Valdes Peninsula full day tour
A Unique Marine Fauna Haven :
Tour to Valdes Peninsula

whale jumping our of water
two whales swimming in valdes peninsula
baby seal
sealion resting on beach

whale about to attack sealion

Valdes peninsula fauna sea lion and seals

close up face of seal



wild birds in valdes

wild rabbit

wild life in argentina

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 (Birdís 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 coveís 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. Femalesí 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: low, except on the stairs that leads to the Elephant Seals beaches which are a bit steep and can be considered of a moderate difficulty. Travelers can skip this part of the tour if they have any physical disability.

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

Guide : shared English/Spanish speaking guide

Transfer : shared vehicle.

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