A Day Trip to Caleta Valdés and Punta Delgada on Península Valdés

There are a variety of day tours and excursions that take you out to Península Valdés and today I’m going to be sharing about our tour focusing on the eastern part of the peninsula.

Our 4 days touring Península Valdés were action-packed to say the least, first visiting Punta Norte in search of penguins and then taking 2 days to explore the town of Puerto Pirámides. For our fourth and final day, we decided to visit a part of the peninsula we had completely overlooked with stops in Caleta Valdés and Punta Delgada, plus we finally got to see elephant seals, which we had only spotted from afar up until then!

Our small group tour was once again organized through Argentina Vision and though the tour officially departs from Puerto Madryn, they do pick up passengers from Puerto Pirámides should you choose to stay there like we did.

Now here’s a look back at how our last day on Península Valdés unfolded.

Boat tour to Punta Piramide to see sea lions

A boat tour to see sea lions

Puerto Pirámides was the first stop of the day and we had two options: spend some time exploring the town and browsing the colourful storefronts, or join a 1 1/2 hour boat tour to Punta Pirámides to see the sea lions! This second activity had an additional cost (750 pesos or $20 USD), but since we had already spent a couple of days in the town, the excursion sounded like a great option.

We strapped on our lifejackets, hopped aboard the zodiac, and were rolled into the water. Fun fact: even though this town has the word ‘port’ (puerto) in its name, there’s no actual port or dock, so boats have to be pre-loaded with passengers and then rolled backwards into the water using a trailer – that was a first!

We rode a zodiak style boat to see sea lions

Sam snapping photos on our boat tour in Peninsula Valdes

On a boat tour in Peninsula Valdes

Views from the boat tour on Peninsula Valdes

Audrey taking a boat excursion to see sea lions

We had beautiful weather that day and the seas were fairly calm, so it was a nice ride out to the lobería to see the sea lions. Along the way, we stopped in a small cave where we saw layers of marine fossils stacked on top each other, and we also came across lots of seabirds, namely cormorants.

Seeing marine fossils on our tour of Peninsula Valdes

Seeing cormorants on our boat tour of Peninsula Valdes

Sea lion lounging in Punta Piramide

Seeing lots of sea lions on our boat tour of Punta Piramide

We then reached this outcrop where the sea lions like to hang out and that spot was pure magic. Because we visited in February, there were lots of newborn pups playing and clumsily climbing around the larger sea lions. It was so fun to just sit back and watch them be.

We also saw the alpha male strutting on his flippers, body arched upwards, observing his harem and eventually approaching a female. It was quite the scene and camera shutters were going off like crazy!

Sea lions in Peninsula Valdes

Sea lions up close on the boat tour

Alpha male sea lion in his harem

Views of the coast in Peninsula Valdes

I’m glad we opted to do this additional excursion because it provided a completely different vantage point and allowed us to observe the sea lions’ behaviour up close. We’d had some great sightings at Punta Norte on our first day on the peninsula, and then again when we hiked out to the lobería, but on both of these occasions, we had been viewing the sea lions from a much greater distance, so this was rather a unique experience.

A geographic accident at Caleta Valdés

Once we finished the boat excursion, we met up with the rest of our group and drove to our next destination: Caleta Valdés.

Caleta Valdés is referred to as a ‘geographic accident’; it’s basically a long and narrow body of water that’s been naturally closed off by a strip of land, with only a small opening connecting it to the sea.

Here we came across penguins who had made their nests on the bluffs – a rather steep location, but they didn’t seem to mind as they waddled up from the beach. This is a much smaller rookery than the one we had previously visited at Estancia San Lorenzo, but there were still lots of penguins to admire.

