“ There is literally no other place like it in the world.”
If you love nature, have we got a treat in store for you! From tiny little creatures who hide in the coastal shrubs to one of the most spectacular wildlife events in the world where the orca hurl themselves out of the water to capture sealion pups, Estancia La Ernestina is a unique place.
Depending on the season, we plan to head out each day onto the Estancia (Ranch) or the beaches to seek out wildlife in its natural habitat. After more than a century of living on this property, our family knows unique spots to view the creatures that make this place their home too.
We may go at dawn to watch the sunrise… or return home just after sunset. It all depends on the weather and the wildlife.
Our guest gather to watch the sealions playing in the surf as the sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean. © La Ernestina.
We have worked with world-renowned documentary film crews and wildlife photographers, so we understand the desire to sit quietly and allow the wildlife to just ‘do their thing’. We believe in allowing the animals to become used to us, so that we don’t disturb them. If you are after parties and shopping, then drive right past our place! But if you want to disconnect from the stress of the city, to sit and enjoy nature at its pace, then come visit and stay a while!
Below are some images taken on our excursions. Please check out our
Animal Calendar to give you an idea of what animals you can see when.
Sitting on the beach during orca season, we are often rewarded with a group of orca passing right by us. We are accompanied by the researchers from Punta Norte Orca Research who share their knowledge with us. © La Ernestina.
Guanacos occasionally head down to the beach and may forage on the seaweed that washes up. © La Ernestina.
Morning yoga anyone? A female sealion scratches her back at low tide. © La Ernestina.
The wide open spaces and horizons that open your heart and your mind are just a few of things that make La Ernestina so special. This photo is taken from El Faro (the Lighthouse), looking towards Medina Bay, a popular spot for the orca to hunt. © La Ernestina.
During the sealion pupping season the orca approach the beaches to intentional strand while hunting for the unsuspecting pups. © La Ernestina.
An armadillo decides to check out our equipment. The wildlife has become habituated to our being in their home as they go about their lives. © La Ernestina.
The Punta Norte lighthouse is an iconic feature at La Ernestina. No matter the time of day it makes for a great photographic subject. © La Ernestina.
A times life imitates the light house too… here after a heavy rain shower a small mushroom erupts from the sand nearby. © La Ernestina.
The one that got away! – An orca intentionally stranding to try and catch a sealion pup, just misses and must now fight gravity to return to the ocean. © La Ernestina.
A very rare sight; a cloud of dragon flies arrives at the coast. Harmless to humans they are ferocious insect catchers, but also they make great food for the birds. The cycle of life happening right in front of us. Being at La Ernestina is so often like taking part in a documentary. © La Ernestina.
A guanaco looks out to sea as the orca arrive. © La Ernestina.
Do you like to photograph wildlife and scenery? Then you are in for a treat at Estancia La Ernestina. Small groups of like-minded folks set out on each excursion and we spend the day making the most of what nature has to show us. © La Ernestina.
At Medina Bay a small group of orca scare all the sealions out of the water. One orca lifts her head out to gaze at the sealion pups. © La Ernestina.
One of our guests looks from the safari-style seat of the Land Rover, at a Magellanic penguin with extra white pigmentation (a penguin with the typical colour can seen next to the bush on the right). © La Ernestina.
Making the most of our excursions, we take picnic lunches to the beach with us. Wearing layers makes it easy to adjust to the cold wind or warm days. © La Ernestina.
Waiting patiently on the beach at Medina Bay we are often investigated by sealion pups. © La Ernestina.
The famous behaviour that the orca of Punta Norte are known for, intentional stranding to capture sealion pups. © La Ernestina.
Smaller predators can be found too – here one captures a fly. © La Ernestina.
Sunrise at the private beach of La Ernestina. What might the day bring? © La Ernestina.
But it isn’t always pups who fall victim to the orca, here an adult sealion is thrust into the air, in the mouth of an adult orca. © La Ernestina.
When we are out and about we are also looking for the small things that make Estancia La Ernestina so special – here, a cactus flower blooms near the edge of the pebble beach. © La Ernestina.
