Peninsula Valdes

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Where is Peninsula Valdes

Peninsula Valdes is a unique land formation and global conservation site, home to abundant marine life as well as countless rare and wonderful land mammals and birds found in the province of Chubut in Argentina.

The peninsula covers 420 km, its route: Puerto Pirámides, Punta Delgada, Caleta Valdés, and Punta Norte, is covered in a full day, where you visit an interpretation center, to understand a little of the history and nature of the territory and stop at the reserves.

Along these peninsula roads, it is common to see herds of guanacos, as well as rheas, foxes, martinetas and piches.

Surrounded by rural ranches, dedicated to the breeding of sheep, which offer tourist lodging, combined with field work, and wildlife watching.

The predominant landscape corresponds to the Patagonian plateau with gentle or steep slopes on its coasts, and three large enclosed depressions that make up the salt flats. In addition to cliffs, which alternate with extensive beaches of sand, pebbles and marine erosion platforms.

Peninsula Valdes was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on December 4, 1999.

Map of the Valdes Peninsula

Map of peninsula Valdes
Atlantic Coast and Peninsula Valdes Fauna of Argentina and Chile Peninsula Valdes

How to get to Peninsula Valdés

Peninsula Valdes and its surroundings can be complicated to reach and navigate. It is necessary to be organized and leave enough time to travel to make the most of your time in the area.

You can take a 2-hour flight from Buenos Aires, based here, and then book a day tour to the reserve. There is a selection of accommodations, interesting restaurants and distant whale watching during whale season.

Puerto Pirámides is the only town on Península Valdés, a coastal place that is more like a village in size. Hotels and hostels are located along one main road and restaurants and some stores along the other. You will be just a few minutes from the beach, from where you can watch whales and sea lions playing.

For some even more secluded options, there are some special lodges and hotels located in Valdes itself or further along the southern coast.

When to go to Península Valdés

  • Southern right whales are present only from June to December.
  • Killer whales are present throughout the year, but tend to be seen stranding only in March and April.
  • Magellanic penguins are present from September to April.
  • Sea lions and elephant seals are present year-round, but in varying numbers depending on where and when you go.
  • Dolphins are present from December to March.
  • Numerous birds and land mammals can be found throughout the year.
  • Valdes whale

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Wildlife season

Screenshot 2020 02 02 at 11.47.15 Peninsula Valdes

What to see in Peninsula Valdes

Orca Watching

The only place in the world where killer whales strand themselves to hunt sea lion pups. A somewhat violent but unique spectacle in the world.

The Orgas stranding season is between March and April.

Whale Watching

Southern right whales also gather just a few meters from the shore, close enough to be seen from your hotel balcony.

Southern Right Whales

The right whale watching season in the Valdes Peninsula is between mid-June and the first week of December.

Southern Right Whales

Between June and December you will also have the opportunity to kayak within 50 meters of a southern right whale: often a mother with a calf. Both are incredibly special experiences not to be missed by marine wildlife enthusiasts!

You can see whales directly from the coast, but to get closer it is best to take a boat or kayak trip, both of which are easy to do along the Valdes Peninsula. You can even step up the adventure and go whale watching by plane or submarine.

Depending on the whale you want to see, you can be based in Puerto Madryn, Puerto Pirámides or one of the estancias on the peninsula. Each offers incredible sightings, but make sure you travel at the right time of year for the whales you want to see, and allow enough time to travel between the different areas.

Penguin colonies

In Peninsula Valdes you can visit a penguin colony called San Lorenzo, although it is recommended to visit the colony of Punta Tombo, one of the largest natural reserves of these birds in Patagonia.

Penguin colony:
  • Patagonia’s wildlife: In addition to walking among huge colonies of southern elephant seals and Magellanic penguins, you can also see on the Valdes Peninsula: guanacos, maras and armadillos (piches) and Patagonian hares.
  • Birding: The Peninsula has up to 181 different species of birds on its list, including flamingos, burrowing owls and rheas.
  • Landscapes: Valdés has an impressive coastline. Long pebble beaches that seem to go on forever, dramatic sand cliffs that drop dangerously into the ocean and crystal blue waters for wildlife viewing.
Valdes Peninsula Landscape

Sea lions of the Valdes Peninsula

Throughout the year you can expect to get up close and personal with groups of curious sea lions while kayaking the calm waters of the Golfo Nuevo from Puerto Madryn or Puerto Piramides.

Explore Peninsula Valdes on your own

Explore the Valdes Peninsula on your own, with the freedom to drive yourself whenever and wherever you want. You will need to be prepared to face a long drive on remote and poorly maintained dirt roads, but the freedom, flexibility and privacy of driving yourself through this stunning region make the adventure worthwhile!

The peninsula is entered through the Carlos Ameghino Isthmus where the visitor’s center is located, and then goes to the areas of Punta Loma and Punta Cantor.

Overflight of the Peninsula

You can also see the Valdes Peninsula from a totally different perspective, and take some amazing photos of the whales and wildlife along the coast. The flight lasts one hour and the main objective is to see the geography, topography and whales from the air.

The Cessna 182 (or similar) can carry three passengers plus the pilot. Large windows next to the rear seats provide incredible views during the flight. The trip takes you to the southern shore of Golfo Nuevo and continues north to see southern right whales up close in Golfo San Jose.

Where to stay in Peninsula Valdes

Peninsula Valdes offers a variety of accommodations, from eco-friendly lodges and contemporary hotels, to remote ranches and authentic cottages.

Sino Puerto Madryn is located on the outskirts of Peninsula Valdes and is the largest city in the area. Founded by Welsh settlers, it has unique origins, but today it is known as the gateway to the Valdes.

Lodging in an estancia in Valdés

Escape the crowds and relax in the wilderness of the Valdes region. Rustic, restored ranches are dotted along the Valdes Peninsula, and a stay of a few nights is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the landscape.

With vast tracts of private land, most estancias have private colonies of sea lions, elephant seals and/or Magellanic penguins that you can visit at your leisure.

Some of the estancias are also very unique whale watching locations, offering you the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the region.

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About the author

I am Matias, born in Patagonia, and a lover of my land.

For more than 20 years I help foreign travellers to organise their trip to Patagonia.

I also manage this exotic accommodation on the Atlantic coast.

Live the experience of staying in a luxury Container in Patagonia