TOUR INFORMATION AND TIPS

Allow us to assist you to choose the tours which will most enhance your Argentina visit; We recommend those which we have personally enjoyed the most.

In addition, we will give you our valuable insider's tips—a collection of our staff and guests' experiences and feedback.

You'll be well-educated to make good choices to plan your Argentine holiday.

 

USEFUL TIPS

 

 

Tours and Tips for Valdes Peninsula

Valdes Peninisula whale watching whale fin

The Valdes Peninsula Region is a perfect destinaton for marine fauna lovers who want to enjoy an amazing display and variety of marine wildlife. In 1999 the United Nations declared the Valdes Peninsula Region a natural heritage because "it contains very important and significant natural habitats for the in-situ conservation of several threatened species of outstanding universal value".


 

 

Read below to learn about our suggested Valdes Peninsula tours and our useful insider's tips for having the best time in Valdes Peninsula!

 
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Valdes peninsula magellanic penguins

Valdes magellanic penguins group

Valdes Argentina beach full of penguins

Argentina Valdes Peninsula penguin

Penguin beach on Valdes peninsula

Valdes peninsula baby penguin

Magellanic Penguins' Refuge: Punta Tombo Rookery

Penguins are definitely one of the cutest and most charismatic animals on Earth. Dressed up a in a tuxedo-like suit, 1.5 to 2 feet (50 to 70 centimeters) high and weighting from 9 to 11 pounds (4 to 5 kilograms), hundreds of thousands of Magellanic Penguins will be our hosts in our visit to the Punta Tombo Reserve. Punta Tombo is a rocky piece of land that projects into the sea. It hosts soft gravel beaches, sea shell beaches, coastal dunes and outcrops of volcanic red rock. In this reserve we will visit the Magellanic Penguin rookery (the breeding ground of penguins), which represents the largest continental breeding colony of Magellanic penguins in the World (apart from Antarctica).

The Magellanic Penguin is a sea bird. It is an excellent swimmer, but it is not able to fly. It is able to swim at a speed of 5 miles (8 kilometers) an hour using their fins as propellers and their feet as a rudder. Adults have a black back and a white chest with a double black band. Both sexes have the same colors. Sexism is inexistent between them; both of them defend their nest, incubate the eggs and feed the nestling with fish and squid.

Located 112 miles (180 kilometers) from Puerto Madryn and 62 miles (100 kilometers) from Trelew, this protected area spreads over 210 hectares harboring a Magellanic Penguins population of over half a million.

It’s mid September when hundreds of thousands of Magellanic Penguins come in from the sea to nest on land. They build their nests under the bushes, in caves and in open places. Most of the caves are found near the coast, where the soil is softer for digging. They usually return to the same nests year after year The eggs are incubated for 40 days by both parents. New-born penguins weight about 2.8 ounces (80 grams) and are covered by grey feathers which are shed in February and March.

The sight of this enormous penguin population is absolutely overwhelming. The Zoological Society of New York, together with Argentine scientists, has intensively been studying this colony since 1982. This is the reason why it is possible to see animals identified with metal rings, as well as nests and bushes marked with either plastic tapes or nails driven in the ground. It is in this protected area where penguin’s chicks take their first swimming lessons, mainly in small tidal pools, before starting their migratory trip.

Our guide will take you through special paths between thousands of penguins where you will be fully introduced into the world of the Magellanic Penguin.

Difficulty: low

Length: full day

Guide: shared English/Spanish speaking guide

Transfer: shared vehicle. This tour is done during the same day of the Commerson's Dolphins unique grand adventure. Approximate traveled distance: 229 miles (366 kilometers). Approximately half of the road in our journey is unpaved (gravel roads).

Includes: transfers + entrance ticket to Punta Tombo Reserve

 

 

 

Insider's Tip 1: This is a great tour to visit the larges continental colony of Magellan Penguins in the world. As far as the eye can see, Punta Tombo is penguin land. So although is a long distance to travel from your hotel to Punta Tombo, it's definitely very worthwhile. Try to get a seat next to the window on the tour vehicle. This way you will be able to take photos of these beautiful sights you will see along the way.

 

Insider's Tip 2: The penguins season at Punta tombo is from mid September to mid April.

