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“Unique chance to see King Penguins”
Review of Turismo Selknam

Turismo Selknam
Ranked #2 of 38 Tours in Punta Arenas
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: We offer full day and hald days tours to Tierra del Fuego, Torres del Paine, Park strait of Magellan, Keu ken, city tour, Pali Aike and others. Includes:Transportation and bilingual Guide. Not included: food or Entrances. We will make your trip came be a special and Unique, We have a special team, where everyone can give of their best, and you will enjoy each place on each tour.
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities
Reviewed 8 January 2017

We booked a day trip to visit the King Penguin colony in Tierra del Fuego. The van picks you up in the early morning around 7:30am; we take the 9am ferry (2 hrs), then a several hour van ride (with some small stops along the way) to arrive at the colony; the total time to arrive there is about 5 hours, and you return by a different route. When we returned to Punta Arenas, it was around 9:30pm, however sometimes due to weather affecting the ferry schedule, this can be potentially much later. Our guide told us that her latest record was returning at 3am, although this was very unusual. It might be a good idea not to have any tight schedule that night or early the next morning.

On the way to the penguin colony, we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant, which is at your own expense. You can also buy groceries from a store next to the restaurant.

We had a English-speaking guide who was cheerful, attentive, and knowledgeable. The penguin colony has a max of 200 penguins, and around half are at sea at any given time. When we went (late December '16), there were around 60 penguins total. There are 2 lookout points, where you stand behind a barrier and look out at the colony. When we went, the penguins were around 100m away. I would recommend bringing binoculars and plenty of warm clothing. It can get very windy during the 1 hour you have to view the penguins.

Our visit was in late December 2016. We saw penguins sitting on their eggs, but no babies. There were some penguins walking to or from the ocean. For the most part, the penguins were not active and stayed in the same place and position. They are very majestic but you will not be able to get up close to them, as this is a protected colony. This colony is very recently formed within the last few years. I saw one fox nearby.

This trip may be worthwhile if you're an animal lover or photographer. However, my family enjoyed Isla Magdalenas more because there were baby penguins at this time of year and the penguins were much more active.

3  Thank Grace C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 January 2017

We had reserved both the King Penguin tour (Pinguino Rey) & Isla Magdalena penguin tour with Turismo Selknam. Turismo Selknam was prompt and accurate in responding to our requests and made appropriate reservations in a professional manner. Carolina and Marisol made stupendous efforts in ensuring that the arrangements were the best and the tours were to our satisfaction.

The King Penguin tour is an all-day affair. Leaving around 8am from the hotel for a 9am ferry crossing, we reached the actual penguin reserve around 2 in the afternoon. Once you reach the reserve, you are captivated by the King penguins in their natural habitat. The sight of the bright yellow necks makes the long travel completely worthwhile.

The Isla Magdalena tour is another priceless experience. Our tour was one in the afternoon, ferry leaving at 4pm from Punta Arenas. Once you reach the isle, you get the opportunity to be with the Magellanic penguins. Having visited in December, we were lucky to view a lot of chicks, either still in the burrows or trying to move around. The adults were all about, and given that time of the day, quite a lot of the penguins were by the water, jumping in and out of the strait. Worth every bit!

