Whale watching in Patagonia, one of the nicest things to do in Puerto Madryn. Whale watching in Argentina is not just about the right time to see them but also where do you need to be to see the whales, how much does it cost, and the companies that provide the service. It’s a business like any other but we give you some tips to avoid tourist traps and have the best whale watching experience in Patagonia.
Whale watching in Patagonia: where is it?
For whale watching in Argentina you need to be at Peninsula Valdés, just 40min driving for Puerto Madryn. It’s since 1999 UNESCO world heritage and one of the best wildlife preserved areas in Argentina. There is a small town on the peninsula named “Puerto Piramides”. However, there are no accommodations available. Therefore, all group excursions do start from Puerto Madryn.
When is the whale watching season?
There are many different animals to see at the Peninsula Valdés. To make it easier, we made a “Peninsula Valdés Wildlife calendar”. (See below).
The best moment for whale watching in Argentina is from June till December. Orcas are best in the Southern hemisphere spring from September till November. That’s also when the sea lions are born. The orcas will swim close to the beach in an attempt to hunt.
How to get to Puerto Madryn / Peninsula Valdés?
First, you need to get there. This can by plane, car, or bus. The majority of the visitors are arriving by plane. There is an airport in Puerto Madryn but it doesn’t receive as many commercial flights per week. Therefore, Trelew is the most interesting airport of arrival.
There are more flights to Trelew airport, which means that the price for a flight ticket is probably cheaper. Later from Trelew airport, you can continue your travel to Ushuaia, El Calafate,… during high season there are direct flights operated by Aerolineas Argentinas.
At Trelew airport, you can rent a car – many companies available – or book a transfer to Puerto Madryn.
Planning a road trip? Perfect. You can drive from Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn but it will take you some time. Around 15-16h driving.
The third option is taking a long-distance bus departing from Buenos Aires. The bus departs from Retiro bus terminal in Buenos Aires. Most commonly it will be just after midday. You will arrive in Puerto Madryn the next day in the morning and ready for the whale watching in Patagonia. Price around 71 USD one way. Check out this website for bus tickets.
Read also: the complete guide to travel by bus in Patagonia
Best way for whale watching in Patagonia
There are two options for whale watching in Argentina. You follow it in group excursions or rent a car and discover Peninsula Valdés on your own.
Rent a car and discover on your own
Puerto Madryn is located at “Golfo Nuevo”. In that bay, you can spot the whales. Make a stop at Playa El Doradillo. From the shore, you can even spot whales during high-season. Afterward, continue driving to Puerto Piramides. There the boat excursions start and later you can continue driving on the peninsula and stop at different places on your own. It gives you the freedom to discover how you want it.
Another option is whale watching in Argentina by a group. The excursion operator will pick you up at the hotel and drive to the peninsula. It is a full-day excursion. However, if you didn’t book the boat excursion? Then it will be possible that you have to wait 2 hours in Puerto Piramides until the rest of the group is back to continue the full-day excursion.
How much does whale watching cost?
The entrance to Peninsula Valdés will cost you around USD 12. A full-day tour combined with the whale watching boat trip is around USD 125 per person.
Other things to do when you’re in Puerto Madryn
Whale watching in Patagonia is not the only thing you can do when you’re in Puerto Madryn. Visit Punta Tombo. An area with thousands of Magellanic penguins. It’s around 3h30 driving from Puerto Madryn but definitely a unique experience!