OTHER DESTINATIONS IN RAWSON
PUNTA LOMA PROVINCIAL RESERVE
On Golfo Nuevo, south of Puerto Madryn city, in the district of Viedma, lies the Punta Loma Provincial Reserve.
Created on September 29, 1967 by Provincial Law Nº 697 with the purpose of protecting its permanent colony of sea lions, Punta Loma was one of Chubut province wildlife department's first fauna reserves.
The southern sea lion (Otaria flavescens) is a species that is widely distributed on the whole Atlantic and Pacific coasts of Argentine and Chilean Patagonia.
Peninsula Valdés is a prime spot to view this species.
Males, in contrast with females, have a dark brown coloring. They have manes, and reach a total length of 2 ½ meters, and a maximum weight of 350 kilos. The pups are usually born from late December to end January. They are dark, and bleat like lambs. They can weigh up to 13 kilos at birth.
In the reserve you are advised how to behave so as not to interfere with the routine of the colony, while you are also given full details on the growth cycle of the sea lion.
To get there, you go southeastwards along Boulevard Almirante Brown, up to the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia. There you will find a gravel track that takes you to the seal colony. It is barely 14 kilometers away from Puerto Madryn city.
Once on the reserve, another gravel track takes visitors to an observation deck placed on a hillside commanding a magnificent view of Golfo Nuevo and the seal colony.
The reserve has well-signposted pathways that display the varied vegetation of Patagonia.
There is also in this place a pathway to observe and learn about the typical flora in this region.
The predominant flora is low and of a bushy type. There are representative species of both the Patagonia steppes and woods, such as: jarilla, barba de chivo, algarrobillo, alpataco, piquillín, etc.
In the high areas, there are bushes such as quilimbay, cola piche, molle, mata laguna and mamuel-choique.
Next to the sea there is a vegetation type that makes a complete contrast with the above, with a predominance of species that can survive the high salinity of the soil and the environment, such as jume, vidriera and zampa.
The land fauna that is typical of the Patagonia steppes and may be seen here consists of: guanacos, lesser rheas, maras, foxes, piches, etc.
The large number of visitors hosted in this area demands stringent control and vigilance by the wildlife rangers, since any outside interference with the seal colony might endanger its continued existence at this location.
This area of shoreline and the neighboring areas also feature medium-height cliffs that end abruptly at the shoreline and are lined with long, stony beaches.
You will be able to observe the neighboring areas at the end of the circuit when you return to Puerto Madryn along the natural pathways following the coast. You will see the beaches of El Pozo, Paraná, Punta Este and Káiser.
Remember that Punta Loma may be visited all year round. Just bear in mind the times when the tide is out.
FLORENTINO AMEGHINO DAM
The Florentino Ameghino dam is the ideal excuse to do a spot of adventurous trekking.
This is a monumental work of engineering that was conceived and designed by an engineer called Antonio Pronsato in 1943.
Twenty years later, it was inaugurated, together with a hydro-electric power station using a 56-meter waterfall with a spill volume of 150 cubic meters per second.
On the right of the Dam Bridge you will see part of the artificial 7,000 hectare lake with its greenish-blue waters, and on the left a small valley.
This power station supplies Pico Truncado, Caleta Olivia, Comodoro Rivadavia and the Lower Chubut River Valley area.
Beyond the Dam Bridge there is a pleasant shady bathing area at the foot of dark yellow containment walls. Walking through this area, you will be able to admire some lovely woods.
The rocky headlands form a reddish canyon that encloses the Chubut river bed over a distance of several kilometers. Alternated natural and artificial stairways will take visitors up the rocky walls of this canyon to landscape observation decks.
On the banks of the river, the soothing hues of the vegetation and the water create an ideal environment for relaxation and contemplation of nature in all her glory.
This area is provided with barbecue grilles, a campsite, a general store and other facilities. In summer, adventure sports and activities are done here (rafting, trekking, photo safaris, etc.) as well as trout fishing.
To get here, you have to leave Madryn southwards, along Provincial Route Nº 3 (paved). Your destination is the city of Trelew. When you get to the roundabout after having done some 60 kilometers, you have to turn right along National Route Nº 25, towards Esquel.
From the roundabout up to the district of Las Chapas it is about 117 kilometers. Here you turn left and, after some 12 kilometers arrive at Florentino Ameghino Dam.
Along the same gravel track that takes you to Ameghino Dam you get to Cerro Avanzado beach. This beach is much used by fishermen, and is full of sea birds that mill around scavenging for food.
Its name refers to its main topographical feature: sloping sedimentary formations that are millions of years old and contain fossil remains of oysters and marine vertebrates.
At the base of Cerro Avanzado, if one carefully scrutinizes the surrounding cliffs and overhangs, one will see a large number of marine fossils protruding from them, such as mussels, oysters, crabs, sea snails, etc.
On the high points in this area are the so-called "picaderos"(stone age flint chipping quarries), that provide evidence of native inhabitants of the region. Here the flint and obsidian was worked by the Indians to produce arrowheads, scrapers and other tools.
Currently, these deposits are being studied, so it is important not to remove any of the fossils or artifacts.
Despite repeated warnings of this kind, many of the fossil deposits of Cerro Avanzado still are depleted by visitors who are unaware of the damage they are causing.
The sea lions especially, because of their shore-living habits in the mating season, are vulnerable to human environmental pollution through the contamination of the sea and the noise contamination caused by the busy plying of the motorboats.
Please remember that you must not pick up or remove any item you find in these cultural sites, because this will interfere with the work of the specialists.
On your return to Puerto Madryn, by the same road, you can stop at the different gulf beaches: Playa del Pozo, Playa Paraná, Punta Este and Playa Kaiser. This is an ideal circuit for mountain bike fans.
This is a walrus colony. On the southern tip of the peninsula, it is the last reserve you will visit. It possesses gastronomy and lodging facilities.
Here you can watch the fauna, after paying for the services of a guide, although access to the reserve is limited to agencies and the tourists staying overnight at the hotel. There is no wildlife ranger here.
The attraction offers horse riding, mini-trekking, a restaurant, sale of souvenirs and excursions by range-rover vehicles.
If your aim is to soak up the peace and beauty of your surroundings, another option is to overnight on the farms on the peninsula (five, in all).
You return to Punta Pirámides, and from there again by National Route Nº 3 to Puerto Madryn.