Friday 18 November, 2016; Trelew – Valdés Peninsula – Trelew
This was to be our ‘wildlife day’, and we drove from Trelew up to the Valdes Peninsula, where we did see a good number of sea and land mammals (and the odd bird). But first we stopped by Puerto Madryn, the place where the Welsh Colonists first touched land.
We liked the flag! The sign says (rough translation): In 1865 when the Mimosa arrived … The Argentine flag -with the Welsh dragon in its centre– flew from the hill above the caves. It had been raised by Edwyn Roberts on a flag post erected to show the place where the ship had disembarked its passengers. Although a very special flag, it was in fact the first flag bearing Argentine colours to be raised in Puerto Madryn.
The bay at Puerto Madryn had shallow beaches and a relatively sheltered deeper area for a ship to moor, but conditions on shore were poor for a setlement and after a few days the community moved further south to Rawson – the men on foot and the women in the boat.
The history of the Welsh colonization is fascinating, but is mostly recorded in Welsh or Spanish. A flavour of it (in English) can be found here.
The Welsh soon encountered an indigenous people, the Tehuelche, with whom they promptly established good relations and were able to trade to mutual advantage. In Madryn there are two statues, one to the Welsh people (not pictured here as the area where it stands was under repair) and one to the Tehuelche (above).
The Welsh flag still flies over the Madryn landing site, but accompanied today by the full Argentine flag and the flag of the Tehuelches. The City of Puerto Madryn can be seen in the distance.
We drove north from Madryn to the Valdes Peninsula, a World Heritage List site. Our first stop was Puerto Pirámides, a charming port village with a real hippy feel.
Our first objective was food, and we found La Estación, a delightful bar bistro with excellent food and very laid back staff in attendance.
We had an excellent lunch here, …
… but our main reason for being here was the wild life. We drove to the Caleta Valdés, on the east of the Peninsula, and found a penguin colony there:
The penguins seemed oblivious to human presence and just went about their daily business, which seemed to be mostly chilling.
We also saw elephant seals, equally bent on doing nothing very much
Although we’re not supposed to be posting birds here, it is appropriate to include a martineta (in English elegant crested tinamou). We saw these all along the roadsides and often in the road, their little legs scuttling to get them to safety.
The sun was setting as we drove back to Trelew, a longish drive but the trip was well worth it.