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What to Expect When Walking With the Penguins on Martillo Island, Argentina

Penguins Martillo Island

Awesomeness! That’s what you can expect when walking with the penguins on Martillo Island in Argentina. I mean they’re adorable, little penguins! Haha. In all seriousness, though, I wasn’t entirely sure myself what to expect when I booked this adventure. I knew I was going to be close enough to see penguins, but that was about the extent of it… and everyone said it was an absolute must if I was going to Ushuaia, Argentina.

So, hopefully after reading this post you’ll be a little more prepared than I was for walking with the Penguins on Martillo Island.

What Exactly Are You Going to See on Martillo Island?

Martillo Island is home to an incredible colony of Gentoo and Magellanic penguins between September and April. There are around 1,000 nests there! Check out the video above to see just how many penguins are there…or at the very least, to see penguins waddling around. There’s seriously nothing better than watching penguins waddle, haha.

And if you’re lucky, you might get some other visitors as well! Check out the sea lions we saw just from standing on the shore in the video below.

We were especially lucky the day we went and saw two “tourists” visiting Martillo Island. There were two King Penguins who stopped by that day! (They look really similar to Emperor Penguins!)

King Penguins, Martillo Island
2 of these are not like the others…Can you spot the King Penguins? 😉

How Close Can You Get to the Penguins?

REALLY close. We were told to stay 3 large steps away from the penguins. But sometimes penguins would brush right past you on their way over to their friends. I couldn’t believe how close you can get to them.

You can get really close to the penguins!

How Do You Get to the Penguins on Martillo Island?

This is another case where you have to book a tour, and the only way you’re doing it is with the one tour company that has access to the island – Piratour. Now, booking directly with Piratour could potentially save you some money. When I booked, I didn’t realize Piratour was “the” tour company for this, and booked through Viator. Piratour does not list their prices online, so you’ll have to email them to see what they say. And all the prices I was seeing online from other tour sites for this tour were about the same, so I went with what I knew (and that’s good ole Viator). Click here for Piratour, click here for Viator and click here for GetYourGuide.

Martillo Island Penguins

Penguins Martillo Island
There were a lot of nests along the walkways!

Once again, the reason for the one tour company is to keep the penguins and their habitat safe. You’ll only be in a group of 20. You have the option to go in the morning or the afternoon. (There are only two tours per day…to not overwhelm the penguins.)

You’ll take a bus from the tourist dock in Ushuaia (within walking distance of most hotels/hostels in Ushuaia)…this bus ride took a little over 1 hour. Then, you’ll take about a 15-minute boat ride to Martillo Island. You’ll spend about 1 hour walking with the penguins with a tour guide, who will quietly point out fun facts about the penguins, show you where they are nesting and make sure everyone is being safe. (You’ll be reminded to not make any loud noises, so you don’t scare the little guys.) At the end, you get to head up to Harberton Farm for coffee and sweets and then head just down the road to the Marine Mammals and Sea Birds Museum. (It was a very interesting tour!)

*But bring cash! You have to pay a small entrance fee to get into the farm and the coffee and sweets are not included.

Martillo Island Penguins

How Do You Dress for Martillo Island?

It’s pretty chilly, but if you’re out of the wind it’s not terrible. So, dress in layers. Bring a coat, sweatshirt, hat, thick socks, scarf, mittens and sunglasses. We wore our hiking boots, but that really wasn’t necessary. It’s all gravel paths on the island that you stay on. The boots were nice for a little extra warmth, though.

Penguins Martillo Island

Penguins Martillo Island

Is It Worth It?

Absolutely! This was a rather pricey tour, but given that you were only with a group of 20 or less, it felt very private. Plus, you can get SO close to the penguins. It was incredible! The farm and museum stops were nice as well.

If you missed it, click here for Piratour, click here for Viator and click here for GetYourGuide.

Penguins Martillo Island

What are your thoughts on Martillo Island? Would you add walking with the penguins here to your bucket list? Let me know in the comments!

*Click here to see all my travel posts on Argentina!
*Click here to read my post, “How to Spend 10 Days in Argentina.”

Travel Insurance

It’s a good idea, no matter where your adventure takes you, to have travel insurance. You never know what might happen! Whether you get sick before your trip and can’t go, or you become sick or injured while on your adventure – being covered with travel insurance is a must. Some credit card companies do provide this service (check with yours), or you can get a quote from companies such as RoamRight. To get a free quote, click here.

Visa Requirements

To check if your country requires a Visa for traveling to Argentina, click here.

Want to Learn Spanish Before Your Trip?

Knowing some basics in Spanish can be helpful for your time in Argentina. Try a free 3 day trial of Rosetta Stone (the best way to learn a foreign language) by clicking here.

