An all-inclusive stay in Argentina’s answer to the Galapágos
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Beach | Natural world | Wildlife
Edging the Patagonian Steppe, the Valdés Peninsula is a veritable hotbed for wildlife with petrified forests and desert canyons, home to foxes, armadillos and rheas. And, between June and November, you’ll be able to spot southern right whales just off the shore while sea lions come even closer in what is part of the Patagonia Austral Marine National Park. Ornithologists are also well catered for with rookeries of penguins, ducks and giant petrels. Bahia Bustamante itself lays claim to some 200,000 acres of rugged coastline and interiors at the end of the world. But it’s well worth the trip.
Starting life as a sheep estancia and seaweed farm, the village retains much of its rural charm in simple yet comfortable rooms. It’s a huddle of eleven whitewashed houses with five one-bedroom cottages set back on the steppe and six two beds bordering the ocean. While each come with a separate living space, a fully equipped kitchen and a porch, electricity is turned off at 11pm and WiFi is only available in the communal space. However, it’s a small price to pay for its stunning location. Guests also enjoy its characterful quirks; you’ll find lamb blankets on the bed as the village still relies on its agricultural economy.
At the estancia, much of its welcoming atmosphere owes something to the excellent home cooked food. Using organic ingredients from local farms – some of which lie just outside the village – the chef prepares hearty delights that showcase caught-that-day seafood. You’ll also find fire-roasted salt lamb, salad greens and indulgent puddings. Wash it all down with a fine Argentinian vintage. What’s more, the chef was trained at elBulli – a once three-star Michelin restaurant in Catalonia, Spain that bills itself as one of the most experimental in the world.
Your days are spent on guided explorations of the region with loose schedules fitting around your preferences and the weather. Whether you fancy trekking, a 4WD tour or a horseback ride, there’s a route for everyone to go in search of the native wildlife. A particular favourite is the furry guanaco, a camelid relative of the llama. Heading to the shore is equally rewarding as elephant seals sun themselves on rocks and orcas dart through the waters. There’s also a colony of 100,000 magellanic penguins spread out over the peninsula.
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