The coastline of Península Valdés is a vast, remote and barren area in the middle of Atlantic Patagonia. The bays and shoreline of the peninsula jut out into the Atlantic, like a nipple, and is home to a remarkable variety of wildlife, notably penguins, elephant seals, sea-lions and whales. Every year Southern right whales come in between June and December to breed, particularly in October and November joining the thousands of other animals. Killer whales, Orcas, also pass up the coastline with their young families training them to feed on the sea-lions that lounge around on the shoreline.
There are also large numbers of seabirds such as petrels, albatrosses and cormorants. All this incredible wildlife can be admired during boat trips into the bay from Puerto Madryn or walking excursions on the Penínsular. For those with more time staying out on the edge of the Penínsular is the most ‘off the beaten’ track place to stay for unrivalled back to nature experiences – quad biking, horse riding, trekking and just sitting and enjoying the panoramic views. Getting there requires a 75kms drive an unsealed road, or to be more specific, a dirt track. A 4x4 is highly recommended. Animals in this area all run wild, in addition to the guanacos there are huge rabbits looking more like hares called Maras and a bevvy of small birds and reptiles. The local beach area is controlled and access is with local guides only but in other areas you are free to roam, just follow the rules.
As Penínsular Valdés is so remote a visit would need to be part of a larger itinerary. An iconic trip to see Patagonia Glaciers, lush Andean landscapes, windswept island and the marvellous wildlife in one comprehensive trip.
‘At-a-Glance’ Illustrative Itinerary
DAY 1: Fly to Buenos Aires, the cultured, elegant and cosmopolitan Argentinian capital famed for its interesting museums and the fascinating port district of La Boca, with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses.
DAY 2: Take a guided Buenos Aires city tour as there is so much to see. Don’t miss Teatro Colón, Recoleta, La Boca, a tango show or your own private tango lesson.
DAY 3: Take a day at leisure in Buenos Aires, to explore at your own pace or seek out the lovely Argentinian leather.
DAY 4: Travel to Puerto Madryn by taking a flight to Trelew and transfer to a chosen hotel in either Puerto Madryn or Punta Delgado for 3 nights.
Day 5: Wildlife abounds. Guided to the superb vantage points, we can observe sea lion colonies, enormous elephant seals, penguins and, depending on the season, we take a motor boat out to see the southern right whales at close range.
Day 6: Full day excursions to Península Valdés.
Day 7: Transfer to Trelew airport and fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost town in Argentina, located in a glorious setting by the icy waters of the Beagle Channel, at the foot of the towering Andes. On arrival transfer to hotel of choice for 2 nights.
Day 8: An early morning start for a full day excursion to Lapataia Bay in the national park. Walk through the park which encompasses a stunning region of forests, lakes, streams, and snow-capped mountains. Beavers' dams cover the area, and, with luck, you may see some at work. Return to Ushuaia.
Day 9: Fly to El Calafate, a small town on the southeastern shore of Lago Argentino, where birds congregate, including the Magellanic oyster catcher. We stay for 3 nights.
Days 10: Set off early on a full day excursion to the breathtaking Perito Moreno Glacier, with its 4km frontage and height reaching 70m. Silence reigns, shattered only by the thunderous roar of ice breaking off the glacier, and punctuated by the unearthly groans of creaking ice.
DAY 11: Take an excursion to visit the Upsala glacier, travelling by boat up to the northwestern end of Lago Argentino.
Day 12-14: Time to enjoy the highlight of the Patagonia glacier region, the awesome Torres del Paine National Park. It will be a long, scenic crossing into Chile to Torres del Paine National Park for 3 nights but your efforts will be rewarded in exploring an area of outstanding natural beauty. Tprres National Parkis the #1 in South America and famous for the massive Torres rise up out of the earth, reflected in the glacial waters of Lake Nordenskjöld. Many walks can be taken, of varying degrees of difficulty, all affording splendid mountain views and an opportunity to observe the wildlife.
Day 15-16: Morning transfer to Punta Arenas for a late afternoon flight to Santiago de Chile, a beautiful city situated in a plateau with the snow-capped Andes stretching alongside. It has extensive parks and gardens, a bustling centre with tree-lined avenues and the Cerro San Cristóbal, a hilltop reached by funicular railway, which offers superb views of the city and surroundings.