2  Thank raokaria
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 December 2016

I took this tour in December 2016. The weather was overcast and spitting rain, but temperatures were in the 50-60 range, so it wasn’t too cold. The tour van picked me up about 7:30 and I grabbed a front row seat, because I didn’t want to be squeezed into the back all day. After picking up a few more passengers, we boarded a large ferry to cross the Strait of Magellan, a distance of about 20 miles, to the town of Porvenir, on the Isla de Tierra del Fuego. The ferry ride took 2 hours with little scenery, so I just read or chatted with fellow passengers.
Back on the bus, we drove into Porvenir, a town of a few thousand people. The terrain here was mostly barren, with alternating low hills and gullies, and few trees. It reminded me of Iowa, or maybe western Kansas. Our guide Diana provided information in Spanish and pretty good English. Our driver, Alec, was a burly man who fancied himself a semi-pro photographer, and took copious photos of all the tourists at every stop. We stopped first at a little park with statues commemorating the local Indians, who were called Selk’nam, and were tall, semi-nomadic people. The Selk’nam had no idea of private property, and considered sheep to be fair game for hunting, which turned out not to be a good choice. The local ranchers took a dim view of this, and between 1890 and 1920 essentially exterminated the Selk’nam by paying bounties for their ears. Nonetheless, depictions of them based on early photos can be seen all over the place, as if they had always been a cherished but quaint group of locals. From there, we visited a nearby museum, which was sparsely filled with native photos and artifacts including a completely mummified corpse, and some stuffed birds that looked like they’d spent the last century in a dusty attic. Hanging overhead was a sorry excuse for a whale skeleton, a bunch of bones dangling in different directions and levels much like an Alex Calder mobile. From there we drove to a small restaurant where we had a hot lunch.
After lunch, we drove for 90 minutes at breakneck speed along a narrow, one-lane, gravel road, but every driver seemed to think it was wide enough for two vehicles to pass. Our driver did his best imitation of a race-car driver, careening from side to side in order to avoid only the potholes that would have required a ladder to escape. I watched from my front row seat in horror as another car barreled towards us, both in the middle of the road, and only at the last minute did either vehicle swerve over to their own side to avoid a collision. It was like a game of chicken, but with a vehicle full of tourists. I’m surprised that van still had its outside mirrors on it.

Finally, we arrived at the Penguin Park, at the edge of a large bay, where a small river runs down from the hills, and parallels the bay, forming a long spit covered with gravel and grass. Until 6 years ago, there were no penguins here. Then one day, a few showed up, and after deciding to form a new colony, invited all their relatives. More penguins soon arrived, and now there are about 100 of them who call this place home. Despite considerable open area, they all occupied a space about the size of a two-car garage. The penguins here are king penguins, the second largest species, standing about 2 feet high. Most are immigrants - ten chicks were hatched last year, and this year there are 14 nesting pairs. They don’t actually nest; mostly they just stand around and argue with each other. Mom lays the egg, then holds it on top of her feet, to help insulate it from the ground, and surrounds it in a downy belly flap to keep it warm. Dad goes off to catch fish for a week (so would I), after which he comes back, and does his turn standing egg-duty, while mom takes her turn to go shopping (for fish, of course). Through the telescope of another tourist, I could see Mom (or was it dad?) leaning down to nudge her(his?) egg, as (s)he lifted his belly flap to rotate it. Can’t have it getting hard-boiled on one side. We tourists stood behind a wooden blind, peering over at the penguins standing on the other side of the creek, about 100 feet away. The incubating parents stayed in one spot, while others argued about space, squawking and pecking, or flapping their wings at each other. Some formed isolated committees of 2 or 3, probably trying to decide whose turn it was to order pizza, or maybe placing bets on which Dad would drop his egg. A juvenile fluffing its molting feathers looked like a Shakespearean actor in ruff collar preening for stage. After an hour of this, we regrouped at a picnic table, where Alec, the race-driver-photographer, pulled out a bottle of pre-mixed Pisco Sour and poured us all glasses. We all toasted a hearty “Salud” to los penguinos, while Alec took photos of us grinning and clowning for his facebook page.
It was now time to head back to the ferry, and thankfully, we took a different route, on a paved road this time, with two lanes and a dividing line to discourage games of chicken. At 5 pm, we arrived at the north end of the island, where we would cross the Strait again by a different ferry. Here, we found a long line of several hundred cars and trucks, but our driver went past them all right up to the ferry dock. If we had done that in the US, we would have been yelled and cursed at, or maybe worse. But apparently, vans with tourists get priority for the ferry ride. Nonetheless, we waited there for about 3 hours before we could cross, during which some tourists explored a nearby general store with little on its shelves to offer. I walked down the beach and turned over rocks to find crabs, snails, and seastars hiding beneath them. During that time, four ferries came and went, loading about 50 cars each time, for the trip across the Strait, which was only a few miles wide here, and took less than 20 minutes. We finally reached the other side about 8 pm, and headed south. We made one stop at an old ranch, or Estancia, which had been one of the first places settled in this region. Dates on some of the buildings ranged from 1890 to 1921. But now it was a ghost town of old dilapidated buildings with little to look at. Across the road, lying on the beach was a large steel shipwreck, rusting into pieces which I found much more interesting. It was the Amadeo, the first steamship to work these waters, from 1890 to 1932. And there it was, left rotting on the beach. From there, it was two more hours back to Punta Arenas, by which time, my knees and legs were stiff and painful from lack of movement. I tried to sleep but but spent most of my time looking forward to a large cerveza.

