Peninsula Valdés#8 in Best Things To Do in Argentine Patagonia
Skirting Atlantic Patagonia's eastern coast line, Peninsula Valdés is a marine wildlife refuge for endangered species such as orcas, elephant seals, Magellanic penguins, sea lions, and guanaco. Lined with powdery beaches and staggered cliffs, this natural reserve has garnered attention as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. For optimal wildlife-watching, you'll want to visit Puerto Pirámides.
Recent travelers praise their close encounters with Magellanic penguins at Peninsula Valdés. "Puerto Pirámides is a spectacle of sea species, with sea lions, sea wolves, whales and penguins. It is impossible not to fall in love with them," says one TripAdvisor user.
You may visit Peninsula Valdés without a tour, but some areas along the beach are restricted unless you enter with a certified naturalist. You can drive or hop on a Mar y Valle public bus from Puerto Madryn to Puerto Pirámides for $16.50 ARS (about $3.75) each direction. There are also plenty of guided tours offered from Puerto Madryn. Travelers suggest Whales Patagonia, a boat tour that takes visitors to pristine whale-watching vantage points. For more information, consult the Whales Patagonia Tour website (written in Spanish).
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#1 Argentine Lake District
Stretching across northwestern tip of Argentine Patagonia sits the picturesque Lake District. Sandwiched between the Andes mountains with Chilean Patagonia to the west and Atlantic Patagonia to the east, the Lake District contains breathtaking vistas from nearly every angle. San Carlos de Bariloche, known simply as Bariloche, serves as the region's major hub. Towering over the immense Nahuel Huapi Lake and the surrounding national park, Bariloche provides a tranquil setting for lounging outdoors, savoring local cuisine, and admiring the picturesque scenery. But Bariloche boasts more than natural beauty. Venture into Bustillo, the heart of the city, and you'll discover European architecture infused with local hardwood accents, which create a lofty urban setting. During July and August, you'll find idyllic skiing conditions, and, in January, you'll relish prime hiking and river rafting weather. We suggest visiting during November or March, when you can soak up the fresh air, marvel at postcard-perfect views of the Andes, and relax at a tucked away mountain retreat without heavy crowds.
From Bariloche, it's easy to travel to Cerro Catedral's luxurious ski retreat. It's also worth checking out Villa La Angostura (a lakeside village 50 miles north of Bariloche) and San Martín de los Andes (a scenic town 112 miles north of Bariloche). Both feature local craft markets and panoramic views.
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