 

Insider's Tip 3 : In any activity how you dress can make a big difference on whether you have a great time or not. If you feel uncomfortable, too cold or too hot most probably your tour experience won't be as good. We suggest for this tour:

 

1. Bringing a waterproof windbreaker jacket. Not only will you be protected from water, but you will also be able to stand on the outer deck of the boats, take better photos, and enjoy better views of the attractions without freezing or getting completely soaked. If it rains during your tour, you will definitely be happy to have your waterproof jacket.

 

2. While you are having fun in our outdoor activities you will not realize that the sun is roasting your skin. Moreover, the cool winds or the water in the navigations will make you forget the sun is even there. Well, it is. So we recommend a 30+ sunscreen if you have sensitive skin so you can enjoy every activity of your trip.

 
 

Need more travel tips and advice? Contact us

 
 
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Valdes Peninsula fauna sea lion

Elephant Seals

Valdes sea lion close up

Sea Lion valdes peninsula

Sea lions Argentina

Orca attacking sea lion in argentina

Orcas
Orca whale in valdes peninsula argentina

Caleta Valdes Argentina

Caleta Valdes
Choiques in Valdes Argentina

Choiques
Guanacos in argentina

Guanacos
maras big rabbit in valdes peninsula

Maras
black necked cormoran argentina

Black necked cormoran
seagulls in argentina

Seagul
Grey fox in valdes peninsula argentina

Grey Fox

A Unique Marine Fauna Haven: Tour to Valdes Peninsula

Valdes Peninsula is one of the largest marine wildlife reserves in the world, and a true paradise for marine wildlife lovers. Declared a natural heritage by the United Nations, it has an unsurpassed variety of marine wildlife species. A delightful visual feast of penguins, elephant seals, whales, sea lions and orcas (killer whales) can be enjoyed in the peninsula area. Prepare to experience a super close-up and unique encounter with some of the most amazing marine animals, in their natural habitat of Valdes Peninsula Reserve.

Valdes Peninsula is like an island united to the continent by a 22 miles (35 kilometers) long strip of land called Carlos Ameghino Isthmus. After 48 miles (77 kilometers) we do our first stop at a small interpretation center in the Carlos Ameghino Isthmus, from where you can see San Jose Gulf and Nuevo Gulf. On the top floor of this Interpretation Center you will find a set of potent binoculars from where you will be able to see in detail both gulfs and the Isla de los Pajaros (Bird’s Island). The distance between both gulfs is only 4 miles (7 kilometers) at the narrowest part of the Isthmus.

We continue our journey and 15 miles (25 kilometers) later we arrive to the tourist village of Puerto Piramides (Pyramids Port) where we prepare to enjoy an included whale watching boat adventure.

The sailing will last one hour and fifteen minutes and we will then return back to port.

We continue our journey heading to the southeast eastern point of the peninsula: Punta Delgada (Delgada Point). The entire road after Puerto Piramides is an unpaved gravel road. After 50 miles (79 kilometers) we reach Punta Delgada, where Punta Delgada lighthouse is located. This lighthouse is a navy base since 1905.

It is in Punta Delgada where three different beaches spread over a 4 mile (6.4 kilometer) coastal line gathering one of the largest concentrations of Southern Elephant Seals, a major attraction for researchers and travelers. The visit to these beaches will be done with specialized guides from Punta Delgada.

Peninsula Valdes offers the chance to watch Southern Elephant Seals without having to travel to remote islands, since this is the only continental territory in the world where this species is found.

One of the characteristics of these species that most impresses travelers is their large size and enormous weight. Males reach up to 15 feet (5 meters) long and weigh up to 4 tons while females can be 10 feet (3 meters) long and weight up to 1 ton. You definitely do not want one of these males steeping on your toes! Males have a proboscis or inflatable snout that makes them look like land elephants, which has been the reason of their name.

Though there is a stable colony in Valdes Peninsula all year round, about 40,000 Southern Elephant Seals arrive to the Peninsula from August to March for reproduction and to shed their skin. They are polygamists and form large harems of more than 10 females. They can spend three months at sea, diving day and night for fish. They head for the beaches when it's time to shed their skin or for breeding season.

An outlook located near a cliff will give us the chance of enjoying a first panoramic look at the elephant seals colony. We will descend to the beach to trek among the colony of Southern Elephant Seals and enjoy a real close up encounter with them.

The Southern Elephant Seal has a sub Antarctic distribution it's population is estimated to be around 700,000, of which 20,000 arrive between August and March to breed and change their skin in Valdes Peninsula. They are located all along the external coast of Valdes Peninsula.

