Classic Peninsula Valdes Self Drive

The Valdes Peninsula is a wildlife lover’s paradise. Get up close and personal with Elephant Seals, Sea Lions, Magellanic Penguins, Southern Right Whales, Dolphins and Orcas with the freedom and flexibility of self-driving. This is the classic way to experience the Valdes Peninsula and is one of our most popular trips. You can combine this with ‘Classics’ in other parts of Chile and Argentina to tailor your 2-3 week holiday. Please enquire for further details.

4 Days


Classic Peninsula Valdes Self Drive - 4 - $729

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • Drive towards the Valdes Peninsula which will take you through the desert-like Patagonia plains onto the Peninsula National Reserve
  • A free day in Puerto Primides to whale watch, go scuba diving or drive to see what wildlife this area has to offer
  • A chance to explore Puerto Madryn , drive in 4x4 vehicles to Punta Loma , a sea lion site
  • Head back to Trelew but in the morning perhaps visit the world-acclaimed dinosaur museum or perhaps drive down to Punta Tombo to see the largest penguin colony in South America 

Start from Trelew and end at Trelew

Landmarks visited on Classic Peninsula Valdes Self Drive

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival & drive from Trelew to Puerto Piramides

Upon arrival at Trelew airport you'll pick up your rental car and drive towards the Valdes Peninsula. This route will take you through the dry, almost desert-like scrubland of the Patagonia plains and on to the Valdes Peninsula National Reserve which extends out into the Atlantic Ocean. You'll be staying two nights in the tiny town of Puerto Piramides, a coastal village located inside the national reserve.

The town gets its name from the unusually-shaped cliffs that surround its sheltered bay, where the stratified, sandy-coloured rock forms layers of pyramid-like formations all around the coast. It's against this striking backdrop that you'll be seeing the whales tomorrow! After settling into your hotel you'll be able to take a stroll around the village, visit one of the restaurants and maybe order yourself a delicious seafood dinner.

Length of self-drive: 157km on paved roads, 2.5hr drive

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel, Puerto Piramides

Day 2: Free Day in Puerto Piramides/Valdes (Whales / Diving / Penguins)

Optional activities (not included):

Option 1: If in season, you can take a whale-watching boat trip into the Puerto Piramides Bay. There are usually several excursions a day, starting at around 9.30am and then every couple of hours after that, so you can plan your day around one of these. This sheltered bay provides protection for the female southern right whales to raise their calves, and during the breeding season (June to December) there are dozens of whales around the bay. These huge creatures are just incredible and come very close to the boat, so you really do get to experience their sheer size.

Option 2: Scuba Diving - In Puerto Piramides you can take excursions to different natural marine parks. Scuba-diving amateurs from all over the world are delighted to see a varied marine fauna and flora, though visibility is not always as good as it could be.

Option 3 : An alternative option is to drive south east to Punta Delgada, on the Golfo Nuevo, where you can find the largest colony of elephant seals on the peninsula and also a former naval lighthouse which now operates as a luxury lodge and restaurant - Faro Punta Delgada. You will be welcomed at the lodge, where you can have lunch, as well as spend time exploring the marine life on the beaches. The drive to Punta Delgada is 66km - just under 2 hours drive.

Option 4: An early departure north along Ruta Nacional no.3 to Punta Norte Wildlife reserve (2 hours drive) and then just 17km further on at the shores of the San Matias Gulf you have the Estancia San Lorenzo. Here you can find the most important Magellan penguin colony on the peninsula. A circular trail here gives you plenty of opportunities to watch the prancing, discussions and disputes, and the nest making activities of these little fellows. You will also see Guanacos, Maras (Patagonia hares) and Rheas. Try to get to the estancia around midday and stay for lunch, when good grilled lamb will be served. The estancia will be open from September through to April. As you loop back around you will pass Caleta Valdes a privileged strip of beach dwelled by countless species representative of the sea fauna.

Punta Norte is also famous as the site where orca/killer whales have developed an extraordinary hunting technique for ambushing sealion pups at high tide, momentarily beaching themselves in the process. The best chances of seeing orca are March-April or September-October, though there is no guarantee of sightings. Overnight in Puerto Piramides at your selected hotel.

