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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
And check out more photos of the adventure, below!
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