Amidst scurrying and supposedly industrious armadillos, we camped on the beach at Puerto Pardelas. This is a fantastic spot that doesn’t seem to appear in many guide books. About 18 kilometers away from Puerto Piramides, it has not services but a spectacular view and miles of uninhabited beach.
Camping is a pretty intense experience when you are traveling. We camped without the fly so that we could watch the constellations of the southern sky. Of course, you sleep lightly, jumping a bit when an armadillo noses up to the tent. Sometimes, you wake up to watch headlights down the beach and briefly wonder if they are coming to steal all of your stuff. Of course, they don’t and you fall asleep while on watch anyway. The next lights on the beach will be from the sun.
We awoke to find a right whale and her calf lolling about very close to shore. The sun was just rising and she relaxed as the morning ocean turned from pink to orange finally to blue. For thirty or forty minutes, they entertained before heading around the point, harvesting krill in their baleen as they went.
After this morning encounter, we actually debated whether it would be worthwhile to pay for a whale-watching tour back in Piramides that day. The opportunity to watch wildlife on a deserted beach, or alone anywhere, is hard to beat plus it is pretty much the end of whale-watching season here. Of course, if you are on Peninsula Valdes, you kind of have to take a tour so we semi-reluctantly signed up.
There are rare days where wildlife just seems to be performing, today was one of those days. From our very first stop on the boat tour, we encountered a mother and calf who were comfortable with the boat. They swam beside and then closer, then in front and a bit closer, then closer and finally under the boat. Just an amazing experience, you can see, hear and smell them, it was crazy.
Over the 90 minutes we were out, 14 right whales (seven pairs of mothers and calves) spotted in this little bay. They swam, fished, nursed, played, breached, you name it. You know it is a good day when the guides are visibly excited. The guides were pretty good too, they spot the shadows of the whale or air bubbles and tell you where to look next. Of course, polarized sunglasses help in this process too.
After quick lunch, we headed to Punta Hercules to watch the elephant seal colony there. Technically, I suppose we were trespassing as we trekked along a sheep fence and finally down a hill near the beach but it had to be done. Besides, there was no actual ‘no passer’ sign where we were so an argument could be made that everything was fine.
Regardless, from this viewpoint, you can see long and curving beaches teeming with elephant seals. They stretch and swim, sleep and belch, argue and then fall back asleep. There is a long shoal sticking out into the ocean lined with cormorants and seals. Another great spot to enjoy wildlife with absolutely no one else around. Of course, if you fall off the crumbling cliffs or slip off a sand dune, there is no one around to help but, well, whatever.
To end the day, there was a roadside penguin colony, macas gathered at an evaporated lake and, of course, another trip to Punta Nortes. Not too shabby.