110 Km south of Trelew, is the largest colony of Magellan Penguins in the world, which during its peak season, consists of nearly one million specimens.
The penguins come to breed at Punta Tombo, from September to April each year.
There is a half-day excursion, travelling along paved roads (only the last few 20 kilometers are gravel, upon entering the natural area), along the roadway to Punta Tombo, where the immensity of the Patagonian steppes may be appreciated, rich in native regional flora and fauna. Amongst the flora species, the following may be found, Barba de Chivo [Goatee beard], Broom sedge [Andropogon argenteus], Patagonian Carob Bean, Jume, Quilimbay and Duraznillo or type of peach tree [Solanum Glaucum]. It is very common that Choiques (small-sized ostriches) and guanacos cross your path, as well as maras [Patagonian hares], martinetas copetonas [crested partridges], grey and red foxes, Patagonian skunks, piches and peludos [types of armadillos], and different species of birds.
These lands, which at first glance seem idle, are devoted to the production of wool. At the estancias (ranches), pioneer families settled, and at present, offer the possibility to learn more about rural life, the work of the farm laborer, or to enjoy a delicious Patagonian lamb barbecue, roasted on a spit.
The Protected Area of Punta Tombo is a narrow stony strip that penetrates approximately 3.5 kilometers into the sea. It has wide beaches, with a soft decline, a feature used by the penguins to access firm land and build their nests, and one is able to watch the constant coming and going of these birds, an attitude that increases in the morning and in the evening, when the weather is cooler.
The Magellan Penguin is a marine bird. It moves graciously on land, is an excellent swimmer, and is not able to fly. Its average size is of 50 cm. An adult specimen, upon starting its reproductive cycle weighs approximately 5 kilos, and upon ending this cycle, has lost approximately half his weight.
In September the male penguins arrive, they find their nesting spot, the same that they abandoned the previous year, and two weeks later, upon the arrival of the reproductive females, they court them, searching for the same female with which they mated during the previous seasons.
The females usually lay two eggs, which are incubated during a 40-day period, by both parents, who protect them from predator attacks, such as seagulls and skúas [type of gulls].
The young penguins, at birth, weigh approximately 80 grams, are covered with a greyish down, and demand food at all times.
Whilst one of the parents looks after the young, the other goes to sea in search of some small fish, anchovies, and as the young grow older, they feed on squid.
During two and a half months they are totally dependent on their parents, and once they grow their feathers, they are able to enter the sea and procure their own food. In February the young specimens arrive, having totally changed their feathers, whilst the adults recover their weight, during two weeks.
Around mid-April, with their reproductive cycle completed, they return to the sea, to fulfill their feeding stage.
Migratory routes take them northwards, to the southern zone of Brazil.