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During your South America cruise, the vibrant Puerto Madryn is a must-see town for a variety of reasons, like its quirky Welsh influence, its geographic proximity to the stunning Valdes Peninsula, some of the best whale and dolphin watching in the world, and much more. In fact, a Puerto Madryn cruise is a jumping off point for some of the most significant animal conservation efforts of modern day, making it a perfect stop for nature and wildlife lovers alike.
Discover the natural beauty of Puerto Madryn and the surrounding Chubut region. This seaside city offers classic beachy activities like swimming, snorkeling, and diving in a region of Patagonia that is both luxurious and down to earth.
Tour this UNESCO World Heritage site for an unforgettable look into the critical importance of animal preservation and wildlife native to Argentina. An excursion to the Valdes Peninsula means that travelers are directly responsible for keeping colonies of whales, elephant seals, penguins, and others thriving and preserved. Not only will you see these majestic creatures up close, you’ll also experience why they’re so important to locals and wildlife enthusiasts all over the world.
Penguin lovers looking to see a colony up close will love Estancia San Lorenzo, where penguins roam freely and are protected for future generations. Take the walking trail through the colony to watch these Magellanic penguins swim, eat, and interact. Open from September until April, the estancia is a great way to immerse yourself in the fauna while on a cruise to Puerto Madryn, Argentina.
Learn about elephant seals and their mating rituals at Punta Loma, which is just a 30-minute ride from Puerto Madryn to the heart of the reserve. The mating season only happens once a year, usually in November. Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a wildlife wonder in Argentina.
Ecological preservation and pride in the natural landscape have deep roots in Puerto Madryn, and the Ecocentro is no exception. Before heading out on any wildlife spotting excursions, take a few hours to discover the exhibits here about the breeding processes and science of the species that regularly pass through Puerto Madryn, like right whales, dolphins, elephant seals, and more.
Get up close and personal with massive whales at Playa el Doradillo near Puerto Madryn, where whales bound in and out of the water not far from the shoreline. You won’t even have to squint to see these incredible species. Hiking and biking near the beachfront await those craving higher intensity activities.
Puerto Madryn has a rich history of Welsh settlement during the 19th century, which is catalogued in various ways. Several towns just beyond Puerto Madryn are heavily Welsh-influenced, featuring preserved colonies and cultural activities like tea ceremonies and rugby matches. The Welsh in Patagonia even impacted the language spoken in the region.
During peak whale-watching season, you may even see whales from the beaches of Puerto Madryn without having to venture out to the Valdes Peninsula. Of course, you can’t go wrong unfolding your beach towel and lounging seaside for a few hours before exploring the city center on foot.
Take a day trip to Gaiman, which is primarily a farming area that features beautiful natural scenery and a Welsh influence. Step into a Welsh tea shop for an afternoon cup, and leisurely stroll the village for a look at life in Gaiman.
Like other coastal areas of Argentina, fresh seafood is a menu favorite in Puerto Madryn, like expertly cooked crab, shrimp, and octopus dishes. For an upscale dinner, head to Unamesa Restaurante for a traditional Argentine steak dinner, while La Estela caters to your craving for grilled meats (asadas) and barbeque. Big portions are great for splitting or enjoying solo. When you’re craving ice cream, head to Heladeria Los Amores for handmade flavors from flan to banana split. Try traditional Argentine sweetbread, mollejas, yerba mate tea, or stuffed empanadas during your Puerto Madryn cruise, too.
Puerto Madryn was shaped by Welsh occupation of the area starting in the 18th century. It’s a self-made town where the fishing and aluminum industries buoyed its economy throughout the 20th century. Though Patagonia is well known across the world for its natural wonders, Puerto Madryn is the hidden gem of the region for a number of reasons. For one, Puerto Madryn is one of the key ways for travelers to reach the Valdes Peninsula for whale watching and elephant seal spotting in an ecological setting. The peak seasons for visiting Puerto Madryn are from September through November, and Patagonian tourism has consistently attracted visitors for decades.
The port of Puerto Madryn underwent renovations in 2017 to improve the facilities. The port is about four miles from the center of the city and reasonably close to the beach, and you can easily walk the waterfront after leaving the port. There is also a shuttle that can take passengers from the port into the center of Puerto Madryn.
Bus tours are a popular option for travelers who want to explore this part of Argentina. Car rentals are also common and offer travelers more flexibility. Getting to the Valdes Peninsula is one of the main reasons travelers book a bus tour or rent their own car. You can also hire a taxi by the hour to take you to several sights in one day. Just be sure to talk with your taxi driver, establish a route before taking off, and don’t forget to tip for their tour services.
There’s not a wide variety of shopping at the cruise port area. Shoppers can head to the newly built mall in the center of Puerto Madryn, where you can find a range of low-cost to high-end clothing and jewelry stores, as well as boutiques selling local Patagonian goods. There’s a used bookstore called Boutique del Libro for those who want additional reading material on Patagonia and the history of the region.
The local currency is the Argentine peso, which doesn’t get the best exchange rate. Don’t take out too much cash in Argentina, or project modestly so that you don’t lose out on a better exchange unless you’re making multiple stops in the country. Tipping isn’t mandatory, but it’s appropriate and encouraged when you receive good service. 10% is customary in the restaurant industry and when tipping a tour guide, while you can simply round up to the nearest peso when you’re tipping your taxi driver in Puerto Madryn.