Penguin Paradise: Magdalena Island, Chile
If you’ve looked at our Instagram, you may have noticed we kind of like penguins.
If there are penguins to be seen, we will jump through hoops of fire to watch the little fellas waddle around.
On my recent stop in Punta Arenas, Chile, I booked a tour to Magdelena Island, which is home to a massive Magellenic penguin colony. The island is uninhabited by humans, but home to THOUSANDS- according to Wikipedia, over 120k, penguins.
Getting to Magdelena Island can be hit or miss as the seas can be quite rough in this area. On the morning of the tour, my departure time was canceled due to high seas, but I was re-booked on a later departure instead since the waters were supposed to settle as the day went on. It seems very common that tours to the island often get canceled because of rough seas, so something to keep in mind if you only have one day in port!
The boat ride was a little bumpy, but not bad. It took about 40 minutes to reach the island. If you are prone to getting sea sick, I would definitely take a Meclizine before you go!
It was a rainy, foggy day, so the island sort of looked otherworldly. As soon as the land comes into sight you can see 100’s of holes dotting the landscape. Each hole protected by its inhabitant(s).
Once you arrive on the island there is a clearly marked out path to follow. The penguins are given the right of way & tourists are asked to be respectful of that. Our guide asked that we stay at least 10′ from the crossing penguins. After experiencing many unethical animal tourism attractions in the past, it was refreshing to see the penguins on Magdalena Island completely respected by the passing tourists.
At the top of the hill, there is a visitor center that boasts a photogenic lighthouse, public restrooms & a pretty great view.
So many penguins to capture! I had to remind myself to put my cameras down and actually be present in the moment, but I still managed to capture some great shots of the little nuggets!
And, not to be upstaged was this handsome bird, who was keeping an eye on the penguins taking a dip in the Strait of Magellan.
Alas, it was time to bid adieu to my favorite waddling friends, but the excursion wasn’t complete just yet, the tour included a cruise by nearby Marta Island, that many a sea lion call home! They had me laughing out loud with their antics- chasing the boat and flipping in and out of the water as we cruised by.
The seas were slightly calmer on our way back to the jetty, but I was still glad I had loaded up on Meclizine before I left.
Should you visit Magdalena Island?
I’d give the experience a conditional YES.
- If you are prone to seasickness or suffer any handicap that limits mobility, this would not be a great excursion for you.
- Magallenic penguins are not as photogenic as other penguins (IMO).
- The possibility of a canceled tour is very great.
- The tour was rather expensive ($160)
- An ethical animal encounter for tourists
- SEA LIONS
If you ever find yourself in the Punta Arenas area of Chile & love penguins, this tour is a good way to spend a morning!
Like this post? PIN IT!