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Patagonia – here I come again – for the third time. This time I visited only Northern Patagonia. The trip can be devided into completely different Parts:
Mountains: Bariloche / Trevelin / Los Alerces National Park
Wildlife at the Atlantic coast: Rockhopper Penguins in Puerto Deseado / Magellanic Penguins at Cabo dos Bahias and Punta Tombo / Whales at Peninsula Valdez / Lots of Elephant Seals

The trip started in Bariloche, I went with a friend from work, Andreas, we already were in Tanzania and enjoyed the photography there so once again, but different animals here ;).
It took about 30hours to get to Bariloche from Zurich via Rome and Buenos Aires. November is the worst month in Germany in my eyes, on the other half of the world (also in Patagonia) is spring, so a perfect time for the trip.
Beside chocolate Bariloche is known for the fantastic landscapes with small lakes and mountains and good possibilities for hiking (and skiing in winter). We stayed 4 full days to do some hiking (in snow to Refugio Lopez) and lots of photography. Our Hosteria was in Llao Llao at the Circuito Chico (a very famous road trip) close to the famous LLao Llao hotel and about 30 Minutes from Bariloche. A full day trip went to Mount Tronador on bumpy roadsto see the ice coming down the steep walls, the black glacier and the waterfall „Los Alerces“. And we found out that a bridge can only hold the SUV + me but Andreas had to walk 😉 – funny regulations.
Our next destination in the Lake district was the National Park Los Alerces which is famous for the Alerces Trees. Only a few are left and can be seen in this National Park. We spent one full day to drive the bumpy gravel road up and down.

From the Argentinan Lake district we had a long driving day to the coast to one of the higlights of this trip – the Rockhopper Penguins. On the way to the coast is not much to see (except some petrified trees) and the streets were very empty so it was just a full day of driving. The only place to watch the animals on continental Argentina is a little Island close to Puerto Deseado. For about 120 Euros we took a half day tour which was absolutely fantastic and we could get really close to the animals. Sadly due to the weather the following days all tours got cancelled so we continued further up the coast to Camarones earlier than planned.
Camarones is close to the „Cabo dos Bahias“ natural reserve where we saw Magellan Penguins. Sadly only from a walkway but at least close to the animals. Camarones itself is a town in the middle of nowhere. The only Hotel in town has the most unfriendly owners… never felt so unwelcome…
On the way up North we stopped in Puerto Madryn, the Gateway to Peninsula Valdes. It felt a little weird beeing back in a town after days in the middle of nowhere. Well the city is not really worth to visit. On Peninsula Valdes we stayed 3 days in a Lighthouse – Punta Delgada. This had the big advantage to be on the Peninsuala and to avoid the long drive each day from Puerto Madryn. Also the Lighthouse had a private beach with Elephant Seals that we could visit directly at the beach – but with a guide. We also went horseback riding which was fun. The other spots of the Peninsula are only with walkways and quite far from the animals – or at one Estancia you pay a very high entrance fee. Very disappointing and a nogo for any animal photography. We did saw Orcas but quite far away, high season here is February/March when they try to grab small seals, I guess it is different here. Highlight was the whale watching out of Puerto Pyramides. In the Bay are lots of whales (Southern Right Wales) with their babys. The whales come very close to the boats. Sadly this tour was only possible one day, Rest of our time it was too windy.
From the Peninsula we had a 12 hours drive back to Bariloche for the final steak and the return of the rental. Alltogether we drove more than 5000km in 16 days, about 1000km on bumpy gravel roads (ripio).

In the Lake district is still enough left to see, especially North of Bariloche, but from the Patagonian coastline especially the so called „Highlights“ I was a little disapointed. It was great, but many places did not really allow access to the animals. I guess too many people come with their mobile phones to take picutres… So basically it is a must to go off the beaten tracks to find good spots that luckily still exist.
I guess it won’t be the last time to Patagonia.

Enjoy the pictures

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