The 6 Best Places to See Wildlife in Argentina

When one thinks of wildlife destinations, the first places to come to mind is probably an African safari, Australia, or even the Galapagos. You’re probably not expecting a country like Argentina to be a major wildlife destination.

I know I wasn’t. However, after a decade here I’ve fallen in love with the wild animals in Argentina. And you may be asking yourself, what animals live in Argentina?

Well, you can go whale watching in Patagonia and see penguins at the southern tip of South America. Go kayaking next to capybara in the northeast and search for llamas, vicuñas or guanacos in the northwestern desert. Argentina wildlife is everywhere and this post details the 6 best destinations.

A furry beige llama stares directly into the camera in Argentina

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Where to See Wildlife in Argentina: 6 Destinations to Explore

If you’re dying to see Argentina wildlife and don’t know where to start, this post is here to help. Here are the 6 top places to see wildlife in Argentina from the southern tip of Patagonia to the jungles of northeastern Misiones.

1. Whales, Seals, and Penguins in Peninsula Valdes

If you can only visit on place on this list, let it be the Valdes Peninsula on Patagonia’s Atlantic coast. Most use nearby city of Puerto Madryn as a base, but for the ultimate Patagonia animals experience you should stay on the peninsula itself in Puerto Piramides.

Argentina wildlife to be look for on the Peninsula Valdes | Southern Right Whales, Orcas, Magallanes Penguins, Elephant Seals, Sea Lions, Guanacos.
    A large male sea lion is surrounded by females and baby sea lions on a rocky cliff near the water on an Argentina wildlife excursion in Patagonia

    There are wildlife viewpoints all over the peninsula and you need at least two days to explore it without being rushed.

    The best time to visit is from September through November. During these months the animals return to Valdes to breed and have their young. This is when to visit if you want to go whale watching in Argentina but sea lions, seals, and penguins are also reproducing at that time.

    Looking for a hard to see but spectacular sighting? Spend a couple hours before and after high tide at Punta Norte where orcas frequently beach themselves in pursuit of adolescent seals.

    For more information, read about how I spent four days admiring Patagonia animals on the Peninsula Valdes.

    2. See Endangered ANimals in Argentina at the Iberá Wetlands

    Argentina’s wetlands may not have been on your radar previously, but if you want to see interesting animals that live in Argentina, plan a visit to Iberá!

    Like Peninsula Valdes, the best time to visit the wetlands is in the spring. If you want to plan the ultimate Argentina wildlife itinerary, visit both of these destinations from September-November.

    Argentina wildlife to be look for in the Ibera Wetlands | Capybara, caiman, marsh deer, howler monkeys, anaconda, giant anteater, epic birdwatching opportunities.
      A caiman and other wild animals in Argentina swim in the marshy waters of the Iberá wetlands

      Los Esteros del Iberá are located in northeast Argentina in Corrientes. It’s a bit off the beaten path, making this destination ideal for the intrepid travelers looking to escape the crowds.

      You’ll see previously endangered animals in Argentina here, like marsh deer, caiman, and capybara, that have been successfully reintroduced to the wild. What was once in danger is now impossible to miss, capybara and caiman are everywhere here.

      Birdwatchers particularly will fall in love with Iberá, there are 315 species of bird here (see them all here)! The best way to go birdwatching in Argentina or see the wildlife is by a boat excursion with a local guide.

      For more information on booking these excursions and planning your Argentina wetland safari, read my practical Esteros del Iberá guide.

      3. Walk Among Animals of Patagonia in Ushuaia

      Visit the most southern tip of the Americas in Ushuaia to see some of the coolest animals of Patagonia. It’s COLD this far south, so the best time of year to visit is in warmer summer months (December to February).

      However, you’re able to view the penguins for much longer, starting in September all the way through April. Note than Argentine’s travel in January so Ushuaia will be most crowded and prices at their highest then.

