One of the unique activities that can be done in Argentina is visit the hammer island or make one penguin tour in Ushuaia. The guided tour with PiraTours It's the only one that allows you to step on the island, walk among penguins in Ushuaia and have them only three meters away. An absolutely unforgettable experience.
We had booked the visit at 14:15. We met the rest of the travelers at the PiraTour port booth and after a few moments we got on the bus. We were about 36 tourists. The coach started on the road that goes east, in the direction of the historic Harberton stay, the first stop of the visit, before boarding a boat to reach the Hammer Island, the penguin island.
Estancia Harberton near Ushuaia
Along the way, Agustin, who was one of the guides, told us interesting details about Ushuaia and the places we were going through. For example, he told us that the Beagle Channel, that strip of ocean in front of Ushuaia where the island is located, was originally called «Onashaga» (channel of the onas). The channel is called Beagle by the name of Fitz Roy's ship, which was the Englishman who discovered the canal in 1830. When we crossed the Olivia River, Agustín explained to us that most valleys in this area have a “u” shape because it does ten thousand years were occupied by large thousand meter high glaciers that eroded the rock around them. The disappearance of the glaciers left an exclusive vegetation of Tierra del Fuego called the "turbales". The name is derived from peat, the predominant plant in this landscape, which is a kind of semi-compound and reddish mass of plant material that absorbs water very well.
Some of the pieces of the Acatushún museum
After an hour and a half, we arrive at the Harberton stay. This large farm or ranch encompasses the island of the penguins and others of the Beagle Channel and was founded by Thomas Bridges, an Anglican preacher who settled here in 1886 and dedicated himself to raising cattle. His great-great-grandson, Thomas Goodall, today is no longer dedicated to livestock, but to tourism, and therefore allows visits to the Hammer Island, which is the real name of the island of the penguins. The stay itself is currently a National hystoric monument and houses a small Museum about the southern marine fauna.
Upon arriving at the room, the group was divided into two. Some went first with Augustine to see the island while the other made a visit to the museum along with Leo, another of the guides. Afterwards, the group that had already seen the island would visit the museum while the other visited the island.
He Acatushún museum It was the idea of Natalie Goodall, wife of the current owner of the stay. This biologist realized that in this area many corpses of cetaceans were dragged along by the currents and began to collect the skeletons to study them. Today, the museum where many of these skeletons can be seen is also a biological research center. And with the guided tour of the museum we learned many details about dolphins, whales and porpoises, and also about sea lions. It was very interesting.
After an hour, when the first group had returned, the second group embarked on the boat and went to the island of the penguins. This island is a biological Reserve Very controlled, so only 80 people are allowed to visit each day, in groups of up to 20 people at a time. And each group can only be on the island for an hour.