason returned from getting the car to tell Claire and Wolfgang that he had got the car stuck a tiny bit in the sand. It was a slight understatement.  We then spent the next hour digging the car out of the beach in freezing cold wind, whilst our whale friends danced around in the sea laughing at us.

This isn't really a Car it is a 'Ford Ka' which is a flash shopping trolley. It should not be hired by tourists driving on some of the worlds worst roads or confused with a 4 wheel drive.

It took us over an hour to jack the car up off it's chassis so that it could be rally-driven off the beach.

Wolfgang had waited a long time to strangle Jason.  We had to get the car out as it would have cost us a fortune, and there was not a car or house in sight for miles to help us.

We drove around the wildlife reserve, for some 400km in total and saw many Guanaco's (right). We couldn't take a boat trip to get closer to the whales as the maritime police had closed the port due to high winds and rough seas. Instead we decided to head to the colonies of promised sea lions and elephant seals.  We were lucky to see a couple mating. This involves a lot of slap and tickle and topped off a day watching animals shag.

The roads that we were contending with had massive bumps and huge swamps and rivers in the road.  All three of us forgot our bus journey tiredness as we kept our eye out for sinking road.

We would like to thank the car hire people for the impeccable Ford Ka, complete with broken windscreen wiper. Jason had to get out and manually clean the window (every 10 minutes) as we drove through a puddle, swamp or river.

There were many stoppages to our day, and this was one of the best. The park ranger had failed to tell us that the park roads were in an appalling state. We managed to drive around the lake in the photo that used to be a road but eventually found a huge section of road that fallen into the sea and was totally impassable. This meant that just as we thought we had 3 hours drive to get back to Puerto Madryn, we had to turn the car around and go back the way we had come, some 5 hours on the same roads.  Petrol was also becoming a problem. Breaking down was not an option as we had only seen three cars all day. ( By the way, they were four wheel drives - not Ford Ka's).

The car was getting a bit muddy and Claire is looking nervous as the car hire shop closed at 8pm, and our bus left at 9pm. At 7pm we had 110km's to go and we still had car mats, a jack and other tools to clean that we had to use to dig the car out that morning.

We did make it and despite the fact that the couple behind us in the bus talked all the way through the night, Jason and Claire slept due to sheer exhaustion.

The whales were worth it, and we are thinking of going back to see if we can do the boat ride when it is not so windy and wet. The whales are supposed to be even more amazing from the boat.

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