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The Valdes Peninsula is a dramatic landscape of vast bays and gulfs, and an ideal place to see large numbers of sealion, right whale, dolphin, Magellanic penguin and huge colonies of many bird species.

Located in the northeastern tip of Patagonia and jutting into the Atlantic Ocean, it is only linked to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. Centuries of erosion have created perfect natural shelters for marine mammals and birds, and the mixing of the warm Brazilian current with the cold Malvinas current encourages plankton, algae and shellfish – the basis of the food chain for many species of marine wildlife.

The landscape is for the most part dry and desolate, with the prevailing vegetation the tundra-like Patagonian desert steppe. Some 130 plant species from 41 families have been recorded, with 38 being endemic to Argentina. Animals in this area include: guanaco, lesser rhea, Patagonian fox, mara and hairy armadillo. The only elephant seal habitat in continental territory is found in Punta Norte on the northern tip of the peninsula, and other sites of interest include the single-hair sealion breeding grounds, seabird colonies and fossil sites in the coastal cliffs.

Most accommodation in the Valdes area is in the cities of Trelew or Puerto Madryn, (although there are a few limited options on the Peninsula itself). From here full-day excursions explore the peninsula (about 400kms round-trip), and include whale-watching boat trips from the village of Puerto Piramides to see the southern right whales, boats operate from May to December. The area is good year-round for birdwatching and sightings of: elephant seal, sealion, Commerson’s dolphin, martineta, choique, guanaco, hare and gray wolf, whilst orcas are present October to April, and penguins September to March. Although whales are usually present between May to December, peak numbers and viewings occur around September to November.

View suggested itineraries

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: elephant seal, lesser rhea, mara, orca, southern right whale
  • Where: Chubut Province, Argentina

Wildlife trips

This wildlife location is featured in the following itineraries:

Patagonia’s Marine Life

This trip focuses on the windswept shores of Argentina’s Valdes Peninsula, home to many marine mammals such as elephant seals, sealions and Magellanic penguins. Depending on the time of year, you can see orca, northern right whales or southern right whales, before visiting a rockhopper penguin colony.

  • When to go: Sep-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,995 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Wild Patagonia

Enjoy the best of Argentina and Chile, with stunning scenery and burgeoning wildlife at Torres del Paine and spectacular glaciers around Calafate. The trip culminates in two days at Valdes Peninsula, home to species such as the northern right whale, magellanic penguin and elephant seal.

  • When to go: Oct-Apr
  • Duration inc. flights: 18 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,595 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea