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Peninsula Valdes



Whale Watching in the Southern Cone -



Argentina boasts one of the most impressive whale watching experiences on the planet around Peninsula Valdes, Patagonia. Southern Right whales gather here in large numbers and are easily seen from the shore or from a boat. Species diversity is not so high in Argentina (at least for those species likely to be seen) but the standard of excursions offered here is high and sightings of the key species are reliable in season. The species you can expect to see are Southern Right whales, Orcas, Commerson's dolphins, Peale's dolphins and Dusky dolphins.

Argentina Travel Resource is a good site for planning a trip to Argentina.

Patagonia-Argentina is a good site with a focus more on the south of the country.

Puerto Madryn and Peninsula Valdes

One of the world's great whale watching experiences deserves its own page.

Puerto Rawson

Located in Patagonia, about an hour to the south of Puerto Madryn, this is a great place to watch Commerson's dolphins (called Toninas locally).

The dolphins can be seen here year round. Regular and reasonably priced boat trips are available to see the dolphins which are the main focus of the trips. See Estacion Maritima and Toninas Adventure (both in Spanish).

Dolphin watching is often combined with a trip to see Magellanic penguins at Punta Tombo further south as part of an organised tour. These are easy to arrange in Puerto Madryn and Trelew. As a result the boats here tend to depart fully loaded.

Puerto Deseado

Several hours further south from Puerto Rawson, Puerto Deseado is one of the wildlife highlights of Patagonia. Here you can see Commerson's dolphins and Peale's dolphins as well as Rockhopper and Magellanic penguins plus much else besides.

Different tours leave in season from the port. There is a trip up the river estuary where the Commerson's dolphins will be encountered. Another trip leaves to see the Rockhopper penguins offshore. On this trip you might see Peale's dolphins as well as the Commerson's. It is a great trip, reasonably priced for the experience. However, it is dependent on weather conditions and sufficient passengers. This location is less visited than Puerto Madryn so more time might be needed to organise a trip if you are travelling solo. See Darwin Expediciones and Los Vikingos.

Puerto San Julian

Commerson's dolphins, Puerto San Julian

A pair of Commerson's dolphins surfacing in the bay of Puerto San Julian. This photograph was published in the September 2009 issue of the British BBC Wildlife magazine.

Further south still is Puerto San Julian. It is another place where Commerson's dolphins can be viewed. Trips are offered in season by Pinocho Excursiones. Penguins and seabirds are also seen during the trip. The boat here is quite small so there should be sufficient passengers to make up the numbers. If visiting out of the main season it might be worth checking ahead. Prices are very reasonable.

I have written an article about Commerson's dolphins in Patagonia. You can read it here.


The main settlement of Argentine Tierra del Fuego, Ushuaia is the world's southernmost city and is beautifully located on the Beagle Channel. Although many companies offer boat trips on the Beagle Channel it is not a whale watching destination and you should not go there specifically to see whales and dolphins (although the waters here are relatively rich in cetaceans). However, the archipelago is one of those places where unusual species can turn up and whales are occasionally seen during the boat trips (see photo below). The Acatushun Museum (marine mammals and birds, lots of whale/dolphin skeletons) is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Humpback whale, Tierra del Fuego

Humpback whale feeding in the Beagle Channel near Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego.

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