The day started very early, and as Carlos (my driver said) there is a good reason for that, you cannot miss the sun coming out at the panoramic view passed the El Doradillo. An he was absolutely right. Don’t you think. The golden colors of the sun hitting over the Restingas it is a view hard to match. This was the perfect kick off for an AMAZING day exploring the region of Peninsula Valdes.
Peninsula Valdes is a peninsula on the Atlantic coast in the Viedma Department in the north east of Chubut Province, Argentina. An important nature reserve which was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. The main point of interest within the peninsula are: Puerto Piramides (where you can do the sailing with Franca Austral Whales), Istmo Carlos Ameghino (arm that links the peninsula to the continent with beautiful views of the San Jose Gulf and Nuevo Gulf, Isla de Pajaros, Caleta Valdes and Punta Cantor (site to a close encounter with elephant seals), Punta Norte (view point for Killer Whales) and Punta Delgada.
Peninsula Valdes, is a Natural Reserve where you will find a huge array of fauna typical from the region of Patagonia. During my visit I was able to see and interact with Franca Austral Whales, Elephant Seals, Wild Guanacos, Sheeps, Choiques, Ducks, Horses, Foxes, Maras, among many classes of birds, all coexisting and roaming free. It is without a doubt a journey into nature that you will not regret, all with the most caution and respect to the natural resources, fauna and the area.
Our second stop was at Puerto Piramides, site where tourists of all over come to experience Sailing with Franca Austral Whales. Puerto Piramides was developed by the Welsh community in between (1907 – 1914) as the main port that linked the Salinas (salt dessert) of Peninsula Valdes with the Atlantic Sea. Nowadays this area has a population of 450.
Invited by iconic in this matter Captain Pinino from Whales Argentina (see picture above), we set sail into this 2 hours adventure where you get up close to one of the biggest and most friendly whales the Ballena Franca Austral.
We climbed on board to navigate the Golfo Nuevo. The objective is to get as close as possible: even though the vessel is faster than the whales, they never force an approach; rather, they respect the whales’ wishes.
What we can say for sure is that along the coast of Península Valdés, there are more whales to watch than in any other part of the world. This means that we will always see one or more whales.
After our sailing experience we enjoyed a fabulous lunch with panoramic views of Puerto Piramides, at QUIMEY QUIPAN (which means WELCOME in Mapuche native slang). Here you will taste the best fresh seafood from the region. Prices are a bit high but there is a perfect reason for that. All seafood are collected in the old traditional way, one by one. Peninsula Valdes is a natural reserve so net fishing is not allowed.
Next stop was Caleta Valdez, Punta Cantor and Estancia Elvira. After sailing with whales, I said to myself, what else would I see that would exceed that experience. Well Janet – my tour guide – had another surprise for me, a close encounter with Elephant Seals. So we drove for another hour, perfect timing to digest our superb lunch and take a little nap.
Caleta Valdes, is a natural geological formation by accumulation. This strip made up by pebbles, soil and sand ecloses a portion of the sea which is connected to the surrounding ocean by means of a small mouth. In this area, where the sea water flows freely to the rhythm of the high and the low tides, there are two groups of islands which bear singular geomorphological features. Some of them are the Primera, Segunda and Gaviota Islands.
Punta Cantor, is the site where you will be able to get up close and personal with the Elephant Seals. For those that really want to interact with them, the alternative option is to extend your journey up to Punta Delgada, where if (and only if) you have lunch at their restaurant, the will allow you to walk along the beach where these lovely mammals lay under the sun.
From Punta Cantor, you will have great views of Caleta Valdes, the Atlantic Ocean and the chance to watch the Elephant seals at their natural habitat.
Next and last stop of our Peninsula Valdes experience was, Estancia La Elvira. Estancias (ranch) are very popular all over Argentina, and the perfect option to experience the real daily life of the traditional inhabitants of the region of Patagonia. Estancias are a great alternative type of lodging isolated from the main urban areas.
Some of the activities at this ranch are Horseback riding, Photographic Safaris, Mountain Bike, Sheep-shearing, Experiencing the day-to-day farm activities…
There are many Estancias to visit in the area of Patagonia. And they all have their special and own style. If you really want to learn the local culture and traditions, then come and spend at least one night…. and get ready from some of the best gastronomic options.
The sun is setting and that marks the end of this AMAZING day. I am happy to head back to Puerto Madryn full of incredible experiences and memories. I hope you have all enjoy this chronicles and please feel free to contact me for more information or travel arrangements.
The Peninsula Valdes tour is a full day option. So you should allow this time to experience it at its best. (departure from your hotel in Puerto Madryn around 8AM.) This tour can be booked as a Private or Regular Tour Entry to the Natural Reserve of Peninsula Valdes is approx. USD 15. Best time of the year to watch Ballena Franca Austral (AUG – NOV). CM @ Carlos Melia Recommends
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