Our initial impressions of Puerto Madryn were not great – it seemed quite industrial and lacking in character. However, we had not decided to miss out on the Cueva de las Manos for a dusty town. We had travelled to the coast to see the wildlife on Peninsula Valdes.
On my birthday we booked a day long tour through our hostel as they seemed really helpful and promised us a tour in a small group with a knowledgeable guide. They did as they promised: the tour group was made up of just 4 of us and we had a marine biologist for a guide. Unfortunately, he was the most sullen, monosyllabic tour guide I have ever come across and did absolutely nothing to share his knowledge. Nonetheless, the wildlife was spectacular. We saw a pod/school/group/whatever the collective noun is of killer whales circling seals on the beach. Some other people who had fancy telescopic lenses said they saw blood in the water and the day before apparently a killer whale had beached itself temporarily to grab a seal but although we didn´t see anything as spectacular as that, it was still pretty special seeing a group of dorsal fins patrolling about in the water and generally looking pretty menacing.
Further along the coast we visited a colony of penguins and watched them waddle around. We also saw some elephant seals but they were a long way away and weren´t doing all that much. On land, we saw an armadillo scuttle through the car park, a fox and plenty of guanacos and sheep.
In the evening we went to a beach bar/restaurant and Claire treated me to a birthday gin and tonic. Purely for the anti-malarial properties obviously. And then back at the hostel, Claire whipped out a chocolate brownie with “27” crumbled in white chocolate on top. I was thoroughly spoiled!
After a day to recuperate, we went on a bike ride to visit another seal colony. At 20 miles it was considerably further than the previous bike ride, although this time, there was a lot less alcohol involved. We had been warned that there were some hills but what we hadn´t taken into account was the dirt road. It was like cycling on sand! Not an easy task, but it did at least mean we had earned our inevitable steak in the evening.