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Whales at Puerto Madryn

   
 Estimated reading time: 4 min. Texts Pablo Etchevers   Photos Jorge González
Whales at Puerto Madryn

The southern right whale puts up a unique magical show at the Valdés Peninsula.

The City of Puerto Madryn is one of the most important and popular tourist destinations on the Patagonian coast. Of course the main show in the area is put up by the famous whales that jump over the water surface with their upright tails to announce their longed-for presence.

We embarked upon an adventure second to none: our aim was to watch the southern right whale. We reached Puerto Madryn at night and checked in at Ty Coed apartment hotel. This is a very comfortable choice where we recovered our energy in order to enjoy the tour to the fullest.

After a hearty breakfast with toast, homemade croissants, milk, sauco jam, and aromatic black coffee, Tito Botazzi’s team picked us up on a shuttle.
Whales at Puerto Madryn
Towards the Valdés Peninsula

The trip had a superb beginning. To one side, the desolate scenery of the pure Patagonian steppe. To the other, the deep blue ocean. Simply impressive.

We headed for the Carlos Ameghino Isthmus, the piece of land that joins the peninsula to the continent. Its narrowest area measures six kilometers. At this point, the two gulfs can be seen, namely: San José (to the North) and Nuevo (to the South). That was our destination.

As we got there, we crossed the entrance to the wildlife reserve and continued up to Puerto Pirámides. The highly coveted expeditions to go whale-watching set sail at this spot. By then, we had already traveled 97 kilometers.
Whales at Puerto Madryn
The Whale Show

Thousands of tourists from all over the world arrive in southern Argentina to witness the wonderful show presented by these huge cetaceans, which also celebrate their audience.

We got ready for the occasion: we put on our life jackets and waterproof capes. It was a warm day and the eastern wind announced our voyage would not meet our expectations. Anyway, we went out to sea.

In general, the right whales may be watched from June to December, when they come close to the shores of the Nuevo Gulf to mate or bear their calves.

A few minutes later, we set sail and could watch the first specimen. A huge southern right whale delighted us with a splendid elegant jump. Each part of our bodies was thrilled.
Whales at Puerto Madryn
Features of the Southern Right Whale

The whales have a curved body and no dorsal fin. The males reach 12 meters of length, whereas adult females may measure from 13 to 16 meters. Adult specimens can weigh between 30 and 40 tons.

The guide explained that their mouth, which is curved, contains some 260 plates or horn-like sheets originally called baleen, from where the Spanish name ballena derives.

We continued sailing and waiting. Suddenly, another whale showed up to greet us. Its tail reached about five meters. Later on, we could watch a mother with its new-born calf. When they are born, they measure five and a half meters and the breastfeeding period lasts as much as their gestation: 12 months.
Whales at Puerto Madryn
When these animals are ready to breed, they come back to the Valdés Peninsula area every three years, searching for safe and quiet waters to bear another calf.
Likewise, the guide pointed out that in the upper part of their head, they have some callosities which represent their “identification mark”. They work just like fingerprints, as they are unique. We found this fact particularly interesting. Behind the callosities, we could see the blowholes, used by the animal to breathe and blow the air from its lungs.

It is important to note that in order to avoid alterations during the mating and breeding periods, the Province of Chubut allows navigation only in the Nuevo Gulf and only to crafts owned by tourist agencies, which must in turn have the corresponding authorization provided by the Prefectura Naval Argentina.

Thus, whale watching is totally regulated in order to protect the integrity of the right whales, declared Natural Monument in the year 1984. There is no doubt that they are a monument to majesty and nature. They offer a show that takes hold of the senses and throws only one result: real pleasure.
Useful Data
How to get here
Leaving from Puerto Madryn along Provincial Route 1 and then along Nº 2, the Carlos Ameghino Isthmus is reached after traveling 77 km. From there, the San José and the Nuevo Gulfs are made out. 20 kilometers must be traveled eastwards from the Isthmus to Puerto Pirámides.
From Viedma, take National Route 3 towards the South, passing by the Las Grutas crossroad, up to the junction with Route 2, which must be taken heading eastwards up to Puerto Pirámides, and then taking the route described in the paragraph above.
 
Timetables
The boats doing this excursion leave from Puerto Pirámides at 10am, 12pm, 2pm and 4pm, approximately.
 
Recommendations
Wear warm clothes, as the area is generally quite windy. It is better to take off some clothes if it is hot, than to feel cold because we are not wearing a jacket or a sweatshirt. On the other hand, we recommend that you wear a waterproof cape, as when the craft gains speed on the high seas, the excursionists may be splayed, especially the ones sitting on the bow.
 
Contact
All Peninsula Valdes
Martín Fierro 85 - L.5 (9120) Puerto Madryn - Chubut - Argentina
Tel: +54 280 445-3712 / 447-4110  Cel: 15-4698165  
e-mail
Southern Spirit
Primera bajada al mar (9121) Puerto Pirámides - Chubut - Argentina
Tel: +54 280 449-5094  Cel: 15-4572551  
e-mail
Jorge Schmid - Punta Ballena
2º Bajada al mar (9121) Puerto Pirámides - Chubut - Argentina
Tel: +54 280 449-5112  Cel: 15-4661093  
e-mail
Peke Sosa
2º Bajada al mar (9121) Puerto Pirámides - Chubut - Argentina
Tel: +54 280 449-5010  Fax: +54 280 447-1291 / 4161  
e-mail
 
 
Inter Patagonia

Characteristics
Level of Difficulty
Low.
Duration
1 hour and a half.
Tour Kind
Contemplative
Other Characteristics
What to Buy: Pretty whale flukes souvenirs carved in wood, cuddly little penguins and orcas may be acquired at the shops located in the mini-center of Pto. Pirámides.
Useful Data Useful Data



Location



The Viewpoint



“Hace más de 25 años que me dedico a realizar avistajes de ballenas con fines turísticos. Con todos estos años de experiencia puedo asegurar que nunca realicé dos avistamientos iguales. Cada salida es una experiencia única. Las ballenas se encuentran en su hábitat natural y dependemos de las condiciones del clima, pero también del humor con el que se encuentren. Hay veces que regalan saltos, otras que muestran la cola con todo su esplendor, a veces pasan por debajo de nuestra embarcación y la bambolean, y hay veces que solamente se limitan a emerger y sacar el aire por los espiráculos, mostrándonos sus callosidades. Pero hagan lo que hagan son unos seres increíbles. En su paso por Puerto Madryn o Pirámides no dude en realizar esta experiencia, le aseguro que vivirá sensaciones que guardará para siempre.”
        Tito Bottazzi
        Operador ballenero


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InterPatagonia - Touristic Information about Puerto Madryn, Patagonia, Argentina: Tours and Activities
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