Is Puerto Madryn Patagonia’s steppe-child? The answer is yes. Read more about what makes it a steppe-child and four reasons we should show this little town some love.
It’s no doubt that when you think of Patagonia you think of the Argentina’s many alluring national parks stapled with towering glaciers against distinctly shaped mountains. But what about the Patagonia steppe that rests along the East Atlantic Ocean in Puerto Madryn, and why is nobody talking about it?
I can best describe Puerto Madryn and the steppe as an ecoregion that (in my opinion) got the short end of the stick. It’s full of grassland planes but no trees and scrubby vegetation. It’s too dry to support a forest and yet too dry to be called a desert and violent windstorms are no stranger to the steppe either.
Why should we visit this tiny town then?
Here are 4 Reasons to Visit Puerto Madryn:
- The Whales and Orcas: If you ever wanted to know it felt like to step into a National Geographic documentary come visit Puerto’s Madryn. You’ll see mama whales and their calves swim so close to the bay you could swim with them, literally, like 20 feet away from the shore. It’s also free! We love free things. 🙂
- Other Wildlife: sea elephants, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, exotic birds, guanacos… you name it. There’s no shortage out here to get up close to the sea lions who will literally park themselves on a staircase connected to Puerto Madryn’s only pier, the penguins that swim between beaches so close that you might even have one pop up close next to you when you’re taking a dip at sea. Or just a couple of hours south in Punto Tombo, there’s a large colony of Magellanic penguins you can walk next to; it’s also the largest such colony in South America.
- Camping: if you’re a backpacker or just love the idea of camping, you can beach camp here for free along an entire coast of protected waters. Many of the beaches feel as though it were privately your own.
- The People: I spent three weeks volunteering and drinking maté with the Puerto Madryn park rangers and they were some of the nicest, intelligent, and relaxed group I’ve met on my travels. I also spent time learning to make empanadas and make lavender products on a family lavender farm. It was a great way for me to practice my Spanish, exchange cultural differences, and even learn how to party like a local Argentine being invited to a birthday party!
The best time to visit is June through September during Argentina’s summer with the peak season being in October.