Puerto Madryn three-day road trip itinerary

Are you going to Argentina any time soon? Do you love wildlife? If the answer is yes, include Puerto Madryn in your itinerary. This place is well known for the nearby Valdes Peninsula, which is designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. There are also large colonies of Magellanic penguins in this area. However, the biggest attraction is whales. You can see whales from May to December and penguins from September to April, so October and November are ideal for wildlife watching around Puerto Madryn. Here is my three-day road trip plan for it!70 tombo thesanetravel.comP1264099

Day one. Driving distance 360 kilometres.

Valdes Peninsula and whale watching tour

The Valdes Peninsula in Patagonia is a UNESCO Heritage site of global significance for the conservation of marine mammals. It is home to an important breeding population of the endangered southern right whale as well as populations of southern elephant seals and southern sea lions.

Let’s go! First, you drive about 45 kilometres (27.9 mi.) from Puerto Madryn to the checkpoint of the protected area, where you buy entrance tickets for each person and the car. Then continue your way some 20 kilometres (12.4 mi.) more to the tourist information centre. Stop there to get valuable advice and a map of the area. 11 valdes thesanetravel.comP1263650If you love to sleep until late morning, I suggest just doing only a part of the peninsula in a clockwise direction to Valdes, Punta Delgada and Puerto Piramides.12 valdes thesanetravel.comP1263656 When you turn left from the road to Puerto Piramides, you will continue the trip on a gravel road until you get to Puerto Piramides where the road is paved.200 gravel road thesanetravel.com20221019 145230 So be prepared for a slow drive with uninspiring scenery around you until you reach your next stop, Valdes. Located on the ocean coast, Valdes is a place where you can watch penguins and sea lions. To be honest, I was quite disappointed because I did not see many animals and the viewing points were at a great distance from visitors. 16 valdes thesanetravel.comP126367917 valdes thesanetravel.comP126368120 valdes thesanetravel.comP126369821 valdes thesanetravel.comP1263701I understood that you could also see whales, but I did not spot any due to low tide. You can have lunch in Valdes, but I did not like the taste of the food and it was quite pricey, so bring your own food if possible. 23 valdes thesanetravel.comP1263706Then continue your way to Punta Delgada, enjoying lovely views of the coastline. Unfortunately, Ponta Delgada is privately owned and I did not see any signs of how to access it. Then turn right and drive in the direction of Puerto Piramides. You will see some lamas on your way and a few farms.10 valdes thesanetravel.comP1263648 I was hoping to get close to at least one of two salt lakes in this area, but they were fenced off.24 valdes thesanetravel.comP1263709

Anyway, I could not hang around for too long because I had to be on time for a whale-watching tour from Puerto Piramides starting at 6 p.m. I arrived quite early and had enough time to change my reservation note for a tour ticket, walk around, and have something to drink.

Whale watching tour

I decided to accept my apartment owner's advice and choose Punta Ballena Jorge Schmid Company. Located in Puerto Piramides, this company has more than 46 years in the business. The company offers bilingual certified guides and is equipped with boats with ecological engines and state-of-the-art instruments specially designed for these types of operations. It allows visitors to have an unforgettable experience, i.e., whale watching in their natural habitat. The best time to see whales is September, October, November and December.30 whale watching thesanetravel.comP126373431 whale watching thesanetravel.comP1263735

Address: 2º Bajada al Mar, U9121 Puerto Piramides, Chubut

Southern right whales have stocky, black bodies, often with a white belly and chin patches and a large head covered in callosities. They have broad, paddle-shaped flippers and range in length between 13 and 17 metres (43 to 56 ft.) and weigh up to 80 tons (176,000 pounds). Southern right whales are distributed throughout the Southern Hemisphere. These whales migrate between high-latitude feeding areas in the austral summer and low-latitude breeding grounds in the austral winter. From May to December, whales come to the coasts of the Golfo Nuevo. They choose the tranquillity of these waters to mate, give birth and then raise their calves.32 whale watching thesanetravel.comP126373633 whale watching thesanetravel.comP126373934 whale watching thesanetravel.comP1263743

