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Puerto Piramides

Detouring from Península Valdés’ main route is a road winding down pyramid-shaped bluffs to Puerto Pirámides, a small, sea-side hamlet within Área Protegida Península Valdés. Most tourists come here with the sole purpose of taking a whale-watching boat excursion. But those travelers who choose to stay will get to know this village at the edge of a steppe of endless sky and multitudes of animals, at the foot of slowly eroding cliffs loosening ancient seashell fossils. They will feel the never-ceasing wind and watch the sun set over a forever sea.

Midway down the access road is a small plaza with an old salt train and cargo car. The byway becomes Avenida de las Ballenas, off which are two streets to Golfo Nuevo: Primera Bajada and Segunda Bajada. The end of Primera Bajada is where most boat tours leave. In the past, this natural port was used for exporting sea lion and elephant seal oil and furs, and salt mined from the inland salinas.

Whale watching season is June-December. During these months, tractors maneuver tourist-laden boats from beach to sea. These trips give people close-up views of birthing and breastfeeding females with their young. Frequently the marine mammals are also seen from the coast, a natural amphitheater for whale watching.

Puerto Pirámides presents other nautical adventures, like kayaking and sport fishing. Four companies in Puerto Pirámides do scuba diving year-long. They offer bautismos submarines for the uninitiated, Padi and dive master certification courses, and diving with sea lions. Some outfits also do snorkeling trips.

Trekking and mountain biking overland, guided expeditions. Visitors to Puerto Pirámides can do a few short hikes on their own. On the right side of the Primera Bajada port is a beach along the base of low cliffs and a path that goes along the coast to Cuevas de Pinino. These private caves were used back in the salt-mining days. Another short hike along the beach is to Playa de las Cuevas. At low tide, the caves may be entered (3 km / 1.9 mi south of Segunda Bajada; 0.5 hr walking).

One kilometer (0.6 mi) west toward the reserve’s Interpretive Center, a sign points to a gravel road (5 km / 3 mi) heading to Lobería Punta Pirámides. A mirador overlooks a stretch of beach favored by reproducing sea lions (November-March, best January, February) (6 km / 3.8 mi; 1 hr walking).

Puerto Pirámides observes its 1900 founding on Julio 14. The town’s other special days all focus on the main attraction, the Southern right whale. The end of May is when the watch goes up for these large mammals’ return. In mid-June is the official opening of whale watching season. Día Nacional de la Ballena (Nacional Whale Day) is celebrated September 25. In summer, too many people arrive in Puerto Pirámides and services get maxed out.

(Altitude: 7 m / 23 ft, Population: 429, Phone Code: 02965)

Services

Puerto Pirámides’ tourism office staff speaks some English, and can provide a map and information about the village’s services (Primera Bajada, Tel: 49-5048, E-mail: turismo@puertopiramides.gov.ar, URL: www.puertopiramides.gov.ar). Fundación Tierra Salvaje is a fauna education and rescue NGO (Av de las Ballenas and Segunda Bajada, Tel: 49-5095). The town also has police (49-5081), ACA (49-5042), ATM (withdrawals only; sometimes out of service), Hospital Rural (Av de las Ballenas, near Primera Bajada, Tel: 49-5081 / emergency: 107), has phone, Internet and cellular signal.

Shopping

Lots of souvenir and artisan shops are in town, waiting to snatch up some of the tourist dollars.

Artesanías Lara (Av de las Ballenas, Tel: 49-5049)—regional crafts and liqueurs

La Casa de Tía Alicia (Av de las Ballenas, Tel: 49-5046)—souvenirs, artisan crafts.

Pick up camping and fuel supplies in Puerto Madryn.


Guides


The town’s website has a complete list of tour operators, according to type of activity. Kayaking excursions cost $35-60, mountainbiking $60-70, scuba diving from $75. See Whale Watching in the Golfo Nuevo for details about those tours.

Patagonia Explorers (Av de las Ballenas s/n, Tel: 1534-0619, E-mail: info@patagoniaexplorers.com, URL: www.patagoniaexplorers.com)—trekking, kayaking; day and overnight trips; speak English

Góos Ballenas (Segunda Bajada, Tel: 49-5061 / 1556-3410, E-mail: goosballenas@hotmail.com, URL: www.goosballenas.com.ar)—scuba diving, lessons

Juan Benegas
(Tel: 1572-1961, E-mail: buceopuertopiramides@hotmail.com)—sport fishing, scuba diving

Hotels

Most hotels are open year round. The high seasons are September-October and January-March. Substantial discounts given April-May. If staying in Puerto Pirámides, the hotel will give a voucher so guests have to pay the reserve’s entry fee only once.

Camping Municipal (between Primera and Segunda Bajadas, Tel: 1520-0521)—open all year (limited services May-September), $6 per person

El Español (Av de las Ballenas, between Primera and Segunda Bajada, Tel: 49-5025)—shared room $8.50 per person

La Nube del Ángel (Segunda Bajada, Tel: 49-5070, E-mail: soniacuestas@yahoo.com, URL: lanubedelangelptopiramides.blogspot.com)—fully equipped, 2-4 person cabins $70-100

Las Restingas Hotel de Mar (Primera Bajada and Ribera, Tel: 49-5101, E-mail: info@lasrestingas.com, URL: www.lasrestingas.com) —Low season: $150-190; high season: $240-300, includes breakfast, spa.

Restaurants

Many hotels also have restaurants. There are several budget-priced rotiserías (carry-out) places.

La Cantina
de Agustín Álvarez (Primera Bajada)

La Estación Bar (Av de las Ballenas, Tel: 49-5047, E-mail: barlaestacion95@yahoo.com.ar)


Quimey Quipán (Primera Bajada, Tel: 45-8609, E-mail: quimeypp@speedy.com.ar)

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Other places nearby Puerto Piramides: Playa Union , Puerto Santa Cruz, Puerto Madryn, Península Valdés, Piedra Buena , Puerto San Julián , Las Grutas, Comodoro Rivadavia, San Antonio Oeste and Rawson .







By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

04 Oct 2010

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