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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
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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.
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Thanks for the suggestions...by 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.
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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.