Whale watching

It was an ultimate, breath-taking experience! We got very close to the Southern Right Whales and it was magnificent to see these majestic mammals up close. I almost started to cry because I felt so privileged to be so close to these gentle giants. Most of the whales were in pairs, mamma and baby, but don’t be fooled. Baby whales are still huge. They are curious and will swim up close to the boat to check us out. There is no way that I’d want to encounter them by kayak because they will swim under the boat and if they even ‘gently’ nudged you in a kayak, you’re probably going to flip over. And because of the barnacles on their head, they might slice through a plastic kayak. Talk about misleading advertising by the companies I contacted about this excursion, unless you are only viewing the whales from very far away.

We witnessed some gorgeous tail-up poses, which turns out to be the way a whale warms itself. Sometimes we’d see the whale belly up, which is either to relax, or in the case of a mother whale, to tell the baby that she needs a break from feeding. We also saw a seagull land on the baby whale, which at first I thought was cute, but it turns out to be a terrible problem. The gulls apparently peck the backs of the baby whales and this injures them. Our guide told us that 70 baby whales have died due to malnutrition. This is because while the mother is feeding, the gulls and bothering them so the mother has to stop and thus the baby whales are not getting the necessary amount of food to survive. It’s so sad to hear. She said that they are trying to come up with ways to lessen the gull population, but I don’t understand how that is done. Anyway, we saw numerous pairs of whales and what made the trip extra special was that it was during sunset so the colours were warm and beautiful. Weather-wise, it was chilly on the way back to shore. On the water, I had long pants and a fleece, and I was comfortable. We did the tour with Southern Spirit. The boat was clean and comfortable, and the guides were bilingual. The sunset tour costs $400 pesos per person. A day tour would cost $260 pesos. The difference in price is the time of day, and the number of people. The day tours will have a boat load of up to 60 people. On the sunset tour, they say they only allow 15 people, bt I think on ours there were 20. It was a good size. Also, the sunset tour is longer (2 hours). We chose the sunset tour because Nelson didn’t want me out in the strong sun today, and we liked the idea of less people.

There are a handful of companies on the same strip in town offering whale tours. It seems that the prices are the same. Our decision was based on the review we read in the Frommers Guide and I have no complaints.

After we returned shore, hubby and I decided to have dinner at our hotel. I had the most satisfying meal of lamb stew. Hubby decided to give the steak one more try and again, the steak was over-cooked. Overall though, the food (service and presentation) at the Las Restingas Hotel is good value. The steak and lamb, plus a beer and juice came to US$50. I think it’s a Monday. The thing we’ve noticed today is that not all restaurants are opened. So choices for dinner are slimmer than usual.

Tomorrow we are going to Punta Tombo to visit the penguins, and then we’re flying back to Buenos Aires for the night before visiting our last destination before heading home. We’re going to Argentina’s wine country – Mendoza. I’m very excited for it, and at the same time, I’m sad to know this means our trip is coming to an end.

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