Approaching San Rafael Glacier
Cruise Expeditions

Chiloe and Northern Archipelagos Voyage

Approaching San Rafael Glacier

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Chiloe and Northern Archipelagos Voyage

Discover a faraway land connecting two worlds — Andes and Atlantic — as you survey volcanoes, wildlife, forests and glacial lakes interspersed along the Andean foothills. From the temperate rainforests of pristine Parque Tepuhueico to enormous, 30,000-year-old glaciers radiating from the great Northern Ice Field, International Expeditions tour to Chiloe and northern Patagonia blends extraordinary wildlife, natural beauty and expedition cruising with the charming culture of the Chilotes. Join us on this matchless and stimulating expedition to experience this striking land of contrast and unspoiled nature.

Uncover Rich Traditions

Discover distinct Chiloé Island, a small, green isle populated by scattered villages where homes, boats and the famed churches are still built using the techniques taught by generations past. A closer look at the Chilote people reveals a rich spiritual culture that is based on a distinctive mythology of witchcraft, ghost ships and forest gnomes.

Wildlife of Northern Patagonia

On this Patagonia tour, excursions into the countryside expose wonders such as Puñihuil penguin colony, where visitors get a glimpse at the rare combination of nesting Magellanic and Humboldt penguin colonies. Along the shores of an iceburg-choked lagoon near the active San Rafael Glacier black-browed albatross, huala duck, black-necked swan and cormorant are frequently found. There is no better way to experience these wonders than under the leadership of a professional naturalist IE Expedition Leader and onboard the vessel Skorpios II.

Optional Pre-Trip Extensions

Chile Lake District Extension

Santiago Pre-Trip Extension

Lake Crossing Extension for Chiloe Main Program

Daily Itinerary

Chiloe and Northern Archipelagos Itinerary

  • Day
    1-2

    Depart Home City / Puerto Montt / Puerto Varas

    Fly independently to Puerto Montt, Chile, where you are met upon arrival and transferred to Hotel Cabaña del Lago, your home for the night, in Puerto Varas. Join your Expedition Leader and fellow travelers for dinner this evening. (D)
  • Day
    3

    Embark / Patagonia Cruise

    Embark the Skorpios II in Puerto Montt to discover Chile's Lake District. This area is known for its incredible mountain landscapes, impressive and ancient rainforests and by being the starting point of a huge archipelagic labyrinth extending to the wild regions of western Patagonia. Sail from Puerto Montt through the Llanquihue Archipelago, Ancud Gulf, Chiloe Archipelago and Corcovado Gulf. On a clear day, you have the opportunity to observe the volcanoes and towering peaks of the Andes! Heavy rainfall creates a dense southern forest, rich in a large variety of trees, plants and flowers. The most outstanding are the Chilco or fuchsia; the giant ferns; the Ciprés de las Guaitecas (Pilgerodenrdon Uniferum), whose wood does not rot; the Canelo (drimys winteri), the sacred tree of the Mapuche; Lenga beeches, and the millenary larches. They also have the nalca or pangue — Chilean rhubarb (gunnera tinctoria), with its huge leaves which the local Indians use as shelter from the rain and for cooking. Ferns and colorful flowers contrast with the evergreen forests. The Patagonian fauna is varied: sea lion, dolphin, whale, leopard seal, steamer duck, cormorant, chucao tapaculo, gull and ringed kingfisher. We are likely to see pods of Peale's dolphin, groups of South American sea lion and an array of seabirds including southern giant petrel, sooty and pink-footed shearwaters, imperial and red-legged cormorants, Peruvian pelican and South American tern. Look for groups of black-necked swan, actively feeding on algae along the shore. This afternoon visit the picturesque Chilote village of Quemchi. See one of the famous wooden churches as well as the handicraft market. The many wooden churches of Chiloe, some of which have been declared a collective UNESCO World Heritage Site, have a distinct wooden construction inspired by shipbuilding. Friendly locals are sure to greet you. Continue sailing south late this afternoon. Blue whales have been sighted in the Golfo de Corcovado for the past several years, and might be seen from the ship. (B,L,D)
  • Day
    4

    Patagonia Cruise

    As you sail, watch for black-browed albatross, as well as royal and Salvin’s albatross. Navigate the Moraleda, where orca are occasionally observed, and Ferronave Channels, arriving in the remote fishing village of Puerto Aguirre. The Chonos people settled here in the heart of the Archipelago de las Guaitecas. The village’s 1,800 inhabitants, most of whom earn their living fishing, are always welcoming and warm, acting as guides and chatting as we make our way through town. Stroll Puerto Aguirre’s concrete cobbled streets before hiking along an Austral forest path watching for birdlife. Set sail through Ferronave, Pilcomayo and Costa Channels to Punta Pescadores where you'll hike along the beach to observe the Patagonian flora and fauna and hear about the Chonos people who once inhabited this land. (B,L,D)
  • Day
    5

