SEASONOctober to April
HABITATSCoast, Monte, Steppe
Reception in the morning at Trelew airport. From there we will head directly to Peninsula Valdés to start exploring this amazing wildlife reservoir. The Peninsula is part of the Monte ecoregion, made by dry shrubby plains which surprisingly host a vast range of animal species. Apart from birds like Lesser Rhea, Elegant-crested Tinamou, Least Seedsnipe, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, Plain-mantled Tit-Spintail, Patagonian Canastero and Patagonian Mockingbird on our way to the coast we will have chances to see mammals such us Mara (or Patagonian Hare) , Guanaco (the Patagonia camelid), foxes, armadillos, and, if we are very lucky, pumas. Near the protected area entrance, we will visit Isla de los Pájaros, where we will look for the extremely local White-headed Steamer-Duck, as well as Crested Duck, American Oystercatcher and Grey-bellied Shrike-Tyrant. Overnight in Puerto Pirámides.
In the morning, we will take the loop road around the peninsula to explore the key spots on the coast looking for sea birds such us Blackish and Magellanic Oystercatchers, Two-banded Plover, Baird’s Sandpiper, White-rumped Sandpiper, Chilean Skua and the iconic Magellanic Penguin. On the beaches we will also have the chance to see mammals such as South America Sea Lion, Southern Elephant Seal, Dusky Dolphin and Killer Whale. On the road we will have chances for Carbonated Sierra-Finch, Burrowing Parrot, Tawny-throated Dotterel and Rusty-backed Monjita, among others. In the afternoon we will take a group boat tour from Puerto Pirámides to watch the stars of Peninsula Valdés: the mighty Southern Right Whale. Valdés Peninsula hosts one of the largest breeding populations of these giant mammals, that chose these calm and protected waters to mate and give birth to their calves. We will take one of the sunset boat outing, when there is much less people as all the day visitors have already left and the light is perfect for taking good photos. Overnight in Puerto Pirámides.
From Puerto Pirámides we will move to Punta Tombo, which hosts the largest breeding colony of Magellanic Penguin. Along the way, we will go birding on the Monte ecoregion searching for species like Elegant-crested Tinamou, Band-tailed Earthcreeper, Lesser Canastero and Patagonian Mockingbird. Once in Punta Tombo, apart from the huge colony of Magellanic Penguins, we can find Guanacos (one of the South American camelids), Lesser Rhea and a great number of coastal birds. Punta Tombo is also one of the last spots where the Chubut Steamer- Duck, endemic of Chubut and Santa Cruz coast, can be found. Overnight in Gaiman.
We continue south, following the cost to Bustamente Bay, and old Patagonian ranch surrounded by 360° of nature and wildlife. Once dedicated to the seaweed industry, now is part of the first marine national park in Argentina, the Southern Patagonia National Park, established in 2008. It is also part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve "Blue Patagonia". Few places on Earth have such an abundance of marine wildlife.
According to the weather forecast and the tide table we will plan the activities for the day, that can be overland or by boat. The best boat tour is the navigation to Malaspina Rock, that hosts a great cormorant colony. We will also have the chance to see sea lions, penguins and bid colonies of marines birds like petrels, skuas, gulls and terns. If we are lucky we can even see dolphins and orcas. Night in Bustamante Bay.
We continue by Route 3 down to the city of Comodoro Rivadavia, the biggest city in Patagonia, founded by an Italian (Petrobelli) and developed by Boer settlers thanks to the discovery, in 1907, of oil fields. After Comodoro, we will cross the 46º South parallel which is the limit between the Chubut and Santa Cruz provinces. Then we will reach Caleta Olivia, another oil and fishing town with excellent cuisine. Then we will detour by Route 281 to get to Puerto Deseado, named by the English corsair Thomas Cavendish after his ship, the “Desire”. Nigh in Puerto Deseado.
We will take a boat tour by the Deseado estuary, the best in Santa Cruz province, which hosts and Natural Reserve full of wildlife: dolphins, cormorants, sea elephants, and the local star: the Rockhopper Penguin. The local tour operators launch boats to Penguin Island, Chaffers Island and Cormorant Banks Cliff. The Darwin viewpoint, by the end of the estuary, provides exceptional landscapes and wildlife sighting. This last tour emulates Darwin's own expeditions in the area in 1834. Night in Puerto Deseado.
Way back to Comodoro Rivadavia to take there the return flight.
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