Puerto Pirámides in Península Valdés
From June to December the main attractions at Puerto Pirámides are whale-watching boat trips into the Golfo Nuevo to see southern right whales. Experienced captains pilot the boats between the huge mammals and bilingual guides tell you about their habits and habitats. Expect to use up lots of your camera memory as the graceful creatures dive, spout water, salute you with their tails, or even jump.
Most whale-watching companies operate several trips a day while the whales are in town, especially during the peak months of September and October. Standard daytime excursions last about 1¼ hours, and the price is set each year by the municipality (at this writing it was 120 pesos). Trips in smaller boats and longer tours are usually more expensive. Although no boat is allowed closer than 15 meters from the whales (the animals themselves sometimes break the rules by diving under your boat), you certainly feel closer from smaller vessels. On clear days the magical sunset tours are definitely worth paying extra for: you see the whales frolic as the sun sets over the water around them. It's best to call a day or two ahead to reserve, although many companies will fit you in if you show up on the day.
Hydrosport. Ecological commitment is the foremost priority at Hydrosport, a reliable, long-running operator with three different boat sizes. Primera Bajada, Puerto Pirámides, Chubut, 9121. 2965/495–065. www.hydrosport.com.ar.
Southern Spirit. Southern Spirit uses large but fairly low boats that have an underwater sound-detection system so you can hear the sounds the whales make. They operate up to five 90-minute trips a day and don't charge more for the one at sunset. Av. de las Ballenas at Primera Bajada, Puerto Pirámides, Chubut, 9121. 2965/15–572–551. www.southernspirit.com.ar.
Tito Botazzi. Although trips tend to be more expensive with Tito Botazzi, they tend to be longer than other companies' and have excellent English-speaking guides. The sunset trips are on very small boats, and include wine and cheese in Hotel Las Restingas afterward. Primera Bajada, Puerto Pirámides, Chubut, 9121. 2965/495–050. www.titobottazzi.com.
Patagonia Explorers. Kayaking in the Golfo Nuevo and the Golfo San Jose is offered by Patagonia Explorers, who also have English-speaking guides. Av. de las Ballenas at Primera Bajada, Puerto Pirámides, Chubut, 9121. 2965/15–340–619. www.patagoniaexplorers.com.
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