Why We Like This Hotel
- The team at Bustamate are incredibly warm and welcoming, the owner is always on site and guides excursions, and the hospitality team make you feel at home within minutes
- There is no mobile reception, and limited wifi, meaning that you can really disconnect from the outside world
- The history is fascinating and you can take a tour of the seaweed farm as well as experience the traditional sheep ranch
- The vast open steppe on one side and the open ocean on the other create a wonderful atmosphere of tranquility and isolation
- Opportunities to see varied wildlife including penguins, sea lions, birds, guanacos, rheas, maras, owls and more, on foot, by vehicle, on horse back and kayak
With its great number of geographical accidents, its sounds and its solitude, Bahia Bustamante is a paradise waiting to be discovered; from its magnificent beaches of white sand and crystal clear water framed by dark red rocks reaching inland, to its moonscapes of great deserts. It is a marine and earthly paradise inhabited by a great number of birds and mammals.
Exploration activities in the area are decided on a day-to-day basis, taking into account the state of the tide and the weather.
At 1500 meters from the town there is a small well-sheltered estuary from which the launch “Atrevida” sets out. Leaving the estuary, she sails over the meadows of seaweed of the Calera Malaspina. Once in the area of the Versace Archipelago the launch nears the islands to observe the behavior of birds and sea lions. La Roca Malaspina is noted for its marvelous colony of Cormorants.
There will be an opportunity to observe colonies of sea lions (3500 individuals in the breeding season), Magellanic penguins (100,000 individuals in the season from October to March) and colonies of different sea birds characterised by their variety and their large numbers: Petrels, Steamer ducks, Skuas, Plovers, Gulls and Terns among others. The sky is covered with wings.
Important: Sailing is possible only during high tide and if weather conditions permit.
The Gravina Peninsula and the neighbouring coasts are fascinating places to tour on foot, on bicycle, in a 4WD or on horseback. Heading south from the town you enter the peninsula, an area of lovely beaches of fine sand, sheltered from the wind by great formations of red-coloured rock which contrast with the deep blue of the sea.
At low tide deep natural pools, ideal for bathing in summer, are formed. On your excursions you can reach coastal buoys and indigenous sites of the Chenques and Picaderos. At low tide you can cross to an island on foot where there is a colony of Magellan Penguins. From the coast you also have excellent sightings of cormorants, steamer ducks, flamingos, and sea lions.
The Petrified Forest “The Pyramid” is situated within the ranch “Las Mercedes”, at 30 kilometers from the town. It is a living proof of how the landscape looked some 60 million years ago when Patagonia was an orchard before the Andes rose high. You arrive in a 4WD to the starting point of a walk through the forest towards The Pyramid.
On the way it is common to come across guanacos, armadillos, nandus, foxes and skunks.
As you continue walking, the scenery changes until it appears to be a lunar landscape.
You find yourself among different fossil trees, wood changed into hard and colorful rock. Opal, which has replaced the original organic material of the tree, gives it a special shine.
You can see the tree’s growth rings and its bark. In some cases you can still see the layer of ashes that covered the trunk during the process of fossilization.
The path continues all the way up to a high point from where we can enjoy a wonderful view of the immense Patagonia steppe and it’s silence and tranquility.
Kayak in the wild nature and transparent waters of Bahia Bustamante, along the Atlantic coastline. You'll be able to visit Cape Aristizabal, Caleta Malaspina and the Gravigna Peninsula, uncover secluded beaches, and meet with colonies of sea lions, terns, cormorants, penguins and a diversity of seabirds.
Seaweeds are known for their relaxing and smoothing effects on the skin. Seaweeds are composed of 85% water, the remainder being made up of minerals, oligocene elements, fibres and nitrogenous matter.
The system for harvesting seaweed varies according to the type, the place and the season of the year. Harvesting can be carried out after the seaweed has been washed up on the shore, or by diving, or by launches with nets.
Taking the place and the time of algae harvesting into account, visits are organised so that you can get to know a little more about harvesting methods, and recognise the different species with their different virtues and market usages.
Bahia Bustamante is part of the land of a group of three ranches that are inland from the bay: Las Quebradas, Las Mercedes and Las Margaritas. Depending on the season of the year, a field trip is organised to allow visitors to watch and/or participate in the production process of wool, lamb and mutton. Shearing, branding, weaning, classification and insemination are the periods of maximum activity.
The shearing of 20,000 animals begins in August and lasts five weeks. It is the ideal moment to get to know a real ranch at the peak of activity.
Photo Credit: Katti Borré
It takes a bit of effort to get here, but it's certainly worth it. The combination of it's history, location, setting and people make this an experience unlike any other in Patagonia.
About this hotel
The tiny village of Bahia Bustamante is situated on the northern shore of the San Jorge Gulf, in the province of Chubut on Argentina's eastern coastline. It is 180 km north of Comodoro Rivadavia city and a two hour drive from Comodoro Rivadavia airport. From Trelew city, it is 250 km south and a four hour drive. A bus service from Trelew is scheduled Monday to Friday for guests.
