Whale watching tour in Argentina

Description of Whale watching tour in Argentina

See one of the world's most spectacular natural events. Come to Patagonia in time to see the resident Orca hunting seal pups by torpedoing onto the beaches before thrashing their way back off with their prey in caught.

Price Includes:

Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). There will be bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private air conditioned 4x4 vehicles for all transfers. We include a professional zoologist to escort you on all your excursions and also a very knowledgeable English speaking local guide. Your zoologist escort is an expert in cetacean (whale and dolphin) biology and behaviour and will be able to help you identify the different species as well as interpret you what behaviours you are seeing. For example the subtle learning techniques that the orcas use to teach the younger whales the hunt and individual differences in each orca so you begin to get to know individuals. One of the joys of having a zoologist escort is that you will not miss any sightings. We also use excellent local whale watching naturalists, with years of experience in observing the orcas as well as other whales and dolphins of the area. Also included are all boat trips, wildlife viewing and park fees are included as well as access to the private estancia where the hunting beach is located in Punta Norte. If you want access to the ‘Attack Channel’, (this is unprecedented access to the hunting zone where the BBC film crew shot the stunning scenes for the series The Trails of Life) you will have to pay the government imposed permit fee, which is discussable on booking as the price fluctuates. A comprehensive species list (which states the relative chances of seeing animals based on past tours) is included in the pre-departure pack. There is also a reference book library available for your use throughout the trip as well as some documentaries on blue whales which are available to watch throughout the tour.

Seasons:

The exact season varies a little but from late February to early April is usually the entire season for this tour. During a 5-6 week period from late February to early April the transient pod of orcas start to hunt the southern sea lion and southern elephant seal pups as they take the water for the first time. The exact time of this unique behaviour varies and is dependant on fish stocks which speed up or slow down the seal development and therefore when they take to the surf for the first time. Over the last couple of decades the vast majority of attacks have been recorded in March and this is when the hunting usually reaches a peak.

Introduction:

There are no other UK based tour operators that offer a tour specifically to view this unique and stunning hunting behaviour. Ever since the 1993 BBC Natural History series ‘The Trails of Life’ aired footage of magnificent orcas launching themselves onto the beaches of Patagonia in an attempt to catch the young seal and sea lion pups; this wildlife spectacle has become one of the top destinations on most whale watchers and wildlife photographers wish lists. However arranging all the necessary permits, paying the government and national park fees and just finding access to the correct hunting beach can be very hard to organise and understand. Which is why we decided to simplify things and offer the chance to see the only beaching orcas in the world hunting without any of the hassle of having to organise the permits yourself. In addition to this we have broken down the type of viewing available for this tour into three easy to understand and different options. The reason for this being that Patagonia in general and this tour particularly can be very expensive so depending on your budget we can tailor this tour for you. Below are the 3 different budget options for this tour.

1. The cheapest option is to use public viewing area on the edge of Peninsula Valdes, this is where the vast majority of tourists coming to see the orcas base themselves and the distance to the hunting beaches is around 200-300m. We recommend this for people who are interested in other wildlife as well as the orcas, as we can spend more time searching for guanacos, armadillos, foxes, seals, dolphins and penguins around Peninsula Valdes. Also if you are interested in exploring more of Patagonia we recommend this option.

2. The mid range option (which is included in the below itinerary) differs from option 1 in staying on the hunting beach itself. The beach where the seals and sea lions pup and the orcas hunt is the private property of a local estancia (ranch). This is a very small boutique ranch (6 rooms) and we have an arrangement with the owners. This is where the BBC (and all other documentary makers) based themselves to film the spectacle. The ranch owners and knowledgeable staff understand the behaviour of the orcas here better than anyone and will help you by setting up hides on the beach and even taking you out on boats to where the orcas launch their attacks, you will be in the best place for a beaching attack.

3. The final option is only recommended for dedicated wildlife watchers and professional photographers. This is due to the heavy permit fees involved with gaining access to the ‘Attack Channel’. You will use the same estancia as described in option 2 but with special permission from the Argentine government you will be taken to less than 50m or so of the ‘Attack Channel’. The ‘Attack Channel’ is where the orcas usually perform all their hunting. It is the location where all of exceptional shots and footage of the hunting orcas are taken from. This is a real heart pounding experience and can only be done with the an overseer employed by the government and only a handful of permits are granted each year, but you will be standing only a few meters away from the surf zone and you will never forget the sight of a 10 ton orca rushing out of the waves in front of you to pluck a seal pup from the beach.

We ask anyone interested in this tour to please let us know what budget you have for this tour and if you have any specific ideas on which option you would like to book. We specialise in tailoring wildlife watching tours all over the world to suit all people’s requirements and budgets and are confident that whatever your budget for this tour we can arrange your ideal Patagonian wildlife experience.

