Exploring Punta Tombo With Kids – New For 2024

Continuing our quest to see as many penguins as possible on our Patagonian road trip, our adventures in Ushuaia and Monte León National Park set the stage for the next highlight: Punta Tombo. A visit to Punta Tombo with kids is certain to be an incredible experience you will all remember.

A group of Magenellic penguins walking amoungst the bushes to and from the sea
The penguins of Punta Tombo make their way to and from the beach.

The vast colony at Punta Tombo, home to over one million Magellanic penguins, lets you experience these delightful creatures up close. Due to its convenient location near Puerto Madryn, it is also one of the most popular places to visit and is easily reached by car or tour.

Whether it’s watching them waddle along the beach, listening to their distinctive calls, or observing their daily routines, a visit to Punta Tombo with children is guaranteed to be an enriching and memorable adventure, highlighting the wonders of the natural world in a way that is both educational and engaging.

Our Map For Exploring Punta Tombo With Kids

Getting To Punta Tombo With Kids

The penguin colony at Punta Tombo is one of the most accessible in Patagonia. If you want to drive to Punta Tombo with kids, you will find Ruta 3, PR 32, and PR 1 are easy tarmac all the way to the main entrance. The drive from Puerto Madryn in the north takes about three hours, and from Comodoro Rivadavia in the south is around four and a half.  

A close up of an adult Magellanic penguin's with a fluffy baby Magellanic penguin just behind it.
Seeing these incredible birds up close is an amazing experience.

When you reach the main entrance to the park, the road turns to gravel for 20 km until you reach the first visitors centre.

As Patagonian gravel roads go, this is quite civilised; however, if this is your first time on such roads, take it slow so you don’t burst a tyre, and keep a big gap between you and the car in front so flicked up stones don’t crack your windscreen, and watch out for the odd suicidal guanaco.

A large group of rather grumpy looking guanacos up on a bank
They like to lurk near the road.

Another option is to book a day trip to Punta Tombo from Puerto Madrin. We saw these in town priced at £80/USD 100 for adults and £60/USD 75 for kids under 12.

At a three-hour drive each way, you will spend a lot of the day on the road, and for larger families, it very quickly becomes far more cost-effective to rent a car.

When you arrive, somewhat oddly there two visitors centres. The first is where you buy tickets and there is also the museum here exploring the history of the region and the birds. There are also toilets, a gift shop and a café offering an array of boiled, beige food as well.

A view of the two visitor centres at Punta Tombo National park in the distance with a few guanacos and penguins in the foreground.

Once you have purchased your tickets (Adults £8/ 10 USD, kids under 11 £4/5.50 USD), you drive one km to a second car park where there is another café and shop, more toilets, and where you show your tickets and start the path.

Staying Near To Punta Tombo With Kids

If you don’t fancy covering so much distance or want to spend more time in the area, there are a few options to stay close by. We decided to overnight just up the road at Estancia La Antonieta. The Estancia is a short drive from the park and has its own reserve where you can see Elephant seals.

When we visted they also had a guanaco chulengo whose mother had abandoned her which they had adopted. It was officially the cutest creature we have ever seen!

A baby guanaco at Estancia La Antonieta curiously sniffing Georgia who is standing with her back to the guanaco and smiling back at it
Georgia making freinds with the chulengo at Estancia La Antonieta.

What To Bring When Visiting Punta Tombo With Kids

Being such a popular destination, Punta Tombo is very well equipped with good family facilities.

Our only word of warning is that there is no shade at all on the walk to see the penguins, and it is totally exposed to the elements. Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunblock, hats, and windproof layers.

Basically, be ready for anything apart from mosquitos!

A family walking along the boardwalk at Punta Tombo National Park towards the Magellanic penguin colony with the sea over to their left
You get incredible views but are exposed to the elements.

What To Expect When You Visit Punta Tombo With Kids

We visited in a slightly back-to-front way and explored the colony before visiting the museum, but we don’t think this was a problem.

We arrived at 10 am before the tour buses arrived en mass from Puerto Madryn, and after getting our tickets, we headed straight to the penguins. By the time we were on our way back from the trail at about midday, the buses had arrived, and it had gotten much busier.

A Magellanic penguin popping it's head out of it's burrow at Punta Tombo National Park
We had no idea Magellanic penguins dug holes to nest in!

The reserve opens at 8 am, and we recommend getting there early when it is cooler to beat the crowds.

When you begin the trail, the ranger gives you simple instructions so you do not stress the penguins. These boil down to always giving the penguins right of way and never getting closer than 2m.

A young guanaco in amongst a colony of Magellanic penguins who are standing near their burrows and bushes at Punta Tombo National Park.
The guanacos and penguins share happily.

The pathway is about 1.5 km each way and is a mixture of boarded paths and gravel that takes you through a large section of the colony. The path is easily accessible with a pram or for little legs. Along the way, there are information boards in Spanish and English.

The highlight is the viewing platform overlooking a section of the coast where you can watch the penguins swim and hunt the foolhardy sholes of fish that come too close to shore. Of the penguin colonies we visited on our road trip, including Parque Pingüino Rey and Monte León National Park, this was the best viewpoint of any of them.

Looking down at group of Magellanic penguins swimming in the sea and standing at the waters edge with a few penguins walking back to their nests.
We watched them play for half an hour!

The museum at the main visitors centre is well worth a visit. The exhibits are in Spanish, English and Portuguese and explore the history of the peninsular and different species of penguins worldwide.

The café on site is geared up for large tour groups and offers a self-service buffet. We had a passable cup of coffee and hot chocolate here; to be honest, the food looked grey and boiled to death. 

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About the authors

Our lives have been intertwined with a passion for exploration and a shared love for travel. Our adventures began long before we met, as we individually embarked on daring expeditions across the globe. Our paths finally converged, and we soon realized that our adventures were much more meaningful when shared!

After a brief hiatus to start a family, we eagerly embarked on a new chapter of our travel saga. Determined to instil in Georgia and Eva the values of discovery and open-mindedness, our goal is to embark on exciting escapades and explore breathtaking landscapes, bustling cities, and remote corners of the world. From hiking through mist-laden forests to snorkelling in turquoise seas, every adventure is an opportunity to create lasting memories as a family.

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