Going ashore in Puerto Madryn, Argentina

Puerto Madryn is situated in Golfo Nuevo which belongs to the Province of Chubut, Argentina, only few km away from the Valdes Peninsula. Almost 15 years ago, all the area including the Valdes Peninsula and the small islands around it, were declared UNESCO heritage and became an important tourist destination for nature and animal lovers from all over the world.

Not many vessels come to Puerto Madryn, but, if you are lucky enough to arrive in this part of the world, you have to take advantage of your time and try to discover at least some of the wonderful places for which tourists pay a lot of money to see.

This area is home to many different species of animals and birds and also the shooting place for many National Geographic and Discovery Channel documentaries having these animals as main actors.

If you want to experience some of the greatest and most amazing moments of your life, all you have to do is embark on one vessel going to Puerto Madryn and try to arrive there at the same time with some other interesting creatures who enjoy being on these shores for the richness of their waters.

The waters surrounding the shores of Valdes Peninsula and even Golfo Nuevo are very rich in food supply and many different species of animals come here every year Рaround the same time Рto feed themselves,  breed and raise their youngsters. They will do this until the end of their lives and their offsprings will do exactly the same when their time comes.

If you arrive in the area between June and December, you will get the chance of watching and admiring the huge Austral Right Whales that come in the Gulf to mate, breed and raise the calves. You will see them moving around the Gulf at very low speed, engaging themselves in all kind of mating rituals or teaching the cubs the essential challenges of life. You can watch them from the ship’s deck or you can go down and follow them along the pier from only half a meter distance.

Puerto Madryn - whale watching from the pier

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the vessel 2

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the vessel 3

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the vessel 4

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the vessel 5

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the vessel 6

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the vessel 7

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the vessel 8

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the vessel 10

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the vessel

Whale watching - white whale Puerto Madryn

Whale watching from the vessel Puerto Madryn Argentina

If you spend a few hours at the end of the pier – at the most distant point – you will meet some of these nice creatures as they will approach the pier and almost touch it in their way towards Doradillo Beach or Puerto Piramides (other important points of interest for the activity of whale watching – avistaje de balennas).

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching from the pier

During the late hours of the afternoon and close to sunset you can witness some incredible moments, so you’d better have your recording camera ready to shoot. At this time of the day, big whale males like to impress the possible single females in the area and make some amazing and acrobatic jumps out of the water, moments you will probably like to record as a souvenir.

Puerto Madryn Argentina whale watching mating season

In August, more than 100 exemplars of Austral Right Whale gather in the calm and protected waters of the Gulf, so even the entering (or departure) of the vessel can be very exciting with all those creatures moving around in all directions.

Inside the port – on the pier, or even on your vessel’s bulb or rudder – you will find other funny creatures you already may know from some other ports from this area, the sea lions. They are very lazy during day time, so they will let you admire them or record them as long as you want, without moving a bit from their positions. They will pose in some very funny, but handsome, figures, because they really like to show off and be the center of the universe.

Puerto Madryn - sealion on the pier

Puerto Madryn Argentina - nice pick

Puerto Madryn Argentina sealions on the bulb

Sealions on the bulb at high tide Puerto Madryn Argentina

Sealions relaxing on the bulb Puerto Madryn Argentina

If you want to approach the whales from the sea, you can find a boat which will take you into the water, in a special area where whales like to mingle and set up a relation with people. These trips are always very interesting and emotional, but they will never offer you a better nor closer position to watch the whales than that offered inside the port.

To embark yourself in one of these water trips, you have to arrive at Puerto Piramides, situated on the other side of the Golfo Nuevo, in the West part of Valdes Peninsula. One trip like this can cost up to 45$/person and it lasts around two hours. It is really interesting and worth taking if you want to get close to the whales and admire them while they approach the boat, coming from both sides and also passing under it. The feeling is quite overwhelming and these moments will accompany you forever, haunt your wildest dreams and call for your returning many days after you arrive home.

Whale watching boat Puerto Piramides

Puerto Madryn whale watching mating season

Puerto Piramides Argentina whale watching

Puerto Piramides whale watching Argentina

Puerto Piramides

Whale watching Puerto Piramides

If you have a whole day ahead of you, the best thing to do is rent a car and travel around the Valdes Peninsula at your own pace. You can also book a tour of the Peninsula with one of the many tourist agencies from the town, but renting a car for 70$ a day can prove to be the best option.

Peninsula Valdes Argentina

Puerto Piramides is situated ~ 90 km away from Puerto Madryn, on the West side of Valdes Peninsula, but inside the Protected Area. One day may not be enough to visit the entire area and enjoy the wonderful landscape and the amazing creatures that inhabit it, especially if you arrive here in the most crowded time of the year – between September and March.

You can try and schedule your visit as good as you can, taking into account the distances between different places and also the season you are in.

Throughout the year you can visit here the elephant lion and sea lion colonies. These colonies are located on the East side of the Peninsula: in North East, at Punta Norte, in South East at Punta Delgada and in the East at Caleta Valdes. If you arrive in this area between the months of September and March, you can visit de Magellan Penguin Colonies – one colony is situated on the Isla de los Pajaros, very close to the entrance into the Protected Area and the other colony lives in the East, near Caleta Valdes. The penguins come here to breed and raise the small babies until they get big enough to be left alone and face the world by themselves.

In the same season with the penguins, some other beautiful and interesting creatures can be encountered on the East shores of the Valdes Peninsula – the orcas. Because this season is also the season when small sea lions cubs appear, the orcas come very close the shores to feed themselves on these helpless and new arrivals. This activity – known as beaching – was made very famous around the world thanks to some National Geographic documentaries which were filmed exactly on these shores, having the orcas as main actors and hunters and the small baby sea lions as pray. The orcas swim very close to the shores and pushed by the tide steal the sea lion babies which stay along the beach, close to the sea. The scenes can be very touchy and even frightful, but as this is a matter of surviving, it can only be admired as it is, without the emotional involvement. The orcas are doing this kind of extreme hunt for their cubs which need feeding and also training for the future solo attempts. Many photographers and naturalists from all over the world spend many hours of many days waiting for the perfect catch as the orcas wait the same amount of time in order to get successful, putting their lives at risk, but always managing to return to the sea together with the hide tide.

There are also some other animals which can be encountered inside the Peninsula and the most important of these are Guanacu – a kind of South American lama, and the American Ostrich, Nandu.

Peninsula Valdes Argentina 2

Peninsula Valdez Argentina 3

Lots of different species of birds inhabit the area and many of them come here in greater number during the mating and breeding season.

If you rented a car and want to dedicate a whole day to this amazing territory, you have to know that the roads are not very good and there is only one paved road – the one from Puerto Madryn to Puerto Piramides (~ 90 km). You need to pay attention to the traffic and do not exceed 40km/h, as many wild animals can come out of nowhere and decide to cross the street exactly when you are around. There are speed restrictions everywhere around the Peninsula and the traffic is forbidden during night time. It can be very difficult (even impossible) to cross the Peninsula during rainy days, as most of the roads are covered only with mud or sand.

Doradillo Beach is another beautiful area where you can get closer to whales and it is situated only few km away from the port, under way to Puerto Piramides. You can go there by car following the sandy road and walking on the beach – especially at sunrise or sunset, when whales tend to gather and cross very close to the shores.

Whale watching - from Doradillo Beach Puerto Madryn

Doradillo Beach Puerto Madryn Argentina

Doradillo Beach Puerto Madryn Argentina

Puerto Madryn Argentina Doradillo Beach

You can also pay a short visit to the city of Madryn which is a very beautiful and tourist place especially during summer.

Puerto Madry city Argentina


To get out of the port you will need a shuttle bus to take you to the gate. There you’ll meet the duty officers who will check your papers, your bags and will give you the permit to go out. Just in front of the gate, there is a small shop selling soft drinks, snacks and phone cards. You can ask the people working there to call a taxi for you and it will arrive in 10-15 minutes. You can always hire a taxi to take you to the Valdes Peninsula, but it will be more expensive and less efficient than renting your own car.

You can ask the taxi to take you into town and the ride will not cost more than 15$. You can find many tourist offices in the center of the city and take as many information as you need concerning your visit to Valdes Peninsula, renting the car or booking an organized tour.

Renting a car for 24 hours costs ~ 70$. The price can be a little too big, but it is nevertheless a very good option if you really want to make the best of your visit and discover the surroundings. Anyhow, the organized tours are much more expensive.

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