In March, when I visited the Península Valdés hamlet
of Puerto Pirámides (pictured here), the elephant seals and penguins had mostly left, and business was slow as local operators awaited the arrival of the ballena franca (southern right whale) that supports the local economy in the winter months.
Normally, the whales arrive in the Golfo Nuevo’s shallow, sheltered waters in June but, according to the Buenos Aires daily Clarín, about 50 whales are already cavorting in the waters at Playa El Doradillo, only 13 km northeast of the city of Puerto Madryn, the gateway to the peninsula (click on the map to see an enlarged version for details).
It looks like a strong season, as local authorities anticipate up to 100,000 whale-watching visitors - 25 percent of them foreigners - will visit tiny Pirámides this winter. Most of them will stay in Madryn, where accommodations, restaurants, and other services are more abundant, but Pirámides also has fine accommodations and food in all price ranges.
Meanwhile, starting this Friday the 29th, there will be a live feed of the whales’ arrival on the Chubut coast. The Vigilia de las Ballenas (“Vigil of the Whales” will continue through Sunday the 31st.