How to get to Puerto Madryn
There are two ways to get to Puerto Madryn. First option is the plane, although faster, there aren’t many flights and are usually expensive. The other way is to go by bus. This is the most common mode of transportation in Argentina and the buses are well-equipped. However, I advise you to take a “cama” (a bed) and not a “semi-cama” as you will travel for 20 hours. In addition, you have food in the bus and some TV in the corrido (it depends of the company, but it is most of the time that is the case). We took Andesmar, it was quite good.
Where to stay
We wanted to do Couchsurfing, however, the city is quite small and you may not have that many offers. The few houses were already booked. We opted for the hostel. Prices are relatively low, around 15 USD per night. We were in the HI Patagonia hostel, rooms were really nice and Gaston, the manager was really helpful for booking all the activities. I definitely recommend it!
When to go
Obviously when you are here! However if you are in Argentina for a long time, there are better months than others. Concerning the climate, it’s winter from June to September and Summer from December to January. It could be very cold in the winter, although when we went, in July, temperatures were around 10 degrees Celsius. The best season to see the whales is from September to December. Nevertheless, for the ones who cannot go in those months, you may still be able to see some whales. The best season seems to be around December, however it also means more tourists.
What to see
Whales and penguins of course! However, Puerto Madryn has more than those two animals. In fact you will see much more such as Lamas, Patagonian Hare, sea lions, elephant seals and if you are lucky you might see some orcas. Not to mention, the landscapes which are amazing. From the sea, to the bays, to the falaises, everything is incredible.
What to do in Puerto Madryn
The main activity is of course the whale watching! It is indeed one, if not the only reason why we went there. Puerto Madryn is quite small, then it is more its landscape next to the city which are amazing. The Peninsula Valdes, around 20 minutes by bus from the city is the place for seeing all the animals. Indeed it’s where you can see the sea elephants and sea lion, it is the best spot to see the whales. You will for sure go here. Note that the entrance is 350 pesos.
How to get to the Peninsula
The first option is to go by bus. Be careful, there is only 3 bus per day, one the morning, one the afternoon and one the evening. The second option is to rent a car. Prices vary between $60 and $100 USD (of course you can divide this by the amount of people in the car). Finally, you have the guided tour which I found to be the best way. Although a bit more costly, you are sure to see everything. In addition, the peninsula is huge, impossible to do on foot, and there aren’t many traffic signs. This is why we chose the guided tour. The minibus picks you up at your hostel around 8 am and takes you back at around 6/7 pm. During this time, you make several stops while the guide tells you everything you need to know. A small detail: whether you go by bus, car or guided tour, you will have to pay the entrance which is 350 pesos.
Where to see the whales
As I said before, the best place to see the whales is in the peninsula, at Puerto Piramides. There you will have to buy your ticket to get onto a boat. Prices are around 1100 pesos. Tours last 1h30 and you are sure to see the whales. I recommend the boat tour because you will be able to see the whales up close.
However, if you don’t want to or cannot afford the boat, there are other options to see the big fish. In fact, you can go to “playa el Doradillo” which is at 30 kilometers from the center. This is one of the best spots because the water is very deep, therefore whales can come close to the beach. To get there, we hitchhiked, and as many people go to this place to see the whales, you usually don’t wait too long. However, one of the drivers told us to be back in Puerto Madryn around 5pm to avoid any problems. So check the time!
These are my little advice for Puerto Madryn. But I recommend that you do more research if you plan to go here. Anyway, if you have the opportunity to go here, I really recommend this place, whether it’s for the animals or the landscape, everything is amazing!