If you are coming by car when you enter to Valdes Peninsula, almost half way betweenPuerto Madryn and Puerto Piramide, you will stop by the boxes where you must pay the park fee, the value depend on age and origin.The closest city is Puerto Madryn, approximately 100km away. The city has an active “downtown” and the air of port town with its extensive beaches, coastal marine walk and central pier where commercial fishing vessels and the occasional cruise ship can be spotted. Over a isolated road scattered with wild animals and accompanied by the natural beauty of these latitudes you with be introduced to the Valdes Peninsula. Please travel with caution. From the road you will encounter Merino Sheep, Guanacos, the Elegant Crested Tinomon, Darwin’s Rhea and falcons. Off in the distance, and in just a few areas, you can observe the two gulfs of the Peninsula, the Golfo San Jose to the north and the Golfo Nuevo to the south. The road is paved all the way to the town making it impossible to get lost.
The first site of the town is the most beautiful, as you drop down and around the last curve, into Puerto Piramides. Take all the time you need to enjoy the panaramic view of the bay and the warm sunlit cliffs that nestle the bay in the middle of Patagonia’s enormity. We will be waiting for you with the comfort that you deserve. Puerto Piramide is the starting point for all those activities you want to take part in, starting with “breathing fresh air” until what will become the most spectacular memories of your trip. Puerto Piramides is the only tourist village within Valdes Peninsula.It is 104 km from Puerto Madryn, an hour by vehicle from the airport or bus station there and almost two from the airport and bus station in Trelew. There are nearly 500 permanent residents in Puerto Piramides , make their living from tourism which, year after year, brings visitors wishing to take advantage of the only whale watching port in Valdes Peninsula.
Its extensive beaches, which gently slope towards the sea, are protected by natural enclosing walls of cliffs which mark the limits of the plateau and drop into the small coastal valley where the town of Puerto Piramides is situated. The name comes from a certain conical pyramid formation, found in places like Punta Piramide Reserve. The rocks around Puerto Piramide contain deposits of fossil invertebrates, which have been dated, in some cases, as being up to nine million years old.From the point of view of travellers, lovers and connoisseurs of nature in general and the Peninsula in particular, we recommend a stay of four days and three nights, to gain optimum benefit from all that the area has to offer and to enjoy it to it’s fullest. A prerequisite of visitingPuerto Piramides, is to accept or be willing to learn to enjoy nature and tranquillity; advertising, television, formal clothing and all the necessities of city living are not what Puerto Piramides is about.The village of Puerto Piramides has only three streets, so it is not possible to get lost and it is easy to move about in. Amble along the streets, see the people and speak to them, get to know them. You can be assured of a warm welcome wherever you go.
As a Provincial Nature Reserve, entering into the Valdes Peninsula requires stopping at a control station where information will be provided along with an entrance ticket. The fees for accessing this protected Natural Park are indicated here.The entrance to the park is clearly marked, unavoidable and placed in the middle of Provincial Highway No.2, half the distance between Puerto Madryn and Puerto Piramides, 50km in either direction, on the Ameghino Isthmus, a geographical accident connecting Peninsula Valdes to the continental mainland. Here I have provided the Facebook page for the Valdes Peninsula Park Administration. This page is maintained and constantly updated with relevant information concerning wildlife and nature in general, weather forecasts, road conditions, new installations, park projects and more. The closest city with an urban cosmopolitan center is Puerto Madryn, with the air of a port town and separated from the coast by a long, extensive beach. This attractive coast and pier, aside from commercial fishing vessels and the Coast Guard, receives several large cruise ships each year as they pass along Coastal Patagonia.A desolate road occupied by wild animals, unique to the landscape of theses latitudes, serves as an introduction to the Valdes Peninsula. 7km after passing the control booths and entrance to the Peninsula, a large round-about offers access to the Visitors Center.Here a small and well maintained museum exhibits a general view of the region and a complete skeleton of a juvenile Southern Right Whale.Passing the round-about and 28km further down the road is Puerto Piramides. The visitor’s center lies on the Isthmus, the narrowest point separating the Golfo San Jose to the north from the Golfo Nuevo to the south and connecting Peninsula Valdes to Continental mainland. Following the round-about and entering a well maintained dirt road to the north is access to “Bird Island” observation point, 5km from the Visitor’s Center.Different videos are shown in the multi-media room, graphically explaining the different aspects of the Valdes Peninsula. Other installations include taxidermy birds and detailed graphics of fossils, fish and the fauna in general that are found in the peninsula. Outside, an observation tower provides an excellent space for contemplating the immense Patagonian Steppe. Along the side of the visitor’s center, a walkway invites you through an interpretive path for a better understanding and identification of the diverse and interesting flora which to the unexperienced eye, look the same and are easily confused, being short and relatively uniform in color. A stop here is recommended and aside from the mentioned installations, there is a souvenir shop, kiosk and very nice restrooms, allowing a more comfortable arrival to Puerto Piramides.It is normal to encounter Guanacos, Choiques, Maras and ocasionaly sheep that have passed the fence, while traveling this route. For this reason one should drive cautiously and pay special attention. In some areas you can see, in the distance, both the Golfo Nuevo, to the south, and the Golfo San Jose to the north. This road is paved and well maintained up to your arrival at Puerto Piramides. It is nearly impossible to get lost and keep in mind, the first view of the bay is the most beautiful, just before dropping around the last curve and into town.
