Only 200 km of cycling in the last 14 days. It is even more surprising since we only used the wheels to go to school. By doing so, we regained a small amount of practically stored energy - others would call it body fat.
After a fast ride of 90km we reached Puerto Madryn on a Friday two weeks ago. We had ice cream for lunch, afterwards we installed our tent at the ACA campsite. This should be our home for the next two weeks. Not only is the area famous for the possibilities to spot whales, orcas, sea lions and penguins, we also went to a spanish language school.
We started our first attempt to see the greates mammals of all on the first weekend. Easy 20km gravel road to the beach of El Doradillo, where it is possible to see whales directly from the beach. Towards the end of the season, spotting them needs some luck - which we did not have that day.
On the following Monday, our language course began. Earlier, we had the idea that we would meet new people in that class, as it was supposed to be for up to seven students. When we arrived, we realized that we were alone with our teacher. Hence we had private lessons, starting most days from 8.30 in the morning. After four hours of studying, combined with getting up early and good icecream supplies for lunch, we often had to take a siesta after noon before we came back to life in the later afternoon. We also had to walk (weird way of getting around) to school for two days, because the second bicycle needed repair. Martha’s front hub refused to spin easily. The next very good cycling shop could fix it, and helped us multiple times over the two weeks - “Al Pataco”.
Whales are the reason why Puerto Madryn is filled by tourists already in Winter and spring. It is situated on the access road to Peninsula Valdez. The whales - Ballena franca austral - come to the peninsula to give birth to their offspring and to get pregnant again. They come specifically to that place because of the shape of the peninsula, which forms two large, quiet bays. The mothers can feed their kids and keep them at the water surface without the trouble of fighting large waves. The help is needed as the newborn whales do not yet have enough body fat to float to the surface on their own.
Mother and child
Besides whales, the waters surrounding the peninsula are also permanently inhabited by a population of orcas. They are very famous for their local hunting technique. At high tide, they swim onto sandbanks, pretending to be stranded, catch a sea lion, and return in deeper waters. Not only that, but the area also features penguins, sea lions and sea elefants, which call it a more or less permanent home.
To see all of this, we had to change our means of transport multiple times. First, we rented a Chevrolet Corsa to get to and around on the peninsula. 300 km gravel road without water supplies and rangers that enforce camping prohibition were a bit too much for a cycling trip. We also spent some time on a boat to search for whales in shallow waters.
Moritz on a whale watching trip
The boat trip - Avistaje de Ballena - was magnificient. First, we searched for a while without success, but than we saw many female whales with their kids. Other boats pointed us in the right direction, as we did not find them immediately. All whale watching companies cooperate closely. We experienced this also before our trip started - the company we asked first was fully booked, but with no hesitation called the competition to organize us two spots on a boat. On the boat and close to the whales, one of the couples did hang around for quite a while. They were very curious, the juvenile circled around the boat multiple times. The mother carefully watched it, once she dived under our boat. Very impressive, the skin looks much softer then expected by Martha, and even the 4 month old had already sea shells on his head. It is possible to identify the whales based on the pattern of the shell patches.
Fin of a whale
Penguin just next to the road
Afterwards, we continued by car to the eastern side of the peninsula, to Caleta Valdez. There is a penguin colony, and a bit further down is a spot where you can sometimes see orcas hunting for sea lions. We were not that lucky, after three hours waiting in windy weather, we still did not see one.
der Tisch ist gedeckt
Exhausted by the wind and in the dark, we drove back home (Puerto Madryn). Yesterday, we packed our tent and left the campsite. Moritz even was a bit nostalgic. It will be hard to find such a nice place for the hammock in the upcoming weeks.
Our first step was only a move to the hostel, which was more convient, as it was only 200m away from the bus terminal. Here, we wanted to prepare our depature by bus. First, we went back to our friendly bike shop, who already knew that we wanted boxes. As he only had a single empty one, he quickly unwrapped another bike. Back in the hostel, we started by removing pedals. Or trying to do so. Martha’s pedals quickly came off, as they were only recently fixed. Moritz even newer Pedals however did not move. Returning to the bike shop, we tried using better tools, hammer, oil, but nothing moved. Only the screwhead got damaged. Eventually, we put the bike in the box with pedals installed, having one sticking out through a hole.
Now to the bus tickets. We went to the bus terminal and the ticket area. We had been there last week when we got told that bicycles would be cargo, and multiple buses would leave every day. Yesterday, that did not seem to be true anymore. The cargo counter was closed for the weekend, and we got told at the passenger counter that cargo would only be transported wednesdays. Thanks a lot… When we asked for other options we learned that we could come back the next day and ask the drivers for space.
In the morning, we carried everything - bikes and luggage to the terminal. When Martha went back to the counter, the new info was that neither option, nor cargo nor asking should be possible. Hm… We decided to check for ourselves. We waited for buses and asked drivers. Although the first ones did not take us with them, they were much friendlier and helpful than the counter personal. At the time we finished our food and Moritz his book, our hope was very low. But eventually, a bus had space and we could get in with the bikes.
Hence, we are currently in a bus towards the south and write this entry. While doing so, we already made several cycling days worth of distance.
Saving many cycling days