Puerto Madryn is an Argentine city of a little under 100,000 on the coast of northern Patagonia. It is known for its sandy beaches and restaurant-lined promenade that faces Golfo Nuevo Bay. Between May and December each year, the bay is overrun by southern right whales that come to the bay to breed. In the late summer months, right whales come so close to land, you don’t even need a boat tour to see them.
Looking at the tourist blurbs, the main things to do (when we were there) was to check out the Magellan penguin colonies and swim with the seals. The prices for doing this from the boat were exorbitant so we chose to wander about instead.
As we wandered along the pier towards town we heard a barking sound, only to look down and see a bunch of seals resting on the steps and landings on the main pier. After wandering about for a few hours we checked again and the few that were there were joined by some friends and about 10 seals were kicking back on the platform.
Continuing to walk along the pier we got great city views and upon reaching the foreshore we were met with a wide beach stretching for around 3 km complete with seven set up beach resorts and free space in between.
The promenade is lined with statues, cafes, restaurants and bars. It is clean and safe with a really relaxing feel. There were markets set up (probably to relieve the cruise ship patrons of their funds) and there was even a couple of teenagers putting on a (very impressive) tango performance as a form of busking.
The thing that struck me most about the place was just how cheap it was. Everything that we looked at was very reasonably priced. We went to the grocery store to get some necessary items and in poking about found out that we could buy 1 litre bottles of beer for between $1.50 and $2.
As we headed around the corner I stopped for a haircut ($4) and then we settled into a little microbrewery for lunch and a couple of beers. The portion sizes were excessive but my steak sandwich came with bacon,egg, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a side of chips, while Jill’s burger required a jaw that detached. Huge meals coupled with two pints (each) and the bill saw us getting change from a $20. We even got unshelled peanuts while we contemplated our options.
While only small, this place was fantastic. Nothing was overpriced and the place just felt right. The more we see of Argentina, the more we like. Our shopping expedition saw Jill scoring a new singlet and satisfying her chocolate fix with a stockpile of Kit Kats for next to nothing. I even found the rugby shop.
I did some looking to see how much the accommodation costs were, given that everything else was so cheap. I found nice cheap hotels with beachfront views coming in in the mid 30’s and higher end options maxing out at about $100. I can absolutely see us coming back here and setting up camp for a week or two, especially when the whales are mating.