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Birds & Wines of Chile & Argentina's Andes

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Birds & Wines of Chile & Argentina's Andes

Discover the birdlife and wines found along the slopes of the majestic Andes as you explore the central regions of Chile and Argentina. The landscapes and the culture of both countries are equally fascinating, and local leaders ensure you enjoy unparalleled insight into Argentina and Chile. Salud! 

This in-depth wine tasting program visits the most remarkable and traditional wineries of Chile's Maipo, Casablanca and Colchagua Valleys as well as around Mendoza. This Chile and Argentina tour has been designed for the birder and for the nature enthusiast alike, wishing to combine some time in the field with wine tasting activities.

Daily Itinerary

Birds & Wines of Chile & Argentina's Andes

  • Day
    1

    Santiago / Viña Concha & Toro

    Come in a day or more earlier to tour Santiago before we begin our activities this morning. Head north of Santiago, visiting lowland marshes, where we look for the rare South American painted snipe, rosy-billed pochard, white-cheeked pintail and cocoi heron. This afternoon, take in Viña Concha y Toro, located at the well-known Maipo Valley. This centenary winery is one of the oldest and largest operations in Chile. Learn about the variety of famed Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere they produce. One of their most famous wines, Casillero del Diablo – Devil’s Cellar– honors the place we will visit, an old and impressive underground cellar where the landlord used to hide his best wines, telling his employees that the Devil himself dwelled in this dark and mysterious place. Overnight at Hotel Peumayen or similar.  (L,D)

    argentine chile birds wine photos concha y toro carmenere
  • Day
    2

    Santiago: El Yeso Reservoir & Baños Morales

    Enjoy a full day exploring the surroundings of El Yeso reservoir in the Andean foothills, where will hopefully be rewarded with sightings of the endemic crag chilia plus our first Andean condors, black-chested buzzard-eagle, and several other Andean specialties such as black-winged ground dove, grey-flanked cinclodes, black-billed shrike-tyrant and yellow-rumped siskin. Careful scanning of grasslands and streams may produce the stunning diademed sandpiper-plover. This is a lovely mountain spot where we will also have chances for mountain parakeet flocks. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    3

    Santiago / Altos de Lircay Nature Reserve

    Continue our explorations south of Santiago, driving along the Panamerican Highway. Head to the majestic Andes once again. Altos de Lircay Nature Reserve – located in an area better known as Vilches – holds the northernmost southern beech (Nothofagus) forests. These woodlands, deriving from ancient tree lineage, are just found as relict communities in temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere, in distant places like New Zealand, Australia and New Caledonia. These temperate woodlands are home for a number of unique forest-dwelling birds. Among others, today we shall be looking for rufous-legged owl, Magellanic woodpecker, white-throated hawk, white-throated treerunner and the quasi-endemic chestnut-throated Huet-huet. Other tapaculos we will be trying to find are the striking chucao tapaculo and the skulking Magellanic tapaculo. Overnight at Cabañas El Roble in Vilches. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    4

    Lake Colbun / Viña Santa Cruz

    Explore man-made Lake Colbun, scanning ; here we’ll scan the rocky slopes looking for noisy flocks of the threatened endemic race of Burrowing Parrot. Later, we will descend to the central valley, to immerse ourselves in one of the most famous wine-making regions of Chile – the Colchagua Valley. Santa Cruz is literally the center of the wine industry of this famed region and is a picturesque little town, where we will learn a lot of the culture of this part of the country. The lovely Hotel Santa Cruz will be our base for the following nights, providing us with the chance to explore the museum and its fascinating collections of the pre-history and history of Chile.
    This afternoon we will explore the homonymous Santa Cruz vineyards to enjoy a sampling of reds and whites and the lovely vistas; we will be visiting the vineyards by the end of the growing season. Along the dirt roads we will try to find the largest of the New World tyrant-flycatchers, the voracious Great Shrike-Tyrant. Overnight at Hotel Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz (B,L,D)

  • Day
    5

    Santa Cruz Valley

    Colchagua Valley and its terroir are synonymous to full-bodied and richly flavored red wines, including Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon, although praised Merlot and Syrah have been produced in recent years. Savor stops at least three top-quality wine properties of the valley including Montes, Viu Manent and Casa Silva for tastings. (B,L,D)

    argentine chile birds wine photos vina montes
  • Day
    6

    Rio Maipo / Laguna El Peral Nature Reserve / Viña del Mar

    Head north and to the coast in order to explore the Maipo River estuary and the productive coastal ponds and marshes nearby. At the tiny El Peral Nature Reserve search for the cryptic-colored stripe-backed bittern, the brood-parasitic black-headed duck, and the striking many-colored rush tyrant. We also have a chance to find the scarce and restricted ticking doradito. After a rewarding morning, visit the splendid facility of Matetic vineyards, where a top-quality tasting of whites and interesting blends waits for us. Just before reaching our seaside hotel, we will inspect the rocky coast for the endemic Chilean seaside cinclodes and a variety of Humboldt current seabird specialties. Overnight at Hotel Oceanic in Viña del Mar. (B, L, D)

