Off the Beaten Track: Magdalena Penguin Reserve
Begin with a motor coach drive to the ferry dock. It is an approximately 1½-hour ferry ride across the famous Strait of Magellan and you will be sailing the same waters as Sir Francis Drake and Charles Darwin. Upon arrival at Magdalena Island, declared a Natural Monument in 1982, you will see one of the largest penguin colonies in southern Chile, and get acquainted with the unspoiled habitat of penguins, cormorants and many other birds. A substantial colony of Magellan penguins nests and breeds here. These penguins return every year to this spot between October and March to lay eggs and raise their young. They bury their eggs in the sandy burrows and under shrubs; at this time of year most of the chicks will have hatched. The animals are naturally curious and untamed; if approached too quickly they will scamper into their burrows or try to reach the water. A snack pack will be provided. After ample time to observe the birds it is time for the invigorating walk back to the ferry and the navigation back to Punta Arenas, where your bus will be waiting to take you back to the pier. You will have about one hour on the island to observe the curious and entertaining penguins before returning to Punta Arenas.
Do not attempt to touch the penguins as their strong beaks can inflict serious wounds. Since this is a wildlife reserve, no visitor facilities are available. Walking is on mostly flat, marked pathways with approximately 30 minutes on uneven terrain. Wear sturdy, comfortable walking shoes. It is essential that you wear warm layered clothing in order to fully enjoy and participate in this excursion. The ferry is a local vessel that may differ from the style you are accustomed to at home. Seasonal migration, which is somewhat unpredictable, can affect the operation of this tour from March to April. The ship will liaise with the tour operator prior to arrival in Punta Arenas and, in the event that the penguins are no longer present, guests will be given the chance to substitute an alternative shore excursion.