There are several natural reserves with various species of marine fauna along the Patagonian coast, but none of them offers such a spectacular concentration of wildlife as the Peninsula Valdés. This peninsula located 1,400 Km to the south of Buenos Aires, projects into the sea forming two gulfs of sheltered waters, and it is a meeting point for the southern right whales
, which arrive here to complete their breeding cycle between June and December. Trips to watch the southern right whales depart from Puerto Pirámides
There are also many sea lion colonies with a rich variety of birds, while the rest of the peninsula is teeming with other animals such as “ñandúes” (rheas), “maras” (Patagonian hares) and “guanacos”. The Isla de los Pájaros
Reserve has thousands of sea birds (cormorants, gulls, terns, herons). Punta Pirámide
has a colony of seals breeding there. Punta Delgada provides a shelter to seals and sea elephants. Caleta Valdés, a narrow promontory separating the open sea from a marine lagoon, is inhabited by seals, sea elephants, and Magellanic penguins
, as well as “guanacos”, “maras” and “ñandúes” which arrive at the islands at low tide.
In the Peninsula's Punta Norte
is the world’s most important southern sea elephant continental breeding colony. The name of these animals comes from their trunk, which resembles that of an elephant, and which is dilated by males during the rut. Elephant seals
can reach 7 meters in length and have an average weight of three tons. They feed on fish, squid, and octopus, and they can dive up to 200 meters in search of a prey.
We recommend that you go to the Interpretation Center at the Ameghino Isthmus, where you will be provided with all the information and advice you may need.
Punta Tombo Natural Reserve
120 Km to the south of Trelew is one of the most varied sea bird colonies in the world, which has the largest number of Magellanic penguins
. Over 250,000 penguin couples gather here from mid September to the beginning of April. Other protected species include a local type of seagulls (cook seagulls), oyster catchers, imperial cormorants and rock cormorants. Rheas, guanacos, maras (Patagonian hares), ñandúes (South American ostrich) and foxes can also be seen in this area.
Species that may be observed in Península Valdés and viewing periods:
: May through December. Recommendation: August or September.
: all year round. Better chances in March-April in Punta Norte; September in Caleta Valdes; April in Peninsula Valdes.
: July through March.
: all year round. Mating season: December through April.
: all year round. Recommendation: September and October. During the November - April period they are seen in large numbers, but they are inactive. From April through August they can be seen in isolated molting groups.
: September through March.
: southern spring and summer.
: all year round.
: all year round.
(Patagonian hares): all year round. Recommendation: September through February.
Gray and red foxes
: all year round. Recommendation: southern hemisphere summer.
Armadillos and piches
: all year round.
The Right Southern Whale
The Right Southern Whale arrives at Peninsula Valdés between April and May for breeding, to give birth and to take care of the newborns in the spring. The population is increasing up to coming to a number of approximately 500 specimens in September and October. From there, they start leaving the area, staying longer females with whale-calves. The last ones will go away in December.
It is a very docile animal, with an incredible dedication in taking care of their offspring, to the point that if this one approaches the crafts its mother stands in the way to protect it. Docility is the reason for its name as well as the one that made so easy to catch by whale-boats ships.
Today, there are approximately 7.000 specimens estimated in the world, and though it is a protected animal and its hunting is banned, man still lurks against it.
The Right Southern Whale was declared Natural Monument and, due to the measures taken for its protection, the growth rate of its population is annually of 7%.
You can do whale watching
from the coast or in boats that allow a closer contact. Once the boat reaches the deeper sea, the captain stops the engine, and waits until they get closer. It is forbidden to chase them, bother them or touch them, which is tempting because many times they raise their heads very closely. Some whales like to swim under the boat, but do not worry: they have absolute control of space. The most sublime moment is when the whale flips out of the water and plunge back into the sea with their thirty tons, making a huge splash. To complete this spectacular view, they sometimes blow water through the two blowholes located in the head (spiracles), and you can see a V-shaped cloud of water. Others lift their tail high out of the water or hit their flukes down into the surface.
When you reach the shore, you will not believe the wonderful feelings that will always be with you. Do not miss this opportunity to be face to face with nature!