    Patagonia Cruise

    Cross San Rafael Lagoon to view San Rafael Glacier aboard excursion boats. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve was discovered four centuries ago by the Spanish navigator Juan García Teo. This 30,000-year-old glacier is known for its distinct large, blue ice-floes. The steel excursion boats easily navigate the ice-choked waters. San Rafael is a highly active glacier, with breaks and calving commonly observed. Early explorers reported that in 1800 the glacier filled three-quarters of the lagoon, and photos from the early 20th century show it as being far longer. It is estimated that by the year 2030, the glacier will be gone. Later today, sail closer to the glacier for an up-close view before sailing north to Quitralco Fjord. (B,L,D)
  • Day
    6

    Patagonia Cruise

    Spend the day exploring Quitralco Fjord, an ancient glacier bed surrounded by mountains and vibrant vegetation. Enjoy a dip in the hot springs, taking advantage of the pure thermal waters after a day of boating excursions through the fjords and trekking through the southern rainforest. This site was declared a Natural Sanctuary by the Chilean National Monuments Council. Quitralco which means “Waters of Fire” was a resting place for the canoeing Indian tribes that hunted and gathered in the area. Lunch is a full Patagonian barbecue served ashore. Later this evening, sail north, navigating the Moraleda and Perez Norte channels. (B,L,D)
  • Day
    7

    Patagonia Cruise

    Cross the Corcovado Gulf where, conditions permitting, we search for migrating blue and humpback whales, which can be found December through March. This morning, visit Islote Conejos at Quelien channel. Here you'll explore the island and enjoy viewing the Magellanic penguins and other birdlife. Sail north to charming Dalcahue, one of Chiloe's loveliest towns. In Huillche, Dalcahue means “places of dalcas”, referring to the boats built by the first inhabitants of this archipelago. Here you will find Nuestra Señora de Los Dolores Church, built by Jesuit missionaries in 1849..Admire the wooden church and spend time strolling the promenade. Set sail again, for Puerto Montt. (B,L,D)
  • Day
    8

    Disembark / Chiloe Island: Puñihuil

    Disembark in Puerto Montt and enjoy a quick ferry ride across the Chacao Channel, which offers great wildlife viewing opportunities. Drive to Puñihuil, where you board a local boat to see one of the few mixed breeding colonies of Humboldt and Magellanic penguins. Marine otter, Magellanic cormorant, kelp goose and flightless steamer duck are all usually found here as well. Continue to Hotel Tepuhueico (Tepuhueico EcoLodge) in Parque Tepuhueico, your home for two nights. Venture out at night calling to attract the rufous-legged owl, nightjar, or other creatures of the night. (B,L,D)
  • Day
    9

    Chiloe Island: Tepuhueico

    Explore imposing Tepuhueico, a reserve where you hike the lush Valdivian humid forest. Look for pudu (the smallest deer in the world), Darwin´s fox, endemic slender-billed parakeet (common around the lodge), black-throated hued-hued, ochre-flanked tapaculo and Des Murs´ wiretail. The forest is also home to frogs and lizards that live among moss and fern-covered tree trunks of these dense, lush woods. This provides excellent chances for both wildlife and macro photography, as the miniature lichen, fungi and moss forests are home to a whole world of insects, amphibians and other tiny creatures living on the damp soil and old, fallen trees. Enjoy a scenic walk to a stunning waterfall, where ring-necked kingfishers like to hunt. (B,L,D)
  • Day
    10

    Chiloe Island: Towns and Churches / Parque Quilquico

    Explore the small towns and unique churches that make Chiloe an up-and-coming magnet for visitors. All the while you'll be amazed by the verdant and lush rolling hills that typify the island. In Achao you'll see the Church of Santa Maria de Loreto de Achao, built around 1740 and almost fully intact from the Jesuit era. Explore the small fishing village of Chonchi and other wonderful sites before arriving to Hotel Parque Quilquico for the night. Enjoy an authentic curanto barbecue, music and storytelling about the island’s interesting legends and traditions. (B,L,D)
  • Day
    11

    Chiloe Island / Santiago / Depart

    Join your Expedition Leader to explore the trails of this private 10 hectare reserve, where birding is excellent and the scenery is magnificent. Travel to Castro to board your group flight to Santiago, where you meet your independent connection home. (B,L)
  • Day
    12

    Arrive Home City

    Arrive home via independent connecting flights. (Meals Aloft) 

Things to Know

What is included in the price of IE's Chiloe trip?

Included in the price of your trip are the following.

