Peninsula Valdés (UNESCO World Heritage Site) is one of the best places to see wildlife in South America. It is located in the north east of Chubut province in Patagonia (Argentina) and it has around 3,625 km2 in size. It’s home to an important and significant number of species, including wales, penguins, sea lions and many others.
It’s possible to visit almost all the peninsula in one day but you have to be prepared to drive in bad roads, slowly and for several km (in total we drove around 400 km and more than a half was in pebble roads).
Our first stop was at the Interpretation Centre, 20 km after paying the entrance fee to visit the natural reserve (260$ARG per person). At the Centre it’s possible to see a complete whale skeleton and read information about the reserve natural history and animals. They also have people there to explain you the roads and where you can find most of the animals (depending on the time of the year).
We decided to drive almost immediately to Punta Norte because it was high tide and apparently it was the best time to observe the sea lions. It was around 90 km in a pebble road so it took us almost two hours to arrive. Of course we stopped several times during this trip, especially because of the presence of Guanacos (we never saw this animal before but to us they seemed a mix of dear and llama).
At Punta Norte we saw hundreds of sea lions (including some babies with her mums) and we were so lucky that we saw killer whales (“orcas”)! We couldn’t believe we were seeing them and so close to the beach… Apparently they were trying to kill and eat the sea lions but fortunately we didn’t saw any of that happening. Close to the parking space we also saw some Larger Hair Armadillo (“Peludo”) – a very strange animal that seems to be from the Prehistoric Era.
From Punta Norte we caught the RP47 (another pebble road) to Punta Cantor passing by Caleta Valdés. Around Punta Cantor we stopped three times: the first one was to see penguins (we just saw one, completely alone!), the second and the third ones to see sea lions and sea elephants. We also saw a colony of Blue eyed Cormoran (“Cormoran Imperial”) but it was a bit far away from the coast viewpoint. The birds we saw there were the Sooty Shearwater (“Pardela Oscura”) and the Long-tailed Meadowlark (“Loica”).
Next we stopped for several times in the road (RP47 to Punta Delgada and RP2 to Puerto Pirámides) because we were the only ones driving there. We saw several animals in the road including wild horses, wild sheeps, Elegant Crested-Tinamou (“Martineta Común”), Lesser Rhea (“Choique”), Patagonian Cavy (“Mara”) and, of course, the Guanacos. It was an amazing and memorable journey: just us and hundreds of animals around.
Punta Pirámides is one of the best stops if visiting Península Valdés between June and December. It’s the time of the year where it is possible to observe the Southern Right Wale (“Ballena Franca Austral”). Since we were visiting the reserve in March there was nothing to see in Punta Pirámides for us and we decided to drive to Isla de Los Pájaros (“Birds Island”).
Nowadays it’s not possible to actually go into the island – it’s protected and only birds and other animals live there. But the island is very close to the coast and the views deserve the 6 km in pebble roads from the Interpretation Centre. Argentinians also say that the pilot and writer Antoine Saint-Exupéry, who flew over the region for 15 months, was inspired by the island’s shape to draw the boa digesting the elephant (part of his famous book “Le Petit Prince”).
Next stop: Punta Tombo (Argentina)!