Puerto Madryn is one of the most touristic cities in Patagonia, due to its proximity to Península Valdés, the extensive beaches, the autochthonous flora and fauna, and the visit of the whales. Below you will find all the information for whale watching in Puerto Madryn.
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Best time for whale watching in Puerto Madryn
The whales arrive in the Golfo Nuevo during May and they stay there until November, mainly to reproduce and nurse the whales. Within this period, the months of September and October are the best time of the year for whale watching.
Why is Puerto Madryn an ideal area for whale watching?
Puerto Madryn acquires world fame for whale watching due to the number of specimens that arrive to the Golfo Nuevo, the long period of permanence to reproduce and take care of their calves, and the scarce proximity with respect to the coast where cetaceans can be sighted.
Where to go whale watching in Puerto Madryn?
There are three places where whale watching takes place in Puerto Madryn:
- From the Puerto Madryn waterfront: you can see them far away from the downtown beaches. If you look at the sea you will see how their fin and tail appear and how they jump.
- From El Doradillo Beach: one of the obligatory visits for whale watching in Puerto Madryn. Located about 25 kilometers from Puerto Madryn to the north, this extensive stone beach and deep water is ideal for watching whales from very close. All you have to do is sit on the beach and wait for the whales and their calves to skirt the shore – you will even hear the steam exhale through the hole called the spiracle! To get to El Doradillo, a car or a tour is required, as there is no public transport. The journey is made by gravel road. Taking this into account, you can go also by bike.
Check here thetour to see the whales at El Doradillo. Included: Hotel pick up and drop off, transport by airconditioned vehicle, English speaking guide specialized in the local flora and fauna (bilingual guided tour).
- Embarking from Puerto Pirámides: This is the main whale watching excursion in Puerto Madryn. From the small town of Puerto Pirámides, in Península Valdés, boats depart daily to watch the whales from the water. It is a fascinating spectacle, the whales pass again and again by the side and underneath the boat, making the jumps in the water a few meters away.
Excursion from Puerto Pirámides for whale watching
As mentioned above, whale watching on a boat that departs from Puerto Pirámides is an excursion not to be missed. Here are the practical details to do it:
How to get to Puerto Pirámides from Puerto Madryn?
Access to Puerto Pirámides from Puerto Madryn by public transport is very limited. The only option is the company Mar y Valle, which depends on the day and time of year, has one to four daily services. The departure is from the Puerto Madryn Bus Terminal.
The second option is to make the trip in your own car or for rent. The road is fully paved to Puerto Pirámides. Take route 3 and then the detour to Península Valdés. There are about 100 km in total.
Check here if you want to rent a car in Puerto Madryn.
If you book an excursion with an agency in the center of Puerto Madryn, it will include the round trip transfer from Puerto Madryn to Puerto Pirámides.
How is the excursion embarked for whale watching?
The embarked excursion lasts an hour and a half, departing from Puerto Pirámides and returning to the same place. The boats have capacity for 20, 30 or 40 people.
The departure times of the boats from Puerto Pirámides usually vary according to the weather conditions. It is necessary to be attentive to this factor and to be informed with the agency that has contracted the excursion. Normally, the boats make four or five daily departures, every two hours. If the excursion cannot be made on that day, it is rescheduled for the following day or the money is refunded.
Boats depart from the coast of Puerto Pirámides and then sail out to sea in search of the whales. When a specimen is found, normally in season 100% of the time, the motors of the boat are turned off to listen to the sound of the whales, watch them pass by and take pictures. It is a really impressive spectacle.
Also, during the navigation, you can see marine birds such as cormorants, gulls and petrels, penguins, and even sea lions and dolphins.
Check here the tour to see the whales in a boat. Included: Hotel pick up and drop off, English speaking guide with expert knowledge of marine biodiversity, transport by bus, 1.5 hour whale watching cruise around the Valdes Peninsula (Traditional and Yellow Submarine options only). Not included: Food and drinks, Valdes Peninsula entrance fee.
There is also the possibility of sailing in the «Yellow Submarine», where unlike other boats, whale watching is done under the sea, through the 40 windows of the underwater cabin.
Admission fees to the Valdés Peninsula Protected Natural Area
The entrance fee to the Península Valdés Protected Natural Area, whose prices are detailed below (from September 1st, 2019):
- Persons over 12 years of age: AR$ 850 foreign residents, AR$ 430 Argentina residents, AR$ 130 residents in the province of Chubut.
- Children from 6 to 11 years old: AR$ 430 foreign residents, AR$ 220 Argentina residents, AR$ 130 residents in the province of Chubut.
- Children from 0 to 5 years old: free of charge.
- Retirees and Pensioners over 60 years of age: AR$ 850 foreign resident, AR$ 220 Argentina residents , AR$ 130 residents in the province of Chubut.
Rental cars also have to pay an access fee depending on the passenger capacity of the car.
Taking into account the constant increase in prices in Argentina as a result of high inflation, these prices may increase every two or three months. Updated prices can be checked on the official Península Valdés website (in Spanish).