  • Day
    7

    Viña del Mar

    Delight in an unforgettable visit to the cold and rich waters of the Humboldt Current, considered to be one of the world’s finest pelagic birding locations. We expect to see a variety of tubenoses, including black-browed and Salvin’s albatrosses. On recent trips we have often recorded Buller’s, Chatham, wandering (Antipodean) and both Northern and Southern royal albatrosses. We should also find Southern and Northern giant petrels, pintado, masatierra, Juan Fernandez, white-chinned and westland petrels, pink-footed, Buller’s and Sooty Shearwaters, Wilson’s storm petrel, and Peruvian diving petrel. Other seabirds we may encounter include red (grey) phalarope, Sabine’s gull and Chilean skua. While marine mammals may be difficult to predict, orca, sperm whale and large pods of dusky and Southern right-whale dolphins are often spotted. Continue exploring the coastal areas this afternoon, visiting a protected breeding colony of Humboldt penguin. We hope to be able to see the scarce and range-restricted Southern sea otter here, too. Before ending the day we’ll stop at a coastal marsh to see a variety of waterfowl including red shoveler, yellow-billed pintail, speckled teal and Chiloe wigeon, all three lowland coot species, spot-flanked gallinule and plumbeous rail, which surprisingly for a rallid is quite easy to spot as it often walks in the open.
    Return to Hotel Oceanic for the evening. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    8

    La Campana National Park / Casablanca Valley

    La Campana National Park and its scrub community, Chilean palm-tree groves and dry forests host our day's birding adventures. Mount La Campana (The Bell), after which the park is named, is one of the most prominent peaks of the whole Coastal Range, and was also one of the many interesting places that young Charles Darwin explored in the 1830s. Search for an array of passerines, all endemic to Chile, including Chilean mockingbird, dusky-tailed canastero, moustached turca, dusky tapaculo and white-throated tapaculo. Chilean pigeon, striped woodpecker, Austral pygmy owl, giant hummingbird and green-backed firecrown are also regulars here. We also look for the endemic Chilean tinamou. Overnight at Hotel Oceanic. (B,L,D)

    Tufted Tilt Spinetail
  • Day
    9

    Crossing the Andes / Uspallata

    Time to make our Andes crossing! Drive along the International road towards Argentina. At this latitude the majestic Andes Range reaches its maximum altitude and forms a geological boundary between Chile and Argentina. The mountains divide not just their cultures but also their biodiversity, and we will witness this as the day progresses. The Snail or Caracol, is a portion of the road consisting of multiple ascending bends that will give us access to Cristo Redentor tunnel and eventually into Argentina. After the border formalities, our Argentina tour begins with birding in the eastern foothills. The bird assemblage is similar to Chile’s, although it drastically changes as we descend in altitude. Enjoy impressive views of the highest peak in the Americas and both Southern and Western Hemispheres, Mount Aconcagua (22,837 ft). The birding will be quite productive here: mountain caracara, grey-breasted seedsnipe, white-sided hillstar, rufous-banded and creamy-rumped miners, black-billed shrike-tyrant, cinereous, black-fronted, white-browed and rufous-naped ground tyrants plus greater yellow finch, band-tailed sierra finch and yellow-rumped siskin can all be found. Iconic Andean condor is also quite abundant.
    The Uspallata Valley offers a proper birding welcome to this Gaucho nation. The orchards and poplar groves hold a number of species that are absent in the Chilean side. Among the species that we hope to see are white-collared swift, the striking red-tailed comet, fork-tailed flycatcher, great kiskadee, white-winged black-tyrant, chaco earthcreeper, Patagonian mockingbird, white-tipped plantcutter, and the delightful rufous-sided warbling-finch. Spend tonight at Pueblo del Rio. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    10

    Uspallata Valley / Mendoza

    Welcome to the land of Malbec! Two-thirds of Argentina's wine is produced in the Mendoza province, and the Malbec is certainly its best ambassador. Spend the morning exploring vineyards in the area surrounding Mendoza city, San Lujan de Cuyo. This wine region of Argentina has no influence from the ocean and has more continental weather patterns, the summers being hotter and having much cooler winters than in Chile. There is plenty of water coming from the mountains and these offer ideal conditions for the production of interesting wines with unique features. Together with the Malbecs, other fine wines are produced here including Cabs and Tempranillo. Spend two nights at Mendoza's Hotel Huentala. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    11

    Mendoza

    The Monte Desert is a vast scrub community extending broadly throughout the length and breadth of Argentina and of course, is a must visit bird enthusiast. Explore the plains east of Mendoza, discovering the well-supplied array of specialties of this scrub desert. Species calling this area home include crested and sandy gallitos, endemic Steinbach’s canastero, white-throated cacholote, tufted tit-spinetail, the recently-described Straneck’s tyrannulet and the lovely cinnamon warbling-finch. (B,L,D)

    argentine chile birds wine photos chucao tapaculo
  • Day
    12

    Mendoza / Santiago

    Drive back to Santiago and we will cross the Andes once again. This will be a great opportunity to re-visit the area of Uspallata, having plenty of time to stop, to bird and to fill our list gaps. Spend tonight at Hotel Galerias or similar. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    13

    Santiago / Depart

    Enjoy a morning at leisure before transferring to airport for your independent flight home. (B)

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.

From: $6,098 per person
Duration
13 Days, 12 Nights
Trip Type
Land

Trip Highlights

  • 2018 Departure: February 24
  • 2019 Departure: February 23