Bahia Bustamante, Patagonia
Bahia Bustamante, Southern Patagonia, Argentina
At a Glance
Explore unspoilt wilderness; the peninsula is home to a phenomenal number of birds, marine life and land mammals
Tiny community nestled between the San Jorge Gulf and the Patagonian steppes
Visit the Petrified Forest, Patagonian ranches, beaches and rock pools
Truly an adventure quite unlike any other
Wonderful wildlife viewing...the location is ideal for nature lovers who enjoy outdoor activities in an off-the-beaten track setting
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
Bahia Bustamante is open from mid September to end of March. They open with the arrival of the penguins and close when they leave, before autumn and winter, since the weather is suitable for outdoors activities. During the time they are open, each month has its own attraction, allowing guests to enjoy different experiences.
Regarding local wildlife, a large variety of marine and steppe wildlife can be seen all year long. For example the steamer duck, a stable see lion’s colony and other typical animals from the steppe: guanaco, hares and foxes. Bahía Bustamante coast has a great number and diversity of seabirds. Some of them live here all year long, others migrate. You will always be able to appreciate seabird life. Birthing season for seabirds starts in November/December, from here on, you will be able to see a greater number of birds and species. Penguins arrive at the end of September and migrate in late April. If during your visit you would also like to see whales in Peninsula Valdes, the time of the year is from September to mid-December. October is one of the most active months of the year for whales. The least windy period of the year is from March to May. During these months it is possible to see Orca whales during navigation.
The most important rural activities are at the heart of their daily schedule. They start in August with the shearing of 20.000 sheep, which lasts 5 weeks; then, the last days of November the breading takes place and in January the weaning; both take around 45 days of work. Other rural activities and the ones related to the seaweed industry take place all the time, giving life to the corrals and the estancia.
In most of the Patagonian region, strong winds are frequent. Generally, more intense during spring. Summer days are warm with chilly nights. The marine influence controls the extreme temperatures. According to the season, the temperature can vary significantly, going between 14ºC and 1ºC in winter (June, July, August), 24ºC to 4ºC in spring (Sept-Oct-Nov) & autumn (March-April-May), 28ºC and 12ºC in summer (Dec-Jan-Feb).
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The simple sheep estancia, Bahia Bustamente, is an ideal base from which to explore the spectacular Atlantic Patagonian coastline, steppe and wildlife and is a unique off-the-beaten track experience. They open from mid-September to end of March each year.
Bahia Bustamente is one of a kind, a seaweed and sheep farm offering rustic, remote lodgings in the beautiful wilderness. Guests are limited to 18 at a time and there is no mobile signal but plentiful nature and incredible experiences to be had. The coastline here is within the new Marine National Park Patagonia Austral, which protects all wildlife within one nautical mile of the shore and about 50 islands from Cabo Dos Bahías southwards to Caleta Malaspina.
Here you can stay in sea front houses, or steppe houses, a stone's throw away from the Atlantic Ocean. The rustic guest houses all are private and look out straight onto the sea. The rooms are simple but comfortable, and there is no wifi or television in sight - the focus is very much on the great outdoors and the activities on offer here.
Owned and run by the charming Matias Soriano, whose passion and knowledge about the land and its history is palpable. Bahia Bustamante originally developed around sheep rearing and the harvesting of seaweed, and while these two activities have remained the economic mainstay of the village, the wealth of wildlife on offer is now attracting a new kind of traveller.
No two days here are alike; each day Matias or one of his guides will introduce you to the surrounding wonders. Days range from heading inland on foot, on horseback or in a 4x4, to explore ancient petrified forests and desert canyons under huge skies, looking out for rheas, foxes, armadillos and the majestic llama-like guanaco. Guests can see penguins, sea lions and an incredible diversity of marine fauna during the navigation along Malaspina Cove or while walking along the shore.
Nearby is the Storehouse of the town with a typically Patagonian atmosphere. There you will find the restaurant offering delicious, fresh delights made from regional produce. There also is a club, equipped with pool table, ping pong table and Sapo and a living room where you can share your travel stories with other guests and relax and enjoy watching, the sea and beautiful Patagonian sunsets.
Bahia Bustamante consists of 13 simple whitewashed houses (five one-bedroom cottages on the steppe and eight with two bedrooms from which you can stroll out onto the ocean edge) that are basic but comfortable and welcoming, and come with a separate living room, kitchen and porch.
|Sea Front House||
There are six comfortable houses overlooking the ocean. Each one has two double bedrooms, a fully equipped bathroom, a living room and outside terrace overlooking the beach and the bay.
These are five houses with a view to the Steppe and only 200 meters away from the shore.
Each has a double bedroom, bathroom, a fitted kitchen, and a patio with a barbecue. The maximum capacity is three persons. The rent includes house linen, cleaning and free access to the Peninsula.
|Superior Sea View House|
Children are welcome at Bahia Bustamante however do note that the region is very remote, accommodation is simple and there are no specific child friendly facilities. It is recommended more for older children or teenagers than little ones.
The old grocery store now houses the restaurant, living room, bar, and small museum. Please note that electricity is provided by a generator and available from dusk until 11pm. Accommodations have battery-operated lights but it is recommended to also bring a torch. Wireless internet access is available in the Grocery Store common areas when the generator is on.
The majority of excursions are included at Bahia Bustamante. Aside from hikes along the beaches and coastline, guests can take guided tours around the Gravina peninsula, visit a petrified forest, explore the estancia and learn about sheep farming, or take boat trips to encounter the local fauna, including sea lions and abundant bird life. Horseback riding and kayaking can also be organised at an additional cost.
THE first thing you notice is the scale of everything. The unending distance between towns, the unfathomable stretch of land between you and the horizon, the vast expanses of sky.
The next thing you notice is the landscape or, more accurately, landscapes. In one spot, youre surrounded by low, scrubby desert pocked with thorny bushes. And you think: this could be the Australian Outback, or maybe the American Southwest. But then you approach the ocean, the navy blue Atlantic with its frigid whitecaps and craggy coastline, and your mind calls up images of Nova Scotia or Ireland. Then from some point to the south: a flock of hot pink flamingos flies by, so close you could almost pet them. You picture South Florida, perhaps, or the Bahamas. But, in fact, youre thousands of miles from any of those places.
This is Bahia Bustamante, a private sheep farm in Argentine Patagonia, sprawling over about 210,000 acres, owned by a soft-spoken man named Matias Soriano. Set right on the waters of the eastern coast, about 1,000 miles south of Buenos Aires, the farm is roughly the size of the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Mr. Soriano, 41, welcomes up to 18 guests at a time, from August through May. Bahia attracts a certain kind of visitor the kind whos more traveler than tourist, who prefers roughing it to room service, who is happy to spend days kayaking, hiking, horseback riding or investigating Mr. Sorianos private 65-million-year-old petrified forest and then collapse with a scratchy lambs-wool blanket when the electricity shuts off at 11 p.m. But above all, its a place for people who will travel across continents to see a breathtaking combination of hundreds of disparate species, all converging on a single point on the map. Ultimately, thats what drew me this far from home: Id seen Planet Earth, Id gone to the Bronx Zoo, Id even come nose to nose with a hippo in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. But Id never had breakfast with a penguin.
Welcome to nowhere, said Astrid Perkins, our 40-year-old rosy-cheeked guide (and Mr. Sorianos girlfriend), as we pulled into what the staff members and farmhands who live here call town whitewashed houses and a smattering of bright red picnic tables lining a rough dirt road along the beach. Half of these houses were built 60 years ago for the farmhands and their families; the other half (the ones a few steps from the beach) were added recently for guests, like my friend Lisa and me, who were visiting the edge of the world for a few days.
Heres the welcoming committee, Ms. Perkins said, pointing over the hood of the Jeep. A few feet ahead, a dozen rheas were walking toward us, curious but keeping a safe distance. They looked like a cast of ballerinas, their long necks craning above the car. Their prehistoric faces cocked slightly, examining us for a moment before they turned and glided away, the haughtiest of high school girls.
We drove on to our lodgings a very comfortable, simply decorated house that would be our lodgings for the next week. (Rooms are $215 a night, including three home-cooked meals a day and all the malbec you can throw back.) All the guest rooms have a similar setup: two bedrooms, a neatly appointed living room, a modest kitchen and a porch a few feet from the South Atlantic. Lisa and I dropped our bags and set out to explore. As soon as we started walking toward the water, we glimpsed a family of hares dash away, as two great egrets came in for a landing on the beach.
With such natural diversity, comparisons are inevitable to that other South America destination famous for its isolated and unique ecosystem but for Mr. Soriano, the Galpagos, the Ecuadorean islands, arent a model, theyre a cautionary tale. The Galpagos receive more than 100,000 visitors a year, while Bahia Bustamante receives only about 400 annually. The Galpagos are being destroyed by the traffic, and I wont let that happen here, he said. We can accommodate 18 people at a time. Thats it. Mr. Soriano can keep things at that scale because its his land. Two years ago, the government turned the coastline and outlying islands into a national park, but the land is Mr. Sorianos; he controls access to the ocean. And hes quite happy to keep it that way. Its been a family farm for over 50 years, he said, scratching his woolly brown beard.
We were in the communal dining room, a cavernous hall lined with pictures of Bahia Bustamante in the 1950s. It looked exactly the same back then, only with horse-drawn carriages in place of Jeeps, and workmen in suspenders instead of baseball caps. We were sitting down to a lunch of spaghetti in tomato sauce and warm, garlicky bread. For Mr. Soriano, protecting the eye-opening diversity of life here is an integral part of his business. The government couldnt protect the animals and the environment better than we are right now, he said, because we are controlling how many people come here.
Location & directions
Bahia Bustamante, Southern Patagonia, Argentina
Bahia Bustamante is situated on the northern shore of the San Jorge Gulf, 180 km north of Comodoro Rivadavia city and 250 km south of Trelew city.
How to get there
The tiny remote coastal settlement of Bahia Bustamante lies 3.5-hours north of Comodoro Rivadavia and 4-hours south of Trelew.
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