Holding the unique title as the world's only town exclusively focussed on seaweed harvesting (more on that below), today seaweed collection and sheep farming are still the primary industries - not tourism. The lodge accommodates a maximum of 18 guests at any time, and with the land owned by the lodge owner and coastline recently designated as a national park by the Argentine government, the secluded experience looks set to remain.
The chef at Bahia Bustamante will wow you every day with unique and delicious 3 course lunches and dinners that are beautifully presented and made with locally sourced ingredients. The property has it's own organic garden from where as much of the ingredients as possible are sourced. Breakfasts are buffet style, with a choice of pastries, cereals, fruits and breads. The speciality beers made using salt collected from local beaches are highly recommended!
Don Lorenzo Soriano (Baeza, Jaén, España, 1901-1987) had been producing Malvik hair gel since 1947 when he arrived in Patagonia in 1953. He was in search of seaweed from which he planned to extract a colloid that would allow him to continue the production of the hair gel. Having travelled extensively along the Patagonian coast, he discovered Bahia Bustamante, previously known as the Rotten Bay, due to the accumulation of vast amounts of rotting seaweed. Using it as a base, along with his 4 sons, he established the first seaweed village in the world. He built up a pioneering company for the harvesting and processing of seaweed – the beginning of a thriving seaweed industry to be used in both nutrition and biomedicine.
The 2 original buildings facing the sea quickly developed into a village that used to house up to 400 people: there was a school, a church, a police post, warehouses, workshops and a general store. More hectares were added to the main area and sheep farming started. Today with its 40 inhabitants, the village has opened its doors to tourists, offering panoramic views and access to a large number of activities and a wide variety of fauna. Since December 2009, the coast is within the new Marine National Park Patagonia Austral, protecting all species found within 1 nautical mile from the shore and about 50 islands from Cabo Dos Bahías southwards to Caleta Malaspina.
During your stay, you can expect to experience a journey into the history of this remote Patagonian settlement. The main lodge itself, host to the common areas, is located where the village's General Store once stood. There is also a Memorial Room which tells the story of the beginnings of the town and its early residents.
Whilst Bahia Bustamante decidedly checks the 'low number' box in terms of human residents, the number of resident species far exceeds the average. In fact, the amount and diversity of marine mammals and seabirds existing within such close proximity makes it one of the most unique wildlife spots in the world. Witness flocks of sheep bounce by in the lodge's ranch, elegant guanacos and curious armadillos roaming the vast terrain, and head towards the shoreline where horses gallop across long sandy beaches. Out on the waters, see orcas and sea lions in the clear blue, playful dolphins ducking beneath the waves, thousands of penguins huddled together, and elephant seals lazing on the rocks.
Large populations of Southern Right Whales make their way to the calm waters every year, although if you're visiting for whale-watching season (June to mid-December), note that the lodge is only open between October and March. Year-round, it won't be long before you encounter the two endemic species - the Chubut Steamer Duck and the Olrog's Gull. The flora, marine life and sheltered conditions also attract many a seabird, who contribute to the breathtaking combination of species. As the early evening's pink hues fill the sky, watch red knots, Hudsonian godwits, and white-rumped sandpipers chase the sun over the horizon. Then in the crisp morning sky, look out for the giant petrels flying far out to sea. So rich in diversity and valuable is the region that it has been declared an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA).
Not even the roaring winds that swept along the coast during my stay at Bahia Bustamante could take away from how special this place is. In fact, it only added to the feeling of remoteness and the authenticity. You can really disconnect from everything here - physically and mentally - and that is rare these days!
Chloe O'Keeffe Patagonia Specialist
There are 6 comfortable houses overlooking the ocean. Each one has 2 double bedrooms, a fully equipped bathroom, a living room and outside terrace overlooking the beach and the bay.
Each house is equipped with an emergency battery powered light.
Staying at the Sea Front Houses includes full board and all the activities.
These are five houses with a view to the steppe located just 200 metres away from the shore.
Each has a double bedroom, bathroom, a fitted kitchen, and a patio with a barbecue. The maximum capacity is three people. The cost includes house linen, cleaning and free access to the Peninsula.
The Old Storehouse of the town keeps up a typically Patagonian atmosphere. There you will find The Restaurant which offers typical regional food based on our own production of marine algae, lamb and mutton, fish, and fruit and vegetables from our garden. - The Club, equipped with pool table, ping pong table and Sapo.
The Museum, with an exhibition of old photographs of the beginnings of the Argentine seaweed industry, which took place on our beaches.
The Living Room, which invites you to read or simply to contemplate the sea through enormous windows. Bar service is available. This is a truly pleasant way to watch the sea, enjoy the Patagonian skies and the incredible sunsets.
The Craftshop offers the chance to buy handcrafts, bird books, maps and local products.
Trips that visit Bahia Bustamante
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Patagonia is a vast and varied region, with a wealth of things to see and do, a range of places to stay and a limited transport network.
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