Penguins, elephant seals, sea lions, oh my!
The Valdes Peninsula is an important nature reserve that was first listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. After passing the El Desempeo checkpoint, the tour arrives at the Carlos Ameghino Interpretation Center at the Isthmus Ameghino, 40 miles away from Puerto Madryn.
The center has an excellent collection of and information about historical events that took place here, the ecosystems of the area, and the regional flora and fauna.
The excursion continues on gravel roads heading to Caleta Valds, where you can see the southern elephant seals, considered to be the world's largest seals. There are different hiking paths and several levels of balconies where you can position yourself to enjoy the landscape and the animals to the very fullest. You will be provided lunch here, and there may be an opportunity to see penguins nesting on a cliff nearby (time permitting, please note that they can only be observed through a fence).
At Caleta Valds and Punta Norte, you may be fortunate enough to watch orcas hunting for sea lions or seal pups on the shore, with a unique technique they developed by stranding themselves on the beach.
On the return trip, typical terrestrial fauna species that inhabit the region (guanacos, maras, choiques, foxes, armadillos, etc.) can be observed, as well as the salt flats - the most important depressions of South America. There may also be a short visit to a Sea Lion reserve (time permitting).
Reviewer: Diane & Gene
We were picked up right off our ship and driven by our guide (just us in a small car with her) to the National Park. She was a former Park Ranger and knew the best places to look for wildlife. We saw ostriches, guanacos, snakes, quail, owls, cavy, seals, penguins, and many more. She shared so much good information. It was a very pleasant day!
Reviewer: E.S. Verona
We were delighted with the very personal attention and expertise of our guide, who for many years had served as a park ranger on the peninsula. She was able to point out wildlife that we would never have seen without her trained eye. We were privileged to have our guide to ourselves and felt sorry for those who took the large tour buses. This was a highlight of our cruise experience.
We had a great day with our guide. We saw lots of wildlife during our trip. We were hoping to see Elephant seals and unfortunately most had departed for Antarctica but we did manage to see some females on the beach. It was a lovely day seeing the local scenery of the peninsula.
Reviewer: Lush-ous Wingnut
We disembarked to find the tour had not been organised, but within 15mins, an excellent guide was organised & we began our own private tour. It was a long journey, but well worth the effort. The guide was a biologist who spoke excellent English, which meant we received a lot of great information.