Visiting Caleta Valdés on our tour of Peninsula Valdes

Penguins in Peninsula Valdes

More penguins on the bluffs overlooking Caleta Valdés

Penguins on the eastern shores of Peninsula Valdes

Caleta Valdés is often referred to as a geographic accident due to its unusual shape

Views of Caleta Valdés

Caleta Valdés is typically a great place to see elephant seals, but to our surprise, we spotted guanacos! Our guide was as surprised as we were. She explained that these guanacos would’ve had to walk at least 40 kilometres to reach this point and it’s not exactly prime grazing land, which left us all stumped.

We did manage to see a small group of elephant seals off in the distance, but we’d get an even better view later that afternoon.

Lunch at Punta Delgada Lighthouse

Lunch that day was at Punta Delgada Lighthouse, a former post office and military building turned sheep farm, countryside hotel and restaurant. The lighthouse on this estancia can be seen from 40 kilometres at sea and was painted red and black to stand out from landscape. This is one of three estancias you can visit on Península Valdés.

Sheep on Peninsula Valdes

Whale skeleton on Peninsula Valdes

Punta Delgada Lighthouse in Peninsula Valdes

Eating Patagonian Lamb Stew at the estancia

Faro Punta Delgada

We ordered some baked empanadas as a starter, followed by a hearty Patagonian stew with melt-in-your-mouth chunks of lamb, carrots, onions, rice and parsley. It was a simple recipe, but truly delicious.

Of course, we couldn’t resist having some more flan and dulce de leche – our kryptonite! – and then it was time to get back on the bus and continue to our final stop of the day.

Finding elephant seals at Punta Delgada

Punta Delgada is a beach with steep sandy cliffs and it typically witnesses a high concentration of elephant seals during mating and moulting season (when the seals shed their hair but also the upper layer of their skin). We were visiting towards the end of the season so most elephant seals had already gone out to sea, but there were a few still left on the shores.

We hadn’t planned our trip to coincide with the best times to view wildlife, however, this is something you may want to consider if that’s the main reason behind your trip.

The sandy beaches at Punta Delgada

Views of Punta Delgada

The coastline along Punta Delgada

Elephant seals at Punta Delgada on Peninsula Valdes

The shores of Punta Delgada

The views from Punta Delgada

There was one particular elephant seal who decided it was time to go back to sea just as we were standing there, so we got to witness his slow movements – a bit like the worm dance with lots of drawn-out pauses in between.

There was lots of encouragement from our little tour group for that lone elephant seal, and after what felt like ages, he finally reached the water and was on his way.

My photos don’t do the elephant seals justice, so if you’re a photographer, take that as a tip and pack a zoom lens!

Back to the van at the end of our tour of Peninsula Valdes

And just like that the day was over and it was time to drive back to Puerto Madryn. The drive back took us down dirt roads, past salt lakes, and we even managed to spot owls, snakes and a hairy armadillo along the way.

I definitely feel like I got to explore the peninsula thoroughly with our four days there, but hopefully I’ll be back one day to experience the magic of whale season!

6 Comments

  • Johanes says:

    Sea lions and Penguins! That must be adorable to look at! Your pictures of Peninsula Valdes are stunning! They really make us want to pack our bags and go!

  • Ryan says:

    I want to see alllll the sea lions and elephant seals! And I love anything around the water so that’s a plus. Looks like quite a rugged place and great for adventure…and all that wildlife about! How did you find your time on the boat, do you all get seasick at all? Anyway, great guide! Been dying to hit Argentina and Patagonia and…well Central and South America as one big trip so I’ll have to fit this in!

  • Eden says:

    As soon as I saw the penguins I had to put this on my list! This looks like such a cool place, I hope I get to visit one day.

  • Ryan says:

    Definitely adding this to my list, really dying to see Argentina and Patagonia…and really all of Central and South America! So I’ll need check Peninsula Valdes for sure…love the penguins and elephant seals! How was the boat ride, did you get seasick at all?

  • Thank you very much for sharing this, I hope I will go there one day. I hope you have enjoyed the Peninsula Valdes trip.

  • Simon says:

    Wow! loved it. Especially the Penguins…would really like to explore this beauty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *