The final few days of our Patagonia trip were spent away from the mountains and next to the ocean on the east coast of Argentina, on the beautiful Peninsula Valdes. We first learned about this area whilst watching a BBC documentary about Patagonia, where Orcas can be observed beaching themselves as they hunt for sea lion pups, so we decided to add it to our itinerary for our trip.
Patagonia Diaries – Peninsula Valdes
We arrived in Peninsula Valdes late at night and had no idea of our surroundings until the following morning. We booked a really cute little cabin just a short walk from the beach called Casita Roja, full of quirky details and handmade art. As we ate breakfast on our first morning, I glimpsed out of the window and couldn’t believe my eyes as I saw the tail of a whale appear from the water. At first I thought I was imagining it but then came the next whale and another after that. From that moment we knew we’d found a really special place and we sat eating breakfast and watching the wales in the bay.
Whilst we missed orca season in Peninsula Valdes, we were going to be there at the right time of year for the elephant seals and southern right whales. On our first day we had planned on driving around the whole peninsula and looking for as many animals as we could. The only roads after the main town of Puerto Piramides were sand and dirt roads, so whilst we didn’t have a lot of distance to cover, the driving time would take us a while. Our first stop was Punta Norte on the north tip of the peninsula. As we walked down towards the beach, we saw huge elephant seals laid out on the beach. Almost all of the harem of females had young pups, guarded by the giant male “beach master.” There were also a few sea lions playing in the shallow waters, but most of the beach was occupied by the enormous elephant seals.
Our next stop was mid-way along the east coast where a colony of Magellanic penguins had set up home in the sandy cliffs just above the stony beach. They came and went with no regard for the group of people standing at the shore and watching them. We made sure to keep our distance from them, although unfortunately some people weren’t so considerate. Our day ended up at the most southerly point, Punta Delgada. Another breeding ground for elephant seals, sometimes orcas can be spotted here in the springtime, so we crossed everything that we might catch a glimpse of them. Unfortunately we didn’t, but it didn’t matter. We’d had an incredible day observing elephant seals, sea lions, penguins, some strange looking birds and on the final stretch of our drive, a mara.
The next morning we set off early for a day kayaking with Patagonia Explorers. Sofia our guide had already told us that there was heavy wind forecast, so we headed for the San Jose to the north of Puerto Piramides where the weather was supposed to be slightly calmer. We got the kayaks ready and she explained the plan for the day. She told us that we would keep close to the shore line, and keep our distance from the whales. Our aim was to paddle along the coast to a sea lion colony. Before we even got in the water we could see Southern Right whales all along the shore. In the spring time the southern right whales come to the gulfs of Peninsula Valdes to breed and give birth to their young. Mothers and their calves swim in these safe, shallow waters until they are ready to go back out in to the open ocean. Within a few minutes of starting our paddle, whales started popping up around us. Unfortunately the wind also picked up and the waves started pushing us towards the rocky cliffs. Deciding it was too risky to keep going, we turned around and headed back to the beach were we set off from. Paddling against the current and the wind was hard work, and keeping our kayak moving in the right direction was exhausting. But as we struggled to paddle, a mother and her young calf came to investigate and came really close to us. If I hadn’t have been using both my hands to paddle, I’d have loved to capture a picture of them.
Having to abort our kayaking trip, Sofia offered to take us on a little hike along the cliffs to the sea lion colony and to see the whales from the shore. Every couple of minutes we saw a whale, and a couple of the young calves started breaching just off from the shore which was incredible to watch. We found the colony of sea lions sleeping on a large rock stack and we sat for a few moments in silence watching them before heading back for a picnic on the beach. Despite not being able to kayak far because of the winds, we had had another unforgettable experience in Patagonia.
The four weeks that we spent in Patagonia were full of such incredible adventures that will stay with me for a long time. Maybe one day we will return and see it in the summer time, but even if we don’t return, we will never forget the places we saw and the adventures we had.
Did you miss the other blog posts from our trip? You can catch up on them here:
If you’d like to buy prints of some of my pictures from Patagonia, you can find them in my