From the National Geographic Explorer in South America
Oct 29, 2012 - National Geographic Explorer
Puerto Deseado, Argentina
Magellan, Thomas Cavendish, Sir Francis Drake, Captain Fitz Roy, and Darwin to name a few of the navigators and explorers over the last five centuries, have preceded us sailing into the cloudy waters west of the mouth of the Deseado estuary. Many more have come through since.
For many, the day started early, with a colorful sunrise at the mouth of the Deseado, and an eerie feeling of alluring exploration starting to awake, fueled by the fantastic water and weather conditions that welcomed into this part of Patagonia. But no matter how many may have come before us, by the time we were on the boats, warmed by the sun and surrounded by Commerson’s Dolphins and a myriad of seabirds, the feeling was that we were the first to ever sail these waters.
A maze of islands and reddish volcanic cliffs presented us with the early season breeding attempts of Red-legged, Rock, Imperial, and Neotropic Cormorants, very aware of the presence of the predatory dolphin and Kelp Gulls which in turn, were in search of a meal for their own chicks. Skilled boat maneuvering got us in close proximity to these uncanny approachable birds and some South American sea lions in the process of defining territorial claims and enticing females to their hard won patch of rock. Springtime is in full swing in this part of the world, and the Patagonian infamous ‘roaring forties’ that usually dominate the season gave us a long break to enjoy this hidden jewel on the Atlantic Coast.
The now familiar dusty roads brought us to the Darwin Lookout, a remarkable viewpoint of the estuary and the surrounding lands; were Darwin’s Rheas and extremely rare Patagonian Tinamou still thrive. As if the natural wonders had not left us satisfied, a visit to the neatly organized Swift Museum, holding treasures from a sunken ship of centuries past, brought us back to the hardships those early explorers must have endured to discover and survey this long gone river, now inundated by the waters of the mighty South Atlantic Ocean to which we sail on at the very end of the day.