Valdes Peninsula, Argentina
Valdes Peninsula is located in the Argentine province of Chubut. It is situated on the coast of Patagonia, in the central eastern parts of Argentina. 7 km wide at the base and 94 km in its widest part, the peninsula protrudes more than 90 km eastward in the Atlantic Ocean. It covers an area of approximately 3,625 square kilometers. Wide and open steppe, the interior of Valdes is almost completely devoid of trees and is covered with herbaceous vegetation and shrubs. The terrain is quite flat, and the altitude does not exceed 100 meters.
On the territory of the peninsula you will find also the salt pan Las Salinas Grandes – one of the lowest points of South America, located 40 meters below sea level.
The coastline looks wild and raw with numerous small coves. Some areas of the shore are steep and rocky, while others are covered with coarse brownish sand and small pebbles.
In 1999, due to the richness of its wildlife, Valdes Peninsula was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The place is a biosphere reserve and offers a huge variety of species of animals. Along the coast you will find large colonies of seals, sea lions and Magellanic penguins.
Walking through the interior of the peninsula, you will find wild horses, llamas, sheep, foxes, armadillos, reptiles and rodents, most famous of which is the Patagonian mara, also called Patagonian hare.
The peninsula is an attractive nesting site for many different birds including large albatrosses.
The sheltered bays on the north and south shores of the peninsula are an attractive spot for breeding whales. The shallow lagoons are a good place for small baby whales because of it’s natural protection from orcas and large sharks.
Valdes Peninsula is one of the major tourist attractions in Argentina. What attracts many visitors here is the opportunity to observe different species of whales in their natural environment.
In fact, the peninsula can be described as the best place to watch killer whales in the world.
Looking for food, these huge black-and-white marine mammals swim in relatively large groups in the deep waters off the coast of the peninsula.
Feeling safe, their favorite prey, nothing suspecting seals or sea lions, lounge and soak up the sun on the coast.
Considered one of the most intelligent creatures in the wild, however, the crafty orcas of Valdes use master techniques to get to their prey on the beach. The large predators use some big ocean wave to slide onto the sand.
If they are lucky, the killer whales catch a seal or a sea lion and drag it into the water. This kind of hunting scenes are not guaranteed to tourists but are still quite possible.
Valdes Peninsula has a dry, windy and variable temperate climate. Because of the warm Brazil Current, which brings warm tropical waters passing along the east coast of the continent, the peninsula experiences the softening influence of the Atlantic.
From November to March the weather is warm and pleasant. The average temperature during the day is over 25°C, and nights are generally cool with temperatures between 10 and 15°C.
In January, at the height of summer, thermometers reach up to about 28 – 29°C. Winters are cool, sometimes cold, especially when strong or prolonged southern winds bring cold air masses from Antarctica.
The average daytime temperature in July and August is up to about 12°C, but at night it usually drops to around 0 – 1°C.
When to visit Valdes Peninsula? This place is truly worth seeing throughout the year. If you are planning to travel during the period between late May and December, you will have the chance to watch the large but peaceful baleen whales.
From October to March is the season to see vast colonies of penguins coming ashore.
If you want to see how killer whales hunt sea lions on shore of Valdes, the months of February and March are the best time to visit the peninsula.
How to get there? Puerto Madryn and its international airport is about an hour and a half drive from here.