The activities of the orcas can be observed from the beach.The roar of the Atlantic Ocean, the excitement of seeing the approaching orcas soon – define our Great Orca Photo Safari in the Argentinian part of Patagonia. Get up close and personal with spectacular images of the South Atlantic orcas as they hunt for baby seals using the stranding technique. Join us on this unique photo safari at the best time to experience this natural spectacle.
Experience fascinating Patagonia with our Great Orca Photo Safari
Who does not know them – breath taking photographs of the famous orcas of Valdés. Known as beach predators, the whales come to the shallow waters of the peninsula in March and April to hunt young sea lions. The so-called “attack channel” is not open to the public. Only photographers and film crews with a special permit from the Argentine government are allowed to stay in gravel hollows on the beach to photograph or film the orcas. The channel is only 50 metres wide, so there is only room for a few professionals. We have chosen the best time for this programme, when the young sea lions are in the process of weaning from their mothers. During their first swimming attempts they play carefree in the shallows. Still ignorant of what an orca is. The attack channel is the area where the orcas usually patrol and hunt. Sometimes the whales are only 20 metres away from the photographers.
Itinerary of the Great Orca Photo Safari
In the first part of the Great Orca Photo Safari you will visit remote animal colonies and islands, where you will get countless and unique photo motifs in front of your lens. You will see rockhopper penguins, which are usually only seen on an Antarctic cruise or on the Falkland Islands.
The rare red-footed cormorant and the beautiful Jacobite dolphins are also on the programme. This tour is designed for experienced photographers. Sufficient time is therefore allocated to capture and take advantage of situations, making the programme also ideal for amateur photographers.
DAY 1 – Arrival in Comodoro Rivadavia
Upon arrival at the airport in the afternoon or evening, you will meet your guide. The journey continues south to Puerto Deseado. Overnight stay at Hotel Los Acantilados.
DAY 2 – Boat safari in the Ría Deseado
At high tide, an expedition boat will take you into the shallow river. You can photograph many seabirds and the rare Jacobite dolphins, which look like small orcas at only one metre in size. This makes them one of the smallest whale and dolphin species in the world and they are found in two geographically separate regions of the Southern Hemisphere. Recently, white-bellied dolphins (also called Chilean dolphins) have also been discovered in the river. On the way, you will stop at Bird Island, where breeding seagulls, cormorants and Magellanic penguins make exciting photo opportunities. In the afternoon there is another photo excursion to visit the animals in the river once again in beautiful evening light. Photographers have the opportunity to use a drone here. Overnight stay at Hotel Los Acantilados. (B&B)
DAY 3 – Car safari along the Ría Deseado
You will drive along the course of the river in search of beautiful scenery, wind trees and erosion valleys. With a bit of luck, you will encounter owls and foxes in the canyons and visit nesting sites of red-legged cormorants on the steep walls of the river course. There it is time to look for a favourable position near the nests, as you spend an hour photographing the approach and departure of the animals. Feeding the young on the water is also a subject. A drone can be used to take photographs. Overnight stay at Hotel Los Acantilados. (B&B)
DAY 4 – The Island of the Rockhopper Penguins
You will visit Penguin Island, about 20 km offshore, which is home to the northernmost and only accessible colony of about 8,000 rockhopper penguins. In addition to the approximately 60,000 Magellanic penguins, elephant seals, sea lions, skuas, cormorants, Jacobites and Peale’s dolphins also live here. Only 200 tourists are allowed on the island each year. They spend the whole day on the island to wait for the best situation and light conditions. The use of a drone is also possible here. A special photo permit also allows you to visit the breeding grounds of the imperial cormorants, of which over 100,000 breed here. Pictures you take here are simply fantastic! Overnight stay at Hotel Los Acantilados. (B&B)
DAY 5 – Drive to Sarmiento
You leave the coast and head inland. Today’s destination is Sarmiento, a village in the middle of the pampas. On the way you will stop at viewpoints along the coast and of course whenever animals cross the way. Overnight stay in Sarmiento. (B&B)
DAY 6 – The petrified forests of Sarmiento