Why Choose this Tour:

• We offer three different options for this tour (detailed above), depending on your budget and particular interests.
• You have the chance to stay in the one and only estancia which owns the land where the orcas hunt and have exceptional access to the seal and sea lion colony for close up shots.
• We can arrange use of a boat to go out to where the orcas patrol, this is an exciting and new way of observing the hunting orcas before and during their unique hunting.
• If requested we can bring equipment such as a hydrophone (to hear the orcas under the water) and also an underwater camera which will attempt to film the whales and dolphins underneath the waves.
• This tour is like none other being offered by a UK based operator, you will not only get access to the best locations to watch the hunting orcas but we can also arrange further wildlife watching throughout Patagonia as well as taking in some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world.
• As well as using knowledgeable local guides and the private estancia staff we always send a zoologist who escorts the whole tour, this zoologist is a cetacean expert who will help to interpret the behaviour and unravel the social structure of the pod here.
• We have an unrivalled network of experts and guides all over Argentina that are able to find and observe animals like Commerson’s dolphins, southern fur seals, Magenellic penguins, culpeo foxes, giant anteaters, greater rheas, pumas, fairy armadillos, southern elephant seals, coypus, jaguarundis and hundreds other endangered, rare or endemic species throughout this wilderness land. Whether it is Los Glaciares, Tierra del Fuego, Chaco, Iguazu, Campo de los Alisos, El Palmar and many other wildlife watching locations you want to visit we can arrange it. Please inform us if you wish to add a Argentina extensions to this orca watching itinerary below and we can provide an excellent wildlife watching itinerary and quote for you.
• Unlike many tour operators we are willing to run this tour for a single person (on request).

Locations:

The only place in the world where this orca hunting style exists in the world is off one or two beaches along the Peninsula Valdes in Patagonia, Argentina. Making Punta Norte just about the most exciting whale watching destination in the world. We recommend at least 3 full days here (the longer the better) and can also arrange tours to all other areas of Patagonia and Argentina in general.

Fitness Level:

There is no real fitness level required for our orca watching holidays to Patagonia, you decide on the amount of walking involved in the tour.

Equipment:

When you book onto the tour we will send you a comprehensive pre-departure pack which will include a full packing list of recommended equipment; but as a rule of thumb we recommend that you bring your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as suitable clothing which would be a mix of cool, light clothing as well as warm winter clothes as the weather can be unpredictable and long hours on exposed beaches can get windy. Water proofs and a wind-breaker are also recommended. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, just in case you decide to head out for a hike in search of armadillos or guanacos. A sunhat and sun cream are also recommended. Of course plenty of film or memory cards for your camera as well as any other items of a personal nature which you will require whilst away.

Minimum Age: 12 Years old.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made during March
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Whale watching tour in Argentina

Environment

By making sure that all the food (or at least the vast majority of the food) used whilst on the tour in Patagonia is locally sourced we are helping to reduce the carbon footprint for the food by eliminating the need to fly the food down here from Buenos Aires.
We encourage keen wildlife photographers and people with a deep passion for orcas to apply for a permit to the ‘Attack Channel’ this is because, not only the experience is incredible but also that the fee goes into the Chabut coastal management projects which are helping to maintain and protect the penguin, seal and sea lion colonies along this part of the Patagonian coastline.
At the end of each we offset our carbon footprint (based on the number of tours we have completed and the number of passengers we have taken with us), with the Carbon Trust.


Wildlife Promise.

We strictly adhere to the international guidelines regarding whale and dolphin watching. These guidelines details the distances that boats of various sizes are allowed to the animals and how loud engines can be etc.
Where we see whale watching boats breach these rules (whether we are on that boat or not) we report the act to the boat management team as well as the local authorities. We also make our feeling known to the skipper of the boat if we are on the boat and ask him to move further away from the animals.
We help the wildlife by annually contributing (depending on the number or tours and guests who book this tour) to the Punta Norte Orca Research team who are helping to better understand the population of orcas here with a view to helping conservation of the marine ecosystem here.
As the marine ecosystem here is heavily dependent on the deep sea fish and squid off the coast of Patagonia we make sure that the fish and squid that we have on the tour is caught responsibly and not via dredging or benthic trawls (this is very hard to police but we do our upmost to ensure that the sea food we eat was fished for responsibly).
We also keep a record of all the marine life we see on each tour and record the environmental factors, this data is used by ourselves but also given to the researchers who work out of Peninsula Valdes. All the information collected in invaluable as the knowledge of this Patagonian population of orcas which is unique in behaviour. We also donate our pictures to the researchers to aid in their photo identification studies.

Community

The local community benefits from this tour as we stay in the local estancias and ranches around Peninsula Valdes. This keeps the vast majority of the money from tourist in the local economy and thus is helping to establish a more sustainable and structured tourist trade on the remote peninsula. All the food in Patagonia is also sourced responsibly and locally, thus increasing the profitability of the local agriculture industry.
We also make sure that all the local guides we employ are from Peninsula Valdes or Calafate.

Popular similar holidays

Argentina highlights holiday, 12 days

Argentina highlights holiday, 12 days

Discover Buenos Aires and Patagonia's glaciers and whales

From US $2485 - US $5115 12 days excluding flights

Iguazu Falls tour

Iguazu Falls tour

See one of the greatest waterfalls on the planet

From £310 3 days excluding flights

Luxury Argentina tailor made tour

Luxury Argentina tailor made tour

Explore luxury Argentina from top to bottom

From £5400 13 days including UK flights

Patagonia 10 day tour, Torres to Ushuaia

Patagonia 10 day tour, Torres to Ushuaia

Stunning journey to the end of the world

From £1059 - £1179 10 days excluding flights

Convert currencies