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Magdalena Island

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Island the Magellanic Penguins Call Home

Witness the day-to-day life of a community of 200,000 Magellanic penguins as they raise their young, eat and bathe just a few meters from where you stand. Magdalena Island is home to the largest penguin colony in Chile. Its inhabitants are known for their formal plumage and somewhat clumsy waddle.

In the past, only those who travelled on large cruise lines could visit the colony. Today, however, boats head to this island two or three times each day. It's a true Magellanic essential.

It used to be that the most "penguin-centric" experience you could have would be to visit the Otway Sound colonies near Punta Arenas. But the sparsely populated village of 8,000 penguins can't compare to the density and complexity of the "city" of birds on Magdalena Island.

The island is located 35 km from Punta Arenas, and the boat ride generally takes about 30 minutes, depending on the wind conditions. From November to early April, the penguins can be found breeding and molting for the summer. After their young have grown and they've changed their plumage, they go in search of warmer waters.

In addition to learning about the penguin population – which has increased 60 percent since the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF) took over the island's maintenance in 1992 -, you can visit nearby Marta Island, which is home to a colony of seals and imperial cormorants. The latter, a species of bird, are known for their upright postures and long necks, as well as their long flights in "V" formation during which they resemble feathered hydroplanes.

 

Featured Destinations of Southern Patagonia

aAntarctic

bStrait of Magellan
cPunta Arenas

dTierra del Fuego
eTorres del Paine National Park

fPuerto Natales

 

Tours you can do

Hiking Torres del Paine

The Mylodon Cave
Dientes de Navarino

Magdalena Island
Marino Francisco Coloane Park

Puerto Edén
Última Esperanza - Mariano Glacier


Cruises to Puerto Williams and Cape Horn

 

Getting There

barco
By Boat
Boats depart Punta Arenas at 7:00 am and 4:00 pm. If there are enough passengers, the tour company will add a third trip to the schedule.

 

Tips

01

Penguin Crossing Catch the Early Boat Motion Sickness
If you come across one or more of these birds along the 800 meters of trails that cross through the colony, give them the right of way. It's important to not disrupt the flow of their hectic lives, which move according to a well-established order and structure that a number of human communities would envy. The penguins trek to the water to bathe and feed each afternoon, and the island appears a lot emptier as a result. They come back in the evening. Semi-rigid ships are used to make the trip to Magdalena Island, and the ride can be bumpy and difficult and take three or four times longer than the ideal 30 minutes projected for trips made during pleasant weather. It can be a strenuous experience if you're not an "old sea dog." .

02

Peale's and Commerson's dolphins
Keep an eye out for Peale's and Commerson's dolphins, which generally swim alongside the small boats.
 

 

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