Peninsula Valdes and Iguacu Falls

with Elston and Jackie Hill

March/April 2013
The Valdes Peninsula  is a peninsula on the Atlantic coast in Argentina in Patagonia. It is an important nature reserve which
was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

The only town on the peninsula is the small settlement of Puerto Piramides. There are also a number of estancias where
sheep are raised. Most of the peninsula is barren land with some salt lakes.

Our specific reason for visiting the Peninsula was to see the Orcas beach to grab sea lion and elephant seal pups.

Iguacu Falls is in Northern Argentina on the border with Brazil.

At the bottom of this page is information on doing this trip yourself.

Below are links to accounts of this trip. Or, just click the first link and at the bottom of each page you will find a link to the next  
page in this series.
About the Trip.

We booked our trip originally as a five days of photographer of Orcas beaching and feeding on sea lion pups with
Cheeseman's. I had heard a lot of people praise Cheeseman's for the quality of the trips and the small group numbers.

After I booked the trip, I used our miles to book a month long stay in Argentina. For months we tried to figure out what to do
with our extra time. Then Gail Cheeseman called and provided us with two new options. A German gentleman by the name of
Frank Wirth was leading a tour the week before. So we chose to join the German group.

When we booked the segment with  Frank we did not realize that we had two days in between his trip and the Cheeseman
activities, so we got ourselves a car rental for those two days.

After the Cheeseman activity, we stayed at the Estancia Ernestina. Someone had cancelled a reservation, so we managed to
get their four days thanks to Gail. Gail Cheeseman is a wonderful person and did so much to make this trip a success.

I am glad we had the extra days. I would have felt a bit disappointed and rushed with only the five full days with Cheeseman's,
particularly since seeing the Orcas is more of a challenge than I expected.

Cheeseman's provides a quality trip. The permits are expensive, and you should be a somewhat sophisticated photographer.
When one couple with the Cheeseman's group showed up with a Point and Shoot camera, the ranger head complained to our
Argentinian guide that the permits are meant for a higher level of photographer.

Going on your own is not that difficult. Joe from Hong Kong was spending a month at the public lookout taking pictures with his
600mm and 200-400mm lenes. He told us that his total costs were $100 a day including car rental and lodging, much less than
any tour group. And what was so nice the two days we drove out on our own was our ability to stop and take photos along the
way based on our interests. At Punta Norte you will meet like minded people who will help you know what to do.

We had a good time with Frank Wirth and it helped that we did not have high expectations. The Germans were very pleasant
to be with and everyone in the group of 30 was timely even on the mornings that we departed at 6 a.m. for the hour drive to
Punta Norte. There are issues with Frank's travel group. It included both a few professional photographers who were closer in
age to us as well as a large number of fairly young adventurers. The photographers who had permits on the beach felt there
was a conflict between goals of the two groups. We enjoyed very much being the oldest participants in a group of 30 people!

The best option is Estancia Ernestina. It has facilites for up to eight people, but the group is usually smaller.  Several of the
guests at the Estancia were photographers who started out with Frank and discovered the advantages of the Estancia.
Lodging is five minutes form the sea lions rather than a one hour drive each way and includes access to private beaches not
available to others.  Juan can also arrange photo permits at the Attack Channel. Food was good and everything was included.
Call me if I can be of any hep in arranging your trip to the Peninsula. Main problem with the Estancia is that it is booked out to
2016 and Juan is not sure how long he will continue to provide his outings to his private beaches and the Estancia is not

As far as Iguacu Falls, do everything on your own. We stayed at the Sheraton. We did not take tours and I would mostly advise
against tours. Go into the park when it opens at 8 a.m. For the first 90 minutes, we saw no one else but ourselves.  And if you
have a Brazilian Visa, do go to the Brazilian side. We arranged a private car with driver at one of the little shops at the hotel
and spent one morning in Brazil. The driver handled all border crossing issues and charged us $100 US for the 80 mile round
trip drive and border crossing.