      Argentina wildlife to be look for in Ushuaia | Gentoo and Magellanics penguins, sea lions, canadian beavers, guanacos, among others.
        Penguins in Ushuaia | Source:  Diego Grandi © 123RF.com

        Penguins in Ushuaia | Source: Diego Grandi © 123RF.com

        There are two kinds of penguins to see in Ushuaia and they’re really the star of the show. Go on a boat excursion through the Beagle Channel and walk among penguins on Martillo Island on this highly-rated tour. Let me repeat myself, walk among penguins!!!

        Along with the must-experience Beagle Channel, there are so many outdoor experiences to take advantage of in Ushuaia. Search for foxes, beavers and go bird watching on one of the many beautiful hiking trails.

        To plan the ultimate Patagonia wildlife itinerary, visit boththe Peninsula Valdes and Ushuaia.

        4. See Jungle Wildlife in Iguazu

        Chances are you’ve already heard of Iguazu Falls, but you may not have considered it a wildlife destination. But there is so much life in this patch of Argentine rain forest!

        Argentina wildlife to be look for in Iguazu | Coatis, monkeys, toucans are all common. Rare animals at risk of extinction include the jaguar, giant anteater, ocelot and tapir.
           
          A coati sits on a tree branch in Iguazu
           

          You don’t have to go out of your way or on any special tour to see coatis, monkeys and toucans in Iguazu National Park. More likely, the coatis will find you.

          These animals have grown very used to humans here but you should still keep your distance. Do not pet them or feed them (two habits that too many tourists have a hard time breaking). Instead of feeding them, bring your camera and take pictures of this cute cousin to the raccoon.

          If you’re a birdwatcher, Iguazu has a lot to offer. Colorful birds abound in this jungle. You’ll see plenty just walking through the park’s many trails, but if you want to see rare species visit the GüiráOga sanctuary. They rescue injured animals and it is an ethical way to see more hard to find Argentina wildlife.

          For more information on Iguazu, read my ultimate guide to plan your trip.


          5. See Palms & Animals in El Palmar National Park

          This national park is famous for its namesake, the Yatay Palm, but there are also so many animals that call this park home.

          Argentina wildlife to be look for in El Palmar | Capybara, pampas fox, South American otter, vizcacha, and a number of unique species of bird.
            Penguins in Ushuaia | Source:  Anibal Trejo © 123RF.com

            Penguins in Ushuaia | Source: Anibal Trejo © 123RF.com

            If you want to see capybara and a green, lush landscape but the Ibera Wetlands are too far out of your way, El Palmar might be a healthy compromise. This national park is in Entre Rios and is a bit closer to capital city Buenos Aires.

            In just four short hours by car, you’ll find yourself at the gates of El Palmar. Besides the beautiful palm trees, you can see countless capybara, fox, and colorful birds. Bring your binoculars!

            6. Spot Llamas and Vicuñas in Jujuy

            Jujuy is well-known for it’s colorful landscapes and rich culture, but if you keep your eyes peeled near the salt flats you’ll spot three different cousins of the camel!

            Argentina wildlife to be look for in Jujuy | Llamas, vicuñas, and guanacos.
              Two vicuña stand next to each other on the puna in northwest Argentina, an unexpected Argentina wildlife destination.

              You’ll see vicuñas and llamas in the Andean high plains (or Altiplano, seen above). The most common destination here are the Salinas Grandes salt flats that lie across the border of Salta and Jujuy.

              Guanacos are more likely to be seen in the mountains, so keep your eyes peeled when crossing those high mountain passes.

              Quick disclaimer that since llamas are domesticated I suppose I shouldn’t include them as wildlife, but… they’re too cute not to include!

              If you want to plan a trip to Jujuy (my favorite province in all of Argentina) read my Jujuy itinerary as well as my Salta and Jujuy road trip itinerary for all the important information.

              Top 6 Argentina Wildlife Destinations

              So, if you’re still asking yourself where to see wild animals in Argentina… the answer is really, EVERYWHERE. These are the 6 best places to see wildlife in Argentina, but this country is a nature lover’s paradise.

              Wherever you travel across Argentina, you’re likely to see beautiful wild animals, flora, and birds, so keep your eyes open, whether you’re in Patagonia or the Northeastern jungle.

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