Great steak, world-class wine, and European charm are three things that immediately come to mind when we think of Argentina.
These flightless, happy footed birds aren’t usually associated with this South American country. Yet, 90% of Patagonia is located in Argentina. Amongst its giant glaciers and isolated sub-Antarctic islands, Patagonia is the perfect setting for penguins to make a home.
Indeed, there are more penguins in Patagonia than there are human beings. So, if you’re a wildlife lover traveling to Patagonia, read this guide to Argentina penguins to know where to find them and more.
Species of Argentina Penguins
The Magellanic penguin is the most famous of all Argentina penguins. That’s because there’s more than 1.7 million pairs of these penguins in Patagonia. But you’ll also find other species of penguins here, though in fewer numbers.
The Rockhopper penguin can be found at 15 breeding sites between Argentina and Chile. All of these breeding sites are on offshore islands and all but one can’t be reached by tourists.
Gentoo penguins can now be found in Argentina as well. They’ve started breeding in two very small colonies: one on Staten Island and another on Hammer Island. The latter can be visited by tourists.
You’ll also have a chance to spot King penguins in Argentina. Usually isolated to Antarctica, a colony of King penguins has been established in Tierra del Fuego – the only King penguin colony outside of sub-Antarctic islands and absolutely accessible for tourists.
Best Places to See Penguins in Argentina
Where you see Patagonian penguins depends on a few factors. Among those factors, the most important is the season you’re visiting and what species you want to see. Below is some more information about the best places to see penguins in Argentina.
– Ushuaia/Tierra del Fuego
If you travel to the end of the world, aka Ushuaia, the capital of the Argentina side of Tierra del Fuego, you’ll have a chance to see three species of penguins.
Here you’ll find those two small breeding colonies of Gentoo penguins. On a day tour, you can literally walk with the penguins on the island. These tours are organized for 20 people or less, so you’ll really have a chance to immerse yourself amongst the birds and learn all about them from your knowledgeable guide.
Besides the Gentoos, you’ll also find Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins here. They nest on remote islands, so you won’t be able to get as close to these colonies as you can with the Gentoos.
– Puerto San Julián
The historic port of San Julian is located in the province of Santa Cruz in Patagonia. In this natural harbor, you’ll find some of Argentina’s most numerous penguins: the Magellanic penguins. On Cormorán Island there are approximately 130,000 specimens for your viewing pleasure.
– Punta Tombo
Punta Tombo is a National Reserve in Patagonia and its claim to fame is that it’s home to one of the largest Magellanic penguin colonies in the world. Indeed, this coastline is their natural habitat and they come here in droves between September and mid-March.
In those months, hundreds upon hundreds of baby penguins are born here. And, like Tierra del Fuego, you can actually walk amongst the penguins here.
– Peninsula Valdes
Peninsula Valdes not only gives you a chance to see Argentina penguins, but quite a few other animals, too. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a conservation and preserve for many different species of animals, especially marine mammals.
While you won’t be able to walk with the penguins in this reserve, you will still be able to see them up close and personal. Tours have setup perfect lookout points that strike a balance between what visitors crave most (getting close to these adorable birds) and the safety of the colonies.
Besides penguins, you might also spot whales, seals, and dolphins. Plus, the reserve is situated in incredible and diverse landscapes, including salt flats and huge pasture lands.
– Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are a British territory located approximately 300 miles off the coast of Argentina. These islands, like Patagonia in general, have more penguins than they do people. Indeed, there’s more than a million penguins here in the summer months (versus only 3,000 residents).
While remote and difficult to get to, the journey is worth it. You can see five different species of penguins on these islands, including the King, Rockhopper, Magellanic, Macaroni, and Gentoo species. In fact, the Gentoo colony here is one of the largest in the world.
When to See Patagonian Penguins
September is the season for penguins to arrive in Patagonia. This is when they come to breed, with most chicks hatching every year in November.
You can see penguins in Argentina between September and mid-March. But, if you’re looking to see baby penguins, your best bet is to visit at the end of November or early December.
Things to Know About Hanging with Penguins
Patagonian penguins tend to be very friendly and docile. For this reason, it’s possible to get quite close to them.
But remember that they’re still wild animals and this is their habitat for breeding and nesting. Never bother, touch, or feed the penguins. And although you are allowed to get close on many tours, you should always maintain a respectful distance, especially if there are chicks around.
Visit Patagonian Penguins with Kuoda
Argentina penguins are more accurately described as Patagonia penguins because this southernmost part of the country is where the majority of the birds are found. Five species call this part of the world home and visitors have a chance to get up close and personal with at least four of these species, (without traveling to Falkland Islands where you can see all five).
Has walking with penguins been a dream of yours or your children’s since Happy Feet? Add it to your Argentina itinerary and fulfill your dream with Kuoda.