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Reserva Provincial Cabo Vírgenes - Other Activity Río Gallegos - Argentina

This far southeast corner of South America called Cabo Vírgenes is scattered with the remains of human endeavors. Here are the ruins of Ciudad del Nombre de Jesús, founded by Spaniard Sarmiento de Gamboa in February 1584 who succumbed to the ravishes of starvation and disease. At the end of the 19th century, Estancia Monte Dinero sent sheep out to graze. In 1904 a 26.5-meter (87-ft) high faro, the furthest south on the continent, was erected to send to beam a light that could be seen 44 kilometers (27 mi) out to sea by ships ready to navigate the Magellan Straight.

But before humans arrived to this shore trying to survive the harsh Patagonian environment, one creature had been coming for millennia to mate and rear their young: the Pingüino Magallánico (Magellanic Penguin, Spheniscus magellanicus). Here, in 1230-hectare Reserva Provincial Cabo Vírgenes, about 80,000 penguin pairs come in October to mate and watch over the precious eggs of their future generation. In late February they hatch, and in March the fledglings lose their down to plumage and tail. When the young can swim in April, the whole colony disappears until the next year. From the lighthouse, a trail goes to an observation point of the colony (Distance: 1.7 km / 1 mi, Duration: 1.5 hr).

Other animals call this Patagonian cape their home in all seasons. On these plains graze guanaco (Lama guanicoe) and ñandú (Lesser Rhea, Pterocnemia pennata). Mara (Patagonian mara, Dolichotis patagonum) and caiquén (Upland Goose, Chloephaga picta) also may be seen.


138 kilometers (86 mi) southeast of Río Gallegos

Near Río Gallegos, Río Gallegos, Argentina

Other Activity Types:
Wildlife refuge, Natural park

Getting There

From Río Gallegos, take Ruta 3 south 112 km to Ruta Nacional 40 east (formerly Ruta Provincial 1), and follow that to the end of the road (22 km / 14 mi). If you do not have your own transportation, Maca Tobiano Turismo in Río Galleg

Travel Tips:

Before arriving at the reserve, you will pass Estancia Cóndor, belonging to the Benetton family and one of the largest in the Patagonia (over 200,000 hectares), and Estancia Monte Dinero, the southern-most sheep ranch in continental Argentina.

Reserva Provincial Cabo Vírgenes has a ranger station, visitors center and bathrooms. Camping is not allowed. The best months to go are when the penguins are around, October-April. In February the young are hatched and by the beginning of March lose their down. The lighthouse is open all year and may be climbed.

Price Description:

Foreigners $2, Argentines $1.40; Santa Cruz Province residents: adults $0.60, children and retirees $0.30.

Relative price: Budget

Open Hours from:Dawn

Open Hours to:Dusk

Days Closed:none

Travel Skills: None

You Need to Bring:

Although there is a small restaurant at Estancia Monte Dinero, you may want to pack your own food and drink. Also bring warm, comfortable clothing and sun protection.

Currencies accepted
Argentine Peso

Here are other activities in and around Near Río Gallegos that may be of interest: Estancia Monte Dinero and Fishing around Río Gallegos.

By Lorraine Caputo

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