Sea Lion Island to Stanley, Falklands, to Comodoro Rivadavia, to Puerto Madryn, Argentina 6 - 8 March 2006

Península Valdés


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Comodoro Rivadavia has nothing to offer as a tourist destination so we wanted to make three flights to reach Puerto Madryn. We knew it would be a long day so we made an early start and breakfasted at 7 a.m. The runway was close to the lodge so we were able to carry our bags over to the plane. Raymond Robson (brother to Stanley airport boss Gerard Robson) got up early to photograph our departure. Take-off was at 07:53, with winds at 270 degrees/10 knots, so again there was no headwind component for the 496m runway 36 – the shortest runway Honey Mooney has ever used (except French altiports with steep slopes). We used 400m, the stall warning squeaked upon rotation, and we passed very close to the 70 ft sand dunes north of the strip.
The flight to Stanley took just 26 minutes. Flemming refuelled with enough to get us safely to Comodoro Rivadavia while Angela took a taxi into town to show our passports to Customs and Immigration. They had told us it would be cheaper for us if they didn’t have to come out to the airport. Even so, it cost us a whopping £100!
We had nice flying weather, blue skies and only a 15 knot headwind component to Comodoro (IFR 4:07 hrs). After we checked out on VHF with Falkland Island radar, we had no problems passing the required position report by Iridium phone to Comodoro Rivadavia centre (we did not have the required HF frequency installed in our Codan HF transceiver). The arrival and departure at Comodoro Rivadavia were turbulent, with winds at 290 degrees/29 knots gusting to 43 knots: a very significant crosswind component for runway 25. The VFR flight to Puerto Madryn (1:29 hrs) took us over barren, flat Patagonian countryside.
We got a warm and friendly reception in Puerto Madryn, both by the woman in the AIS office and by FiL rent a car. The owner, Guillermo Gabriel Villa, went out of his way to help us. Also an adventure seeker, a few years back he had sailed all the way to Faial in the Azores. We had already visited Faial back in 1992 and knew that many of the yachties paint pictures on the harbour walls. We told Guillermo we planned on returning to Europe in May via the Azores, so he told us to look for the picture about their boat Gandul.
We spent the night in Puerto Madryn and drove to Puerto Pirámides the next morning. There we booked into a very pleasant hotel by the beach called Las Restingas. Although it was quite sunny, we were still too far south to contemplate any swimming. The main attraction is Península Valdés and we spent the day driving round it. We saw armadillos, guanacos, rheas (type of ostrich), magellanic penguins, elephant seals and a sea lion colony at the North point. But we couldn't get anywhere near as close to the seals and penguins as we could in the Falklands and Galapagos Islands. Due to the number of tourists, we were not allowed onto the beach and had to view the wild life from above.
The next day dawned windy and rainy. We were glad of the excuse to just stay put in our nice hotel and do some work on the website. The weather improved a bit in the late afternoon and we drove to a nearby bay to watch the seals use the swell to propel themselves out of the sea onto a steep shelf.

At the North Point where we looked in vain for orcas

Magellanic penguins

Flemming almost needed the binoculars to see the sea lions on the beach

Sea lions

On the terrace of Hotel Las Restingas in Puerto Pirámides

Puerto Pirámides was named for these pyramid-like cliffs

The sea lions had a hard time getting out of the water here, up the steep shelf.

JAlbum 6.2 Copyright: Angela & Flemming PEDERSEN