One windy day, hubby and I were in Ushuaia, dressed in our North Face and Helly Hansen windbreakers and totally blending in with the crowd, when we boarded a half-empty tour boat to take us to see penguins at Martillo island. I was obsessed with the idea of seeing those penguins and couldn’t think of much else. (To my delight, we later saw more of them at Puerto Madryn.)
Isla Martillo didn’t disappoint. As a bonus, the boat ride also gave us a chance to see (hear and smell) sea lions at Isla de los Lobos. Also very memorable!
After Isla Martillo and Isla de los Lobos, the boat was to continue to a place called Estancia Harberton and from there, the journey back would be by bus. I didn’t know anything about the Harberton ranch we were about to visit and I was too impatient to read up on it upon booking the tour.
So what a nice surprise it was to end the day by sailing into this calm harbor, after all the wildlife excitement and cuteness overload had been done and dealt with. Unlike Ushuaia, the weather at Harberton was suddenly just gorgeous. It was like we’d sailed into another world, shielded and private. My camera still didn’t get a rest.
We had a homemade lunch, chatting with an American couple we came across, and then joined a small, English-speaking group on a guided tour of the ranch’s lush gardens and other areas.
Lots of random old objects here and there added a touch of history to the place.
Further away, there was an innocent-looking little house which we entered. Inside the little house, however, there was a vile smell. Our guide showed us a container of dolphin carcasses, preserved for research purposes. I couldn’t bear to look in, the smell was enough. Our tour guide was a researcher of dolphins and whales and if I remember correctly, a marine biologist from Chile. Despite the shock, it was really interesting to hear about her research. She was trying to figure out the cause of death of the marine mammals that had washed ashore.
Afterwards, our guide took us to visit a very interesting little museum about marine mammals. It was also a functioning laboratory. I have to add, that overall, Argentina probably had the most interesting museums I’ve ever visited anywhere. They were all so authentic somehow, with lots of real-life details, and many of them had to do with environmental issues.
Visiting the Harberton ranch ended up being another memorable highlight on an already unforgettable day.
Click the links in the text for photos of penguins and sea lions – and here are a couple of related posts: