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Puma in Torres del Paine
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Patagonia: Pumas, Penguins & Whales

Puma in Torres del Paine

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Patagonia: Pumas, Penguins & Whales

International Expeditions’ wildlife-focused Patagonia tour is crafted with special opportunities to observe three iconic species of Patagonian wildlife. Explore the magnificent landscapes of southern Torres del Paine National Park to looking for puma. Continue your quest on the mythic island of Tierra del Fuego, reaching the world’s most accessible colony of the stunning King Penguin. As a grand finale of this unique wildlife expedition, discover Carlos III Island and its summer visitors, the gentle and sociable humpback whale. Your small group of no more than eight guests is accompanied by an accomplished naturalist guide, who looks after every aspect of your vacation.

Torres Del Paine

Frequently praised by visitors from all over the world as one of Earth’s most beautiful and majestic wild places, Torres del Paine National Park is a remote refuge, where wildlife is normally quite tame. It’s not rare to see relaxed and inquisitive guanacos, foxes and other animals at close quarters; seeing the lone hunter that dwells in the vast and barren hills, the mighty Puma, is something else. This first section of our three-prong quest has been geared to seek out and contemplate this big and elegant cat in one the wildest places throughout its entire range in the Continent.
 

Penguins at Porvenir

The King penguin is the second largest species of penguin after the Emperor and certainly one of the most colorful and attractive members of the group. The second part of our journey takes us to see these magnificent seabirds in their natural habitat. Few places in the world offer good access and chances to see them in the wild like Useless Bay in Tierra del Fuego, making this, the only continental American breeding colony, a very special one indeed.
 

Carlos III Island 

The rich waters of Carlos III Island, located at the heart of the recently established Francisco Coloane Marine Park in the mythic Straits of Magellan, are home to humpback whales. See these imposing creatures and other marine mammals of the subantarctic region at close quarters, as well as a good diversity of seabirds. Also, we will visit remote penguin colonies as well as other seabirds’ rookeries. We will be based one night at San Isidro Lodge, located besides the homonymous historic lighthouse, and two nights at the domes of the research facilities at Carlos III Island, the perfect location to see the Humpbacks and marvel at their social behavior and feeding techniques.
 

Daily Itinerary

Patagonia: Pumas, Penguins & Whales Itinerary

  • Day
    1

    Punta Arenas, Chile / Torres del Paine National Park

    After meeting your guide at your hotel or at the airport, you will be transferred in a private vehicle to Torres del Paine National Park. During our journey to the park, we will try to find guanacos, southern grey foxes, and Patagonian skunks while enjoying our first contact with southern beech (Nothofagus) forests. While visiting the valleys we will be given a geological interpretation of the origins of the dramatic backdrop of Torres del Paine, one of the finest natural spectacles in Patagonia. Overnight at Hosteria Pehoé or similar. (L,D)

  • Day
    2-4

    Torres del Paine National Park

    We have organized a busy schedule of day and night searches for pumas in the area. We will inspect the immediate surroundings of our hotel at night as well as the puma hunting grounds located in the eastern flank of the park. The area comprised by the northern coast of Sarmiento Lake, Laguna Amarga and Laguna Azul is well known by holding one of the largest concentrations of pumas in the wild. February through April is a particularly good period as the females are actively hunting to provide food to their growing cubs; at this time they are not active just by night but also during the twilight hours. To see a female puma and its large-sized cubs against this magnificent mountain backdrop and glorious skies is one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles. In company of our guide and puma tracker we will attempt seeing puma family groups at a prudent distance with the help of binoculars and spotting scopes. If we have time, we will also take the opportunity to look for other mammal species including the ubiquitous guanaco, the local Andean Deer or Huemul, Patagonian Hog-nosed Skunk and the two canine species present in the park, Chilla and Culpeo foxes. Overnight at Hosteria Pehoé or similar. (B,L,D Daily)

  • Day
    5

    Torres del Paine / Punta Arenas

    During the morning we will continue our exploration in different areas of the park. A sensational vista from Laguna Azul, on the eastern side of the park, will be a superb grand finale to this part of our exciting journey of discovery. Later, we will be transferred to Punta Arenas. Overnight at Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar. (B,L,D) 

