Peninsula Valdes is one of the largest marine wildlife reserves on the planet, and a prime location for viewing a diverse collection of wildlife. It was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, because of its global significance as a marine wildlife refuge for several threatened species.
The scenic Peninsula Valdes, where arid lands are set against the blue crystalline sea, is home to an important breeding population of the endangered Southern Right Whales (whales season is from May to early December), Southern Sea lions, orcas (also known as “killer whales”), Magellanic penguins (penguin season is from mid-September to mid-April), and the largest continental colony of southern elephant seals on the globe.
The inland portion of the peninsula is inhabited by rheas, guanacos (American Llama), hairy armadillos, ostriches and maras (very similar to hares). A high diversity and wide range of birds live in the peninsula as well: at least 181 bird species.
Our tour kicks off in the morning, when we head to the Peninsula Valdes, which is described as an island linked to the continent by a long strip of land called, in this case, Carlos Ameghino Isthmus. After 48 miles (77 kilometers) we’ll make our first stop at the small interpretation center, for a quick briefing.
We’ll then continue on our journey to the second stop: Puerto Piramides (town of Port Pyramids), from where we’ll depart on a navigation tour to enjoy close-up views of sea lion colonies, and to explore caves rich in marine fauna fossils.
Next up, we’ll head to Caleta Valdes, a natural channel, which hosts a wide variety of marine fauna. Caleta Valdes has the most spectacular panoramic views of Peninsula Valdes, so be sure to ready your camera and start creating memories of this scenic tour. Elephant seals can be seen from a viewpoint that overlooks the sea, as well as a small colony of of Magellanic penguins, frolicking and scurrying about.
Peninsula Valdes boasts the largest continental colony of elephant seals in the world. The elephant seal is the largest pinniped (seal) on Earth, with adult males weighing up to 4000 kilograms (4 tons), which is approximately 8 times heavier than a polar bear! They are referred to as elephants due to their massive size, as well as because of the proboscis (the inflatable trunk-like snout) found in males; and used to make a loud roaring sound to assert their dominance over other males, to establish their territory, and defend their haram (group of females). During mating season, they can become very aggressive. Elephant seals are excellent divers, and are able to swim up to 4900 feet (1500 meters) beneath the ocean’s surface, not needing to come back to the surface for more than an hour and a half!
High above the waters, an outlook balcony located near a cliff will give us the chance to enjoy a panoramic look at the elephant seal colony; yet another perfect chance to take some stunning pictures.
Depending on weather conditions, orcas can be seen from October to November, and again from February to April, when they feed on young sea lions. Please note that, while present in the area, orcas are not always easy to see.
Orcas are the greatest predators of the seas, as well as one of the fastest marine animals in the world, reaching speeds of 35 miles (56 kilometers) an hour! They feed on several species of fish, sea lions, sea tortoises, elephant seals, sharks and penguins.
In Peninsula Valdes, orcas exhibit a unique behavior while hunting: they climb up onto the sand of the shore in order to prey on sea lions. The orcas in Patagonia are the only ones of their kind in the world to use this dangerous hunting method; where they leave two thirds of their body exposed on the beach. They take hold of their prey with their strong jaws, and slide back into the water.
After an exciting day exploring the wildlife of the Peninsula Valdes, and filling our camera with pictures, we will make our way back to our hotel.
Since you’ll be doing this tour with your own private vehicle and guide, you’ll be able to enjoy each attraction at your own pace; making all of the stops you want while enjoying personalized assistance and care from your expert guide. You’ll also enjoy more convenient and faster transfers from and to your hotel, as there will be no other travelers to pick up or drop off at other hotels.
Important: the tour’s exact itinerary and duration may change subject to weather conditions and decisions of the tour guide to optimize your tour experience.
Duration: full day (approximately 10 hours from the time you leave your hotel until you return). Time for lunch is included but lunch cost is not included. Your tour guide will suggest places for lunch.
Guide: private guide.
Vehicle: private vehicle. The total driving distance is 250 miles (400 kilometers) long. Half is done on paved road, the rest if done on unpaved, gravel roads.
Includes: entrance to Peninsula Valdes Reserve.