Ar­gentina’s adorable pen­guins are a joy to watch in ac­tion.

Hu­man-like crea­tures are a joy to watch in ac­tion

Life & Style Weekend - - WELCOME // INSIDE TODAY - TRAVEL with Megan Shee­han The writer is trav­el­ling at her own ex­pense.

WE’VE all been there; those times in life when re­al­ity doesn’t quite live up to the lofty ex­pec­ta­tions you had about some­thing. And then there are mo­ments when some­thing proves to be just as good or even bet­ter than you an­tic­i­pated.

The day I first came face to face with a real, live, wild pen­guin in Ar­gentina re­cently was for­tu­nately in the lat­ter cat­e­gory.

I have had a fond­ness for pen­guins since child­hood. The dap­per tuxedo, the com­i­cal gait, the in­tel­li­gent-look­ing beady eyes – they are just too easy to an­thro­po­mor­phise.

I was pre­pared to be un­der­whelmed but it turned out they were an ab­so­lute joy to watch in ac­tion.

See­ing them go­ing about their daily busi­ness was end­lessly en­gag­ing; preen­ing, do­ing some main­te­nance on the bur­row, play­ing in the wa­ter, “talk­ing’’ to each other, stretch­ing, snooz­ing, fight­ing, sit­ting on eggs or even com­ing over to have a cu­ri­ous look right back at you. And bet­ter yet, watch­ing it all play out at only arm’s length away.

It was all I could do to re­sist the urge to snatch one up and tuck it into my jacket to keep.

There are a lot of sites in South Amer­ica where you can view dif­fer­ent species of pen­guins but one of the best would have to be the Valdes Penin­su­lar in Ar­gentina.

The UNESCO World Her­itage site of­fers a lot of bang for your wildlife buck with not only colonies of Mag­el­lanic pen­guins but whales, sea li­ons and ele­phant seals to be found in the bays and gua­na­cos, maras and rhea in the Patag­o­nian Steppe be­tween them. And un­like some places, the an­i­mals didn’t seem hard to ac­tu­ally find. The first af­ter­noon we ar­rived there we stopped the car on a shelf of rock and opened the door to be greeted with nu­mer­ous whales pass­ing by right on cue.

Even some of the rocky shelves them­selves turned out to be in­ter­est­ing, com­prised of layer upon layer of fos­silised shells.

Among some of the other main sites in Ar­gentina where you stand a good chance of hav­ing a close en­counter of the pen­guin kind are Punta Tombo, Cabo Vir­genes, Monte Leon Na­tional Park and Ushuaia.

PHO­TOS: MEGAN SHEE­HAN

The pen­guins were a high­light dur­ing a trip to Valdes Penin­sula in Ar­gentina.

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