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JoyceC January 12th, 2003 10:28 AM

Need hlep with SA tours!!!
Does anyone know which is th best Estancia (ranch) to tour on the B.A. - Val cruise? Also is Puerto Madryn (Punta Tumbo) the best place to see penguins? Are the ships tours better than on our own? Any help would be appreciate...we are going in March.

Chuck Palm January 12th, 2003 12:45 PM

Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
We just did the Punto Tombo and the Magdelena Island Penguin tours. Both are painful getting to and from the rookeries, but wonderful once you are there.

Punto tombo is a three hour bus ride each direction down a very boring dirt road. You can rent a car and do it on your own. The lunch provided on the ship's tour was awful.

Magdelena Island is more beautiful, however the "Ferry" ride with seven buses on board was equally painful. If you can imagine being on a bus, on a ferry. for 21/2 hours each direction, with very little visibility except the other buses on the barge next to you, you have the picture. This trip requires you take the ship's tour and the food is also inedible. You would be better served to pilfer food from the breakfast buffet line and make your own picnic, eventhough its not entirely legal.

If I were only going to do one of these, I would choose the Magdelena Island tour because the island is quite beautiful and there are greater numbers of penguins this year.

JoyceC January 12th, 2003 09:28 PM

Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
Hi Chuck,

Thanks for your response...where is the penguin tour you are referring to? From what I have read Punta Tombo is the largest. What ship were you on that offered such bad food on the tour? Any other help you can provide on the port would be great. We are going crazy trying to decide. They are all so expensive. Thanks

Chuck Palm January 13th, 2003 07:09 PM

Re: Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
We were on the Celebrity Zenith. The tours in Chile were not fed by the ship, however tours in Argentina were fed by the ship. In both cases the food was really poor in quality.
Can you imagine an unopened can of tuna and a cup of cold frozen mixed vegetables. (Birdseye's finest if you get my drift.) Another delacacy was fruit cake crumbs in a sandwich bag with the worst sandwich ever created by mankind on cheap white bread with the crusts removed. (They wouldn't want this sandwich to have any flavor.)

The Magdelena Island tour is in Punta Arenas, Chile. Punto Tombo is supposed to have more penguins but we did not find that so. Magdalena Island had far more and the island was a much more aesthetic setting in which to see them interacting, swimming, nesting, etc. There are also colonies of cormerants and Gulls on this island too.

If you choose Punto Tombo, the highlight of the six hours of the bus rides to and fro is one very average telephone pole which we photographed ten times just to get the lighting right. You probably think I'm joking but this was the longest, most boring bus ride of my 54 year life. We were not allowed to use the toilets on the bus either.

JoyceC January 13th, 2003 10:31 PM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
We are going on the Royal Princess and of our 25 cruises, 20 have been on Princess...we have taken many tours with them and always have had great food. In looking at our tour reservation form, Punta Tombo is significantly more expensive thatn Punta Arenas Penguin Colony. Maybe because it is shorter (4 hours total) versus 9.5 hours. Did you do anything in Puerto Montt? We are looking at the Petrohue River & Lake Esmeralda. What time of the year did you go on this cruise? Was it from B.A. to Val?

Your help/input is appreciated. Thanks again

Chuck Palm January 14th, 2003 09:12 AM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
There are at least two penguin colonies accessible in Punta Arenas. One, of which, is a bus ride and is shorter than the Magdelena Island tour. I believe it was only a half-day tour, as I recall. Obviously, we didn't take the shorter of the two. I don't think all of the cruise lines go to M.I.

In Puerto Montt, we hired a private guide, just outside the port. He took us for a lovely tour of the lake district, volcanoes, falls, the condor, Laguna Verde, etc. It lasted from about 8:30 A.M. and we returned about 1:00 P.M. The cost was about $70 plus we gave him a tip because he had done a fine job. Then we walked around town and went shopping.

Yes it was Buenos Aires to Valparaiso.

JoyceC January 14th, 2003 09:04 PM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
Thanks Chuck,

I also hear from someone else that the Punta Arenas tour is better and a lot less expensive. We have seen Penguins in South Africa so the smaller colony should suffice.

By the way, what month did you go? Did you go to Iguassu Falls also?

Chuck Palm January 15th, 2003 09:02 AM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
We cruised 12-22-02 through 01-05-03. The weather was good, but a bit nippy in the southern-most ports. Be sure to bring a heavy coat. The only falls we saw were the ones outside of Puerto Montt, in the lake district. We had no extra time before the cruise, that would have been needed to do that.

I highly recommend the "Senior Tango" tango show in Buenos Aires. You can sign up for this tango show on the street beside the cruise terminal. It is by far the most wonderful stage production of any sort I have ever seen. The food is outstanding and the wine and dessert are included for only $50 per person including transportation from the pier and return. The ship tango tours were not nearly as well received. The show gows from 8:00 until 12:30 A.M. They do have a web site that can give you a sample of what it is like.

JoyceC January 15th, 2003 09:57 PM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
Thanks for the the way Princess does not offer the ferry trip to see Penguins...just a 1/2 day by bus to Otway Bay. We are still deciding whether to do this one or the all day bus ride in Puerto Madryn.

