Valdes Peninsula

The Valdes Peninsula (Reserva Faunítica Península Valdés) is in the province of Chubut, in the Patagonia region of Argentina.

The city of Puerto Madryn is the gateway to Valdes Peninsula. There is only one village on the peninsula, Puerto Pirámides.

Understand

Argentine gray fox

Valdes Peninsula is a UNESCO World Heritage Site noted for its unique fauna and geology. The peninsula has a surface area of 3,625 square kilometers connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus.

History

The first Europeans to arrive were the Spaniards in the early late 1700s. They built a fort and established trading relations with the native Tehuelche population. The relations soured and fighting broke out. All of the Spaniards were later killed in a raid by the Tehuelche in 1810.

Landscape

Flat-Patagonia steppe, with knee-high bushes.

Flora and fauna

From October till March penguins are hedging on the shore. From June to mid-December it's whale watching season. Other inhabitants include sea lions, elephant seals, armadillos, guanacos, maras and gray foxes. If you're lucky you can spot orcas (killer whales) snatching seals from the shore at Punta Norte during April.

Climate

Very dry with less than 8 inches of rain per year.

Get in

There are buses going to Puerto Pirámides or book a tour in Puerto Madryn. If you take a bus from the Puerto Madryn terminal to Puerto Pirámides, there are no peninsula tours that leave or pickup from within the park. It is suggested that you pick up a tour from Puerto Madryn, otherwise you might be stuck in the small town of Puerto Pirámides and miss the rest of the peninsula.

Fees/Permits

For non residents of Argentina the entrance fee is ARG$70. Argentine residents pay ARG$20.

Get around

Most people visit the peninsula with a day tour organised from Puerto Madryn. The tours usually start at 7:30 and return between 6:00 and 7:30 depending on the tour company. Destinations are typically the visitors center, Puerto Pirámides (for whale or marine fauna watching depending on the season), Caleta Valdes/penguin area and Punta Norte. An advantage of a tour is the English speaking guide.

For more independence rental cars are available to explore the peninsula. The entrance fee is valid for a single entry and not depending on how many days you stay.

If you are only interested in the whales, just take a bus to Puerto Pirámides and pick a boat-tour from there.

See

Puerto Pirámides

Puerto Pirámides is a tiny village on this peninsula with about 300 inhabitants. The town of Puerto Pirámides consists of two roads forming a "T". One road leads to the water and has restaurants, a small market and some tourist shops. The other road has an ATM, an internet and call center and the hotels and hostels.

Puerto Pirámides is the only settlement and one of the most privileged sites to observe the famous southern whales. These animals will come south from June to December to breed and give birth to their offsprings. It is located in the north of the province of Chubut, Argentina. This town is one of the fastest growing in Argentina since it almost tripled its population, growing from 152 inhabitants (INDEC, 1991) to 429 inhabitants (INDEC, 2001). At 5 km from Puerto Piramides you can see the sea lions. December to March is the ideal time. Also, near La Caleta Valdés, you can see the continental elephant sanctuary.

Isla de los pájaros

Located in the southern sector of Golfo San Jose, you can find Isla de los Pájaros (Bird Island), a portion of land 800 metres away from the coast. It is in this place where thousands of bird nests surprise visitors when they reach the observatory due to the great buzz produced by the different species found there. In the months of January and February the city hosts a major tourist influx, since many Argentinians choose to spend their summer vacation here.

Do

Eat

Valdes Peninsula has lots of meals to choose from. It is characterized by a great variety of fresh sea food. You may find an important number of gourmet restaurants with international menus or fast food stores with low prices too. There are several restaurants in Puerto Piramides, a restaurant in Punta Cantor and at the lighthouse in Puerto Delgado there is a self service restaurant that serves extremely good asado for that remote area. If you plan on going during the low season its best to call ahead to make sure they are open. In Puerto Pirámides there are several seafood restaurants with fish from the daily catch.

Drink

There are several bars at Puerto Piramides.

Sleep

Book in advance, especially in summer and at weekends because it is a popular tourist area. You can rent a room in the light house in Puerto Delgado but it is very pricey! For budget or mid-range budgets it is better to stay in Puerto Pirámides.There is a camping area here as well

Visitors should note that the entire peninsula is privately owned and people are not allowed to explore on their own or camp wherever they wish.

Estancia San Lorenzo,  0280 445-5888. Hotel located inside Valdes Peninsula. It has a community of penguins inside the perimeter of the hotel.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, May 15, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.