Accommodations, excursions, meals and transportation as listed in the itinerary
Services of a private IE Expedition Leader
Park and entrance fees
Arrival and departure transfers between the group hotel and airport no matter what day or time
One soft drink or local beer per person per included lunch and dinner off the ship
Bottled water on excursions, group transfers, at included lunches and dinners and in rooms daily
Open bar with house brands during the cruise
All gratuities to group service staff except your IE Expedition Leader and Skorpios crew

What is the activity level on IE's Chiloe trip?

A trip to Chile requires good health and mobility. While we have time scheduled for rest and recuperation, your itinerary has a moderate pace, involving wildlife activities and transportation from place to place to ensure that you have maximized opportunity to interact with the wildlife and local culture. Consult your physician if you are in doubt about your ability to enjoy this adventure and please contact our office with any questions.

The drive between the airport/port in Puerto Montt and the hotel in Puerto Varas is about 30 minutes.    Your visit to Puerto Alguirre is while the ship is docked.  You will have to walk up hill through the town and through the park. This can be a little strenuous but we will take our time. You will have several excursions from the ship where you simply board the ship’s Hercules excursion boat.  This boat is very sturdy, covered, and not easy to enjoy. Walking at Quitralco Hot Springs will involve going uphill on a steep incline but with steps.  We will have level walking here as well.  Upon disembarkation you’ll drive a short ways from Puerto Montt to the ferry at Pargua.  The ferry ride is about 35 minutes. From there you spend the day on the road, visiting Puñihuil to see the penguins and for lunch before heading south to Parque Tepuhueico.  At Puñihuil you will explore by boat and on foot.  Here you will be on the ocean where you can experience some waves. The drive to the hotel is over good roads most of the way.  Once you enter the park the roads get bumpy, as park roads do.  Roads are in generally good shape other than that stretch. Your excursions in Parque Tepuhueico and Parque Quilquico are on foot and by boat.  Your walking excursions at Tepuhueico are on mostly flat terrain but with some hills and steps.  Parque Quilquico excursions involve walking up and down some steep hills on small, well-maintained paths.  This can be muddy but rewarding as you walk through farmers’ fields and meet the locals.  You will need to be able to walk and stand for up to three hours at a time.

What will the weather be like in Chile?

Our expedition takes place in the summer season, so we can expect long hours of light. Summer weather should be delightful, with sunny days and minimal chance of rain. The Puerto Montt region has a mild humid temperate climate with warm summers and no real dry season.

Is IE's Chiloe a "birding" trip?

This is not a birding-only trip. Our expedition is designed to provide opportunities to view as many types of wildlife as possible, from amphibians and reptiles to mammals and insects.  However, birds are ubiquitous and prolific, as well as beautiful and interesting, in the places you will be visiting.  As such, birds are a highlight and you can expect to enjoy seeing as many species as possible while still enjoying the other wildlife the region has to offer.

Do you offer optional extensions to IE's Chiloe trip?

We do offer optional extensions to other wonderful places in the region to enhance and complete your experience, should you choose to do so. Information on these extensions is listed on the webpage for this program and feel free to contact our office for more info. 

Are you able to customize a trip to Chile and/or Argentina to feature destinations and activities of my choice?

Yes! If our group itinerary does not suit your desires please contact our Custom Department where a specialist can craft the kind of experience that will make your adventure the trip of a lifetime.

Accommodations

Hotel Cabaña del Lago

Hotel Cabaña del Lago

With 157 lake-view rooms, Hotel Cabaña del Lago is a landmark in Puerto Varas. Overlooking the banks of Lake Llanquihue and the city of Puerto Varas, the Mirador del Lago Restaurant offers a menu highlighting local ingredients mixed with international flavors. The covered terrace and bar offer a cozy environment and amazing views of Lake Llanquihue. Standard rooms feature sitting area, large windows for lake and volcano views, LCD with cable TV, Wi-Fi, mini-bar, safety deposit box and electronic door.

chigoe ship skorpios ii

Skorpios II

The 55-cabin Skorpios II is designed to cruise the icy waters of Chile's fjords, with open decks providing magnificent vistas. It has five decks, Athens, Acropolis, Parthenon, Olympo and Athos. All cabins have private baths, heating, international phone system, TV, ventilation system and background music. All decks except the Athens have windows. You will be pampered with the fine onboard dining in the spacious dining room. International menus are complimented by fine Chilean wines. Aboard this family-run ship, you’ll find friendly, personalized service provided by the Kochifas family and their experienced crew.

chloe accommodations hotel tepuhueico

Hotel Tepuhueico

The boutique Hotel Tepuhueico (or Tepuhueico EcoLodge) is a frequent stop for birders and scientists who have conducted studies on various animal species and fossils. The hotel features a dining room with panoramic views of the trout-filled lake. Each of the seven spacious double rooms offers private bathroom; heat and hot water showers.

chiloe accommodations hotel parque quilquico

Hotel Parque Quilquico

Set in a 10 hectare nature reserve, Hotel Quilquico is perched on a hilltop overlooking the lush hills of Chiloe Island. Hotel Quilquico was designed by well-known architect Edward Rojas as an authentic “Chilote” village. The hotel boasts a 360-degree panoramic view of the whole area, accompanied by a cozy reading area and Satellite TV. This property does have Wi-Fi, free of charge. The 13 rooms feature beautiful views of native forest and the Dalcahue channel, and offer private bathroom, AC and heater, window with access to individual balcony, safe and phone.

