The village of Bahia Bustamente in the Patagonian Chubut province on the Atlantic coast of Argentina has just 40 people. It is a hidden gem of a nature reserve that’s home to 4,000 sea lions, 50,000 penguins and at least 22 species of bird life. It makes a good alternative to the Valdes Peninsula, for those that venture are treated to unspoiled white sandy beaches, forests and hiking trails. This really is stepping back in time – no mobile signal, just one public telephone and electricity produced by a generator from dusk until eleven – adds to its charm. A real digital detox.
Whilst exploring the Patagonian coastline Don Lorenzo Soriano discovered Rotten Bay in 1953, named because of the abundance of rotting seaweed. It was here he based himself along with his family and established Bahia Bustamente. The successful company began a thriving seaweed industry which is used in biomedicine and hair gel. The village expanded quickly and at its peak there were over 400 people. A school, church, police post, warehouses and a shop were also established to service the community. As it grew the village began sheep farming.
Bahia Bustamente has now opened its doors to adventurous tourists who visit for the rugged scenery and spectacular wildlife. Since 2009 the coast is part of the new Austral Marine National Park Patagonia which protects all species within a one mile nautical radius from the shore.
There are a number of different places to stay. Six comfortable sea front houses each with two double bedrooms, outside terrace, living room and bathroom overlook the beach and bay. These seafront houses include full board and all activities. Your guide will look after you during your stay, take your on a tour of the peninsula, boat trips to view the bird and marine life and a hiking trip through the petrified forest.
An alternative is the Steppe Houses of which there are five located around 200 metres from the shore. Each includes a double bedroom, kitchen and terrace area available for up to three people. With this option you are very much left to explore at your own pace (although guided tours can be arranged). No meals are included but there is a nearby restaurant.
This paradise of sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and rugged coastline is best explored by some of the many activities. Organised activities are decided on a day-to-day basis, primarily because of the changeable weather. There are however many options which include horse riding, kayaking, sailing, hiking, ranch visits and mountain biking all with an emphasis on wildlife and nature. The coastal area is one of the most important areas in Patagonia for seabirds. A huge population of sea lions can be seen, particularly from September onwards when the community grows to around 4,000. Orcas, dolphins, the Southern right whale and Southern elephant seals can often be seen. If you are lucky you may glimpse at the odd armadillo, skunk or grey fox.
The best time to visit are the southern summer months where the days are warm and the nights are chilly. Spring and Autumn are also good but there are strong winds to contend with. To begin your wildlife adventure to Bahia Bustamente get in touch with us.