In the Chubut province, on the Argentinian coastline, is where wild animal lovers will find this unmissable destination. Here we recommend activities and give advice on how to prepare yourself for making the most of your stay in this untamed oasis.
Declared as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999, the Valdés Peninsula nature reserve is a true paradise home to some of the most varied species on Earth. Located only 92 kilometers from Puerto Madryn – the province’s most populated area -, the relaxed and welcoming town functions as a starting point for a whole host of trips that explore the best bits of the local coast.
Although marine wildlife watching – with the southern right whale being the most sought after animal to be spotted – represents a great attraction, the unusual birds, wild animals and unique landscapes which can also be found in the region make it the epitome of Patagonian natural beauty.
Visiting the Valdés Peninsula by Car
Although all trips can be made via private excursions, for those who prefer it, there is the option of renting a car and visiting this destination of your own accord. To do so, leave Puerto Madryn in the direction of the Valdés Peninsula by taking the Provincial Road Number 1 and, at Kilometer 17, change to Provincial Road Number 2.
Once at the entrance to the nature reserve, you’ll have to take into account that the road (a gravel track of 400 kilometers in good condition) around it is circular. This is why, before deciding upon the best direction to travel in, it’s a good idea to first drop by the Visitor’s Center to find out more about the day’s tidal forecast.
In the Carlos Ameghino Interpreting Center – also located in the park entrance -, travelers will have the chance to learn all about the indigenous fauna before starting their route around the peninsula. What’s more, when using binoculars from the center’s lookout spot, you’ll be able to enjoy an unparalleled view of the narrowest part of the isthmus of the same name.
When continuing the drive along the Route Number 4 and, above all, in the whale watching season, when driving along the border of El Doradillo beach, you’ll be able to take in one-of-a-kind views of the Argentinian Sea, dominated by the main protagonists of the local fauna: southern right whales.
Puerto Pirámides, a great location for whale-watching,can be found around 25 kilometers further on. There are many different ways to spot these impressive mammals: on group boat trips of different durations, or even by hiking along the coast in the company of guides. Anyone who chooses the first option will be lucky enough to see prime exemplars of the species only a few meters away. Alternatively, anyone who decides upon the hike will be able to enjoy this natural spectacle from a different perspective whilst walking along the vast beaches of El Doradillo.
In either of the two cases, the right moment to make a whale watching trip is from June to December, the time of year when they approach the coast to give birth to their calves.
Traveling five kilometers on from Punta Pirámides, you’ll find the Punta Pirámides sea lion colony, best visited in summer. You’ll also be able to reach here walking or via a boat trip.
Caleta Valdés is another of the unmissable stops in any visit to this part of the Patagonian coast. At the far end of the peninsula, and 77 kilometers from Puerto Pirámides, here visitors can enjoy other examples of the indigenous fauna: elephant seals, birds and sea lions.
Spending a Day in a Ranch in the Valdés Peninsula
This is an option chosen by many who are looking to prolong their trip to the nature reserve. On ranches, such as La Ernestina and La Elvira, travelers can enjoy an overnight stay in an exclusive establishment nestled amongst outstanding natural scenery and equipped with all the necessary comforts needed for a truly relaxing time.
In the same vein, the Estancia San Lorenzo (located inside a colony of more than 600 thousand Magellan penguins) is the perfect option for anyone who wants to walk, side by side, with these unique specimens and learn all about them. The ideal time to visit here is from the first days of September to the end of April.