Accommodations and Food
Puerto Pirámides has sprouted many more places to stay, eat, and recreate than ever before, but demand is high. In summer and in the whale-watching season, reservations are advisable. There are estancia accommodations scattered around Punta Delgada, Caleta Valdés, and Punta Norte, but no camping is permitted beyond Puerto Pirámides.
Immediately behind the dunes, the shoreline Camping Municipal (tel. 02965/15-38-3874, US$8 pp) charges separately for showers (water is limited and the showers timed). The bathrooms are clean, and a store carries basic supplies, but few sites have shade.
The next cheapest option is Hospedaje El Español (Avenida de las Ballenas s/n, tel. 02965/49-5025, US$49 pp dorm, US$1737 s or d), which can accommodate up to 36 people in Spartan accommodations with shared baths. On the approach to town, Hostería ACA (tel. 02965/49-5004, www.piramides.net, US$24/35 s/dmotelacapiramides.com, US$40 s, US$63 d, for members,; US$30/44 50 s/, US$78 d, for nonmembers) was once Piramides’s top choice and has recently been spruced up. At the member price, which members of foreign affiliates can take advantage of, it’s an excellent value.
At Hostería La Estancia del Sol (Avenida de las Ballenas s/n, tel. 02965/49-5007, hosteria_estanciadelsol [at] hotmail [dot] com, US$66 d) plain but reasonably spacious rooms, immaculately clean, are the rule.is a step up, but by no means extravagant.
Its handsome brick superstructure mimicking Chubut’s Welsh heritage, the inviting Hostería Paradise (Avenida de las Ballenas s/n, tel./fax 02965/49-5003, www.hosteriaparadise.com.ar, US$180–218 s or d) is a substantial improvement on the usual utilitarian choices. Fixed-price lunches or dinners cost slightly more for foreigners than for Argentines; there’s a sandwich and pizza menu as well.
New in late 2008, set back from the main drag, the Hostería Ecológica del Nómade (Avenida de las Ballenas s/n, tel. 02965/49-5044, www.ecohosteria.com.ar, US$145–170 s or d) is a new eight-room accommodation designed to minimize its carbon footprint and water consumption in this desert area; it does so without sacrificing style.
In a casual ambience blending traditional artifacts and artwork with pop music, La Estación (Avenida de la Ballenas s/n, tel. 02965/49-5047) serves excellent fresh fish and salads, but the kitchen is slow and the service amateurish.
On the bluffs overlooking Punta Delgada, alongside the lighthouse at RP 2’s east end, Hotel Punta Delgada (tel. 02965/15-40-6304, www.puntadelgada.com) is an upgraded property on lease from the navy. It offers a lovely location and good access to wildlife, including penguins and elephant seals. With 30 comfortable doubles, its high-season (September 1–January 1) rates are US$180 s or US$220 d with breakfast, US$228 s or US$316 d with half board, and US$273 s or US$406 d with full board; low-season rates, January 1–April 15, are about 10 percent less. Tour buses often stop at its restaurant, which is open to nonguests.
Near Punta Delgada, run by a young Madryn couple, the best tourist-oriented estancia is Estancia Rincón Chico (Almirante Brown 1783, Puerto Madryn, tel. 02965/15-68-8302 or 02965/47-1733, www.rinconchico.com.ar, US$333 s, US$474 d). Five kilometers south of RP 2, its purpose-built hotel has eight well-furnished doubles plus a quincho for barbecues. Three months of the year, they host elephant-seal researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz, as the seals frequent their long coastal frontage. Rates are all-inclusive, with all meals and activities but not drinks; they normally close in May and June.
In a sheltered depression west of Caleta Valdés, along RP 47, Estancia La Elvira (Hipólito Yrigoyen 257, Local 2, Puerto Madryn, tel. 02965/15-66-9153 or 02965/47-4248, www.laelvira.com.ar) lacks Rincón Chico’s mature landscaping, but the rooms and common areas are attractive enough. Rates are US$190 s or US$280 d with half board, and US$215 s or US$330 d with full board. Near the elephant seal colony, they also operate the roadside Parador Punta Cantor (tel. 02965/15-40-6183), which gets lunchtime tour buses.
Toward Punta Norte, just west of RP 47, the amiable six-room Estancia la Ernestina (tel. 02965/15-66-1079, tel. 02965/45-8061 in Puerto Madryn, www.laernestina.com) offers easy access to Estancia San Lorenzo’s large penguin colony. Three of the rooms have only two baths among them. Rates are US$240 s or US$390 d with full board, drinks, and excursions.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition