in the Peninsula Valdes
How to see the best of the wildlife on the Peninsula...
The Peninsula Valdes is one of the best areas to see wildlife in Argentina and the Southern Cone. Probably the biggest draw is the Southern Right Whales that take shelter around the peninsula between June and November. There is, nevertheless, lots more to see and do in the area with the chance to see elephant seals, Magellenic penguins and orcas. Below are just a couple of the tours you can do in the region...
Peninsula Valdes Provincial Reserve
Departing from Puerto Madryn the tour arrives in Puerto Pirámides to catch the boat for the whale watching trip (between the months of June to November). If you are visiting between the months of December to March, it is also possible to see sea-lions, cormorants and probably dark dolphins from the boat. After returning to the harbour, you explore the south of the peninsula going through Salinas Grande and Chica. Lunch is served at the El Faro resort at Punta Delgada and there you are given the
opportunity to go down the cliffs and walk near to the sea-elephants. After that you will
continue to Punta Cantor along the eastern coastline of the peninsula until
Caleta Valdés (the Valdés Inlet) where there are some interesting geological formations.
There is always a good chance of coming across wild fauna such as guanacos, rheas,
foxes, maras (Patagonian hare), armadillos and skunks... to mention just a few! Finally, you return to the city of Puerto Madryn at sunset.
Whale Watching from Puerto Piramides
A simple half day trip for those with a free afternoon and wanting to do a whale watching trip without the trip to the Peninsula. Arriving in Puerto Piramides after the crowds, you will take a boat close to midday for an hour of whale watching off the coast. After lunch in Puerto Piramides you will make your way back to Puerto Madryn, stopping at El Doradillo and Las Canteras beaches to watch whales at only 15 metres from the coast.
The Penguins at Punta Tombo
This is a visit to the Punta Tombo Provincial Reserve - a nesting site for thousands of Magellanic penguins from September through to March. The first penguins arrive in Spring and stay here up to mid March but the best season to see them is after November, once the chicks have hatched. The Magellanic penguins migrate from Southern Brazil to Patagonia, congregating by the thousands to nest in Punta Tombo, where they incubate their eggs and prepare their offspring for migration. This is the largest such colony in South America. Couples stand in front of their nests, protecting the eggs from birds and other predators, and occasionally one adult goes to the sea for food.
Gaiman and the Chubut Valley
This is a trip to the area south of the Peninsula Valdes. Starting at Rawson, the provincial capital city, you will stop at the port for a dolphin watching boat trip. Afterwards, the tour continues to Trelew where you will visit the Egidio Feruglio Paleontology Museum, one of the most museums in Latin America specialising in palaeontology, with 30 dinosaurs and about 2000 fossilised pieces on display in the Mesozoic era room, the main room at the museum. From here it continues to Gaiman, a village situated 15 km west of Trelew on the banks of the Chubut River. This was one of the first Welsh settlements to be established in Argentina in 1874, and has remained a stronghold for Welsh culture ever since. The original buildings have been well preserved and the typical Welsh teas and cakes will make a change from Argentine steak and red wine! The tour finishes at the town of Dolavon before heading back to Puerto Madryn.
village and back to Puerto Madryn in the evening.
Spending the day at El Pedral Lodge offers a great opportunity to see more of the region's wildlife in a small area and is a good alternative to the full day excursion at the Peninsula. At Punta Ninfas there is the opportunity to see elephant seals, sea lions, penguins, whales and orcas, and throughout the day you will catch glimpses of the typical fauna of the Patagonian steppe such as guanacos, Patagonian hares, foxes, and Patagonian rheas. The lodge itself was built in the early twentieth century with materials and furniture brought from Europe by boat and the house preserves the style of that time. After looking around the house you can head off to see the colony of Magellanic penguins. El Pedral works with the foundation GPS (Global Penguin Society) to keep the beach clean, and monitor the colony of Magellanic penguins living there. Lunch is served at the lodge and the afternoon is left free for you to relax or explore the estancia before returning to Puerto Madryn.