Peninsula Valdes juts out from Patagonia’s Atlantic Coast providing a haven for a whole host of marine wildlife and birdlife. It’s made up of scrubby grassland with hardly a tree in sight to offer shade, yet its sheltered bays offer a safe breeding and feeding ground for all sorts of fascinating wildlife, including sea lions, elephant seals, penguins, dolphins and, most impressively of all, the giant Southern Right Whale
This parched peninsula is the scene of many a wildlife documentary, and film crews and nature photographers come season after season to capture the incredible displays of the natural world. The scene in David Attenborough’s documentary ‘Life’ where the black and white Orcas beach themselves to catch seals was shot here, and when we visited we were lucky enough to see them circling around the shore looking for an opportunity to strike!
Without a doubt, Peninsula Valdes is one of the best places in South America for whale watching. The first Southern Right Whales appear every year in June and their numbers increase daily, right through to December. The best chance of seeing whales in Peninsula Valdes is during the month of October when the maximum number is reached. Whale watching is one of the top travel experiences in Argentina, which is why we highly recommend visiting Peninsula Valdes between September and December.
the wild side of peninsula valdes
This whole region was first populated by the Welsh in the 1860s and bizarrely the Welsh language is still spoken in small pockets of the region. This is most noticeable in the tiny sleepy town of Gaiman where you can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea and hear the lilt of a Welsh accent when the waitress speaks to you in English. Puerto Madryn is one of the biggest towns in the region. With a nice beach and a lively seafront promenade lined with relaxed bars and restaurants, it’s a great base from which to explore this wildlife-rich region of Atlantic Patagonia.
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WHAT NOT TO MISS IN PENINSULA VALDES
One of the biggest towns in the region, it has a lovely beach and lively seafront promenade lined with relaxed bars and restaurants, a great base from which to explore this wildlife-rich region of Atlantic Patagonia. The seafood in is delicious, and most places along the seafront serve excellent seafood platters, but our favorite is Mariscos del Atlantico, hidden behind the Club Nautico on the road along the seafront.
The Valdes peninsula has two natural inlets that provide the whales with a rest and breeding ground away from the raging Atlantic. A rare experience and a must-do for your visit to the Peninsula is watching the whales navigate their way around the bay. There are regular whale watching tours, but the most special ones occur at sunset, where you can even see a rare, white Southern Right Whale if you are lucky!
Hundreds of elephant seals dwell on the exclusive El Arenal Beach. This zone concentrates the largest population of females with their young in the spring. Reaching this spot requires great effort to go down a significant slope. Upon reaching the beach, you are advised to walk about crouching and quietly in order to prevent the elephant seals from feeling intimidated.
Each spring, thousands of Magellan penguins come to the beaches of Punta Tombo. You’ll be able to walk among the penguins, see nests of baby penguins being fed and watch their comical waddle to the ocean. If short on time there is a smaller, but much closer colony in Peninsula Valdes at San Lorenzo on a beautiful private reserve. However, Punta Tombo is by far the Mecca for these cute little creatures.
Estancia San Lorenzo
Estancia San Lorenzo was a pioneering sheep ranch on the shores of the Valdes Peninsula. The working ranch still processes sheep wool but is now home to a Magellanic penguin colony of 600,000 (and growing!). Every year, from August to March, penguins at this location establish their life cycle. They nest, they breed, mate and they wait for the eggs to hatch. To become independent in the sea, both parents feed the young and teach them simple strategies.
There are not many places in the world where bottlenose dolphins can be seen in their natural environment. Playa Unión is one of those privileged sceneries. Semi-rigid boats leave from Rawson’s harbor, usually in the afternoon. In the mornings, the bottlenose dolphins remain in the depths, eating prawn, anchovy, squid, and sardine. The tour takes around an hour and a half.
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Depending on your client’s preferences, we can help you determine the best experiences tailored for your clients. From where to visit, when to go, what to do and how to get there safely, our travel experts will help you create an experience your clients will love.
Best times to
visit peninsula valdes
Visiting the Valdes Peninsula is all about seeing its incredible marine wildlife, so the best time to visit is without a doubt during spring and summer. The Southern Right Whales can be seen as early as June right through until December, but the prime months are September and October when you are more or less guaranteed to see the mothers and their calves in the sheltered peninsula bay. Dolphins and penguins can also be seen throughout the spring and summer, with the best opportunity to see penguin chicks being in late December. Orcas are also more likely to be spotted from January to March when the baby sea-lions are learning to swim and are easy prey!
HOW TO GET THERE
Daily flights from Buenos Aires, Ushuaia and El Calafate arrive at the Puerto Madryn’s El Tehuelche Airport or Trelew’s Airport.
Getting there by bus is also possible. However, you should take into account that distances are quite long, so trips from these cities usually take one day or more.
Hiring a car is well worth it in this region as you’ll be able to explore it on your own and stay overnight in Puerto Piramides, the small town in the national reserve. During the whale season you should be able to see them from the shore too!
The best way to explore Peninsula Valdes is by joining either a private excursion or to join one of our group departures. There is much to see along the way that you would miss if you travel without a guide
Having said that, another way to explore this region is by self-drive. The roads in the Peninsula are gravel roads and best is to hire a 4×4 vehicle. If you have a car, we recommend to stay in Puerto Piramides and explore from this town the whole of the Peninsula
WHERE TO STAY IN PUERTO MADRYN
Most of the hotels and lodgings are in Puerto Madryn, the area’s most important tourist center, where most tours depart from, as it is relatively close to Peninsula Valdés to the north and to Trelew and Punta Tombo to the south. The city, with a population of 50,000, is small and you can move around by foot. Tour shuttles take you to the nearby attractions.
WHERE TO STAY IN VALDES
Staying in Puerto Piramides, in the heart of Peninsula Valdés is another alternative, though lodging options are fewer. There are several posadas and also 2 hotels located in Puerto Piramides, from where also the whale watching trips depart
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