Experience the wildlife of Argentina on this 6-day adventure. Begin your adventure in the cosmopolitan capital city of Buenos Aires. Next, head south to Puerto Madryn, a seaside community in Patagonia famous for its diverse ecosystem featuring many unique birds and marine mammals. Here, you'll take in the stunning scenery and wildlife while visiting a penguin colony, going a whale watching excursion, and snorkeling with sea lions.

Highlights

  • Explore the energetic neighborhoods of Buenos Aires
  • Get an up-close look at some of the ocean's largest mammals on a whale watching tour
  • See Magellanic penguins up-close during a visit to Punta Tombo
  • Snorkel with sea lions in Patagonia

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Buenos Aires Buenos Aires
Day 2 From Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 3 Penguin Colony at Punta Tombo Puerto Madryn
Day 4 Península Valdés and Whale Watching Puerto Madryn
Day 5 Snorkeling with Sea Lions in Puerto Madryn Puerto Madryn
Day 6 Puerto Madryn - Buenos Aires - Home  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Buenos Aires

The iconic Obelisco
The iconic Obelisco

Welcome to Argentina! Renowned as the "Paris of South America," and the "Queen of El Plata," the capital city of Buenos Aires is defined by passion. This is exemplified in the rich tango heritage and its citizens' limitless enthusiasm for fútbol (soccer), which is far and away the country's most popular sport. 

When you arrive at the airport, your driver will be waiting to take you in a private car to your hotel where you can relax after a long flight. But make no mistake: the city will beckon you. So after a quick recharge, be sure to venture out into the welcoming arms of Buenos Aires and explore. The best starting point would be the city center.

Suggested activities include:

  • Visit the Obelisco, the most iconic landmark in the city. This obelisk (which even Argentines admit is a little too reminiscent of the Washington Monument) is worth a visit for its location alone. It sits right in the middle of Avenida 9 de Julio, which boasts a whopping 16 lanes, making it the widest city street in the world.

  • Stop by the Teatro Colon, one of South America's premier opera houses. The horseshoe-shaped gallery features 2,487 seats and incredible acoustics. Even if you plan on taking a tour or catching a show here on another day, it's always breathtaking to pass by its exterior. The Colon's neoclassical facade has been the face of one of the most handsome buildings in Buenos Aires since its opening in 1908.

  • Stroll Puerto Madero, an upscale waterfront neighborhood adjacent to downtown. Puerto Madero may be the "new money" finance center of Buenos Aires, but it's also one of the most pleasant walking areas in a city famous for its walking areas. A romantic stroll involves walking over the canal on the Puente de Mujer ("Woman's Bridge") at sunset. 

  • Dine at an Argentine steakhouse or parilla. When night falls and dinnertime arrives, do like the locals and enjoy a thick, juicy steak—Argentina has some of the best beef in the world—drizzled with the nation's famous chimichurri (a garlic, herb, and vinegar sauce). Know that Buenos Aires is a culture that thrives after dark, and it's not uncommon for locals to have dinner well past nine in the evening, especially on weekends. 

Day 2: From Buenos Aires to Puerto Madryn

Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn
Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn

Today our private transport will pick you up from your hotel and take you to Aeroparque Airport, located near the city center, for your flight to Puerto Madryn. This is the gateway to Argentine Patagonia.  

Puerto Madryn sits on the Golfo Nuevo (New Gulf), on northern Patagonia's Atlantic shore. The waters immediately offshore of this city are home to an abundance of marine mammals, including the southern right whale, which breeds in the area from May to December. 

Puerto Madryn is most famous for being the gateway to nearby Península Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the best place to view a variety of animals in their natural habitat, including sea lions, penguins, guanacos, whales, and orcas. Also near to Puerto Madryn is Gaiman, a small historic town founded by Welsh settlers in 1875. Gaiman has preserved many of its Welsh traditions, which is evident in the tea shops, chapels, and gardens found throughout town.

Upon arrival at Puerto Madryn, a driver will meet you and you'll transfer to the hotel.  If you have the energy after your flight, feel free to stretch your legs with a stroll around this tranquil city. It's a safe, walkable community and there is a charming waterfront promenade here lined with cafes and restaurants with patio seating and ocean views. You can also make the short trip to Gaiman and enjoy a spot of afternoon tea.

Day 3: Penguin Colony at Punta Tombo

Magellanic penguins sharing a moment
Magellanic penguins sharing a moment

Today you will embark on a tour down the Atlantic coast that culminates in one of the most incredible destinations in Patagonia: Punta Tombo. This tiny protected area (just 0.8 square miles), is home to the largest colony of Magellanic penguins in Latina America.

A driver will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to Puerto Rawson, a fishing village located about 50 km (31 miles) south of Puerto Madryn. Here you will board a ship and start the tour. As you head down the Patagonian coast, be sure to keep an eye out for black-and-white-colored Commerson dolphins, which are regarded as the smallest dolphin species in the world. 

The tour will continue down to Punta Tombo, where you'll find the aforementioned penguin colony. Exact estimates of how many Magellanic penguins live here vary, but keep this whopper of a stat in mind: at one point it was home to over a million. The population might be near that figure even today, as everywhere you look you'll find penguins, penguins, and more penguins. You'll even be able to tour the area on foot and stroll alongside these waddling critters. As you walk, you'll almost be able to reach out and literally touch them, such as the density of their population (but alas, this is not allowed ).

Afterward you'll transfer back to your hotel. 

Day 4: Península Valdés and Whale Watching

Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn
Whale breaching near Puerto Madryn

Today a driver will pick you up at your hotel for your journey to Península Valdés. The first stop will be at the Istmo Ameghino Interpretation Center, which will act as a useful primer for your foray into this unique eco-system. Through various educational exhibits, you'll gain insight into the different types of fauna that call the peninsula home. There's even a lookout tower here featuring stunning views of the Golfo Nuevo and the Golfo San José.

After visiting the interpretation center you'll continue to Puerto Pirámides. This is the embarking point for today's oceanic wildlife-watching excursion. After boarding the ship, it will sail along the coast and offer many opportunities for wildlife spotting. Keep your eyes peeled for sea lions and (if you're lucky) right whales and killer whales. You'll even pass a local lighthouse that epitomizes all the seafaring splendor and rugged coastal beauty for which Patagonia is deservedly famous.

Even after the boat ride, your day isn't over yet. On the way back to Puerto Madryn you'll pass some salt flats as well as Isla de Pájaros (Bird Island), an island abounding with different avian species like cormorants, egrets, rheas, and flamingos. Then, around 6 pm, the tour ends and you will return to the hotel.

Day 5: Snorkeling with Sea Lions in Puerto Madryn

Swimming with sea lions
Swimming with sea lions

There are only a few places in South America where you can swim with sea lions in their natural habitat. Puerto Madryn is one such place. In the morning a guide will pick you up at your hotel and transport you to their office where you will change into your swimwear. You'll then board a boat at Puerto Pirámides, on Península Valdés, and depart for a nearby bay, which is full of sea lions. 

Upon arrival, it's time to hop in the water (wetsuits and equipment will be provided). If you're feeling apprehensive, there's no need to be. Sea lions are curious by nature and will swim up and offer a friendly hello. Also, a guide will be there every step of the way to offer specific instructions about what to do when a sea lion approaches. It's nothing short of an unforgettable experience.

Day 6: Puerto Madryn - Buenos Aires - Home

Puerto Madryn skyline at sunset.
Puerto Madryn skyline at sunset.

After enjoying all the marine life and glaciers, it's now time return home. After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires, transfer to the international terminal for your flight back home.