Puerto Madryn is the major tourist resort in the Patagonian coast and it is, as well, the entrance gate to theValdésPeninsula, where one of the most colossal and worldwide admired show is presented: southern right whale watching. Colonized by Welsh immigrants in 1865, is the gateway to theValdesPeninsula and Punta Tombo, as well as a popular beach resort.
Excursions from Puerto Madryn:
Full Day Excursion to Peninsula Valdes
Península Valdés in the Argentinean province of Chubut is a 4,000 km2 promontory, protruding 100 km eastwards into the South Atlantic. The 400 km shoreline includes a series of gulfs, rocky cliffs, shallow bays and lagoons with extensive mudflats, sandy and pebble beaches, coastal sand dunes and small islands.
The shores and waters around thePeninsula is a special place for marine mammals. A population of southern right whales uses the protected waters for mating and calving. The southern elephant seal has its most northern colony here. It reaches peak numbers of over 1,000 individuals and is the only colony in the world reported to be on the increase. The southern sea lion also breeds here in large numbers.
The local population of orcas has used the beaches of Valdés to develop a unique and spectacular approach to hunting. The orcas race into the shallow surf to snatch sea lions or young elephant seals, often throwing themselves onto the beach in the process.
The site has a high diversity of birds. The peninsula’s intertidal mudflats and coastal lagoons are important staging sites for migratory shorebirds The Magellanic penguin is the most numerous with almost 40,000 active nests distributed among five different colonies.
Terrestrial mammals are also abundant. Large herds of guanaco can be seen throughout the peninsula and the mara, an Argentinean endemic, which is endangered in other parts of the country, is found here. The primary attraction here is Peninsula Valdes, one of the most important wildlife reserves inArgentina. It is the breeding ground for sea lions, sea elephants, and Southern Right whales (May – December), as well as a sanctuary for many species of marine birds. You will cover approximately 221 milestouring the peninsula. The excursion includes a visit to Puerto Piramides, a small town surrounded by cliffs resembling pyramids, located on NuevoGulf. Here you will take the whale watching excursion by boat (available from May to December)
Continue to the shores of the San Matías Gulf, inside the Punta Norte area in theValdésPeninsula, the San Lorenzo estancia shelters a reproduction colony of Magellanic penguins. Pride of the San Lorenzo estancia, this is a reproduction colony and shelters an average of approximately 200,000 specimens. As in every season, the penguins start to turn up in August and leave in March. They comply with most of their life cycle in this place. The males form the nest and look for their mating partners. Then, the eggs are laid and, at the moment of our visit, they take turns to sit on them until their offspring are born. Both parents are in charge of feeding the young, which then form nurseries and change their feathers until they are ready to get into the sea.
Delicious grilled lamb will be served for lunch, followed by a visit to Punta Norte Colony. Punta Norte is at the extreme north western tip of Península Valdés it is a magnificent setting of cliffs, a worthy backdrop scenario for the walrus and sea lion colonies on the shore. This Provincial Fauna Reserve was created to protect walruses. Occasionally you can see one of them from the observation deck, or further south, with the aid of binoculars.
Facing the observation deck there is an important mating area for sea lions. This colony, together with those facing the lighthouse and onMedinabay, totals some 3,000 adults and an average of 1,350 pups in the breeding season.
Finally before returning to Puerto Madryn you will see the most unusual sight known as Caleta Valdés, or Valdés Creek. It is a long, thin strip of land—basically an overgrown sandbar—running parallel to the coast. At the far end, about 30km (20 miles) north, this strip of silt is connected to the peninsula. Here, at the southern end, is the only inlet to the so-called creek—a channel about 150m (500 feet) wide. Less than 10 years ago, the channel was 600m (2000 feet) wide. This geological feature, known as a coastal cord, tends to trap a bit of sediment every time the tide goes out. For the past couple of years, observers have predicted that it will close up entirely “any day now.” Unless another outlet forms—which seems unlikely—Caleta Valdés will soon change from a creek to a salt lake. And given the shallowness of that lake and the area’s extremely low humidity, it could dry out completely in several more years.
Caleta Valdés is thus the only spot on the continent where the coastline is growing; everywhere else it’s either being eroded slowly away or receding due to rising ocean levels. It’s almost as though this little strip of land is thumbing its nose at continental drift, growing out toward the east as the whole continent slips slowly westward.
Excursion to Punta Tombo Penguin Colony
You set out early for the penguin colony at the Punta Tombo Provincial reserve. After a two-and-a-half hour journey watching the Patagonian steppe, you will get to this limitless penguin colony:200 hectaresof clay and sand that house thousands of nests where the penguins lay their eggs and raise their chicks.
You will walk around the paths among the penguins for about an hour and a half to watch their behaviour. The reserve has a park keeper and also offers sanitary and cafeteria facilities to the visitor. Later on the tour, you will visit Gaiman, where a group of Welsh people settled down in the past. The tour guide will explain the events that took place during the settlement while historical interest points as well as the building style of the village are observed.
An optional stop at a typical tea-house to enjoy a traditional Welsh tea service is offered.
You continue your way to Trelew with its main attraction: the Modern Egidio Feruglio Paleontologic Museum.
Return to Puerto Madryn at sunset.
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