Things to consider
1. What species do you want to see? Both southern right whales and orcas are present along the coast of Valdes, and there are certain times of the year that are optimal for sighting each, as well as multiple ways of seeing them!
2. What time of year is best? Southern right whales are present from June to December only. Orcas are present all year round, but are most commonly seen beaching in March and April, when the sea lion pups are most vulnerable.
3. Where can you see them? Southern right whales can be seen at sea on dedicated boat or submarine trips departing from Puerto Piramides, from the air by small plane, or on land from the beaches and cliffs around Puerto Madryn and Puerto Piramides. The best orca sightings are from the attack channel at Punta Norte, in April and May.
4. How can you see them? By boat, submarine, plane, on the shores, or simply from your hotel balcony!
Types of Whales
Southern right whales
Southern right whales are found in the calm waters of Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San Jose, where the calves learn to breathe and the adults mate. August, September and October are the best months in which to see them, and sightings are pretty much guaranteed during these months. You can spot them from the beaches in Puerto Madryn and Playa Doradillo, or by boat trip from Puerto Piramedes.
The orcas of Valdes are world famous because of their spectacular hunting technique. They are found along the coast of the peninsula all year long, but the beach attacks occur when sea lion pups are present. This is in Caleta Valdes and Punta Delgada in September, October and November, and Punta Norte in February, March and April. High tides generally increase the chances of attacks, and viewing is land-based.
Be sure to allow enough time for your visit, to give you the best chance of whale sightings, particularly when it comes to the orcas, who are more unpredictable and elusive!
Trips to see whales in Valdes
I visited Valdes in April (outside of southern right season, but prime time for orcas). Unfortunately, I had only three days and they were playing hard to get, so I was not lucky enough to see them hunting sea lion pups on the beach, but the scenery, wildlife, and stunning sunrises/sunsets I experienced more than made up for the disappointment.
Chloe O'Keeffe Patagonia Specialist
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