We woke up bright and early at 6AM to go to Isla Magdalena (the Penguin Island) so we could get there early and get tickets. You can make reservations online and also buy tickets online but we didn’t know. We were also told that only 11 people could go to the island everyday so we wanted to get there early and make sure we got a ticket. Two of the girls we were staying with at Francisco’s, Marielle and Flora, wanted to come with us so we all went together to the port.
We arrived at the port, Tres Puentes, at 7AM and there were already 6 people in line and we started to get nervous. It turned out that 4 of those people in line were from my area, Washington, D.C. (more specifically, NOVA) and we got to talking and ended up spending all day with them. They were really great and were about to go on a 4 day trek in Torres del Paine but had some time to kill so they decided to go to the penguin island. At around 7:30AM more people showed up and we found out that actually 200 people could go to the island everyday so we were fine and completely relieved.
The boat leaves at 8AM and arrives at the island about about 10AM. It costs CLP$28,000 per person and they only accept cash, a bit pricey but definitely worth it! The boat is nice and has a coffee service that wasn’t too pricey and the views were really nice. When you arrive at the island you only have 1 hour to walk around and they are very strict about it.
This island is absolutely incredible! You arrive and see thousands of little Magellanic penguins and even more giant seagulls. The penguins are so cute and come up to about your knee. This island is a natural monument and the penguins have made it their home for quite a few years now. You must remain a meter away from them at all times so you do not disturb their natural habitat, but you can still snap some really amazing pictures. The penguins recently had babies and they were just starting to lose their baby fur and were too scared to leave their nests, it was so cute. Each penguin couple has 2 eggs every year so they were all families of 4. Some of the juveniles were very curious and would even walk up to you and nip at your feet. If they approach you it’s ok but do not approach the penguins because they may bite you (like what happened to me) and the park ranger will get very upset with you. Also be smart and do not agitate the penguins to get a good picture (like wave your hand in front of their faces or get very close to them), it’s really not something you should do to wild animals. You can also hike up to the lighthouse that has a very nice view of the island and the Magellan Strait.
After exactly an hour they start guiding everyone off the island towards the boat, so make sure you give yourself enough time or you may not make it to the lighthouse. They do this so the penguins don’t get used to human interaction and their habits don’t change, but this boat goes to the island everyday so there is definitely a good chance of getting tickets.
After another 2 hour boat ride back to Punta Arenas, our group of 8 decided to go to Zona Franca for lunch and some shopping. We took out more money in Chilean pesos from the bank because there is absolutely no way to cash out in U.S. dollars (we don’t know what those people were talking about). But it turns out that you only pay 2 cents for every dollar you buy so for CLP$250,000 we should get back US$475 but with the small fee we got back US$469, which was still a great deal!! Then we went to buy liquor because it was so cheap, even more than the States! If you have the time and some extra cash, it’s definitely worth it to buy some stuff.
After Zona Franca we went to stock up on some food for dinner and more for our trip. We said goodbye and good luck to our new American friends and we hope to see them again soon when we go to D.C.! The girls and us decided to make a dinner for Francisco to thank him for hosting us so we made Stroganoff and the girls made a peach crumble. All 6 of us had dinner together and talked about our different customs and it was truly very nice because we became quite close after just a day of getting to know each other!
- Woke up @ 6AM to go to Isla Magdalena
- CLP$56000 = Penguin Island (CLP$28000/person)
- CLP$300 = Parking
- CLP$5980 = Hot Dogs
- CLP$5900 = GPS holder
- CLP$16764 = Zona Franca Mall
- CLP$7622 = Market
- CLP$20000 = Gas [CLP$799/L]
- Total = CLP$106,666