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Whales, Seals, Penguins, Oh My!

Rare humpback whale sighting on the Beagle Channel
Rare humpback whale sighting on the Beagle Channel (Franny Friesz)

Now, you might think I’m getting to the good part – Antarctica. Nope! Molly and I set out on a boat ride even before the Akademik Ioffe. This tour was of Estancia Haberton and Martillo Island. We were able to experience the Beagle Channel at a much more intimate level than when we set out on our expedition to Antarctica. PiraTours was the operator and did a fabulous job with the 20-30 people onboard. We slowly cruised the channel while being able to enjoy fur seals and learning about how their population is slowly recovering after years of being hunted. We circled a cute little lighthouse that amazed me – still standing after all of that wind, weather, and wear. We were even lucky enough to see two humpback whales waving their flukes at us, which is a very rare sighting. When we arrived to the Estancia, we split up in two groups. One enjoyed the beautiful ranch, and the other set out to visit the penguins on Martillo Island. (Fun fact interjection, Argentinians say “Mar-tisho” instead of the typical “Mar-ti-yo” you would hear. They pronounce “ll” different than any other Spanish speaking country!) Now, these penguins were fun to see. Many of them were Magellen, but there were also a handful of Gentoo penguins as well. Our luck continued as we spotted not one but two KING penguins.
Kissing Sea Lions on the Beagle Channel
Kissing Sea Lions on the Beagle Channel (Franny Friesz)

Molly and I had zero chance seeing any of these beauties in Antarctica, so we felt really honored to see these gorgeous guys. We headed back to the Estancia and enjoyed a delicious lunch. We had to get in some more empanadas and wine for our last day in Argentina while enjoying the view on such a beautiful day from the restaurant on the hill. The prices weren’t too bad, but again, bring cash. We had another visit while at the ranch to explore a museum full of whale, seal, and dolphin bones. This was one of the most interesting museums I’d visited in a long time. They took us in the back where they cleaned new found bones and did their science-y things. From there, we hopped on a bus and began the journey back to Ushuaia. I can’t tell you much about the ride home as both Molly and I were pooped from our adventures and took a nap.
Boarding the zodiac to take us to Martillo Island
Boarding the zodiac to take us to Martillo Island (Franny Friesz)


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