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel, Puerto Piramides

Day 3: Puerto Piramides to Puerto Madryn (Sealions / Maritime Museum)

Optional activities (not included):

Option 1: In the early afternoon you may like to make a 3hr excursion to Cerro Avanzado in 4x4 vehicles visiting Puerto Madryn's southern coastline, crossing sand dunes, ravines and country paths en route to Punta Loma, a sea lion site.

Option 2: The remainder of the day can be spent visiting local museums such as the maritime museum with its interactive exhibitions teaching visitors about wildlife on the Golf Nuevo, the Museo Provincial de Ciencias Naturales y Oceanografico which gives visitors an up-close view of the biology of sea and land animals, and for those who want to learn about the natural history of the region there's the Ecocentro Museum, which sheds light on the marine ecosystem of the Valdes Peninsula.

Length of Self-drive: 92km on paved roads, 1-2hr drive

Meals: Breakfast

Accommodation: Hotel, Puerto Madryn

Day 4: Trelew (Welsh tea-cakes / Penguins)

Today you head back to Trelew airport to drop off your rental car and catch your onward flight.

Optional activities (not included):

Option 1: Depending on the time of your flight, you may choose to do a morning visit to the world-acclaimed dinosaur museum, which is located in Trelew city centre  (Av.Fontana 140, Trelew). It is best if you plan to see the museum on your way to the airport, as the airport is only 30-45 minutes from the museum.

Length of self-drive: 65km on paved roads, 1hr drive

Meals: Breakfast

Option 2: Another suggestion we have is to head out to the quintessential Welsh river-valley village of Gaiman for some excellent Welsh tea and cakes! The village is located just 18km/20 mins' drive from the centre of Trelew (heading west along Route no.25). Today, about one-third of the residents here claim Welsh ancestry and teahouses persist in their afternoon tradition of cream scones, dainty tea cakes, torta negra (a rich, dense fruit cake) and a hot pot of black tea. Most of the teahouses and historic sites here are within just four blocks of the plaza.

Length of self-drive: 65km on paved roads, 1hr drive

Meals: Breakfast

Option 3: In penguin season (September to March) you may decide to catch the last flight, or even stay an extra night so you have time to drive down to Punta Tombo - the largest penguin colony in South America. Here you can find a 3km long, 600m wide peninsula covered with sand, clay and gravel where a large number of Magellanic penguins come each year to incubate their eggs and prepare their offspring for migration. Couples stand in front of their nests, protecting the eggs from birds and other predators, and occasionally one adult goes to the sea for food. Other wildlife found in the area includes sea birds (mainly seagulls, chimangos and cormorants), rheas and guanacos. In late September, with the arrival of spring, Magellanic penguins migrate from Southern Brazil to Patagonia, congregating by the thousands to nest in Punta Tombo.

Self-drive: Puerto Madryn to Punta Tombo 175km/3hr; Punta Tombo to Trelew 110km/2.5hrs

Meals: Breakfast

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

This trip can run as a group trip, with prices starting from $729 per person for a complete group. If you are looking to join a group or you are a solo traveller we will help to form likeminded groups of travellers. Please let us know your travel plans.

The trip can also run on a private basis to fit around your plans. Departures may be tailored and can be set up on a date of your choice. Please note that there is a higher price for smaller groups. Please enquire for further details.

The price based on Standard hotels is $729 per person

The price based on Superior hotels is $840 per person

The price based on Luxury hotels is $977 per person

Prices valid until 30/04/2018


  • 2 nights accommodation at Puerto Piramedes
  • 1 night accommodation at Puerto Madryn
  • Meals stated
  • 4 days medium car rental (Chevrolet Prisma or similar) with insurance (excesses do apply) with 800km allowance.
  • Airport pick up surcharge
  • Hotel & car hire taxes
  • Trip Notes & Route Maps & hotel maps


  • Any optional activities mentioned in the itinerary above
  • National Park entrance fees
  • Flights
  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Personal expenses and equipment
  • Travel insurance
  • Gratuities
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?