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Sea lion pups at Puerto Piramides
This was the fourth stop in our two week trip to Argentina, having visited the Iguazu Falls, the Perito Moreno glacier, and of course Buenos Aires in the week prior.
Peninsula Valdes is made famous as a great location to view both Right Whales and Orca, however this time of year wasn’t the best season to view either. Peak season for Right Whales is July-December when they come to these waters to mate and give birth to their young, while the highest chance of seeing Orca is March-April when the sea lion pups at Punta Norte on Valdes north-eastern point leave themselves exposed to Orca attacks on the beach. Have you seen those nature documentaries where the Orca beach themselves to get the young seals? Chances are it was filmed at Punta Norte. However it happens very very rarely contrary to the impression you might get from the tourism websites.
Despite that, we count ourselves incredibly lucky to see an Orca patrolling the water at Caleta Valdes midway on the eastern coast of the Peninsula. We had visited that point half an hour previous to find only the small penguin colony that inhabits the area, on driving to the next beach about 5 km away we arrived at that beach to see a couple of 4×4’s driving in the opposite direction with the drivers making ‘turn around!’ gestures with their hands. A quick word with the friendly rangers confirmed that yes an Orca had been spotted at that beach 5 minutes earlier but headed north to Caleta Valdes which we had just come from. We jumped back in the car back to Caleta Valdes to enjoy a magical 15 minutes of the Orca swimming in the lagoon there, occasionally surfacing and giving us a ‘drive by’, before heading out to sea not to be seen by us again.
We were staying in Puerto Pyramids for 2 nights so only had one full day and the next morning to explore the peninsula. More time would have been ideal, as Peninsula is deceptively big with 90/120km long gravel tracks linking up the beaches. Hence we didn’t get to see everywhere and had to drop Punta Norte for instance, which was a shame as I hear you get to see a good sized sea lion colony up pretty close. However we made up for that by doing a ‘Snorkelling with Sea Lions’ boat excursion, which was amazing and I thoroughly recommend. Having a group of sea lions swim inches from me with one actually making contact with my hand as though it wanted to be petted which pretty nuts!
Punta Delgada and Puerto Piramides elephant seal and sea lion colonies were a BIT of a let down as the fixed viewing points are quite a distance from where the seals where positioned those days, but they were still a good experience. The penguin colony at Caleta Valdes is cute but tiny compared to the one at Punta Tomba if you’re going there.
Regardless, the Peninsula and Puerto Piramides is definitely a great place to visit, at that time of year it was warm on sunny and we managed to get some beach time in too. It’s a lovely chilled out little place to visit and definitely more attractive than Puerto Madryn. So I’m glad made it to the peninsula before we headed to Punta Tombo, and I reckon we will probably visit again at some pointing the future for the whale season!
Links to blog posts for the other places we stayed at during our trip are below in case you want to check those out:
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Richard Isaac Music Photography
Sea lions at Puerto Piramides:
Sea lions at Caleta Valdes. These were a long way off so bring your binoculars!
Shot at about 550mm
An Orca – we were so, so lucky to see this…
Coastline at Punta Delgada
Penguins at Caleta Valdes
Peninsula Valdes landscape with a salt lake in the background
Those long long gravel tracks…