Yes, I saw whales on this tour and quite many of them. It was a real blast. It was also amazing to watch the scenery in the sunset light.35 whale watching thesanetravel.comP126375236 whale watching thesanetravel.comP126375538 whale watching thesanetravel.comP126380140 whale watching thesanetravel.comP126385742 whale watching thesanetravel.comP126386343 whale watching thesanetravel.comP1263875

It was already dark when I returned to my apartment in Puerto Madryn. It was a long day full of impressions.44 whale watching thesanetravel.comP1263876

Day two. Driving distance 314 kilometres.

Punta Tombo Nature Reserve and Gaiman town

As I wanted to see Magellanic penguins up close, day two was devoted to visiting the Punta Tombo Nature Reserve, where they spend time from September to April. Magellanic penguins are seabirds living both on land and in the sea. They reproduce and incubate the eggs on land and return to the sea to feed and migrate along the coast. Their chicks are born and change their feathers on land. From September to April, these flightless birds come to the land to mate and give birth, and you’ll see them eating, sleeping, mating and caring for their young.

To get to Punta Tombo by car from Puerto Madryn, follow road No. 3 southwards, then turn left to road 75, then to road one and finally turn to the gravel access road to Punta Tombo. The total distance is about 190 kilometres (118 mi.) one way and takes about three hours to get there.206 road thesanetravel.com20221020 103210The last 20 kilometres (12.4 mi.) are unpaved. The first thing you will see on arrival is a parking lot. Park your car and go to the ticket office, visitor centre and restaurant. Buy a ticket, visit the visitor centre and have lunch in the restaurant.50 tombo thesanetravel.comP126388051 tombo thesanetravel.comP126388354 tombo thesanetravel.comP1263895 Afterwards, return to your car and drive about one kilometre (0.62 mi.) downhill to the Reserve entrance.79 tombo thesanetravel.com20221020 143022

Follow a 1.3-kilometre-long (0.80 mi.) boardwalk and enjoy watching the daily life of these adorable creatures.55 tombo thesanetravel.comP1263910 It is just fascinating to be in the middle of all this.56 tombo thesanetravel.comP126392476 tombo thesanetravel.com20221020 14130160 tombo thesanetravel.comP126395861 tombo thesanetravel.comP126397362 tombo thesanetravel.comP126398167 tombo thesanetravel.comP126405363 tombo thesanetravel.comP126399169 tombo thesanetravel.comP126408178 tombo thesanetravel.com20221020 14192764 tombo thesanetravel.comP1264002

On your way back, you can visit the former Welsh town Gaiman not far from Trelew. It has some historic buildings and you can have Welsh tea in their restaurants. To be honest, I was not really impressed because a few old houses were scattered around the town, which made the place look rather bland.

Day three. Driving distance 57 kilometres.

Before a trip, learn a bit about the tide time chart and plan your itinerary accordingly. Let me explain a bit more. On day three, I wanted to see sea lions at Punta Loma Nature Reserve. The low tide time is the best when to see sea lions since the water level has decreased considerably and, thus, they can lie in the sand. I also wanted to see whales from the coast at El Doradillo Beach. For whales, tides work the opposite. They come closer to the shore when the tide is high and the water in the bay is deeper. So check the tide charts and make your decisions wisely. Since the tide was low in the morning, I started my day by seeing sea lions.

Punta Loma Nature Reserve

The Punta Loma Nature Reserve, with its sea lion colony, is located 17 kilometres (10.5 mi.) from Puerto Madryn. Use google maps, it is quite straightforward. The Reserve can be visited throughout the year. Watch sea lions from the cliff and take a short walk around.80 punta loma thesanetravel.comP126411381 punta loma thesanetravel.comP126411582 punta loma thesanetravel.comP126412086 punta loma thesanetravel.comP126414788 punta loma thesanetravel.com20221021 11113087 punta loma thesanetravel.com20221021 110548 On your way back, stop at Playa Punta Este to enjoy stunning views of Puerto Madryn.120 puerto madryn thesanetravel.com20221021 115241121 puerto madryn thesanetravel.com20221021 115918123 puerto madryn thesanetravel.com20221021 121313