During the entire reproduction season they fast (abstain from eating), loosing from 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 7 kilograms) per day. Elephant Seals are excellent divers. They can go as far as 4500 feet (1.500 meters) deep, or average depths of about 1200 feet (400 meters) and stay under water for periods of 2 hours. They are polygamists and form large harems.

Southern Elephant Seals, when not fighting for their harems, spend most of their time lying in the sun. As we stroll down the beach we will be able to hear the loud roars of the male elephant seals which are used as a warning signal to other male elephant seals that are getting too close to their harem. If the intruder ignores the warning and comes even closer to the harem, the 2 elephant seals will eventually end up fighting one another in a contest for sexual domination.

Our next stop is in Caleta Valdes, a natural channel, which lodges a large variety of marine fauna. Caleta Valdes has the most spectacular panoramic views of the Valdes Peninsula. It is a sheltered inlet which is especially important for the peninsula biodiversity. Elephant Seals and orcas can be seen from a viewpoint that overlooks the sea.

Elephant Seals can be seen throughout the year, especially between August and March, when they are in higher numbers than in the other months. It is possible to go down a cliff in Caleta Valdes by a stair, from which the Elephant Seals and the geological formations of the cove’s spit can be seen.

Depending on weather conditions, orcas or killer whales can be seen from October to November and from February to April, when they feed on young elephant seals.

Orcas are mammals that belong to the family of cetaceans, but unlike the whales they have teeth. They can be seen in Valdes Peninsula from February to April in Punta Norte Region and from October to November in Caleta Valdes and Punta Delgada region. The orca is predominantly black, except for its white abdomen and a back fin with a white spot behind it which scientist use for its identification.

Orcas are the greatest predator of the seas. They eat several fish species, sea lions, sea tortoises, elephant seals, sharks and penguins. The Orcas of Valdes Peninsula are specially well known for their unique strategy of intentionally stranding on gravel beaches to capture Sea Lions and Elephant Seals calves. The orcas of Patagonia are the only orcas in the world that use this dangerous hunting method in which they swim very quickly onto the beach, leaving two thirds of their body out of the water. They then grab an elephant seal or sea lion with their mouth and jump back into the water with energetic dorsal movements. Finally, they share their hunt with the other members of their group. It is known that hundreds of killer whales die each year during this hunting act, as they expose themselves to dehydration if they are unable to move back into the water after making a kill. Specialized emergency help units must be used to rescue these animals quickly.

Big males can weight more than 8 tons, be 29 feet long (9.5 meters) and their dorsal fin can be up to 6 feet (2 meters) high. Females weight 5 tons and are 18 feet (6 meters) long. Females’ life expectancy is 50 years while life expectancy for the male is only 30 years. When held in captivity average life expectancy is significantly reduced (5 to 10 years).

You will also see in the Valdes Peninsula many prairie and bird species such as guanacos (American Llama), rheas, hairy armadillos, hares, grey foxes, ostriches, and oyster catcher.

After a long journey we start our return back to Puerto Madryn.

Difficulty: full day. The whole tour is 250 miles (400 kilometers) long. Half of the road in our journey is unpaved.

Duration: full day

Guide: shared English/Spanish speaking guide

Transfer: shared vehicle.

Includes: transfers + entrance fee to Valdes Peninsula Reserve + Whale Watching adventure.

 

 

 

Insider's Tip 1: Valdes Peninsula is an unique wildlife sanctuary and one of the best places in the world for watching marine fauna. This is a long day tour (250 miles / 400 kilometers) but is it's definitely very worthwhile. Try to get a seat next to the window on the tour vehicle. This way you will be able to take photos of these beautiful sights you will see along the way.

 

Insider's Tip 2: There is a Magellan Penguin's colony on Caleta Valdes and althought it is just a very small colony compared to the huge penguin's colony in Punta Tombo, it is nice to make a stop there.

 

Insider's Tip 3: Depending on weather conditions, orcas or killer whales can be seen from October to November and from February to April, when they feed on young elephant seals. They can be seen at Punta Norte or at Punta Delgada. In Punta Norte you will also see lots of armadillos walking all around. They are not affraid of people and they usually approach the travelers to get some food.

 

Insider's Tip 4: In any activity how you dress can make a big difference on whether you have a great time or not. If you feel uncomfortable, too cold or too hot most probably your tour experience won't be as good. We suggest for this tour:

 

1. A windbreaker jacket is a must for this region, as winds are strong. Bring thin gloves that will protect you from the wind; they shouldn’t be skiing gloves. You want to keep your hands warm but still comfortable to take the best photos of every attraction.

