By Dalene and Peter Heck of Hecktick Travels
Off the coast of southern Chile lies the enigmatic Magdalena Island – home to no humans, but animated with life from the 60,000 breeding pairs of Magellanic Penguins. They cover the island like a blanket in some spots, feeding off of the cold waters of the Strait of Magellan.
For an hour we sat transfixed, camera poised and clicking furiously. While other tourists explored the lighthouse and further regions of the island, sitting still in one spot allowed the penguins to become accustomed to our presence. They came within just a couple of feet, as curious about us as we were of them. We watched as they posed for the camera, flirted and bickered with each other. As our visit was during the beginning of mating season, the males bellowed and called. Those who had found their mates cuddled and waddled together.
It was a magical hour whose minutes ticked away all too quickly, as observing these charming and amazing animals could have been enjoyed for days.
Tours of the island are booked and begin in the city of Punta Arenas, the largest city in the Strait of Magellan. A half day tour to the island includes a forty-five minute zodiac ride each way (very choppy waters, consider taking motion sickness medication), and also a quick visit to the nearby Marta Island for a view of sea lions and more penguins (from the boat only).
Dalene and Peter sold all of their possessions in 2009 and have been traveling ever since. They completed a tour of South America and are now settled in Honduras for several months, and have no idea where they are going next! You can follow their journey at: www.hecktictravels.com.
Also, some of these amazing penguin pictures have been made into note cards! You can find them at Dalene’s Etsy account: www.etsy.com/shop/artededalena.