Then go back to the city and take a right to get to the uphill road leading you to the Punta Cuevas Landing Museum. This small cape of Golfo Nuevo has some natural caves. It is here that the first Welsh colony, freshly landed from the sailing ship Mimosa, is said to have settled in 1865. A small museum commemorates this event.124 puerto madryn thesanetravel.com20221021 121540125 puerto madryn thesanetravel.com20221021 122149126 puerto madryn thesanetravel.com20221021 122522

Continue your way to Sara Beach family style restaurant for lunch.128 puerto madryn thesanetravel.com20221021 124836129 puerto madryn thesanetravel.com20221021 124917131 puerto madryn thesanetravel.com20221021 131704

Address: Bv. Almte Brown 1855, Puerto Madryn, Chubut.

After lunch, get to the city centre and walk Puerto Madryn cruise ship pier.101 puerto madryn thesanetravel.comP1264164102 puerto madryn thesanetravel.comP1264167103 puerto madryn thesanetravel.comP1264171107 puerto madryn thesanetravel.comP1264183108 puerto madryn thesanetravel.comP1264186

Then make your way to El Doradillo Beach to see whales from the shore, just 30 minutes away from the city. Even though it was not a full high tide, I saw many whales. Bring binoculars to have a closer look.110 playa el doradilo thesanetravel.comP1264200111 playa el doradilo thesanetravel.comP1264223113 playa el doradilo thesanetravel.comP1274278

Where to stay?

I recommend staying in Puerto Madryn because it is easier to plan your travel in both directions from the city. I stayed three nights at the recently opened CQ Mitre Experiencia CQ apartment. The apartment is spacious, clean and well-equipped, located just 200 metres (656 ft.) from the city centre and the main beaches. The apartment hotel provides warmth and comfort, making your stay in Puerto Madryn pleasant. You can find it on booking com, but I recommend booking on their website. Even if the website is in Spanish, it is easy to understand and make your booking.90 experiencia thesanetravel.comP126387791 cq mitre thesanetravel.com20221018 17341493 cq mitre thesanetravel.com20221018 17365092 cq mitre thesanetravel.com20221018 173541

Practical driving information

I recommend Centauro rent a car for its friendliness and excellent customer service. Always take the opportunity to put gas in your vehicle, as fuel stations in this area are scarce. To get to the sites of this itinerary, you will have to drive on gravel roads in some places. Although gravel is a robust surface and appears stable, it is actually difficult to drive on. Do not exceed 60 km/h and slow down when approaching the ongoing traffic since gravel clippings might damage your vehicle. 202 gravel road thesanetravel.com20221020 145004Although rains are rare on the coast, be aware that they make driving on clay soil especially dangerous. Take into account that within the Protected Natural Areas, the cell phone signal is very weak and non-existent in some areas.

Like it? Pin it!MadrinS

What did you think? Have you visited Puerto Madryn? I’d love to hear from you so please add your comment below.

  • Published by Anita on December 02, 2022

    Author: Anita Sane

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.


    Your writing paints a vivid picture, and the stunning photos add to the allure of Puerto Madryn. You're passionate about travel and sharing your experiences with fellow adventurers like me.
    Thanks for being such an awesome source of travel inspiration. Keep those amazing guides coming! Greetings from Germany!

    I love exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites, I always make an effort to go the extra mile to see them. This looks like a very cool trip, especially seeing the whales and penguins.
    What a stunning place! And whale watching! What a dream! I’ve pinned it in case I ever get to visit!
    I absolutely love penguins, I'd love to see them in their natural environment. All the wildlife here looks amazing!
    What an eventful three day road trip. A lovely area to explore, from your photos. Such a detailed guide.
    Your photos of the penguins and whales made me smile. Delightful photo essay!
    Some great info here! Thanks for sharing your experience and photos with us.
    The stay looks quite comfortable and cozy.

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