South America – Puerto Madryn

We had enjoyed our relaxing day at sea.  The weather was getting abit chilly and windy. We were excited for the next port of Puerto Madryn as it is at approximately the same latitude south as our home is north. It would be interesting to see if the landscape was similar.

In the previous 2 ports we had done 2 city tours, so we wanted to do something abit different…we were going to visit a sheep ranch.  It was an afternoon tour, so we took our time getting ready and wandered to the top deck for a better view. From what we could see, it looked a lot like our area in Southern Idaho.

We missed the ship’s photographers but took our own pictures on the port dock. It was WINDY, just like Idaho!!!

We met our tour guide Lettie and driver Rico.

As we left the port, it was interesting how they get boats in and out of the water.

Puerto Madryn is from the Welsh language. It was founded in July 1865, when 150 Welsh immigrants and named the natural port after an estate in Wales.  It is known for it’s sheep ranches, fishing, aluminum production, and tourism.  Tourist come to see the natural attractions of area, as well as the right whales, which come here to breed from May to December.  It is also home to penguins and elephant seals, as well as 94,000 residents.

We saw just abit of the city before heading into the country-side”.

As we drove we did get nice views of the ship

This area of Argentina is extremely arid and receives 6-8 inches of rain a year.  Lots of scrub brush, sand, and dirt.

We were headed to Punta Loma Wildlife Reserve.  In the 1960s there was a push to protect certain biological areas due to growth in the area.  The reserve was established in 1967 specifically to protect a colony of sea lions and South American terns.

There is a small ranger station, displays on the wildlife and a replica of the first ranger station.

There were not a lot of sea lions but the ones that were there were noisy.  Lettie told us that the mothers nurse their young for a year, use the second year to teach “life skills”, and then kick them out.

On the opposite side, there is a longer trail to another over-look.

A little bit different vantage point…

Next it was on to the Estancia San Lorenzo.  This is a family-owned sheep station/ranch.  Besides raising sheep it has a large population of wild guanacos.  The road was bumpy and dusty and we couldn’t believe they were taking the buses on it, but we made it.

At the “ranch” we met the resident gaucho

There were numerous displays about the sheep.  Due to the arid nature of the area, one sheep for every 2-4 acres of land. The ranch has 7400 acres but only runs about 1100 sheep.  They supplement the ranch income with tourists.

The owner of the ranch told us about his operation.  To identify the sheep, male lambs have half their tail cut off, while female lambs have all of their tail removed.  At that point, a ram was brought in to sheer.  Jim was chosen to help carrying him in.

So there aren’t many pictures of Jim carrying the sheep, because Cindy is no good at video taping with one hand and taking picture with the other hand.  This is what she got…the camera got switched to selfie…dang, dang, dang. The ram got loose and ran between Jim’s legs!!!

We did get good pictures of the sheep being sheered.  They are sheered one time per year, usually in October.  The work is done by a travelling shearing crew of 10 men.

The wool is then sorted by quality, such as VG has vegetation. BGA comes from belly. DBL comes from back legs.  Buyers come to the ranch and take samples, have it analyzed for quality and then buy.  A castrated male will have 7 kg of sheered wool, a ewe will have 5 kg, and a ram will have 20 kg.  After 7 years, sheep are no longer profitable for wool.

After our sheep sheering demonstration, we enjoyed several treats.  They were delicious and are made at the ranch. There were scones, dessert empanadas, as well as ham and cheese empanadas

On our way back to the bus, we encountered a friendly guanaco.  He was especially attracted to Cindy’s shirt.

One of the tour guests got a bit too closer and he was almost hit with spit.  However, the guanaco spit is actually it’s stomach contents.  They do this when they feel threatened.

We had enjoyed ourselves at the estancia or ranch.  It was time to head back to the boat.  Our room had a partial obstructed view, which Jim noticed was blocked by life boat 12. So while standing in line to board he took a picture.

That night we went out on deck.  We saw 3 equally spaced lights.  Everyone was speculating…hmmm. An interesting way to end our time in Puerto Madryn.

We had a day at sea and then would be in the Falkland Islands…