School field trip to learn about Patagonia’s wildlife SEARCH NEWS

Balcarras School of Cheltenham

Discover the wild beauty in Patagonia, Argentina, while helping to secure its conservation into the future

Balcarras School of Cheltenham

Balcarras School of Cheltenham visited Patagonia in July. Photo © FPN.

On the shoreline of the South Atlantic, Estancia la Esperanza (Ranch of Hopes) is a wildlife refuge that protects 15,000 acres (6,071 hectares) of steppe habitat close to the spectacular Valdés Peninsula, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

The steppes provide secure habitat for much mammal and bird life; Puma and Geoffroy’s Cat have been seen, Guanaco and Mara roam freely, while Burrowing Owls and Burrowing Parrots can also be spotted.

The seas and coastline are home to marine mammals like Sea Lions, Southern Elephant seals and Magellanic penguins. Between May and December, Southern Right Whales come here to mate and give birth. Killer Whales can also be seen and occasionally beach themselves as they come on the shore in an attempt to capture Sea Lions and Elephant seals.

The World Land Trust (WLT) helped fund the creation of La Esperanza and although this project is now successfully complete, WLT still help support partner organisation, Fundación Patagonia Natural (FPN), who own and run the reserve.

La Esperanza is the ideal natural classroom brimming with wildlife and recently FPN hosted their first school trip at the reserve with great success.

School field trips: what to expect

In July, a group of nine students and three teachers from the Balcarras School of Cheltenham spent five days at La Esperanza.  The trip was organised by Outlook Expeditions Travel Agency who have been working with FPN to develop a programme for hosting school field trips at the reserve.

Visitors took part in field activities and learnt about wildlife monitoring, protection and rehabilitation, with a whale spotting trip being a particular highlight.

How to visit

La Esperanza provides the ideal environment for school field trips and for any other travellers, as it is safe, friendly, inexpensive, and close to nature. It is easy to get to, being less than one and a half hours from nearby city Puerto Madryn and two hours from Trelew. Each city is connected to Buenos Aires by several daily two hour long commercial flights.

José Maria Musmeci, director of FPN, said:

This experience was extremely positive and one that FPN wishes to replicate. Not only does it provide a highly positive educational experience, in keeping with the conservation objectives of La Esperanza as well as FPN and WLT, but it also builds ties and provides welcome income which goes towards the running costs of La Esperanza.”

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