About 20 km from Sarmiento lies a breathtaking natural park. Here, winds have uncovered an erosional landscape where petrified trees and volcanic eruptions make fantastic photo opportunities. A special permit makes it possible to hike and photograph in the zones of the national park that are closed to the public, accompanied by a ranger, and thus see indescribable landscapes. Drones can take impressive bird’s eye views here. Overnight stay in Sarmiento. (B&B)
DAY 7 – Drive to the Valdés Peninsula
After a leisurely breakfast, the journey continues north to the Península Valdés. On the way, we will visit the Egidio Feruglio Paleontological Museum in Trelew. Here you can marvel at the Argentinosaurus Rex and other great exhibits. Arrival in Puerto Pirámides in the evening. You will spend the night at The Paradise Hostería. The small, cosy rooms all have modern bathrooms with hot and cold running water. The hotel has a good restaurant, where breakfast is also served. From there you can already get a glimpse on the whales gathering in the Golfo Nuevo. (B&B)
DAY 8 to 14 – The orcas of Península Valdés
Early in the morning we will drive across the Península Valdés for about an hour to take up position in the orca attack channel in Punta Norte. You must arrive there a good three hours before high tide and continue to stay there for up to three hours after high tide. Meanwhile, the tour group is in contact with the researchers of the Orca Project and the conservation authority of Chubut Province. As soon as the orcas are sighted by the observers, the PNOR (Punta Norte Orca Research) researchers receive details of the animals’ whereabouts by radio. They then try to identify the animals. The whales can often be seen patrolling along the coast to check for young sea lions playing in the waves.
What everyone is really waiting for is the opportunity to watch a heavy whale use its spectacular hunting technique (called “deliberate stranding” by researchers) to take a juvenile off the beach. The activities of the orcas can be observed from the beach. On days when the orcas do not show up to hunt on the beaches, or when weather conditions do not allow the whales to hunt, alternative programmes are offered. Other inhabitants of the Patagonian coast – such as foxes or armadillos, seabirds, herons and turkey vultures are also often seen in Punta Norte. The huge sea lion colonies are a spectacular sight with around 1000 young at this time of year. A visit to a local fishing village is also on the programme. Overnight stay at The Paradise Hostería. (B&B)
[image gallery urls= “https://insidertrip.de/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/REL-Orca-jagt-Seeelphant-einmalig.jpg, https://insidertrip.de/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Patagonien_Halbinsel-Valdes_insidertrip-3-scaled.jpg, https://insidertrip.de/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/REL-Orca-jagt-Seeelphant-einmalig.jpg” titles=”Orca Attack, Elephant Seals, Orca Hunting Elephant Seals”]
DAY 15 – Departure
If there is a morning tide, watch the orcas again from the attack channel. Transfer to Trelew Airport in the evening. (B&B)
Travel dates Great Orca Photo Safari
Prices Great Orca Photo Safari
From 5.990,00 €* per person in double room
600,00 € surcharge for single room
*Prices for film teams are calculated separately. Please enquire with us directly.
- Four nights in a double room in the Hotel Los Acantilados including breakfast
- Two nights in a double room at the Hotel in Sarmiento including breakfast
- Eight nights in a double room at The Paradise Hostería including breakfast
- All transfers from Comodoro Rivadavia Airport/to Trelew Airport
- German speaking guide and English speaking local guides
- Photo permit for Puerto Deseado, Sarmiento and photo permit for Chubut province with ranger in the attack channel in Punta Norte
- Visit to the Orca Project in Punta Norte
- All excursions mentioned in the programme
- National park fees
- Group size: min. 8, max. 8 persons
Services not included
- Scheduled flights to Comodoro Rivadavia/ from Trelew
- Bus transfers between international and domestic airports in Buenos Aires
- Meals not listed
- Insurance (Cancellation insurance and international health insurance are strongly recommended)
Important booking information
- Registration with documentation of photographic equipment. The booking can only be confirmed after authorisation of the equipment by the National Park Authority.
- 20% deposit of the tour price upon booking (non-refundable)
- 30% deposit of the tour price 120 days or more before departure (non-refundable)
- Final payment 6 weeks before departure (non-refundable)
All transfers and nature observations are carried out together with the participants of the Orca Nature Safari. Please note that excursions are subject to weather conditions and therefore without guarantee. Accommodation and itinerary are subject to change without further notice due to unforeseen circumstances. An extension of the trip with seven additional days at the Orca Attack Channel is possible.