 

2. Strong winds carry sediments and dust from the soils; a pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the dust.

 

3. While you are having fun in our outdoor activities you will not realize that the sun is roasting your skin. Moreover, the cool winds or the water in the navigations will make you forget the sun is even there. Well, it is. So we recommend a 30+ sunscreen if you have sensitive skin so you can enjoy every activity of your trip.

 

Insider's Tip 5: When booking any tour in Peninsula Valdes reserve ask the tour company if the entrance ticket to the Peninsula reserve is included in the tour price so to avoid any unexpected extra fee.

 

Need more travel tips and advice? Contact us

 
 
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Whale watching in argentina

Valdes Peninsula whale mother with young

Argentina whale jumping out of water

Whale watching tour in argentina

Big whale in valdes peninsula

Whale diving in Argentina

Whales underwater in argentina

Watching whales in argentina

map showing whale migration

Whale Watching Boat Adventure

A population of highly endangered Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena Australis) uses the clear and protected waters of the Nuevo and San José gulfs to mate and give birth to their calves (baby whales). The estimated weight for an adult Southern Right Whale is 35 to 55 tons, with a length of 39 to 52.5 feet (12 to 16 meters). The weight of a newborn calf is 3 tons and its length is 13 to 14.5 feet (4 to 4.5 meters).

Most of the world's whale species show ventral grooves and a dorsal fin, but the Southern Right Whale lacks both. The top jaw is long and thin, measuring a quarter of its total body length. Callosities on their backs and on the sides of their heads are one of the distinctive characteristic of the Southern Right Whale. Each whale has a unique callosity pattern which does not vary and therefore makes it possible to perfectly identify them, as it is done by scientists. Callosities are to this whale are as fingerprints are to humans.

On the top of their heads they possess two external blowholes instead of one as most whales do. One of the most outstanding characteristics of the Southern Right Whales is the way in which they exhale two columns of air containing water particles that emerge forming a “V” which can be observed from some miles or kilometers away.

The boat that you will navigate in has been equipped with the latest security equipment in order to be able to safely enjoy this unique experience. Moreover, boat captains are trained and qualified to make a close approach and ensure an excellent whale watching experience without disturbing or hurting the whales. For example, engines are turned off when whales approach and captains avoid direct approaches to whales.

One of the most distinctive characteristic between the Southern Right Whale and other Whales species is that it is very friendly and playful, specially the young whales. The Southern Right Whale is known for its tameness, slow movements and especially because of its curiosity. It is definitely a safe animal to approach, even when it comes close enough to touch the boat. Right whales was the name chosen for this whales by the whale hunter, as they thought this whale was the "right whale to hunt", as they are very easy to approach to, the live close to shore, provided large quantities of valuable oil, meat and whale-bone, and conveniently floated when dead. Their friendly and curious character, as opposite from other whales, surprises travelers who are usually deeply touched with the sociable and curious behavior of these friendly whales.

While you will definitely see a lot of dorsal fin movements and breathing, to see a whale jump is the ultimate goal and not to be missed on camera. The surface activities of the southern right whale include:

 

  • Breaching: leaping clear out of the water, spinning and then landing with a huge splash.
  • Lobtailing: raising the tail and then crashing it down on the water.
  • Slapping: raising a flipper and slapping it on the water.
  • Headstanding: a vertical position with tail held high in the air.

 

The sailing will last one hour and fifteen minutes. We then return back to port.

Difficulty: Easy

Duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes (done during the Valdes Peninsula tour).

 

 

Insider's Tip : In any adventure activity how you dress can make a big difference on whether you have a great time or not. If you feel uncomfortable, too cold or too hot most probably your tour experience won't be as good. We suggest for this tour:

 

1. A windbreaker jacket is a must for this region, as winds are strong. Bring thin gloves that will protect you from the wind; they shouldn’t be skiing gloves. You want to keep your hands warm but still comfortable to take the best photos of every attraction.

 

2. Strong winds carry sediments and dust from the soils; a pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the dust.

 

3. While you are having fun in our outdoor activities you will not realize that the sun is roasting your skin. Moreover, the cool winds or the water in the navigations will make you forget the sun is even there. Well, it is. So we recommend a 30+ sunscreen if you have sensitive skin so you can enjoy every activity of your trip.

