There are 19 species of penguins living in the southern hemisphere, and don’t ask me which kind of penguins are the cutest – they are all equally cute! (The Eudyptula minor are the cutest). On my recent trip to the Chilean Magallanes region, I was presented with two options: seeing the king penguins on Tierra del Fuego, or the magellanic penguins in Magdalena Island.
The king penguins, being the second largest species and almost equally majestic as the emperor penguins, would be an obvious first choice. However, their colony was too far. They are chilling in a far-reached corner on Tierra del Fuego. It is an eight hour round-trip drive and two ferries away from Punta Arenas. Since I was planning the trip at the last minute on new year’s eve, the rental car would cost more than USD $300! D’oh, no go!
Going to see the magellanic penguins, on the other hand, means crossing the treacherous water in the Strait of Magellan for 1.5 hours. Magdalena Island sits at at the junction of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. This fact alone was exciting enough for yours truly geographic fanatic. Even more, these tens of thousands of penguins have proved to be more sociable and instagram-friendly than what you would expect! Living on an isolated island with no natural predators, they have no fear or respect for human beings whatsoever. They jaywalked, yelled at me, and were being absolute asses, just like a native New Yorker! It’s no wonder they and their relatives are sometimes called jackass penguins!
Here is a video of how they walk.
And when they are fighting and taking care of their babies.
This is the second time I am visiting penguins. I can’t help but to compare them with their close relatives, the Cape penguins in Cape Town, South Africa. They looked similar in size and fashion, but the Cape penguins were much quieter and shyer. These cool gents only hang out in Boulders Beach at Simon’s Town. Hopefully, one day soon I can visit the kings and emperors!