Roads with in the Valdes Peninsula
Aside from the route into Peninsula Valdes and Puerto Piramides, all the other roads are dirt and gravel. It is recommended not to travel at a speed of more than 60km/hr, a velocity that allows you safely enjoy the landscape. There are 4 emergency SOS telephones strategically placed along the roads that connect the Ameghino Isthmus with Punta Norte, Caleta Valdes and Punta Delgada. The use of these emergency telephones is simple, just push down on the button for 2 seconds and you will be connected to the Police. In the one minute connection the person calling should indicate their location and the problem.
The use of these emergency telephones is simple, just push down on the button for 2 seconds and you will be connected to the Police. In the one minute connection the person calling should indicate their location and the problem.
Please pay attention to and obey the road signs and enjoy this amazing World Heritage Site. With patience and going slow you will guarantee a great trip with many trouble free kilometers full of experiences worth sharing.
Climate in Puerto Piramides and the Valdes Peninsula
Due to the maritime characteristics of the Peninsula, annual temperature variations are minimal, with the highs and lows in summer and winter respectively, rarely reaching extremes. Over the entire year the average monthly temperatures vary only 10*C, with a mean summer average of 18 *C and 8*C in winter. In general the climactic conditions of the Peninsula follow those of most of Northern Patagonia, modified locally by atmospheric interactions with surrounding bodies of water. The CENPAT (Center for Patagonian Studies) measures most of the variation from Puerto Madryn, the city closest to Puerto Piramides and the Peninsula, and resting on the shore of the same gulf. Some variations will occur with respect to precipitation and wind.
Wind is the dominant factor in all of Patagonia and usually coming off the Andes from the West. Due to its geographic position, Puerto Piramides lies totally exposed to and is most complicated by south-west winds. During the winter months northerlies usually carry humid air due to the anti-cyclonic movement coming off the South Atlantic Ocean. In summer the north winds tend to be dryer as the anti-cyclone moves more to the west over the continent. In summer it is common to encounter a fresh southerly breeze produced from the cooler waters of the Golfo Nuevo. An increase in solar radiation and little water on land creates a significant difference between the temperature along the coast and the temperature over the Golfo. Winds from the South and South-West in summer come in at a frequency of approximately 38% and in winter are more prevalent at about 50%. In spring and summer there is a relative increase in winds from the East and North-East.
Tides of the Valdes Peninsula are constantly coming and going. As is normal with the tidal flux almost everywhere, there will be two high tides and two low tides in the 24 hours that make up a day. The times and levels of the tides vary greatly throughout the peninsula. The flow of the incoming and outgoing tides is slightly over 6 hours between high and low and depending on the tidal cycle there will be a stationary period of approximately 30 minutes between each shift in flow. In the Valdes Peninsula the tide levels are more than notable, reaching a difference of more than 5 meters in the Golfo Nuevo and up to more than 8 meters in the Golfo San Jose and on eastern coast along open-ocean. Keeping this in mind and the fact that there will be 2 periods of high tide and two periods of low tide each day, it is amazing to observe the changes in the coastal geography. In places like the Riacho San Jose Estuary at the western extreme of the Golfo San Jose, where a very low angle accompanies the beach into the sea, the tide can recede as much as two kilometers. In other areas, like the rock reefs of Puerto Piramides, where these three images were captured, at high tide the reefs are hardly visible, though at low tide the formations are left totally exposed forming small islands and isolated figures. Tide tables are specific to each particular coast, considering latitude, geography and specific coastal form.They are also accompanied by a certain margin of error due to factors impossible to predict such as wind intensity and atmospheric pressure. They are more than sufficiently precise for organizing dive excursions and other coastal activities. Here I have provided a link to access the tide tables for Peninsula Valdes, from the Valdes Peninsula Nature Reserve Park Administration. This link is visited frequently during Orca season, since the orcas, almost exclusively, attack at high tide when the water reaches the sea lion colonies. For more information about the world’s tides I have prepared a short article.
