Valdes Peninsula in Argentina is a splendid place where nature and humans come together. Penguins, Sea lions, whales, and seals come here to settle on their breeding grounds. Do you wish to see this part of mother nature?
Then a crucial decision arises: Should you opt for a guided excursion or rent a car to navigate the enchanting landscapes? In this article, we delve into the pros and cons of each option, ensuring that your choice aligns perfectly with the type of adventure you seek.
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What is There to See on Valdes Peninsula?
Before delving into the choice between guided excursions and renting a car, let's explore what awaits you on Valdes Peninsula. This UNESCO World Heritage Site in Argentina is a haven for diverse and unique wildlife.
From Southern right whales to Magellanic penguins, elephant seals, sea lions, whales, and orcas, the peninsula boasts a rich ecosystem that draws nature enthusiasts from across the globe. Mother nature is very present here, you cannot miss this!
Puerto Madryn is your starting point
Nestled along the pristine shores of the Golfo Nuevo, Puerto Madryn serves as the perfect starting point for your Valdes Peninsula adventure. This vibrant town is the closest town if you want to visit Valdes Peninsula.
All excursions, tours, and car rental options to Valdes can only be found in Puerto Madryn! Make sure to start your journey here.
Let's dive into the variety of guided excursions and the option to rent a car and visit the island by yourself. A decision I found difficult to make, and unfortunately I chose the wrong one.
Excursions from Puerto Madryn to Valdes Peninsula
There are a lot of excursions from Puerto Madryn to visit the beautiful wildlife of the island Valdes Peninsula. Which one should you choose?
You want to see the penguins?
Come and meet the cute Magellanic penguins up close and have fun exploring the pretty Península Valdés on this tour from Puerto Madryn. Get a close look at penguins living together (literally in front of you) and see amazing sea animals at Punta Norte.
You want to see the whales?
Always dreamt of seeing a whale? Feel the happiness of watching whales and seals in their own homes! Spend this day trip outside Puerto Madryn to enjoy the incredible beauty of nature and its animals from the small village of Puerto Pirámides. Important: you can only see the whales from June to November!
You want to snorkel with curious Sea Lions?
Go on a boat ride to Punta Loma Natural Reserve and have a really cool time snorkeling with sea lions in the clear blue waters of Golfo Nuevo. This is the only spot in the region that hosts a colony of 700 sea lions all year round. A once-in-a-lifetime experience to never forget!
Why choose for the excursion?
No stress of your car breaking down! The roads toward this island are awful! So one of the standout advantages is safety.
The Valdes Peninsula's roads are actually dirt roads that are not made for regular cars. Also by opting for a guided tour, you're entrusting experienced professionals who are well-versed in conquering these paths, reducing the risk of breakdowns or mishaps.
I went by car but some friends went on the excursion and they had a better time. The guide actually explained everything you needed to know about the wildlife, and why this spot is so connected to nature.
I was just watching some animals for 1 hour and even though it was an amazing experience I really missed some explanation. I came all this way to Puerto Madryn but still didn't know anything about the wildlife I was seeing.
Last but not least, Valdes Peninsula is known to be one of the places where you can see Orcas and whales. The guides know exactly where to take you so that you have a better chance of spotting them. When you go by car you don't have access to these roads.
A little plus point as well for the excursion, you can relax and enjoy the view while you drive for 100km from Puerto Madryn to Valdes Peninsula.
No stress of breaking your rental car
The busses are prepared for the bad dirt roads
You have information about what you are actually seeing
You can enjoy the beautiful view from the bus while driving for 100km to Valdes Peninsula
You can meet new friends during your excursion
I took the rental car and I still regret it. I know the excursions are a lot of money but they are worth it! How many times will you see penguins, sea lions, whales or orcas right in front of you in their natural habitat?
Renting a Car to see the penguins on Valdes Peninsula
I will still discuss the possibility to rent a car because yes it is a lot cheaper. But for me, the price made me blind and I regretted the choice.
If you want to rent a car, you can do so at several car rental spaces in Puerto Madryn. Your hostel/hotel or camping can inform you where the closest car rental is located. If you can divide the cost by four persons then price-wise the car is worth it. If you rent a car be sure to rent a jeep that is actually made for dirt roads.
Renting a car also provides the freedom to set your own pace, take spontaneous detours, and linger at viewpoints that capture your heart. However, the charm of independence can quickly fade when faced with the reality of Valdes Peninsula's rugged roads.
Why NOT to rent a car
As I, unfortunately, experienced firsthand, these roads can be unforgiving, potentially leading to vehicle breakdowns. The allure of cost savings through a self-driven adventure can transform into a frustrating and regrettable situation.
At the end of our trip, we had: 1 flat tire, several spots on the bodywork due to flying stones, a broken rim, and a lot of stress.
Additionally, the slow progress on these roads means your travel time increases, limiting the time you can truly immerse yourself in the peninsula's wonders. Just to give you an idea, you need to drive 20km/hour the whole way to not break anything.
When we were in the parking we saw that multiple cars had flat tyers due to the sharp rocks so we definitely weren't the only ones.
Conclusion: Excursion or Car to visit Valdes Peninsula?
Ultimately, the choice between an excursion and renting a car hinges on your preferences and priorities. For me, I would recommend going with the excursion or rent a jeep that is made for dirt roads.
If you value safety, convenience, and a deeper understanding of the destination, a guided excursion from Puerto Madryn is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you prioritize independence and are prepared to face the challenges of the roads, renting a jeep might hold its appeal.
Whichever path you choose, ensure that it aligns with your desire for a memorable and fulfilling Valdes Peninsula experience in Argentina. Because seeing this beauty is so worth it! Enjoy seeing the penguins, sea lions, whales, and orcas at Valdes Peninsula during your excursion or during your road trip by car.
Want to read more about South America? Take a look at my blog posts about South America.
Keep on exploring & Fly Along