Trip through Chile and [Welsh] Patagonia – Day 9

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.

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Information screen about the landing of the Mimosa in Puerto Madryn

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.

Caves where some of the settlers spent their first nights in Patagonia

Caves where some of the settlers spent their first nights in Patagonia

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.

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Caves seen from the shore, looking at the landing area

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.

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Monument to the Tehuelche

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).

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Flags of three nations: Argentina, Wales and the Tehuelche peoples

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.

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Arriving at Puerto Pirámides, on the Valdes Peninsula

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.

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You can sail out and see breeding whales from the port here

Our first objective was food, and we found La Estación, a delightful bar bistro with excellent food and very laid back staff in attendance.

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La Estación restaurant, Puerto Pirámides

We had an excellent lunch here, …

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Inside the La Estación restaurant

… 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:

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Magellanic penguin at Caleta Valdés

The penguins seemed oblivious to human presence and just went about their daily business, which seemed to be mostly chilling.

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Another penguin in relax mode …

We also saw elephant seals, equally bent on doing nothing very much

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Elephant seals basking in the sun

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.

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Elegant crested Tinamou (Sp. martineta)

The sun was setting as we drove back to Trelew, a longish drive but the trip was well worth it.

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The setting sun as we left the Valdés Peninsula

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