Sea kayak in Peninsula Valdes.

See whales and sea lions while kayaking in Patagonia seas.

The adventure holiday in a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site brings you close to the wildlife that teams along the coast.

Sea lions and Southern Right Whales swim up close to your kayak. At night, we camp under star-filled skies, listening to the calls of these magnificent beasts.

More on Peninsula Valdes kayaking tour

With its strange shape jutting out in to the ocean, Valdes is the most noteworthy geographical feature of the Patagonian coast.

Days are spent in the kayaks, bird and wildlife watching, visiting archaeological sites along the coast or enjoying spectacular sunsets.

We enjoy coastal hikes as well as spotting marine and land birds, including penguins.

The main attraction are the Southern Right Whales that may accompany us through pristine waters. These huge mammals come here to breed each year, they rise playfully out of the water in the Gulf of San Jose.

We can offer private or small group sea kayak tours in Peninsula Valdes, from beginners up to experts, from day tours to 12-day expeditions.

Read our blog about kayaking in Valdes, to whet your appetite.



Trip Highlights

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  • Get close to whales, penguins and sea lions, plus great bird watching opportunities from your kayak.

  • Chance to see Southern Right Whales leap from the water as part of their mating ritual.

  • Top quality kayaks and camping equipment so that you feel comfortable at all times on tour.

  • Small groups and private departures with the best guides available.

  • Day hikes on shores replete with millions of ancient fossils.

  • Magellan penguins and southern elephant seals can also be seen.

This was my first time in a kayak and I loved the trip, loved it.

There were sea lions all around us and even an armadillo when we took a break on land.

We had a swim, too - bracing! I wish we could have stayed for a longer trip.

E. Sanchez, Spain

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Full Itinerary

Day 1: Transfer from Trelew airport to Puerto Piramides, eco-lodge

Arrive at Trelew airport, meet your guide, and from there drive to Peninsula Valdes Natural Reserve.

Puerto Piramides, the only town in the Reserve, is our destination.

Once settled into the hotel, we have an orientation chat about the following paddling days and the conditions we may face.

In the afternoon we go for a boat-based whale-watching trip, to have a first encounter with the Southern Right Whales.

Overnight at Del Nomade Eco-lodge in Puerto Piramides.

Day 2: Drive to San Jose Gulf and start kayak expedition, camp (B,L,D)

The next five days are spent enjoying and exploring the magnificent coast and wildlife of this Gulf. The paddling distances are 15-20kms (approx.) each day.

That allows plenty of time to observe the different marine mammals, birds and all the other highlights. We can jump out of the kayaks and enjoy several hikes in and around the flora.

We begin at Bengoa Beach. There is a fisherman’s settlement here, where the fisherman live off what the land and sea offers, using different techniques to fish and collect seafood.

We begin paddling towards Punta Conos, on our way we pass through a Southern Sea Lion colony, where the sea lions have no problem in diving into the water to come and greet us. We stop for lunch on a beach close to the colony. 

Punta Conos area is where we set up our first camp. During the afternoon we can hike different areas nearby, looking for marine fossils which are a characteristic of the Valdes Peninsula.

There are also sand dune areas where we can see archaeological remains of the ancient Tehuelche Indian.

From our camp we may enjoy a wonderful sunset and a delicious dinner.

Day 3: Explore the coast and wildlife of San Jose Gulf, camp (B,L,D)

This day we paddle approximately one hour to Whale Camp, a small beach where we have lunch and camp.

It is possible that we may camp here for two nights so we can go for a few hikes to different points of interest, depending on the weather.

This place is where researchers have camped for more than 30 years, to study the Southern Right Whales.

Every time we are in the water, we keep a look out for any animals that come along to see us – cameras at the ready!

Day 4: Paddle around Whale Camp, hikes, camp (B,L,D)

Time to paddle or hike around Whale Camp, enjoying the marine wildlife, especially the whales and sea lions.

The guide and the group will take into account weather conditions, fitness and wildlife in the area when deciding what to do today.

After a day’s exploration by land or kayak – or both – return to camp.

Day 5: Paddle around Fracasso Bay, camp (B,L,D)

We break camp and get back into the kayaks, paddling off to see some dramatic cliffs.

Around midday, after having passed by the cliffs, we reach Fracasso Baywhere at low tide a huge section of the beach remains exposed (a slough).

This is an area where many shore birds feed in the sand flats that are exposed during the low tide, such as Two-banded Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs and Bird’s Sandpiper.

After lunch we paddle alongside a section of cliffs and small bays until we reach a lovely bay, where we set up camp.

This area is one of the best from which to see whales that come close to the shore.

Late in the afternoon before dinner we enjoy an authentic argentinian picada, and hope to spend the night listening to the sounds of the whales. 

