Bahía Bustamante

Spending time in Bahía Bustamante is like having your own private Península Valdés. In 1953 it was founded by Lorenzo Soriano, who searched the Patagonian coastline for seaweed to use for extracting colloids. When he found this bay filled with seaweed he began, along with his sons, to create an entire town including a school, church, auto and boat garage, and housing for more than 400 people who worked harvesting these marine algae.

The operation slowed during the '90s, and nearly everyone moved away. In 2004, however, Lorenzo's grandson Matías returned to Bahía Bustamante and began renovating various houses and transforming the place into what he calls an "estancia marina," or marine ranch, with a special focus on ecological sensitivity, observation of marine and continental wildlife, and independence (producing all their own food and electricity). The population has quadrupled but still remains below 50. Your main companions during any stay in Bahia Bustamante are sea lions, penguins, and birds. Stays are available for individuals or small groups—only 20 people at a time can stay here—by reservation only. Aim to stay for at least two or three nights to ensure that weather conditions allow you to take advantage of all the activities included. Even if you're flying rather than road-tripping south, this makes a great stopover between Buenos Aires and El Calafate or Ushuaia (you can fly in and out of Trelew).

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