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We're the sisters who founded Across South America 15 years ago... and we're here to help you fall in love with South America just like we are!


Updated: Nov 22, 2023

My Wildlife Lovers Guide to See Penguins in Argentina

Are you a penguin lover? Are you wondering if you can see these lovely creatures in Argentina? If yes, What is one of Argentina’s best places to see penguins?

Argentina is on the top of many wildlife lovers’ lists and is my favorite destination in South America for seeing Penguins. You can see many massive colonies in their natural habitat and walk among them.

Where to see penguins in Argentina

Punta Tombo in Argentina is one of my Favorite places to see Penguins in Argentina

So, I thought I would share my ultimate wildlife lover’s guide to Penguin watching in Argentina: Where to see Penguins, how to travel to those places, and when is the best time to visit them!

I cover the different species of penguins you can find in Argentina; the perfect places to see the penguin colonies, such as the City of Puerto Madryn and Tierra del Fuego; I also share with you how to get to their natural habitats if you are traveling from Buenos Aires, Punta Arenas, or El Calafate for instance.

I include which time of year you should plan your trip, and at the end of this Guide to Penguins, you will find a 10-day sample ideal itinerary that includes the best places to see these cute animals.

So, let’s dive in!

Navigate to where you want to go

1. The basics of penguins in Argentina

1.1 What time of the year can you see penguins in Argentina?

1.2 The Penguins Migratory Journey in South America

1.3 Most common type of penguin in Argentina

2. Where to see penguins in Argentina

2.1 National reserve of Punta Tombo

2.2 Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego

2.3 El Pedral

2.4 Bahia Bustamante

3. How to get there

4. Our Suggested Sample trip in Argentina for Penguins Lovers

5. Share this

6. Join our private Facebook group

7. Get a Real Custom Trip to Argentina with Us

Download our free South America Travel Guide with our Local expert tips to start planning your trip.

The basics you need to know about penguins in Argentina

Think of penguins as ocean sentinels. They are on the frontline of the sea change.

The wild Patagonian wind seems to leave nothing untouched except the scene playing out before our eyes, where hundreds of Magellanic penguins go about their daily activities unperturbed.

Energetic chaps waddled to and from their nests to the water; loving couples preened one another, while donkey-like braying came from those standing upright, flippers spread wide, and beaks pointing to the sky.

When you visit Argentina, you can witness these marvelous transformations when these lovely creatures enter the clear waters.

What time of the year can you see penguins in Argentina?

Penguins can be spotted from October, when they arrive to breed, until March when they begin to molt and prepare for migration.

👉Bear in mind: Punta Tombo is closed from April to September ( Autumn and winter months in Argentina); the opening of the Punta Tombo Reserve usually happens by mid-September.

Where to see penguins in Argentina

This is me some years ago visiting Peninsula Valdes in Patagonia 🙌

👉What happens during the Winter time in Argentina? Although penguins can be seen throughout the year, in winter (from April to September), there are very few, while the summer months are when more specimens are grouped; for instance, Punta Tombo has up to 400,000 penguins.

READ MORE: Argentina essential travel tips you need to know before you go

The Penguins Migratory Journey in South America

Every year, in September, after their lengthy migratory journey as far north as Uruguay and Brazil, the Magellanic penguins return to the national reserve of Punta Tombo in Argentine Patagonia to find their breeding sites.

The male navigates around the many caves to find the same nest site he occupied the previous year. His lifelong mate recognizes his distinctive call and arrives to a warm welcome in her refurbished home. Elaborate courtship ensues, usually resulting in two eggs.

The parents alternate incubating the eggs, caring for the chicks when they hatch, and foraging for food at sea.

Back home at the nest, the partner is forced to watch them die rather than expose them to predators like the grey fox, the sneaky armadillo scuttling along like a clockwork toy, or the sizable skua screeching overhead.

Penguins are key species for monitoring the health of marine ecosystems as they are extremely sensitive to environmental changes. Because they live most of their lives at sea but return to land to breed and molt, they are accessible to researchers who use their knowledge to develop effective conservation strategies.

