Puerto Madryn, Argentina, is a mid-size city on the Atlantic coast of northern Patagonia. In the summer months, the city attracts thousands of porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) seeking to enjoy the white sandy beaches while escaping from the heat and humidity of the capital. In the winter, Puerto Madryn attracts a different type of traveler. Beginning in May, approximately 2,000 southern right whales begin to migrate from the icy Antarctic Ocean and make the waters around the Valdes Peninsula their seasonal home and breeding ground.
These two factors – marvelous beaches and magnificent whales – combine to make Puerto Madryn a top year-round Argentina travel destination.
Southern right whale off the coast of Puerto Madryn, Argentina.
The callosities (thick white callouses) on each whale’s head are unique and help to identify individuals.
The best time to visit Puerto Madryn in Argentina is from january until april and november and december, when you will have a pleasant or warm temperature and limited rainfall. The highest average temperature in Puerto Madryn is 28°C in january and the lowest is 12°C in june. The water temperature is between 10°C and 20°C. During the winter time you will probably enjoy a better underwater visibility.
Whales: May to December. The highest gathering is during October.
Sea Elephants: All year long. The breeding season is between December and March.
Sea Lions: All year long. Breeding season is the same as the sea elephants’ one.
Penguins: October to March. The best season to see them is after November, once the babies are born.
Commerson’s Dolphins: All year long. The best place to see them is at Rawson’s port area.
Dark Dolphins: December to March.
Orcas: January to April/October to December. Watching orcas is very difficult because their behavior is unpredictable
The Valdes Peninsula protrudes from mainland Patagonia and forms two gulfs, Golfo Nuevo and Golfo San Jose. Both gulfs have waters that are relatively warm, calm, and crystalline – perfect for scuba diving. Northern warm water currents from Brazil and the nutrient-rich cold water Falkland Current mix around the peninsula and create excellent conditions for the flourishing of all sorts of marine life, from microscopic phytoplankton to 40-ton whales. For its richness in marine wildlife, the Valdes Peninsula was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 and today functions as a natural reserve replete with seabirds, sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins, orcas, and Magellanic penguins, as well as herds of guanacos and the mara, also known as the Patagonian hare.
The Parque Artificial Submarino
was formed in 1963, when six urban buses from the City of Buenos Aires were deliberately sank to a depth of more than 30 meters. As time went by, the sea fauna adopted the chassis as a shelter.
The Parque Nuevo (New Park)
is located 400m from the shore, where boat or shore diving can be practiced. This artificial park has several bodyworks, a boiler, the structure of a small shipwreck and some sloops that act as caves for the fish. This is the classical place for submarine baptisms, where the platforms are located during most of the year.
Another proposal is constituted by the Piedras and Piedras Grandes natural reefs, located 400m from the Almirante Storni Pier, where there are small caves with a high presence of algae. With the high tide, the maximum depth reaches 11m and, when the tide receeds, it ranges between 3.5 and 4m.
The Río de Oro shipwreck
is another ideal site for diving. The 25-meter-long wooden schooner sank more than 60 years ago and is located 400m from the Piedra Buena Pier, resting on a muddy bottom. For such reason, the capability to float is extremely important so as not to diminish visibility.
The Parque Viejo (Old Park)
was organized around the shipwreck of the Emma vessel, used by Sir Ernest Shakleton in the early 1900 for an expedition to Antarctica. The local scuba diving pioneers have added buses, cars and boilers to these remains.
A boat diving excursion to the Albatros shipwreck and to the Madryn Chest is available for advanced sportsmen. The first proposal is a 30-meter-long fishing boat which was sank in September, 1998 with the purpose of creating a new site for this practice. The second site is very special. It is a trunk settled at 30m of depth on December 30th, 1999. The “chest” contains the messages from the Puerto Madryn community for the generation of the year 2100. There is also a plastic book for visitors to sign. Furthermore, divers can leave their testimony in a box for the next diver to come down and repeat the rite.
For beginners, the Punta Cuevas bar, located 200m from the beach, has a natural rocky formation with a great variety of animal life.
The Punta Este shores may be accessed by boat or from the shore. This place presents caves, small caverns and tidal marshes. The best option is to descend with the high tides because its maximum depth is 8m and the minimum is 3.
The off-shore version of Punta Este is reached by boat. This is a natural shallow rocky sandbar made up by a plateau located about 2,000m from the shore. It has a maximum depth of 12m.
For good swimmers, the Foliax shipwreck lies only 500m away. This ship ran aground on the shore after a fire on board. It is advisable to visit it when the tides are high and it is possible to watch turcos, escrófalos, groupers, viejas de mar and starfish, as well as a great variety of polyps which fill the place with the most wonderful colors.
By Karina Jozami
Puerto Madryn is 1300 kms south of Buenos Aires, located by the Atlantic Ocean, and it´s the entrance to Peninsula Valdes and Punta Tombo.
Take your flight from Buenos Aires (Argentinean Capital Cuty) to Trelew. Aerolineas Argentinas has daily flights to this city, which is located 65kms south of Puerto Madryn. The flight has a duration of 1 hour 45 minutes. You can take a shuttle bus from Trelew to Puerto Madryn,
and within 50 minutes you will be at your final destination.