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).