Meal service on a 40 minute flight!
Meal service on a 40 minute flight!
Knobbly Darkling Beetle (Physadesmia globosa)
Knobbly Darkling Beetle (Physadesmia globosa)

One final post on Bahia Bustamante before the blog moves on to the mountains of Bariloche.  We spent our last day at Bahia exploring the nearby peninsula in our tiny VW Gol.  The terrain on the peninsula is quite varied: scrub land, sand dunes and tidal pools.  There are also three landing strips, a solar-powered lighthouse and the ruins of many small buildings.  The pictures below tell the story better than I can so I will just leave it at that!

It was sad to leave Bahía Bustamante but we had a bus to catch later that night from Comodoro Rivadavia.  From a backpackers standpoint, Bahía Bustamante was definitely a splurge ($110/night plus rental car expenses) but we felt that it was certainly worth each and every centavo.  We would highly recommend it to other travelers!

Bahía Bustamante – Day 3
Bahía Busttamante from the peninsula
Bahía Busttamante from the peninsula
Our rental car on the landing strip.
Our rental car on the landing strip.
Ñandú, sheep and guanacos!
Ñandú, sheep and guanacos!
Rush hour!
Rush hour!

 

Our second excursion at Bahía Bustamante was a trip to the nearby petrified forest.  We drove about an hour across a landscape that looked much like eastern Montana or Wyoming except for the dozens of ñandú and guanacos we spotted along the way.  Our destination was the base a cliff where fossilized pieces of wood were slowly being revealed by the dry and windy climate.  We were told that most of it comes from trees that were alive about 65 million years ago.

As a kid I remember finding small pieces of fossilized wood and plants during my summers in Montana but this place was different.  There were dozens of intact tree trunks laying all over the ground.  Many of them had a bark-textured surface that was remarkably similar to a real tree.  I kept picking up pieces out of disbelief that they were actually rock and not real wood.  Of course, the weight of each piece was a bit of a giveaway!  While most of the pieces were an reddish color there were a few there and there that were blue, green and yellow.  Apparently this is caused by different trace elements mixing with the quartz in the fossil.

Bahía Bustamante – Day 2 (Petrified Forest)

Rise and shine!  7AM departure
Rise and shine! 7AM departure

Each night at Bahia Bustamante, the staff goes over the planned excursions for the next day.  They tailor the schedule each day based on weather conditions and the guests’ interests.  As luck would have it, conditions were looking to be perfect for a boat trip to the nearby islands early the next morning.  We were told to be in front of the village cantine at 7AM.

We met with one other couple and our guide and then climbed into a well-used Land Rover for the short drive to the boat.  Matias, whose grandfather founded the village, was already there prepping the boat for departure.  We grabbed some life vests and off we went.

The winds were calm that morning so we had a very smooth ride out on the Caleta Malaespina.  We visited a total of four or five islands during the three hour trip and saw a huge variety of birds as well as many lobos marinos (sea lions). 

The Magellanic penguins were definitely a highlight even though we only were able to see adults.  The juveniles left for the open ocean a few weeks ago.  It was also fun to watch the sea lion pups chasing each other around both on land and sea while their mothers slept lazily nearby.  Below are many more pictures from the boat excursion.

Bahía Bustamante – Day 2 (Boat Excursion)
Rise and shine!  7AM departure
Rise and shine! 7AM departure
Sunrise as we made our way out on the Caleta Malaspina
Sunrise as we made our way out on the Caleta Malaspina
Magallenic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus)
Magallenic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus)
Steamer ducks and a lone penguino
Steamer ducks and a lone penguino
Either a juvenil or a molting adult
Either a juvenil or a molting adult
Lobos marinos (sea lions)
Lobos marinos (sea lions)
Two females have a conversation.
Two females have a conversation.
The king of the island.  Adult male sea lion.
The king of the island. Adult male sea lion.
It was quite entertaining to see him scratching himself like a dog.
It was quite entertaining to see him scratching himself like a dog.
Apparently the sea lions leave the birds alone.
Apparently the sea lions leave the birds alone.
Imeperial Comorants (white necks) and Black Neck Comorants
Imeperial Comorants (white necks) and Black Neck Comorants


Fortunately, our marathon bus ride from Buenos Aires was the hardest part of our journey from the biggest city in the country to one of the least inhabited parts of the country.  We read about Bahía Bustamante in a NY Times article a few weeks ago and decided that a visit was an absolute must.  Bahía Bustamante is a tiny village and nature preserve that now accepts a small number of guests each night.  The village calls itself “el único pueblo alguero del mundo” or, the only town dedicated to producing seaweed in the world.

Bahía Bustamante is on the coast about 200km north of Comodoro Rivadavia.  One option for getting there is to take a bus to the nearby town of Garayalde and from there you can arrange car transport to the estancia.  The other option is to rent a car in Comodoro and drive the whole way yourself.  We opted for the latter for the flexibility and we were glad we did as there are a number of sights in the area to which you can drive.

Renting was a piece of cake.  You can either use a local firm (there are dozens) or you can use one of the corporate giants (Avis, Hertz, etc).  We ended up with Avis as the seemed to be the cheapest of the bunch.  Total price for a three day rental of a VW Gol came out to $145.  While I was shopping around I discovered that it is often helpful to pick up from the city location (as opposed to the airport) as you can avoid the nasty 20% concession tax.  This trick also works in the States…good to know.

While I was working on the rental car situation with Avis, Amy ran to the grocery store and stocked up on food for coming days.  At Bahía Bustamante you can choose between self-catering (some houses have kitchens) and having your meals prepared for you.  We opted to self-cater to keep our costs down.

My first Argentine truck stop!
My first Argentine truck stop!

With a (very small) car full of groceries and backpacks we headed up Ruta 3 towards Bahía Bustamante.  It is a good thing we stocked up before we left town because there is very little along the highway north of Comodoro.  On the two hour drive we only saw one truck stop and by that I mean a shack along the side of the road that didn’t even sell gas (only meals and refreshments).  Once we turned off Ruta 3, it was about 40km further to Bahía Bustamante along a gravel road.  It was on this road that we had our first guanaco and ñandu sightings.

The quiet village of Bahía Bustamante
The quiet village of Bahía Bustamante

The village was exactly as promised.  Laidback and quiet.  The streets here are all named after different species of seaweed!  It took us a little while to find the staff (read: this place is quiet!) but they soon showed us to our house.  I believe that the house we are staying in was originally workers housing, although it seems they have been modified to make room for a kitchen and large bathroom.  Our place was $110 a night and was more than enough space for the two of us.  There will be more tomorrow about Bahía Bustamante including lots of pictures of penguins! 

Bahía Bustamante – Day 1
My first Argentine truck stop!
My first Argentine truck stop!
First guanaco sighting!
First guanaco sighting!
Then some ñandúes!
Then some ñandúes!
Steamer ducks (patos vapor)
Steamer ducks (patos vapor)
American Oystercatchers and some seagulls
American Oystercatchers and some seagulls
The quiet village of Bahía Bustamante
The quiet village of Bahía Bustamante
Home cookin
Home cookin
Moonrise
Moonrise


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