 

Need more travel tips and advice? Contact us

 
 
click on photos to enlarge
Tourists watching the commerson dolphins in Argentina

Commerson dolphins and whale watchin in argentina



Whale fin in argentina valdes peninsulaCommerson dolphin jumping out of water in argentina

Whale closup argentina

Valdes Peninsula Argentina whales and dolphins

Argentina whales in valdes peninsula

The Commerson's Dolphins Discovery

Embark on this grand adventure to discover one of the unique sites in the world where you can see one of the smallest and most beautiful dolphins ever: the Commerson’s dolphins or toninas overas (named after botanist Philibert Commerson who first observed the species in 1787). This uniquely charismatic marine specie can only be found around Kerguelen Island in the Indian Ocean, and around the tip of southern South America, specifically near the middle coastal area of Argentina (45º30’S) and southwards to Tierra del Fuego, including the Straight of Magellan, the Falkland Islands and Drake's Passage. Although the biggest Commerson's dolphins population is in the Argentine shores, this magnificent species can be found in smaller quantities at Punta Arenas in Chile.

The Commerson's dolphin is a small, stocky dolphin with no obvious beak. There is a smooth slope leading from the mouth to blowhole, which is set slightly left of centre. The dorsal fin is also rounded, and is located just behind the middle of the back. Body color is startling, and develops with age. In the young, the pattern is muted grey on black, often appearing uniform. Later, this grey pales into white. The head is black, with a white throat. The dorsal area from the fin backward is also black, and a black patch is located on the undersides, linking the flippers, which are also dark. The rest of the body is white apart from a black genital patch. Size ranges from 4 to 6 feet (1.25 to 1.7 meters), and their average weight is 110 pounds (50 kilograms). Commerson's Dolphins are remarkably easy to identify because of their stunning combination of white and black. They are coastal, preferring waters of less than 330 feet (100 meters) deep. They take food from the sea bottom, such as Krill or other crustaceans, fish, squid or octopus, and other invertebrates.

We will depart in our zodiac boat from Playa Union, which is located 54 miles (87 kilometers) from Puerto Madryn and 62 miles (100 kilometers) from Trelew, this protected area represents one of the few colonies of Commerson's Dolphins in the world. We will head to Engaño Bay to enjoy tons of opportunities to see the Commerson's dolphins playing and showing off near our boat. Commerson's Dolphins are usually seen in groups of less than 10 animals. Occasional aggregations of 100 or more are also seen. They are swift swimmers and aerial acrobats. They are known to ride bow waves and to engage in various types of leaps. Commerson's dolphins prefer relatively shallow coastal waters. They often swim upside down. The live up to approximate 18 years old. This nautical trip lasts 1 hour and a half.

Difficulty: low

Duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Guide: Boat captain

Transfer: shared vehicle. This tour is done during the same day of the Punta Tombo rookery tour. Approximate traveled distance: 229 miles (366 kilometers). Approximately half of the road in our journey is unpaved.

Includes: transfers + entrance ticket to Punta Tombo Reserve + Commerson's dolphins

 

 

Insider's Tip : The Southern Right Whale can be seen in Valdes Peninsula from mid June to mid December.

 

Insider's Tip 2: The whale watching boat tours depart from the Puerto Piramides. A lot of boats and groups do these tours every day so when you arrive threre might be some waiting time until it's your turn to get on board for this exciting whale watching experience. It is very importante that you get on the waiting line (or if you are doing this as a group tour ask your guide where your queue is located) so when your turn comes you can be one of the first to board the boat and therefore be able to get an privileged location on the left or right outer decks.

 

Insider's Tip 3: In any adventure activity how you dress can make a big difference on whether you have a great time or not. If you feel uncomfortable, too cold or too hot most probably your tour experience won't be as good. We suggest for this tour:

 

1. A windbreaker jacket is a must for this region, as winds are strong. Bring thin gloves that will protect you from the wind; they shouldn’t be skiing gloves. You want to keep your hands warm but still comfortable to take the best photos of every attraction.

 

2. Strong winds carry sediments and dust from the soils; a pair of sunglasses will protect your eyes from the dust.

 

3. While you are having fun in our outdoor activities you will not realize that the sun is roasting your skin. Moreover, the cool winds or the water in the navigations will make you forget the sun is even there. Well, it is. So we recommend a 30+ sunscreen if you have sensitive skin so you can enjoy every activity of your trip.

 

Need more travel tips and advice? Contact us

 
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