Penguin Species in Argentina

The Magellanic Penguin is the most common type of Penguin in Argentina.

Other types of penguins you can find are the Gentoo Penguins. These cute animals, known in Spanish as pingüino papúa or pingüino Juanito live mainly in Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland islands but, luckily, you can see a small group of them in Ushuaia, Argentina’s southernmost city.

Penguin species like Emperor penguins and king Penguins are not likely to be found in Argentina. The Emperor Penguin colonies are located in the South of Antarctica, and the King Penguin in South Georgia (several islands slightly north of Antarctica) is home to the bigger colony.

Where to See Penguins in Argentina ( My favorite places!)

When it comes to Argentina penguins, you must think about Patagonia ( South of Argentina). The Atlantic Coastline is a significant breeding ground for penguins in Patagonia.

Punta Tombo

The most well-known colony of Magellan Penguins in continental Patagonia can be found at Punta Tombo. The national reserve of Punta Tombo is the largest Magellanic penguin colony in the world.

More than a million and a half charming penguins come here to breed every year. Between Argentina and Chile together, they comprise a world population of around 1,800,000 breeding pairs of Magellanic Penguins.

📅 To make sure you meet these beauties, you should visit the largest penguin colony between September and March, but the best time of the year to see them is after November, when their baby penguins are born.

Punta Tombo was designated Blue Patagonia UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

This penguin reserve has been suffering from the devastating effects of oil pollution,

mainly due to commercial over-fishing.

Research by the Magellanic Penguin Project team revealed that climate change is devastatingly affecting the baby penguins’ survival.

Besides rising temperatures, storms are more intense, and unfledged chicks die of hypothermia when burrows are flooded.

The Good news is that thanks to scientific data gathered over 35 years, the Global penguin reserve celebrates two major victories at Punta Tombo: a designated Blue Patagonia UNESCO Biosphere Nature Reserve of 3.1 million hectares of land and sea and a new Marine Protected Area.

This will protect their feeding areas and routes extending up to 12 nautical miles. But, reducing our carbon footprint is a part we all can play in preserving them.

Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego

Can you see Penguins in Ushuaia? This is a common question we receive from our travelers when visiting Argentina.

And the answer is

YES, you can see penguins at the end of the world in Patagonia’s incredible land called Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego.

AND is one of the best places in Argentina to see penguins.

Where Are the Penguins in Ushuaia?

The lovely penguins begin arriving in the area of Harberton Estancia ( Isla Martillo ) in early October when their reproductive cycle starts.

When can you see penguins in Ushuaia?

To make sure you’ll meet them and experience close proximity, the best time to see the penguins is between November and February, as this is when the population is highest.

So, if you want to see the Penguins start planning your trip during this period!

And Suppose you love wild animals, close to the town of Ushuaia on the Beagle Channel, on the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego. In that case, you will have the opportunity to admire the imposing orcas, also known as killer whales.

El Pedral

I can’t continue the article about when and where to see penguins in Argentine Patagonia without mentioning El Pedral reserve.

📍El Pedral is located at Punta Ninfas, province of Chubut, 70 km far from the city of Puerto Madryn.

This is your perfect choice if you are interested in exploring Patagonia’s wildlife and see

LOTS of Magellanic Penguins in a remote wilderness Luxury getaway.

You will enjoy a charming and family-like stay in a remote area and get in touch with mesmerizing water creatures.


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Clara & Maria

Bahia Bustamante

If you want to be surrounded by pure nature during your stay in Patagonia, choose the charming Bahia Bustamante Lodge.

Simplicity is the kind of Luxury you find in Bahia Bustamante: breathtaking landscapes, unique wildlife surrounding you, and peace and connection to nature …

This lovely Eco Retreat at the end of the world is located on the Patagonian coast with incredible biological biodiversity offering visitors the chance to admire all kinds of fascinating birds and other sea creatures.

The friendly Magellan Penguins are waiting for you in their natural habitat, only 15 minutes from the lodge. Of the 16 marine birds that nest on Argentina’s coast, 13 do it in Bahia Bustamante.