The high point, indeed the whole point, of this tour was to see penguins, which we did, and to be there while they brooded eggs was worthwhile. Take a camera with at least a 200 mm lens, as you can’t get very close. The rest of the day was a semi-uncomfortable bus ride, with little relief except for the shabby museum. It was literally like driving through Iowa to see penguins at a lake. The guides were good, and the price reasonable, but expect a long day, and take snacks and plenty of water.

3  Thank Bradley S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 May 2016 via mobile

We did the king penguin tour as we love penguins and thought it would be worth the full day and the more than $100 USD it cost per person (60.000 CLP). We were wrong.
The penguin park was cool, but the rest of the tour was terrible. The tour was done in reverse without telling us. We had been told we would stop at a cafe for lunch, but then asked where lunch was and were told the only option was the supermarket. I understand the boat timetable changed so they had to do it in reverse - but we should have been told the day before so we could bring lunch. All the stops apart from the Penguins were terrible - literally stopping to look at an ugly park with nothing, or a town with no people.
The driver was actually really good - If he had of been the tour guide it would have been a better day. But our tour guide pretty much ignored myself and my partner (not sure why) and talked incessantly about other random things that weren't relevant.
Overall a waste of a day and money - if you want to see the Penguins hire a car and drive yourself!

1  Thank AussieTa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 February 2016

My partner and I recently travelled with Turismo Selknam on a day trip from Punta Arenas to Tierra Del Fuego. The main attraction of any visit is to see the King Penguins in the Pinguino Rey colony, although this involves around 9 hours of travel so to break this up various other interesting (and less interesting) stops are added along the way. Note that these are KING penguins, not the Magdalen penguins which are on offer at the nearby colonies of Isla Magdalena and Seno Ottway. Having seen my fill of this subtype at Punto Tombo we wished for something different so signed up for this long but rewarding journey. This tour cost 48000CP + 12000CP (ticket to pinguino rey). This same tour is also provided by Turismo Laguna Azul, so if you can't get in with Turismo Selknam that's another equally well rated option. They follow the exact same itinerary and we literally crossed paths all day.

Our guides name was Mario and he spoke fantastic English. He was able to give a terrific insight into the often dogged history of Tierra Del Fugo and this became obvious with his insightful guiding at the history museum in Porvenir. A typical tour begins with a 0730 pick up from the hotel. After a short drive you board the 0800 ferry and cross the Magdalena strait arriving at 1000 to Porvenir, the main town of Tierra Del Fuego (which has all of 700 inhabitants). You visit a very small park for around 15 minutes (not particularly interesting) before visiting the local museum which outlines the tragic history of the natives of Tierra Del Fuego and their eradication in the 1800's to make way for sheep production. 1130 is lunch (can buy at local bakery) before another 2.5 hours of driving to pinguino rey. The pinguino rey colony is quite small - consisting of around 200 birds, of which 100 are usually out at sea. You pay 12000CP for entry into a very makeshift area which allows you to view these creatures from behind rope at a distance of around 100m. This is undoubtingly the highlight of the trip. At 1600 you continue on but instead of tracing back the way you came (that ferry doesn't cross in the afternoon) you go North to another ferry which takes only 20 minutes to cross the strait. From here you visit a sheep ranch and desert ghost town on the way pack to Punta Arenas. You should arrive back at around 2100.

Without stating the obvious this was a very long day. However, it was very satisfying too. I loved the penguins and the photos I have are awesome. In addition we got to cover all of the attractions of the Tierra Del Fuego in one day which was a great investment of time. The cost was cheaper than hiring a car and attempting to do this ourselves plus our experience was improved by the historical context added by our guide. The driving was certainly not a highlight but as long as you are prepared for this you'll be alright. It is very cold down here so dress in layers (layer up outside but strip down in the bus). Overall I would recommend this to others keen on seeing wild King Penguins.

4  Thank Rowan H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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