Characteristic to the geography of the Valdes Peninsula are high cliffs and extensive rock reefs that harbor cobblestone, gravel and sandy beaches. Numerous small bays and islands help to complete the picture of this coastline. Formed from sedimentary rock, over the slow geological process that took millions of years, accumulating and consolidating stratus layers into what is now a great exhibition of the past. An amazing display of marine fossils illustrates the varied and complex marine life that one thrived in the area. Some of the most common fossils observed along the coast are oysters (Ostrea Maxima), Pectin, Sand Dollars, Turitellas, Shark Teeth, fossilized Crabs, as well as fossilized remains of Birds and Marine Mammals.An ancestor to the Great White Shark has left evidence of its existence in the Valdes Peninsula and fossils of this huge predator can often be observed along the cliffs and on the beach. Like with most shark fossils, that of Carcharodon is reduced to thousands of jaw-bones and teeth spread throughout the world. Their skeleton, formed of cartilage, is usually destroyed before fossilization can occur. Their teeth, on the other hand, are extremely hard, ideal for the long process required for fossilization. When they bite their teeth often break and fall out, and another tooth growing in the back will move in and take its place, often loosing and replacing hundreds of teeth each year. Fortunately, for those of us that enjoy diving and swimming in the waters of the Valdes Peninsula, these animals no longer exist, and the modern Great White Shark (Carcharodon Carcharias) prefers warmer waters. Their ancestors lived in this area millions of years ago when the Patagonian Steppe was a jungle and the sea was occupied by Sand Dollars, Turitellas and other tropical marine life.
It is extremely common to encounter fossils, but please remember that the removal of fossils from the Valdes Peninsula is strictly prohibited. The best way to take a fossil home is by taking a photograph and leaving it where it was found, conserving the World Heritage Site. Often, at the park entrance, vehicles leaving will be stopped to control the illegal transport and removal of protected aspects of the peninsula (flora, fauna and historical artifacts). Avoid problems and treat the park with respect.
If you are interested in more information about the Great White Shark, I invite you to visit a web page of the well-known cameraman and visitor at Del Nomade, Andy Casagrande. Andy has spent weeks here with us during Orca season while filming for National Geographic. An amazing documentary cameraman and Great White fanatic, Andy has spent a lot of time below the surface with this species in South Africa and Guadalupe Island, The elevated geological value of the Valdes Peninsula is one of the reasons why it was declared a World Heritage Site. Included in the intentions of this world status are the protection, preservation and importance of the Tertiary profiles represented all along its coast.
This particular geological formation is exposed on a large scale along the coast of Puerto Piramides, due to constant erosion caused by wind, sea and rain. A panorama of deeply carved canyons, chiseled cliffs and gravel deposits along the beaches are accompanied by exposed rock reefs cut out of the cliffs by waves and tides. The bay of Puerto Piramides is marked by a smooth sandy beach while in the bay of Pardeles, just around the point to the south, a steep cobblestone beach. Two large points with high cliffs, jutting out into Golfo Nuevo to the south and west establish the natural limits of the Bay of Puerto Piramides, which is back dropped by large areas of sand dunes produced by millions of years of wind in an incessant process of erosion.Compatibility amongst different interests in the same geographical area is often extremely difficult to attain and is a dilema with many of the protected natural parks. Often the benefits obtained by protectionist legislation are directly countered by man’s use of the same area, whether for scientific studies, tourism or simply commercial reasons. This is the case with the Valdes Peninsula and the problem is even greater due to the fragile nature of this particular ecosystem. For this reason, consciously enjoy and conserve
– Peninsula Valdes Maps –
More Tourist Points Nearby
Punta Tombo: 221 Km. Dique Ameghino: 218 Km. Gaiman: 185 Km Comodoro Rivadavia: 490 Km. Viedma: 477 Km. Rawson: 152 Km. Trelew: 171 Km. Puerto Madryn: 104 KmAirports: Trelew y Puerto Madryn.
Distance from other attractions:
Cataratas del Iguazú: 2656 Km. Mendoza: 1600 Km. El Calafate: 1.418 Km. Bariloche: 966 Km. Esquel: 644 Km Puerto Piramides is 1.430Km from Buenos Aires, 2.392Km from Saltain the north, and 1.829km from Ushuaia to the South. Latitude: 42.35 (S) Length: 64.17 (W). Area: 3625 km2 Length: 63 km Width: 97 km