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The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Península Valdés
Today is an excellent opportunity to experience the vastness that is Patagonia. It is a long, tiring, but exhilarating day. We leave Porth Madryn early and head north along Doradillo Beach, stopping if we see any whales. We drive across the narrow isthmus into the Península, stopping at the splendid visitor centre, and then out west along the paved access road and off on a narrow dirt road for 70 kilometres to the far south-eastern corner of this remote UNESCO World Heritage Site. At Punta Delgada, lies a lighthouse and a working sheep farm, some of whose sheds have been converted to a small hotel. But the real treasure lies just below the lighthouse – a private beach full of whopping elephant seals only accessible from the hotel. This is one of the best places in the world to see these amazing creatures. We perch ourselves just a few metres above the beach where the larger males fight over their harems and compare notes about who or what the grunting of the seals reminds us of. Every now and then, one of these titans will receive a challenge from an upstart youth and that's when the feathers really start to fly! If we're very lucky, we will see the big bull charge and, if we're even luckier, we will see the two of them face up to each other
As well as elephant seals, Península Valdés is noted for its amazing sea bird colonies and animal life, and, especially, for the strange goings on at the far north-western point of the Peninsula, Punta Norte. This is where a few members of a pod of killer whales, orcas, have perfected the technique of surprising seal and penguin youngsters by swimming up the beach and gobbling them up as they wait to take their first swimming lessons in late summer. This is the only place in the world where this behaviour is seen. After lunch in the hotel, we continue our tour of the Peninsula with a visit to the Magellanic penguin colony at Caleta Valdés, after which we swing west to Puerto Pirámides, where we will enjoy a refreshing coffee or cold drink at Towanda's on the beach. Whilst we admire the whales gambolling in the bay, we can decide whether the wind and weather conditions are suitable to take a whale watching trip (not included) from this lovely seaside village. During our trip across the Península we will hopefully see armadillos, maras (a type of cavey), red and grey foxes, rheas and guanacos (a large deer) in addition to a wide variety of bird life, including some very large carrion feeders. Pumas are being reintroduced in some areas, much to the chagrin of the sheep farmers, the sheep and the odd penguin (one was snaffled by a puma in 2016). If we are extremely lucky, we may see one. When we return to Porth Madryn, we will be ready to tackle the beer supply at Mr Jones' bar, conveniently located in the centre of town.
Megallanic Penguins, Peninsula Valdes
A flock of young Rheas with their father.
Southern Right Whale at Doradillo Beach.
A Guanaco with its young.
Two young elephant seals on the beach.
A bull elephant seal relaxing on the beach.