Southern right whales return to Patagonia
Tours of South America often provide the opportunity to get close to nature thanks to an abundance of both fauna and flora, with Patagonia in Argentina one of the best places on the continent to see an array of wildlife.
And those who head to this part of the world on an overland adventure in the second half of the year may get a chance to see one the most memorable sights in nature, with the arrival of thousands of southern right whales off the coast of Argentina.
It was recently reported that the first right whale pods of 2012 have now arrived at the Patagonian coastline.
The whales spend the summers in Antarctic waters and head north up the Atlantic coast in the winter.
Argentina's Valdes peninsula, located in Patagonia's Chubut Province, sees one of the world's largest concentrations of southern right whales each year, with around 2,000 individuals migrating to the coastal waters.
Tourists from all around flock to the region to see the whales between the months of June and December, with the animals coming to within 200m of the main beach of the province's capital of Puerto Madryn.
Southern right whales can grow up to 15 metres long and weigh anything up to 47 tonnes and are easily recognisable by the large, rough calluses on their heads, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye.
The whales can only be found in the southern hemisphere as they are intolerant of the warm waters around the equator, preventing them from migrating further north.
Aside from the whales, the Valdes Peninsula is home to a rich array of wildlife, including marine mammals such as sea lions, elephant seals and fur seals.
Inland, populations of rheas, guanacos - a type of llama - and maras - a giant relative of the guinea pig - can be found.