Jutting out into the roaring Atlantic Ocean in a remote, desolate corner of Patagonia, the Valdes Peninsula is one of world’s great wildlife sanctuaries and provides safe haven to an extraordinary wealth of marine life. The peninsula lies on the eastern edge of Chubut province and encompasses some 4,000 km² of cliffs, lagoons, mudflats, bays and endless pounding beaches. On land, the scenery appears barren and lifeless yet is home to herds of guanaco, rhea and the Argentine mara, a large hare-like creature endemic to the region. However, it is on the beaches that the Valdes becomes a natural wonderland. The bays echo with the cries of elephant seals and South American sea-lions jostling for space while colonies of magellanic penguins burrow in the soft dunes. From Puerto Pyramides, boat trips head out into the protected bay to observe the southern right whales, almost hunted to extinction, which gather and breed each year in the rich, protected waters. Sea-birds abound from albatross and flamingos to terns and oystercatchers while schools of killer whales patrol the waters ever looking to attack seals in the shallows, a truly mesmerising sight as captured by David Attenborough’s iconic series “Trials of Lie”.
Access to the peninsula is via Trelew, whose name roots from the welsh settlers who first arrived in the area in 1865, and the legacy of welsh culture is still visible in the surrounding towns, in particular the teahouses of Gaiman, a pretty village of a short distance away.