Day 6: Paddle to reach Villarino beach, Del Nomade Eco-lodge (B,L,D)

After breakfast and breaking camp, we get into our kayaks to continue paddling to Villarino Beach.

This place is well known as an important site in Peninsula Valdes history – the first Spanish expeditions landed here, and marks our final destination of the kayak trip. 

We return to Piramides village and overnight at Del Nomade Ecolodge.

We relax during the afternoon and enjoy the town of Puerto Piramides – there is a lovely beach for swimming, or perhaps a short hike out of town to see sea lion colonies or look for fossils and sharks teeth in among the sand and earth dunes.

Dinner at a local restaurant.  

Day 7: Visit Estancia San Lorenzo and Punta Norte reserve, transfer to Trelew airport, ends (B,L)

After breakfast we take a land tour to the coast of the Peninsula, reaching the Atlantic Ocean where we can appreciate the diversity of wildlife and the impressive landscapes.

We continue to Estancia San Lorenzo – one of the most important penguin colonies in the Peninsula with approximately 200,000 specimens.

The penguins start to turn up in August and leave in April.  

We then head to Punta Norte reserve, the most famous animal observation point of Peninsula.

Here you can see a sea lion colony, also the graceful guanacos (a South American camelid), a big rodent locally named “mara”, the fast rheas and some elephant seals. If we’re really lucky, orcas may show up.

After Punta Norte we continue to Caleta Valdes Natural Reserve, a peculiar geographical feature that is home to the largest variety of sea fauna in thePeninsula. This thin strip of land, some 22 miles long, has a great population of sea mammals, sea and shore birds and more.

Our adventure ends as we drop you off at Trelew airport.

Note: Order of the activities and the excursions may change due to weather conditions/interests etc. On arrival, the exact itinerary will be set with the guests.


Prices From $2,525 / £2,020 per person

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What's Included?

Activities described (subject to weather conditions), kayak, paddles, communal camping gear & bilingual guides, transfers to Puerto Madryn / Trelew, meals as indicated, entry fees to the Peninsula Valdes Nature Reserve, accommodation on Day 1 and Day 6 (based on double or triple occupancy)

What's Not Included?

Any additional meals not mentioned in itinerary, international or domestic flights (we can help to look for these), tips, insurance, personal items and clothing, alcoholic or soft drinks


Accommodation

We use a 2-3* eco-lodge in Puerto Piramides as the hotel.

Once out on the kayaks, we make camp on remote shores – you will be asked to help out as this is an expedition. We use comfortable, two-man tents.

 

Tour Staff

Guides and drivers are locals from Argentina, who live and work in this fantastic country.

Our kayak guides live in Peninsula Valdes and spend all possible time on the water, investigating new routes and keeping an eye on the wildlife.

They speak Spanish and English and will be delighted to show you their part of the world.

Our main guide is Pablo Passera. Pablo regularly participates in varied sea kayak expeditions in both rivers, lakes and the Patagonian sea, and additionally kayaks for personal challenge and scouting. He is also a certified ski instructor and patroller.

Pablo has completed studies as Professor of Physical Education, with a major in recreational and mountain activities. He regularly takes part in courses and workshops covering environmental education and nature interpretation.

He is certified as a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and American Canoe Association (A.C.A) Instructor of Open Water Kayaking Level 4.


Meals

Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for if advance notice is given – please enquire.

Breakfast at hotels is usually a buffet style affair with eggs, juices, cereals, fruits, teas, coffees etc.

There are a variety of restaurants for all budgets in Puerto Madryn and Puerto Piramides.

When we sea kayak and camp, we will be in very remote areas and a flexible and positive attitude is needed. There is a limit to the amount of food and drink we can carry on the kayaks.

While camping, breakfast features hot drinks, eggs, pancakes, cereals etc. Lunch will be sandwiches, snacks, crackers etc.

Dinners will include pasta, rice, meats and fish, cooked by your guide/cook and you may need to muck in and help out.

 

Activity Level

The kayaking on this trip is suitable for beginners, but clients should be fairly active and should be confident around water.

Clients joining this trip should love the outdoors, be comfortable travelling in remote areas, be prepared for weather changes and most of all have a sense of humour and a positive attitude.

Guides use day 1-2 to assess people’s kayaking abilities.

After breakfast, kayaks are prepared and your guide will explain the day’s activity, and you typically are active for 3-4 hours in the morning before lunch, with a short or break or two en route.

After an hour or so for lunch – depending on weather conditions – you will continue your activity, usually 2-4 hours more, although some days are shorter or longer than others, and then relax before dinner at camp.

Enquire about booking

Practical Information

Introduction to Argentina

Argentina is a land of contrast.

Nothing states this better than the fact it features the highest point in the South America, Aconcagua, and the lowest, Salinas Chicas, 40m below sea level.

Its vastness – it is the eighth largest country in the world – and diversity are just part of the appeal. A fantastic culture of fine wine and dining sits alongside its adventurous and beautiful landscapes.

The local’s cheery disposition and fantastic word plays add to the enjoyment of being in this fascinating country.

The name Argentina derives from argentinos, the Ancient Greek diminutive (tinos) form for silver (argentos), which is what early Spanish explorers sought when they first reached the region in the sixteenth century.

There are distinct regions of Argentina, from the Andean culture of the North West to the rancho lifestyle of the plains of Patagonia to the eternally seductive Buenos Aires.

Geography of Argentina

Argentina’s neighbours are Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay to the north, Uruguay to the north east and Chile to the west. In the east Argentina has a long South Atlantic Ocean coastline.

The central region of Argentina is the rich plain known as La Pampa.

There is jungle in the extreme northeast while the southern half of Argentina is dominated by the flat to rolling plateau of Patagonia.

The western border with Chile is along the rugged Andes mountains, including Aconcagua, the highest mountain outside the Himalayas. Close to Aconcagua lies Mendoza, an area famed for its fine wine production.

The western Cuyo regions at the base of the Andes are mostly rocky desert.

Most Antarctic cruises embark and disembark in Ushuaia, at the tip of South America, allowing access to the South Pole, South Georgia and also the Falkland Islands.

Fitness

This trip can be 1-12 days and so is open to everyone from beginner to expert level.

Day trips will involve 2-3 hours paddling either side of lunch, sleeping in hotels.

For the longer expeditions, you camp at night time. You typically are active for 3-4 hours in the morning before lunch, with a short or break or two en route.

Lunch will be sandwiches, fruit etc. Please bring some snacks of your own, as those available in the park are expensive and not always the best quality.

After an hour or so for lunch – depending on weather conditions – you will continue your activity, usually 2-4 hours more, although some days are shorter or longer than others, and then relax before dinner at camp. You may be asked to help out with the construction of tents, depending on group size, weather conditions etc.

 

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

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Typically, you will be carrying your water-bottle, fleece or wind stopper jacket, rain jacket & trousers, your camera and other small miscellaneous items in your daypack, and use zip-lock waterproof bags for anything you bring onto the kayak.

You’ll also need plenty of strong suncream (factor 50).

For camp, a pair of Chacos or similar sandals – trainers are also okay, a pair of river shorts or swimming costume, long-sleeved business shirt to wear under your life jacket if it gets hot, a baseball cap fto keep sun off, wide brimmed sunhat, sunglasses, chums for fastening your sunglasses to your head, nalgene or similar water bottle, carabiner for fastening water bottle to your kayak, thermal top for cooler destinations, medium weight / heavy weight Capilene or polypropylene is the best, waterproof sunscreen and lip balm SPF15 minimum

For evenings and around camp: Lightweight long trousers, lightweight long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket, underwear, glasses or contact lenses, disposable lenses are ideal, toiletries, toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap and shampoo, moisturiser, hand wipes, a 3-season sleeping bag, travel pillow, small pack towel, headlamp or head torch and spare batteries, shoes or boots for wearing around camp and on hikes, insect repellent, any medication you may be taking, gloves, warm woolly hat especially if going in winter.

Optional Items: Your favourite book or a journal for recording your memories, sketchpad, photographic or video equipment. We recommend a cleaning kit as sand gets everywhere. Bring a spare memory card or plenty of film. Also bring spare batteries for your camera, waterproof disposable for the “action” on the raft shots, swiss army knife, an iPod or other music preferences.

If you are bringing a camera, include plenty of film or digital cards with enough megabytes for hundreds of pictures and spare batteries. Please note, film and digital cards are difficult to find and often expensive to purchase in Patagonia.

If you are concerned about airport security x-ray machines and your film, then consider adopting the travel style of many professional photographers — separate your film from their black canisters. Put your film in plastic or net bags to be easily hand/visually inspected. Then you can combine your film and canisters on reaching your destination. If your film has clear canisters, this is not necessary.

Stuff sacks are great for sorting your gear. Use different sizes and colours to differentiate the contents in your duffel bag/backpack.

 

Official papers

Valid passport, airline tickets, photocopy of passport & driver’s licence.

 

Casual city clothes

Bring a few outfits for city wear. These can be left in a luggage storage room at your hotel.

 

Luggage 

Large back pack (60 – 80 litres) or suitcase , to carry all your non-kayaking gear when you are out and about

Daypack (23-35 litres) to hold water-bottle, rain gear, warm jackets, lunch for the day camera, etc.

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

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