And check out more photos of the adventure, below!

martillo island penguins
If you liked it – Pin it!

*Disclosure: some of these links are affiliate links. Meaning, if you click a link and make a purchase, Have Clothes, Will Travel gets a very small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! I am also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

*c/o = courtesy of, meaning the company gave me the product to be used on my blog, and I did not pay for it. All opinions are my own, and I am not being compensated for a positive review.


  1. Awesome article!

    How late in Feb did you go?

    I am landing in Argentina on 25th Feb

    1) I am wondering if it worth going to Tierra del Fuego (ARG)
    Ushuaia (2d) and Magdalena Island (Puenta Arenas) as my primary reason is to see the penguins.

    Will we see lots of penguins or is it too late?
    If its too late, that’s not a problem, I will come back again.

    Is it worth me visiting both places? I guess Ushuaia is the take off point for Antartica so since I’m not doing that then maybe its not worth going?

    After the above, I am thinking to do the following:
    – Parque Nacional Torres del Paine (CHILE)
    HIKE: O Trek

    ACCOMODATION: Puerto Natales (CHILE)
    HORSEBACK – http://estanciaspatagonia.com/

    ACCOMODATION: El Calafate (ARG)
    Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (ARG)
    SEE: Perito Moreno Glacier – https://tiny.one/peritoMoreno
    6h Viewing (45m walk)
    Hitchhike or Bus Dep 0900 (Rtn Dep 1600) or Dep 1300 (Rtn 1930)
    BUS: El Calafate to El Chaltén – 2.4h – A$5400
    https://taqsa.centraldepasajes.com.ar/ – 0800/1300/1900
    http://chaltentravel.com/ – 0800/1100/1330/1800/2100
    ACCOMODATION: El Chalten (ARG)
    Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (ARG)
    HIKE: Laguna de Los Tres aka Mt Fitz Roy Hike https://tinyurl.com/lagunaDeLosTres
    Finishes at the foot of Mt Fitz Roy
    24k – 1d/2d Camping
    HIKE: Laguna Torre aka Cerro Torre
    24k – 6h
    HIKE: Lago del Desierto-Chile Trail
    BUS/FERRY (1 PER DAY): El Chaltén (ARG) to Coyhaique (CHILE) – 16h https://tiny.one/ElChaltenToCoyhaique
    BUS: El Chaltén to Chile Chico – 10h
    FERRY: Chile Chico to Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez – 2h – Lago General Carrera
    BUS: Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez to Coyhaique – 1h

    Coyhaique (CHILE)
    Parque Nacional Cerro Castillo – glacial lake
    HIKE: Cerro Castillo Circuit – 4d
    HORSEBACK+HIKE: Cerro Castillo – US$70 – 1d
    Capilla de Mármol – caves
    Take the scenic Carretera Austral to the Andean hamlet of:
    Futaleufu (CHILE) – rafting
    Travel North to:
    Parque Nacional Lanin
    Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi

    Is this possible?

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Hello, I was in Ushuaia the last week of February into the first week of March. I saw plenty of penguins at that time. However, I would reach out to the tour provider to confirm this as I would imagine this will vary from season to season. I don’t have any experience traveling in Chile and would be unable to help with this itinerary.

  2. Hi! just curious…which month did you go?

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Hi! I was there in late February.

  3. Ash Padmanabhan says:

    Is the bus ride truly only one hour? I read 2 hours bus ride each way

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      The tour I did was one hour to get there and one hour to get back via bus. I would confirm this with Piratour, though, as it may have changed since I did the tour.

  4. Nicole Schoultz says:

    LOVE THIS! One of my bucket list items, to see penguins in the wild.

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      I hope you get to go, Nicole! And let me know if you ever have any questions! 🙂

  5. Becci Abroad says:

    Wow WOOOOOW! There are so many!!! Completely new bucket list item (bad thing Argentina is so expensive to travel in…).

    I saw penguins on Peninsula Valdes in Patagonia, which was also awesome but there weren’t as many as here! Uhh! At Peninsula Valdes, we went swimming with sea lions, thus, and woooow, that was by far my favorite experience there! They are really cute too! If you get a chance to try swimming with sea lions, DO it 😀


    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Whoa! Swimming with sea lions! New bucket list item for me lol. And hope you make it down by these little guys one day! 🙂

  6. I would go absolutely nuts being that close! ? They are SOOO cute

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      Haha! I was going crazy on the inside! They are SO cute!

  7. Courtney Byers says:

    Oh my goodness how neat! I didn’t realize you could get so close to them. I LOVE penguins they are precious. I want to do this.

    1. haveclotheswilltravel says:

      I hope you get the chance to one day, Courtney! 🙂

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