Two southern right whales swim close to the beach at La Ernestina (these whales have no dorsal fin, making them very distinctive in the whale world). Hunted almost to extinction because they were the ‘right’ whale to capture (slow swimming, lots of blubber and often close to shore), this endangered species is just one of the many natural wonders you might encounter on one of our excursions. © La Ernestina.
Travelling on the private trails of Estancia La Ernestina at Punta Norte, you never know what you might see ………
… a herd of guanacoes right alongside the coastline, with youngsters (called chulengos) ………
…. a snake slithering past…..
… or a solitary penguin at its burrow entrance. © La Ernestina.
We provide exclusive access with our guides to the beaches, where elephant seals and sealions spend their days. © La Ernestina.
In the canyons that abound the Punta Norte area we have wildlife ‘trail cameras’ that are triggered by movement. They help us document the extensive wildlife that can be found on our property. Here a Geoffroy’s cat ( Leopardus geoffroyi) is photographed. Normally nocturnal, these native cats are very rarely seen at Península Valdés. © La Ernestina.
A spider hanging in its web becomes the subject of the moment by one of our guests. The small creatures that make La Ernestina their home all part of what makes this place to special to us. © La Ernestina.
As the sun rises over the sealion colony a giant petrel glides overhead. © La Ernestina.
A Magellanic penguin heads up the beach after a day of fishing. © La Ernestina.
A Southern elephant seal pup cools off in a rock pool at one of the beaches of Estancia La Ernestina. Join us on one of our excursions to see wildlife doing what wildlife does! © La Ernestina.
El Faro (the lighthouse) as clouds role in and bring a warning of wind. © La Ernestina.
If you have the patience, the tiny creatures will come out of the coastal shrubs and give you a glimpse into their lives. © La Ernestina.
The power of the predator is evident in these intentional strandings. © La Ernestina.
Once captured a sealion is often batted into the air. There are a number of theories to why this might happen, including precision training for the orca and debilitating the sealion so it can’t defend itself or swim off. No matter the reason behind it, the power required to hit a seal high into the air is unmistakable. © La Ernestina.
As the day draws to a close we enjoy the subtle colours of the evening sky, before heading back for a hearty meal and some fine wines. © La Ernestina.
While sitting on the beach awaiting the arrival of the orca, we are often treated to other visitors. In this case a penguin has just arrived from a trip out fishing and it walked right up to and through our group. © La Ernestina.
The male South American sealions have large shoulder and necks, which with the additional fur, gives a hint as to why they are known in English as sea “lions”. © La Ernestina.
Estancia La Ernestina has thousands of nesting Magellanic penguins, but the expanse of the colony is not obvious because they nest in burrows, typically at the base of rugged coastal shrubs. © La Ernestina.
Giant flowering heads from cactus plants are silhouetted against the evening sky. © La Ernestina.
An adult male orca, known as Mel, was perhaps one of the most famous orca of the region. He featured in many documentaries and hunted right in front of our guests on many occasions. Sadly, he hasn’t been seen for a number of years now, but the other orca who come to Punta Norte are continuing on with this culture and we invite you to join us on one of our excursions to see this spectacular behaviour. See the Wildlife Calendar to find the date that best suits you. © La Ernestina.
Get involved in protecting this unique location. Our guests contribute in many ways – from donating to build fences, to helping put the signs up and donating photos for the Punta Norte Orca Research identification project, which Estancia La Ernestina supports. © La Ernestina.
At times we can travel on the roof of the jeeps to view the landscapes as we travel to the wildlife hotspots. © La Ernestina.
A sealion walks up the beach towards us. After years of taking guests to the beach, the animals recognise that we are not a threat to them and are very curious. © La Ernestina.
A day at the beach and it makes you wonder who is watching who? (if they had cameras they might be taking photos too!). © La Ernestina.
Photographing an orca as it arrives at Medina Bay, moments later another member of this group attempted to capture a sealion pup (below). © La Ernestina.
Not every attack is successful, but the chance to view it certainly is! © La Ernestina.
The head of an impressive fish, likely one of the species that the orca target when they are not catching sealions. © La Ernestina.
A Darwin’s rhea casually strolls alongside the road . © La Ernestina.
Looking for insects on the beach, birds of all varieties come to visit. © La Ernestina.
A young elephant seal pup, newly weaned and going through a moult, scratches its chin. © La Ernestina.