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Puerto Madryn - *REVIEW*


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We just returned from the Celebrity Eclipse that departed 3/1/2020. I had a hard time finding good information on this port, so I wanted to provide some insight and feedback. There are 3 main excursions to do in this port: Peninsula Valdes, El Pedral Lodge, Punta Tombo. We did Peninsula Valdes and toured with Babel Viajes.

 

Peninsula Valdes - things to know before you go:

  • It is a 1 hour drive to the visitor center. There is nothing to see at the visitor center, but it is just a stopping point for bathrooms as there are NO areas to stop once you enter the park. 
  • Once you leave the visitor center, it is another 1.5 hours (on a mostly gravel road) out to Caleta Valdes, which has 3 areas to stop. (Total of 2.5 hours of travel time from the port). This is where our excursion and all of the Celebrity excursion buses went.
  • Try to go at high tide. It was low tide when we went and everything was super far away and we didn't really get to see much. Also, the season to see the majority of whales/seals/penguins, is not in March. In fact, the whales are not usually around during the cruising season, so it is unlikely that you will see them.
  • Puerto Piramides was very pretty, but the shore excursions do not go here as I don't think the buses would be able to go on the roads surrounding it.
  • Overall - this was the WORST shore excursion I've ever been on. We basically saw absolutely nothing and spent a lot of time to get there. We would look at the elephant seals that looked like rocks that were far away. Nothing was close up or close by. Do not go to the peninsula to see penguins as the other options have way more penguins. Bring good binoculars if you want to "see" anything. My recommendation is to avoid this excursion if it is March (and/or any other time of the cruising year) as it was awful.

 

El Pedral Lodge:

We did not go on this excursion, but everyone onboard that did - raved about it! It was 1.5 hours driving (about 30min on gravel) out to the lodge, but the penguins were all over and came right up to them! We saw a lot of pictures and it really looked fun. We were super jealous we did not do this.

 

Punta Tombo:

People onboard that did this felt similar to how we did about Peninsula Valdes. It was a 2 hour bus ride each way (not on gravel). In March, the penguins have mostly left, so they didn't get to see many and they were not very close by.

 

Onboard, we debated with other passengers about who had the worst excursions (Peninsula Valdes v. Punta Tombo). Puerto Madryn as a town is really awful as well. There was basically nothing to see, no where to shop, and all around not great place. However - IF you want to see penguins, I would recommend El Pedral. We did a penguin tour in Punta Arenas, but I think it was still better at El Pedral. I hope this review is helpful for someone because I wish I had not wasted 5 hours of my life in a van on a gravel road.

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1 hour ago, conbon78 said:

We just returned from the Celebrity Eclipse that departed 3/1/2020. I had a hard time finding good information on this port, so I wanted to provide some insight and feedback. There are 3 main excursions to do in this port: Peninsula Valdes, El Pedral Lodge, Punta Tombo. We did Peninsula Valdes and toured with Babel Viajes.

 

Peninsula Valdes - things to know before you go:

  • It is a 1 hour drive to the visitor center. There is nothing to see at the visitor center, but it is just a stopping point for bathrooms as there are NO areas to stop once you enter the park. 
  • Once you leave the visitor center, it is another 1.5 hours (on a mostly gravel road) out to Caleta Valdes, which has 3 areas to stop. (Total of 2.5 hours of travel time from the port). This is where our excursion and all of the Celebrity excursion buses went.
  • Try to go at high tide. It was low tide when we went and everything was super far away and we didn't really get to see much. Also, the season to see the majority of whales/seals/penguins, is not in March. In fact, the whales are not usually around during the cruising season, so it is unlikely that you will see them.
  • Puerto Piramides was very pretty, but the shore excursions do not go here as I don't think the buses would be able to go on the roads surrounding it.
  • Overall - this was the WORST shore excursion I've ever been on. We basically saw absolutely nothing and spent a lot of time to get there. We would look at the elephant seals that looked like rocks that were far away. Nothing was close up or close by. Do not go to the peninsula to see penguins as the other options have way more penguins. Bring good binoculars if you want to "see" anything. My recommendation is to avoid this excursion if it is March (and/or any other time of the cruising year) as it was awful.

 

El Pedral Lodge:

We did not go on this excursion, but everyone onboard that did - raved about it! It was 1.5 hours driving (about 30min on gravel) out to the lodge, but the penguins were all over and came right up to them! We saw a lot of pictures and it really looked fun. We were super jealous we did not do this.

 

Punta Tombo:

People onboard that did this felt similar to how we did about Peninsula Valdes. It was a 2 hour bus ride each way (not on gravel). In March, the penguins have mostly left, so they didn't get to see many and they were not very close by.

 

Onboard, we debated with other passengers about who had the worst excursions (Peninsula Valdes v. Punta Tombo). Puerto Madryn as a town is really awful as well. There was basically nothing to see, no where to shop, and all around not great place. However - IF you want to see penguins, I would recommend El Pedral. We did a penguin tour in Punta Arenas, but I think it was still better at El Pedral. I hope this review is helpful for someone because I wish I had not wasted 5 hours of my life in a van on a gravel road.

 

Thank you for your review. Sorry your experience was not at all what you had hoped for.

This validates my decision to visit El Pedral next January!

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We did a similar tour and were not that impressed. Strangely enough, some friends of ours decided to just stay in town and when we met up with them in the evening, they said how much they liked Puerto Madryn and could imagine living there.  We could not see anything there to recommend it but each to his own.

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We were there in January.  We took a private tour (about 20 on a mini-bus) into Peninsula Valdes.  I agree that it was very long and mostly unpleasant.  We saw some wildlife.  But the ride back and forth on unpaved roads with no facilities was a nightmare!

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  • 1 month later...

We’ve visited Puerto Madryn twice. On our first visit we took a tour of Penisula Valdez in a minivan with 6 other couples. There was a bathroom stop at the visitor center followed with 2 different stops to see Magellan penguins (there were a couple of dozen at the first stop and close to a hundred at the second), stops to see close to a hundred sea lions and another to see hundreds of seals frolicking in a bay. It was a long drive since we did cover a lot of territory. On the way we saw guanacos and ostrich type birds.  On our second visit this past March, we took a tour to Punto Tombo. We were in a small minivan with one other couple. We were fortunate to see thousands of penguins from both near and far. It was a long drive with a bathroom stop. We took both tours with Sentir Patagonia. We enjoyed both tours immensely and would not hesitate from repeating either tour.

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I have been to all these areas.    I many times.  have driven.   It’s also a short cheap visit to Punta Loma     But on the In season scale-   Punta Tombo is the clear winner for penguins.     I HAVE visited these areas in March. And note-   Fledgling is NOT fixed.   I’ve had excellent viewing.     This past season fledgling was the earliest I’ve experienced-  every year since 2010-  14 trips.      My advice is to keep up on tracking.     Don’t make assumptions on single episodes.    
 

Binoculars are absolutely necessary in my opinion-  wide angle a must for me.     
 

Being the op did not tour Porto Madryn-  I will disagree-   As there are some good highlights to consider.   There actually is a very good amount of shopping and several interesting museums and city areas.     IF anyone only wanted an “off” touring day-   There is a map and information at the Visitor Center-  to the left at port exit-  down a few blocks just past the mall.     In the past- including this past season-   Tango was scheduled in the mall.    Great opportunity if of interest.   🤩

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