Kayaking with the Whales in Patagonia Hothttp://www.adventuresherpas.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/640x480s/4d/4c/6e/kayaking-with-the-whales-in-patagonia-46-1391122296.jpg
The water parts just a few yards ahead. You gasp in awe and grin as a mother whale surfaces and breathes, whooshing and puffing. At her side, at a 45-degree angle, her calf nurses. You’re close enough to see their individual markings. When they’re done, the mother slaps her tail four or five times or maybe rolls onto her back for a break. Apart from the whales, the only sounds are quiet waves lapping the nearby shore and sea birds in the distance. Argentina’s Golfo San Jose is the remote, protected bay where the Southern Right whales come every September -- their springtime -- to bear their young. It’s a protected area without motor boats, and the paddling is easy because it’s all shore paddling.
On the pebble beach, 18-foot-long elephant seals roar as they battle over harems, and furry black seal pups sunbathe. This is the wildlife refuge of Peninsula Valdes, in Chubut, Argentina, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The huge mammals are easy to see. We can get within 20 feet of the elephant seals, and the sea lions are curious and play near our kayaks, popping up to take a close look at us. We camp along the beach and fall asleep to the sound of the whales blowing. Even though we’re camping, we eat elegant meals on remote beaches, made fresh by a gourmet cook. For example, for lunch, in a cooking area she has carved out of the sand, she scoops bubbling lamb stew out of a 20” flat iron pot. It’s a heavenly mix: hot stew and fresh bread with fresh sea air on a cool spring day. Typical hors d’oeuvres would be salmon and capers on fresh bread or scallops in a local sauce.
Imagine sitting on a quiet beach in the early morning, drinking strong, hot coffee, nibbling a fresh roll and listening to the quiet waves and the whales blowing. We also go on hikes in the barren Patagonian steppes to see guanaco, armadillos, foxes, cavy (a large rodent), Patagonian skunk, and the pampas cat. Birdwatchers can see the Magellanic penguin, kelp gulls, lesser rhea, cormorants, egrets, blackish oyster catcher, and flying steamer.
We spend a week exploring the bay. Four nights are jeep-assist, and three nights are expedition style, where we carry the tents and all supplies in our kayaks. Some campsites can only be reached by kayak. We set up non-permanent camps and always try to leave no impact on the sites. Breakfasts include good coffee, cereal, eggs, juice and fresh bread. Lunches are usually sandwiches and salads. Dinners are international favorites with a fruit dessert. On the first and last nights of the trip we stay in comfortable local inns with private bathrooms. And as always, we start and end the trip with special celebration dinners.
Patagonia’s dramatic solitude amazes visitors. It’s so remote and desolate that the early missionaries ignored it. Because of the dry steppes and isolation, the ruins of ancient Indian villages stayed undisturbed. The first Europeans in this area were – surprisingly -- Welsh settlers who came in 1865, bringing their language and culture to their new world. The town of Trelew, where we start and end the trip, was settled by the Welsh. Even today, Welsh is the language of home and chapel in many Trelew homes. This trip astonishes even the most savvy paddler. Veteran guests says it’s the very best of all our trips. So imagine paddling slowly, feeling the cool water just under your thighs. Just ahead the water parts. Reverence fills you as a huge whale surfaces with a loud whoosh. Join us for that moment of wonder.
September 16 - 29
- Accommodations in mentioned hotels or hotels in similar category
- All entrance fees and licenses
- All meals mentioned in the Itinerary: B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner
- An English speaking in country guide
- One of our very own U.S. based guides
- All services not clearly mentioned in the Itinerary
- Drinks during meals
- International Flights and Airport Taxes
- Meals not mentioned
- Personal Insurance
- Tips and Personal Expenses
- Visa Fee
Visiting a large Penguin Colony
Close encounters with Sea Lions
Multi site Camping
Average user rating from: 2 user(s)
|Knowledge of Guide||5.0 (2)|
|Overall Experience||5.0 (2)|
Sea Mammal Safari
This trip was truly a sea mammal safari. Camping along the shores of Peninsula Valdes sea lions gamboled around our kayaks, pods of orcas cruised out in the bay, elephant seals hung out on their beach, moms nursing their babies, old beach masters trying to keep control of their harems. The Southern Right whales were the real stars of our trip. At high tide pairs of moms and babies swam back and forth along the beach, breaching and rolling over, a circus parade of whales thirty feet from our tents.
I thought the trip was the most amazing adventure and have told so many of my friends about it. Thank you to all for making it a great adventure and for being wonderful companions.