Peninsula Valdes located on Argentina’s Atlantic coast is one of the country’s top wildlife destinations. The biggest draw to this nature reserve which was designated a World Heritage Site in 1999 by UNESCO is the opportunity and ease of seeing some of the largest marine animals in their natural environment.
The 250 mile Peninsula Valdes coastline consists of a series of gulfs, shallow bays and lagoons as well as some beautiful sandy and pebble beaches.
As one of the most important areas for marine mammals and birds in South America, visiting Peninsula Valdes is an unforgettable experience. From hefty elephant seals and rare Southern Right Whales to waddling penguins and playful dolphins, find out when and where are the best places to see wildlife in Peninsula Valdes.
When: September to March
Penguins can be found in 3 different colonies (Punta Tombo, Punta Norte and Punta Delgada) along the coast of Peninsula Valdes. The largest colony is found in the Punta Tombo Rookery which is home to more than 500,000 Magellan penguins. November is one of the best months to visit the penguins as the adorable newborn penguins begin to take their first steps. You will be able to get closer than ever to the penguins in Peninsula Valdes as they waddle around your feet although it is extremely important to remember to respect their living space.
♦ Sea Lions & Elephant Seals
When: All year around
The Peninsula is home to great numbers of important breeding populations of sea lions and elephant seals. At the busiest moment more than 20,000 elephant seals can be seen dotted along the Peninsula. The area of Peninsula Valdes is a UNESCO site of global significance for the conservation of marine mammals and is one of the world’s most important breeding sites for elephant seals and sea lions alike. These marine mammals can be spotted all year round with the breeding season taking place between December and March.
♦ Southern Right Whale
When: June to December
Without a doubt, Peninsula Valdes is one of the best places in South America for whale watching. The first Southern Right Whales appear every year in June and their numbers increase daily, right through to December. The best chance of seeing whales in Peninsula Valdes is during the month of October when the maximum number is reached. Whale watching is one of the top travel experiences in Argentina, which is why we highly recommend visiting Peninsula Valdes between September and December.
Peninsula Valdes has two natural inlets that provide a resting and breeding ground for the whales away from the raging Atlantic.
Watching the whales making their way along the bay is a unique experience and a must-do for your visit to the Peninsula. There are daily whale watching tours, but the most special ones take place during sunset where if you’re lucky you might even see a rare, white Southern Right Whale!
♦ Orcas (Killer Whales)
When: September to April
Orcas may be the largest creatures that reach the coast of Peninsula Valdes and for that reason some of the best places to spot them are from the high coastal areas and shoreline of Punta Norte.
Located near to the sea lion colony of Punta Norte, keep an eye out for the orcas especially during the high tides as it is when they are most likely to carry out their attacks.
As their behavior is unpredictable, orca watching is very difficult but if you are fortunate to spot them, it can be one of the most breath-taking experiences.
♦ Commerson’s Dolphin
When: All year round
The black and white Commerson’s dolphin mainly inhabit the coasts and bays of Peninsula Valdes with Playa Union, near to the Rawson’s Port area being the best place to sea them.
Living in pods from 2 to 10 dolphins, Commerson’s are extremely fast and active, and can perform several jumps in a row before diving for a few seconds.
Mid-November is often regarded as the best time to see Commerson’s Dolphins as it is during the calving season where you will be able to observe mothers swimming in sync with their calves.
When: December to March
The dusky dolphins of Peninsula Valdes are small, fast and extremely playful. Often propelling themselves alongside your boat, the dolphins will not shy away from showing off their most spectacular pirouettes and somersaults. Normally traveling in pods from 20 to 100, the experience is simply dazzling with the best places to see them being along the coast of the Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San Jose.
When: All year round
This stunning Patagonia Steppe in the province of Chubut, is inhabited by a wide range of birdlife from Imperial and Royal Cormorants to Darwin’s Rhea.
Within the bird’s peninsula there are at least 181 bird species with the best place to bird watch found on the aptly named Birds Island (Isla de los Pájaros) located in the southern area of the San Jose Gulf.
Peninsula Valdes is also home to 66 migratory species of birds such as the Antarctic Pigeon adding to this unmissable bird watching destination for both amateurs and the more seasoned professionals.