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Chile: Birds of Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego
Chile: Birds of Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego
Journey into the dazzling landscapes of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego to enjoy a rare look at the region's diverse birdlife. Under the guidance of our skilled naturalists, your small group of no more than six travelers searches Patagonian steppes, sub-antarctic forests, wetlands and glaciers for imposing Andean condor, Chilean hawk, Austral parakeets, king and Magellanic penguins and more!
Please Note: This trip starts in Punta Arenas, Chile. We recommend you arrive the day before the trip starts.
Chiloe Wigeon ©Enrique Couve
Sedge Wren ©Rodrigo Tapia
Culpeo Fox ©Enrique Couve
Andean Condor ©Claudio Vidal
Ashy-headed Goose ©Rodrigo Tapia
Black-crowned Night Heron ©Enrique Couve
Chimango Caracara ©Claudio Vidal
Darwin's (Lesser) Rhea ©Claudio Vidal
King Penguins ©Claudio Vidal
Magellenic Penguin ©Claudio Vidal
Plumbeous Rail ©Rodrigo Tapia
Poppies and Torres del Paine ©Claudio Vidal
Silvery Grebe ©Claudio Vidal
White-rumped Sandpiper ©Claudio Vidal
Chile: Birds of Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Itinerary
Punta Arenas / Torres del Paine National Park
Drive to Torres del Paine National Park, enjoying the changing landscapes and views of the windswept Patagonian steppes. Begin our birding tour on the eastern side of the park, watching for spectacled, crested and Andean ducks, silver teal, Chiloe wigeon, speckled teal and yellow-billed pintail, as well as great, silvery and white-tufted grebes. We may also observe cinereous harrier and black-chested buzzard-eagle hunting for prey. As we hike through a patch of secondary woodlands, our naturalist searches for Chilean flicker, striped woodpecker and Austral pygmy owl. Scan the fast-flowing rivers for torrent duck. Along Torres del Paine's reed-fringed lagoons, search for elusive and recently re-discovered Austral rail. Spend two nights at Hotel Rio Serrano. (B,L,D)
Torres del Paine National Park
Our birding excursions in the piedmont and sub-antarctic Southern beech forests of Western Torres del Paine, look for thorn-tailed rayadito, white-throated treerunner, Austral parakeet, Austral blackbird and the striking Magellanic woodpecker, one of the largest in the world. Enjoy vistas of magnificent lakes and peaks. (B,L,D)
Torres del Paine / Sierra Baguales / Punta Arenas
Enjoy an early morning exploration of the Sierra Baguales Range. Wind along the mountain roads, look for passerines, including Patagonian mockingbird and grey-bellied shrike-tyrant. This montane habitat is home to white-throated caracara, grey-breasted seedsnipe, rufous-banded miner, cinnamon-bellied and ochre-naped ground-tyrants, Patagonian and greater yellow finches, and the stunning yellow-bridled finch. Spend tonight at Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar. (B,L,D)
Straits of Magellan / Porvenir
Board a ferry crossing the Straits of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego. During the crossing, observe black-browed albatross, southern giant petrel, cape and white-chinned petrels, sooty shearwater and Magellanic diving petrel. Watch for other seabirds, including Chilean skua, kelp, dolphin and brown-hooded gulls and South American tern. Also watch the waters for South American sea lion and playful pods of Peale’s Dolphin. Once we reach the island, check coasts near Porvenir for crested duck, Chiloe wigeon, Baird’s sandpiper, Magellanic oystercatcher and dark-bellied cinclodes. This afternoon, visit alkaline lagoons and ponds watching for rare Magellanic plover. This enigmatic wader similar to a little dove, and is often seen scratching the mud with its bright pink legs. Other area birds include two-banded plover, Wilson’s phalarope, abundant white-rumped sandpiper, short-billed miner and Austral negrito. Spend two nights at Hostería Yendegaia. (L,D)
Tierra del Fuego: Porvenir
Explore Bahía Inútil - Useless Bay - watching for a wealth of seabirds, waterfowl and shorebirds. At the top of our target list today are flightless and flying steamer-ducks, kelp goose and king, imperial and rock cormorants. The surrounding meadows and fields are home to endangered ruddy-headed goose, as well as variable hawk, aplomado and peregrine falcons. Great Horned Owls, the largest in Central and South America, nest in nearby ravines. Spend our afternoon in the only continental King Penguin breeding colony. The species congregates year-round in Porvenir, and over the past few years the king penguins have been successfully breeding here. Return to our hotel through the shrubby slopes and moorlands of the Baquedano Hills, searching for rufous-chested dotterel, Austral canastero and white-bridled finch. (B,L,D)
Porvenir / Otway Sound / Punta Arenas
Cross the steppes of Tierra del Fuego and mainland Patagonia searching for least seedsnipe, tawny-throated dotterel, common miner, band-tailed earthcreeper and chocolate-vented tyrant. As we return via ferry to the mainland, watch for striking Commerson’s Dolphin following in our wake. Large herds of camel-like guanaco are common as we drive to Puerto Natales, and our naturalist may also point out southern grey fox, Patagonian hairy armadillo and Patagonian hog-nosed skunk. Passing road-side wetlands, watch for Chilean flamingo, upland and ash-headed geese, coscoroba and black-necked swans, and silver teal, along with waders such as Baird’s and white-rumped sandpipers and Wilson’s phalarope. This afternoon, visit the Otway Magellanic penguin colony before heading to Skyring Sound and FitzRoy Channel. In addition to hopefully seeing Peale's and endemic Chilean dolphins, scan the cliffs for Andean condor. Spend tonight at Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar. (B,L,D)
Transfer to Punta Arenas airport after breakfast to meet international flights or continue with more exploration. (B).