Where to see penguins in Argentina-1-24

Bahia Bustamante Magallanic Penguins Colony ✨

Bahia Bustamante is also perfect for biking, trekking, horseback riding, archeological exploration, relaxing on its sandy beaches, a petrified forest of 60 million years, learning about the lifestyle of the first pioneers who arrived in the 50s, and learning about the seaweed industry, and participate in farming activities with sheep.

✨ The Lodge is open to visitors only from August to May. But I suggest planning ahead for your trip — It has few rooms available, so it’s best to book at least 4-6 months in advance.

Watch Clara’s Live Interview with Rosario Barclay from @bahiabustamante to learn more about this eco-lodge in Patagonia and learn why it was Described by The New York Times as ´Argentina’s Private (and Secret) answer to The Galapagos´

How to Get There

If you are a wildlife lover and want to enjoy penguin colonies, sea lions, elephant seals, and marine mammals, the perfect and best places are in Patagonia, Argentina.

Fly to Buenos Aires in Argentina, and from there, you can access by plane the city of Puerto Madryn, Peninsula Valdes, or Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego, and the Beagle Channel, where these species can be found ​​in their natural habitats.

You can explore Argentinian Patagonia and the Patagonian coast, home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins.

Extend your trip to Antarctica by taking an expeditions cruise or Flying from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula; the options are endless.

A Penguin’s lover Sample trip Plan in Argentina

A penguin’s lover trip in Argentina should cover Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia.

We suggest combining these places with other wildlife and natural sites in Argentina, such as Ibera Marshes and the Iguazu Falls.

👉If you want help planning and designing your custom trip to South America, get in touch with our team! Learn about our services here.

Our Suggested 10-day Itinerary Trip for Penguin lovers in Argentina

🏙️ From Day 1 to 3 – Arrive in the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires.

Enjoy a Food & Art experience, visit the Gaucho’s ateliers, and go horseback riding. Get ready to explore Argentine Patagonia!

🐧🐳From days 4 to 5 – from Buenos Aires, Fly to the City of Puerto Madryn, Argentine Patagonia.

Arrive at the Patagonian coast; A day trip to Peninsula Valdes, the perfect place to see the sea lions, elephant seals, orcas, humpback, southern right, blue whale, and other marine mammals. The next day, another day tour will take us to Punta Tombo, the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in South America. These incredible animals are mostly found during summer, especially if you want to see baby penguins.

🐧From days 6 to 7, Eco Resort in Patagonia

Following the Patagonian coast, we will visit Bahia Bustamante, an Eco Retreat at the end of the world. It is the best option to admire all kinds of fascinating birds and other sea creatures. The friendly Magellan Penguins are waiting for you in their natural habitat, only 15 minutes from the lodge. You can also enjoy the Sea Lions colony on the islands that reach up to 4.000 individuals.

🛥️From 8-10 Ushuaia Tierra del Fuego

Our last stop is Tierra del Fuego, the end of the world and home to the best places to see Penguins in Argentina. We will navigate the Beagle Channel, passing by Martillo Island, a tiny penguin island in the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego, and then head to Estancia Harberton where p, penguins are in their natural habitat. We are now in southern Patagonia, where we can see the most incredible animals. Our journey of 10 days in Argentina to see the Penguins is coming to an end!

Do you want to see MORE?!

If you want to see more of Patagonia, head to El Calafate, which includes the most beautiful glaciers on the planet!

For those who want to see even more Wildlife, the best option is to continue to Antarctica Continent in one of our recommended Small Expedition Cruises or visit Magdalena Island, accessed from Chile.

Do you want to plan a trip to South America? So, where do you begin?

Contact our experienced team to Plan your Custom trip to see the Penguins in Argentina…

If you want to travel more authentically, visit the unique penguin spots in Patagonia, Argentina, and dig deeper into each place… ‘We can help!’

Book a day and time to chat with us, and let’s start planning together.

Maria Barciela Co-founder Across South America

PS ✈ Whether you’re ready to start planning or not, it’s fun to daydream about incredible places. Make sure you follow us on Instagram to get more inspiration!

How to See Penguins in Argentina (where and when)

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