Called the "Argentine answer to the Galapagos" by the New York Times, the town of Bahía Bustamante is the ideal place for adventure-seeking and nature-loving travelers to explore beautiful Atlantic Patagonia.
Although fairly isolated from the major tourist destinations of Argentina, Bahía Bustamante can still be reached by a quick plane ride from Buenos Aires. Flying into either Trelew, 250 km to the north, or Comodoro Rivadavia, 180 km to the south, travelers can take a private transfer of about three hours the rest of the way. Alternatively, for a cheaper option, visitors can take a bus from Buenos Aires to the town of Garayalde, about 60 km away, and from there take a private transfer. A final option, and the most adventurous of the three, is renting a car and driving down the coast along the scenic Route 3.
Open for tourism from October until April, Bahía Bustamante is known for its seaweed industry and ancient petrified forest. With a slower-paced lifestyle and an intimate connection to the land, locals are passionate about educating visitors on the area's abundant natural resources and eager to see them interact with the diverse, native flora and fauna. Housing hundreds of wildlife species including sea lions, penguins, and marine birds, the Atlantic coast of Bahía Bustamante is truly a nature lover's paradise. Here are our favorite must-do activities for your trip:
See Sea Lion and Seabird Colonies by Boat
Sail through the Malaspina Coast to observe seaweed harvesting in action and learn about the infinite species of seaweed and mussels that grow in the coves. Sail on over to the islands in the bay to search for wildlife including sea lions, marine bird colonies, and penguins. Get up close and personal with these animals, who enjoy sunbathing just as much as you!
Hike in the Petrified Forest
Journey back to ancient Patagonia more than 60,000,000 years ago! The Petrified Forest, known as "The Pyramid," remains one of the region's top attractions for a glimpse into the past. Hikes along moon-like landscape afford sightings of foxes, armadillos, and skunks living among petrified tree trunks and colorful rock fossils. A walk towards its highest point gives way to a stunning view of the desert steppe below. As much as modern society has changed the natural landscape, it's refreshing to visit the "original Patagonia" that is still intact and thriving.
Visit a Patagonia Estancia
Surrounded by expansive Patagonian estancias (Argentine ranches) that raise sheep, Bahía Bustamante gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the gaucho culture of Argentina in a unique way. Spanning 80,000 hectares, these estancias mostly funcution to produce sheep wool and meat. Visit the corrals and learn about daily farm tasks like shearing, weaning, classification, and the marking of the sheep. Depending on the season, you can even try out one of the ranch activities. For example, those who plan their trip for the Argentine spring will be able to shear a sheep—one of the 20,000 being sheared during this season!
Ever wonder what makes dulce de leche so sweet and rich? It may come as a surprise, but the natural gelling agent in seaweed is widely used in the food industry, especially for thickening dulce de leche. Learn about the health benefits, the widespread uses of seaweed, and the importance of the industry in the area at a local harvesting factory.
Of course, there is always the possibility of just relaxing on the beach with a glass of malbec and enjoying life.
This article was written by Will Collier on behalf of Say Hueque, a company specializing in tours to Argentina and Chile.