Today was the long journey to the east coast. I hardly stopped along the way as I wasn't sure how long it would take me, but just so happens it didn't take as long as I thought and I arrived at my accommodation (Doraike) just after 2pm. It was a shame to leave the Estancia as this was a site I had long been wanting to visit ever since I started planning this trip. Along the way I got some signal on the phone, which was the first since a few days ago, so I quickly pulled over and phoned a concerned Paula to let her know I wasn't stuck on a mountain somewhere. Whilst chatting, an Elegant-crested Tinamou appeared in front and was a welcome tick. I filled with fuel at Gobernador Gregores and carried on.
Once at Doraike, I enquired about the closest Penguin colony, and thankfully the entrance was opposite the entrance to Doraike, with just a 20km track to follow. There was a nice Italian couple at the entrance to the track who also wanted to see the Penguins so they got in, and then a few minutes later an Aussie Sheila joined the party too, and together we walked out and shared our travelling stories. It was nice to speak to some English speakers, this being the first time since being out here.
The Magellanic Penguins were brilliant, and unexpectedly a few Southern Giant Petrels and Dolphin Gulls flew through.
After this and dropping everyone off I went to the park HQ to get some wifi, and whilst doing so got talking to the guide there. Seeing pictures of Pumas around the room got me asking where's best to see them in the park. He regularly sees them near the penguin colony so after dark I went into safari mode and set about trying to track one down from the comfort of my hire car. After a while, a set of eyes were spotted, being very bright and motionless, while every now and the head turned away and then back again, just like a cat. The distance the animal was at made it impossible to see any shape, but with the eyes being so bright and few animals about, I assume this could only have been a Puma. I torched some Guanacos later on in the night and the eye shine was very different. So close and yet so far.
A funny moment from today was at a bank. I was swapping USD for Pesos and my face was obviously more redder then normal. I had to handover my passport for the exchange to take place and him and his female colleagues had a good chuckle at my expense. It all made sense when after he had given back my passport, handed over the money, he then put a baseball cap through the slot for me. Obviously my face was unlike the paleness of the passport photo and was in desperate need of a hat, and now I've got a hat after my broken one fell out my pocket in El Chalten. Excellent service!!
Few birds today but the highlights are as follows:
Southern Giant Petrel
Grey-hooded Sierra Finch
shading the two chicks
Penguin life isn't always easy
Estancia La Angostura - probably the only place to regularly have Hooded Grebe, Austral Rail and Patagonian Tinamou on the garden list at the same time
the view from my patio