Renowned ornithologist and Expedition Leader Claudio Vidal weighs in on his native Chile. Not only is Claudio excited about our December Patagonia tour, but he will also be hosting tasting of famed Chilean wine!

“We spent the day on the summit, and never enjoyed one more thoroughly. Chile, bounded by the Andes and the Pacific, was seen as in the map…here the range resembled a great solid wall, surmounted here and there by a tower, and making a most perfect barrier to the country.” Charles Darwin, August 17th 1834

"That is the most perfect summary of this long and narrow country. In truth, Chile is an ecological island. In the north sits the driest desert in the world, The Atacama. To the east, the magnificent Andes climb more than 18,000 f.t., bearing a vast salt pan, impressive peaks and numerous lakes. Further south, dense forests and pristine subantarctic woods stretch into the distance. And then, where the world ends, the mythical Patagonia begins. Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego (the Land of Fire) are home to the furious fifties – the infamous local winds – cold, vast, bleak steppes and glacial fjords.

"Chile, as you will experience on IE's Patagonia nature and wildlife expedition, is a country of superlatives. This sentence not only refers to its wonderful array of habitats and wildlife, but also applies to the quality of its wines.

"I started to be fascinated about the wines of my country during some of my birding and photo expeditions to Mediterranean Chile. Being an ecological island is also a blessing for the wine industry of the country. Each valley holds particular environmental features that later will provide character to its resulting wines, and now the wine zone is even expanding to the fringes of the Atacama Desert in the north. The "island" conditions of Chile has also preserved some rare grapes from extinction, like the delicate Carmenere, now one of Chile's most praised wines.

"On this December Patagonia tour, we will learn not just about the very special environmental conditions and culture features of Chile and Patagonia, but also on the great variety of its most famous wines. I will have the great pleasure of introduce you to the country I proudly call home. The wine flows freely, our natives are friendly and the sight of the condor soaring overhead will linger long in your memory – I promise you!"