Toward the south end of its namesake bay, Camarones is a sleepy fishing port with just two paved streets but so many wide gravel roads that it seems to be waiting for something to happen. Its citizens may wait a while, but Camarones is just picturesque enough, close enough to the wildlife reserve at Cabo Dos Bahías, and an interesting enough jaunt from Punta Tombo via the Cabo Raso route that it’s an ideal off-the-beaten-road loop for anyone with a vehicle. Its new museum also deserves a look.
Alternatively, there’s public transportation via southbound RN 3 from Trelew and eastbound RP 30, a distance of about 250 kilometers. The town holds a Fiesta Nacional del Salmón (National Salmon Festival) the second weekend of February.
Museo de la Familia Perón
Camarones’s Perón family museum occupies a shiny new replica of Juan Domingo Perón’s boyhood home—the caudillo’s father, Tomás Perón, ran a sheep estancia on the town’s western outskirts in the early years of the 20th century (Juan Domingo was born in 1895).
It differs from other Perón museums not in that it’s professionally organized—so is Buenos Aires’s Evita museum—but in that it admits that Perón was a controversial and contradictory figure whose loyalists even engaged each other in firefights in the 1970s (right- and left-wing factions were each convinced the general was on their side).
While the museum leans toward the interpretations of Argentina’s current left-of-center Peronists, it avoids the polemics so common in Argentine politics. Not only that, the English translations that accompany the exhibits are well above average.
The Museo de la Familia Perón (Estrada 467, 0297/496-3013, free) is open 9 a.m.–8 p.m. daily.
Reserva Provincial Cabo Dos Bahías
Only 30 kilometers southeast of Camarones, the 12,000-strong Magellanic penguin colony Dos Bahías is smaller than Punta Tombo’s, but Dos Bahías’s open terrain makes it easier to appreciate the colony’s extent.
In addition to penguins, it boasts a southern sea lion colony on offshore Isla Moreno, though they’re hard to see without binoculars. Besides many of the same seabirds that frequent Punta Tombo, terrestrial wildlife includes armadillos, foxes, guanacos, and rheas.
Unlike Punta Tombo, it’s possible to camp at beaches en route to Dos Bahías and at the reserve itself, though there are no other services. There is no scheduled transportation either, though it’s possible to hire a car with driver in Camarones (try Hotel Viejo Torino). At the reserve’s entrance, provincial authorities collect a US$5 admission fee from adult foreigners, US$2.50 for Argentines.
Accommodations and Food
Open all year, the waterfront Camping Camarones (Espora s/n, tel. 02965/15-32-2906, US$2 per site) has sheltered sites with electricity and clean bathrooms with hot showers.
Totally remodeled, the Indalo Inn (Sarmiento and Roca, tel. 0297/496-3004, www.indaloinn.com.ar, US$42 s, US$50 d) also has a reliable restaurant.
Once a hotel, Viejo Torino (Brown 100, tel. 0297/496-3003) is an attractive seafood and pasta restaurant that was once also a hotel, but since it’s now lodging commercial fishermen, the food may suffer.
Getting to Camarones
From the terminal at 9 de Julio and Rivadavia, El Ñandú buses go to Trelew (3 hours, US$8) at 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition