Puerto Madryn: For Penguins, Whales, and More

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On the shores of Gulfo Nuevo in the Patagonia region of Argentina, Puerto Madryn is a wildlife enthusiast’s paradise. Each year Puerto Madryn welcomes thousands of foreigners and tourists to enjoy its stunning beaches, explore its spectacular coastal landscapes, and experience a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.

For a few months every year, Magellan’s penguins, Southern Right Whales, and Commerson’s dolphins flock to this region to breed, nest, eat and live. If you’ve ever wanted to walk amongst the penguins or frolic alongside dolphins, then a visit to Puerto Madryn is a must. With a myriad of tours and excursions, there’s no easier way to be at one with Argentina’s one-of-a-kind marine wildlife.

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Best time to visit

Argentinian spring, lasting October to December, is the best time to visit Puerto Madryn. During this season penguins, whales, dolphins and other majestic creatures call this area home.

You’ll have the opportunity not only to walk amongst hundreds of thousands of penguins, but also to witness Right whale calves swimming in the calm waters of Golfo Nuevo. For ample animal sighting opportunities, there’s no better time to visit Puerto Madryn than spring.

Not-to-Miss Tours in Puerto Madryn

Thanks to its coastal location, Puerto Madryn is a top destination for marine wildlife watching. Hence, there are plenty of tours available to see and experience the amazing animals up close.

  • Penguin tours in Puerto Madryn
Magellan Penguins in Punta Tombo
Magellan Penguins in Punta Tombo in Puerto Madryn

To see penguins in their natural habitat, there’s no better place than Punta Tombo. Located three hours south of Puerto Madryn, Punta Tombo Penguin colony is the largest colony of Magellan’s penguins in South America.

Visits to Punta Tombo can be arranged through a myriad of providers in Puerto Madryn. These full/half-day or self-guided excursions give visitors the chance to walk with and observe these adorable birds from a very close distance.

When visiting Punta Tombo be mindful of the penguins. A certain zone will be open for public access, clearly marked by a wire netting. Do not trespass or deviate from the path. While you will be asked to give the penguins a wide one-meter berth so as not to bother or contaminate them, you will notice that the penguins will waddle up to you anyways!

Suggested tour: Walk with Penguins in Punta Tombo

  • Whale tours in Puerto Madryn
Whales in Puerto Madryn
Enjoy majestic sea creatures breach and swim right next to your boat

For the chance to see the famous Southern Right Whales that call the Golfo Nuevo home, embark on a whale watching tour. Departing from Puerto Piramides on the Peninsula Valdes, head out into the calm waters of the bay where these mammals of epic proportions live, breed and play. Enjoy stunning views of the region as these majestic sea creatures breach and swim right next to your boat.

Just six companies are authorized in the province to run these tours. These operators will ensure minimal environmental impact while maximizing your chance of seeing these gentle sea giants. Dress for warmth and have your camera ready because you never know when these magnificent mammals will surface.

  • Dolphin tours in Puerto Madryn

Commerson’s dolphins are a small and distinct species. Found only in this part of the world, these dolphins are stocky, agile, and famous for their unique black and white patterning.

The best place to see these special sea creatures is in the area of Puerto Rawson, located an hour drive south of Puerto Madryn. Head out on the water and enjoy these playful animals in action as they swim, jump and race alongside your boat. Snap a picture or two of these exciting animals as they leap from the water and spin in the air, all right in front of your eyes.

Visit Puerto Rawson on your way to Punta Tombo for two-or-one day of amazing animal sightings, encounters and adventures. Make sure you book your tickets in advance and follow your guide’s instructions for a safe and awesome dolphin watching experience.

How to get there

Puerto Madryn in Argentinian Patagonia
Puerto Madryn's stunning urban landscape
  • By Plane

The easiest way to arrive in Puerto Madryn is by plane. Andes Airlines currently operates three flights a week from Buenos Aires to El Tehuelche Airport, located 10 kilometers northwest of Puerto Madryn. There is no shuttle service available between the airport and the city, so expect to spend USD 7 on a short cab ride.

Additionally, there is an international airport — Almirante Marcos A. Zar Airport — located an hour away from Puerto Madryn in Trelews. Many international and domestic airlines, including Aerolineas Argentina, fly here throughout the week. Shuttle buses run between the airport and Puerto Madryn, with tickets priced at 80 cents for a one-way journey.

  • By Car

Travel to Puerto Madryn by car by following National Route 3 from Buenos Aires. Stretching along the east coast, this route crosses through Rio Negro before arriving in Chubut Province. The highway is well marked and relatively well maintained, making for a straightforward but long journey. Note that certain sections of the highway are toll roads and a small access fee will have to be paid.

  • By Bus

Long distance buses travel to Puerto Madryn from Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, Rio Gallegos and other destinations throughout Argentina. The fastest journey from Buenos Aires takes approximately 19 hours and tickets start at USD 18 for a semi-sleeper bed seat. Cheaper options are available, but your comfort for the duration of the journey will be limited.

Where to stay in Puerto Madryn

  • Dazzler Puerto Madryn  
    Dazzler Puerto Madryn is located in the heart of the city. A one-minute walk from the beach, this hotel boasts amazing gulf views and a rooftop solarium. Enjoy a comfortable stay and modern amenities in Puerto Madryn.
  • Australis Yene Hue  
    Clean, comfortable and conveniently located, the Australis Yene Hue hotel is a great base for your time in Puerto Madryn. Enjoy sea and city views, a heated indoor pool, and spa facilities at this stylish hotel in the centre of the city.
  • Hi! Patagonia Hostel  
    Lively, ambient and fun, Hi! Patagonia Hostel is the place to stay for travelers on a budget. Just two minutes from the beach, this hostel features a common kitchen, heated rooms, free wifi, and fresh towels and linen services. Comfortable and clean, this is a great home base that won’t burn a hole through your wallet.

Good to know

  • Average daily temperatures in spring can range from 16° C to 30° C but will feel cooler due to the region’s maritime location and near-constant wind.
  • Bundle up and bring a waterproof outer layer with you on your dolphin and whale watching tours to keep yourself dry and for protection against the wind.
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses are essential to shield you from UVA/UVB rays, which are particularly harsh in this region due to the thin ozone layer.
  • There is an entrance fee of approximately USD 17 to visit Punta Tombo. Many tours do not include this in their pricing; check with your guide and be prepared to pay upon arrival.

When on an Argentina tour, there’s no better place to see animals in their natural habitat than Puerto Madryn. Walk amongst thousands of penguins and sail alongside lively dolphins and enormous whales in this southern natural wonderland.

Get in touch with our local travel experts in Argentina for a customized tour of Argentina to explore the best this coastal city on the north of Patagonia offers. You can create a tailored tour based on how many days you want to spend in Argentina, including Puerto Madryn.

If you are looking to explore more, there are other destinations in Argentina with abundant opportunities to venture out. You can check our guide on things to do in Argentina to find activities that best suit you. For a seasonal overview of the country, you can read our guide on the best time to visit Argentina

Published by Marie Storm, updated on March 16, 2022

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