NH Bariloche Edelweiss Hotel

The NH Bariloche Edelweiss is in a fantastic location right in the heart of San Carlos de Bariloche. Nahuel Huapi Lake is just steps away while the city’s shops and restaurants are only a five-minute walk. The 93-room hotel features an indoor swimming pool with great views on the top floor, a 24-hour gym and authentic Argentinian restaurant. Standard rooms feature safe, hair dryer, mini-bar and free Wi-Fi. 

Field Leaders

Patagonia guide Claudio Vidal

Claudio Vidal

Expedition Leader

Patagonia Expedition Leader Claudio Vidal is a native Chilean who is one of the leading field naturalists and ornithologists in South America. Living in Punta Arenas on the Strait of Magellan has helped foster his interest in the pelagic birdlife and marine mammals of Patagonia. A birdwatcher since the age of twelve, Claudio has co-authored many books, including Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Antarctic Peninsula and Torres del Paine - Wildlife & Landscapes. He continues to develop resource books for Chile’s most important natural areas. Claudio has been leading birdwatching and natural history journeys in Chile for years, and has become a favorite of IE guests on our many past Patagonia expeditions.

Chiloe guide Cristofer de la Rivera

Cristofer de la Rivera

Naturalist Guide

Cristofer was born in Santiago, but he grew up in the city of Punta Arenas. A veterinarian by training, he has always been strongly interested in nature and wildlife, participating in multiple research projects on birds and control of introduced species in the Magallanes region and a research project on minke whales in Iceland. This in-depth research helped Cristofer develop deep insight into environmental issues. Cristofer is passionate about bird watching and falconry. A nomadic spirit has led Cristofer from the Atacama Desert to Antarctica, and he spent many years guiding Patagonia cruises and landings at Cape Horn. , never leaving aside the Patagonia base camp.  Cristofer still resides in Punta Arenas and participates in wildlife research studies in Torres del Paine National Park.

International Expeditions Chiloe Naturalist Guide Rodrigo Tapia

Rodrigo Tapia

Naturalist Guide

Rodrigo became an avid birder by the age of 10, and has been observing, studying and learning about them for more than 30 years. This early passion led him into studying Biology at Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and Cornell Lab of Ornithology. He's traveled Chile from the northern Altiplano to Cape Horn while conducting ornithological research and guiding birding groups since 1989. Rodrigo traveled to Antarctica in 1991 as part of a research team conducting studies on Antarctic penguins, and later worked for eight seasons in the White Continent as an expedition leader, lecturer and zodiac driver on board a couple of vessels. These years of sailing across the Drake Passage, together with the experience gathered in pelagic birding off his hometown of Valparaíso in the Pacific coast of central Chile gave him hundreds of hours with albatrosses, petrels and other seabirds, a group of birds which has always captivated him. Rodrigo has been involved in children's environmental education projects, lectured about birds and birding, and worked to raise the profile of birdwatching as a sustainable economic activity.

International Expeditions Chiloe Guide Sebastian Saiter

Sebastian Saiter

Naturalist Guide

Sebastian was born in Punta Arenas. He always had an early passion for discovering the nature and beautiful landscapes of Chilean Patagonia. Consequently he studied Adventure Tourism, involving in the topic and studying about the flora & fauna of one of the last pristine places in the world. Sebastián has a particular interest on the natural history of the birds in Patagonia, Patagonian endemics and wildlife photography. He is an active member of NGO Agrupación Ecológica Patagónica in Punta Arenas, participates in projects to protect wetlands, urban parks and other sites and urban reserves in the city. He works on environmental education projects with children, in private and public schools in the area.

From: $6,398 per person
Duration
12 Days, 11 Nights
Departs From
Puerto Montt, Chile
Guest Capacity
18 Guests
Trip Type
Travel Style

Trip Highlights

  • See varied flora & fauna of the Valdivian forests — a biodiversity hotspot.
  • Meet Chilote islanders, seeing towns. fishing boats & famed churches.
  • Visit active San Rafael Glacier.
  • Explore Puñihuil, seeing two — Magellanic & Humboldt
  • Enjoy a five-night cruises abourd the family-owned Skorpios II.