Eric January 18th, 2003 11:26 AM

re Puerto Montt
JoyceC, just a bit of info on our day in Puerto Montt 22 dec. 4 of us hired a taxi for 8 hours with a driver who spoke some English, saw Frutilla, Puerto Varas, all the lakes etc, the falls (entrance 1200 pesos) superb day. Also saw Llamas & a caged Puma at a restaurant all good value for $170 total for 8 hours (most places in Chile taxis were $20 per hour

JoyceC January 18th, 2003 04:20 PM

Re: re Puerto Montt
Thanks Eric...did you have this booked in advance or at the pier?? Princess has a full day tour including Petrohue River & Lake Esmeralda and lunch at a local restaurant (raher then a hotel). It is $115.00 pp so sounds like you did it for much less. Any information on who you used would be great. Thanks

Chuck Palm January 21st, 2003 06:36 PM

Re: Re: re Puerto Montt
We did a private taxi tour from the dock. He did a great job and had a nice car. It was $70 and we gave him a $10 tip. Same itinerary as above.

Bob R February 8th, 2003 11:57 AM

Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
Just returned from Puerto Montt. Only a handful of van drivers speak english. We were lucky enough to find a licensed tour guide with a Van. The driver, Carlos, speaks very good english. Van holds 8 people and can be had for $25 p/p. This goes to the same places as the ships tour, but with a great savings. Suggest you contact Carlos by E-mail as soon as you know the port date and reserve. E-Mail address is Galindotour@
hotmail .com. Confirm by ship phone 98224932, when in proximity to Puerto Montt.

daryleann February 15th, 2003 01:26 PM

Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
I read with interest your questions re Puerto Montt and Lake district. We went on land tour that did the Lake crossing - middle of their summer - and nearly froze - sleet, rain the entire day. Had been nice the day before. So I would be wary of signing up for the tour ahead of time - weather could be bad and you would see NO scenery, etc.
We are taking the Val-BA cruise in Nov and will try the private guide - if weather cooperates!

JoyceC February 17th, 2003 02:58 PM

Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
Thanks for that information. We are using a private comapny called (very impressed with their service so far). we leave in 4 weeks!

beachmom February 18th, 2003 07:19 AM

Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
There is a web site for tours including the ranch tour on

Be aware that some company's including hotels are going to a 2 tier rate structure. One for locals and one fee for tourist because of the devaluation of their Peso.

If that happens it will benefit you to book hotels through a local TA in BA.

BA is a beautiful city. Enjoy it.

Bill B. October 15th, 2003 02:23 PM

Sailing to SA in NOv- what line?
Hi Daryleann- We're headed to SA in Nov. also. What ship are you on? We are scheduled with Nor. Crown, NCL.

cherie November 18th, 2003 06:47 PM

re Crown experience?
We are booked for the Crown 12/14 santiago to BA cruise. How was your trip in Oct?
Any info/tips will be greatly appreciated.

Arlene January 3rd, 2004 05:23 PM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
HNi: We are going on the Royal Princess on Feb 23, and we chose Bluff Cove Penguin in Port Stanley 10:15 to 1:15, so we will be back for lunch on the ship.

Brahmama May 14th, 2004 10:28 AM

Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
And we are going on 1/18/04 on Oceania.

Sure would like to share some tours.

Anyone out there on the same ship?


Shoshona May 24th, 2004 11:24 PM

Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!

We took the Infinity in February and used for our tours and were very pleased with them. We "grew-a-group", but didn't have more than 10 or 12 on our tours.

A. Garson August 23rd, 2004 08:55 AM

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
Who did you use as a private tour operator in Puerto Montt? How can we contact him? Thanks, A. Garson

KLD September 12th, 2004 04:26 PM

Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
We used this company in Puerto Montt. We had a wonderful English speaking guide who drove us around all the sights we wanted to see in a Mercedes sedan. Had a great time, and this was a highlight of our cruise.

aussiegal September 13th, 2004 04:15 AM

Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!

Were you the only ones on the excursion or did you have a group and what sort of price did they charge.

We are going in January 2006, and we are very interested in any information on the ports.


DA Schults September 29th, 2004 09:16 AM

Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
We will be on the Amsterdam (HAL) in Feb. Please keep these tips coming. We prefer to do our own excursions, but have never reserved in advance.
Thanks to all who keep the ideas coming.

Lorne October 9th, 2004 02:00 PM

Re: Need hlep with SA tours!!!
We used Port Compass in BA. 2 tours were good - City tour and Tango tour. At Puerto Madryn, we took a tour on spec from the dock and went to the Valdes Peninlsula instead. It is closer. Not as many penquins, but half the distance. Also will give you some time to see the city. I've heard the Punta Tumbo tour involves a very long bus ride (no scenery) so-so food, but tens of thousands of penquins. We were happy with our day trip.

If all you want to see is penguins, go Senno Ottway while in Punta Arenas. Again, not thousands (more like hundreds) but a good place to visit. Can be very windy so be sure and have layers of clothing.

Have fun.

Franz December 20th, 2004 02:32 PM

Re: re Crown experience?
Just saw your note mentioning that you were going on the Crown Santiago-Buenas Aires. We're scheduled to go in Feb. 05. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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