  • Day
    6

    Porvenir / Useless Bay

    We will start our journey with a private transfer from your hotel to the ferry docks located at the northern end of Punta Arenas. At approximately 9 am, we will begin our 2.5-hour crossing through the mythic waters of the Straits of Magellan; these world-famous seaways are very rich in terms of history of exploration. Magellan, Drake, Cavendish, Bougainville, Fitz Roy and Darwin, among several other sailors and explorers, surveyed this region, most of the times, in really harsh and dangerous conditions. You will see an interesting array of seabirds, including Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Southern Fulmar, Imperial Cormorant, Dolphin Gull and South American Tern. It is very likely to see interesting marine mammals such as pods of Peale's Dolphin and inquisitive South American Sea Lion. As soon as we land you will realize that the vegetation of this part of Tierra del Fuego is dominated by flat windswept steppes and rolling hills, with tussock grass and low shrubs. After meeting your local guide and driver, we will stop at the town of Porvenir, visiting a pioneer home, our lovely and cozy hotel, Hosteria Yendegaia; here we will have coffee or tea, snacks, and will have the opportunity to relax for a short while. Immediately we will be driving for approximately two hours along the shores of Bahia Inutil (Useless Bay), where we expect to see a great array of wildlife including Guanaco, Southern Grey Fox, the ubiquitous Upland Goose, Chilean Flamingo and a diversity of waterfowl. At sea we may see albatrosses, petrels, gulls and skuas patrolling the turbulent waters of the bay. Parque Pingüino Rey is a private nature reserve that aims to preserve the only known continental King Penguin colony. We will have ample opportunities to observe and photograph the penguins from a reasonable distance (maximum approach distance will be given by the guide and must be respected at all times during your visit). Overnight at Hosteria Yendegaia or similar. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    7

    Porvenir / Punta Arenas

    We will enjoy a leisure morning while exploring the surroundings of Porvenir to photograph and learn about the particular wildlife and history of this remote corner of Patagonia. We will visit its alkaline pools where there are large aggregations of migratory birds such as sandpipers and plovers, but the goal will be to photograph Chilean Flamingos. Later we will explore the coast to see some of the many shipwrecks that have occurred in these seas over the years. After lunch we will be heading back to Punta Arenas by ferry. By taking the short ferry at Punta Delgada we will have great chances of seeing the striking Commerson's Dolphin plus other interesting wildlife. Overnight at Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar. (B,L,D) 

  • Day
    8

    Carlos III Island

    Early in the morning we will board the motor yacht "Esturion" and start our navigation towards “Francisco Coloane Marine Park”, which protects the marine biodiversity of the western branch of the Straits of Magellan. This magnificent area encloses Carlos III Island, which possesses a vast and unique biological diversity due, in part, to the mixing of the two oceans (Pacific and Atlantic), productive upwelling, the strong winds, the presence of glaciers and the dismembered coastline. This park hold a summer population of humpback whales (and occasionally Sei Whale and Orca), which use these waters as feeding grounds. We will spend this night in the biological station, at very comfortable twin-bedded domes. We will have shared bathroom facilities at this location. Overnight at Eco-camp Carlos III. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    9

    Carlos III Island

    This morning we will have another whale-watching session aboard the zodiac boats and if we are lucky, we may see the endemic and scarce Chilean Dolphin while sailing these waters. We will also visit large breeding colonies of sea lions, fur seals and Magellanic Penguin. We will have a lecture by the scientist working on long-term population studies on these whales, and we will learn about several tagging and identification techniques. We will have the whole afternoon to see these whales at close quarters and with no other visitors. This intimate experience will be enhanced by the sight of the beautiful mountains, glaciers and pristine forests all around. Overnight at Eco-camp Carlos III. (B,L,D)

  • Day
    10

    Faro San Isidro / Punta Arenas

    After enjoying the diversity of marine mammals and seabirds of this park, we will make our journey back to San Isidro Lodge. Along the route we will discover the rich seabird diversity of these seaways; we will see Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Chilean Skua and cormorants as well as pods of Peale’s Dolphin and the ubiquitous South American Sea Lion. If time permits, we will have a field trip, equipped with hand glasses, to discover the lichen- and moss-rich biodiversity of the sub-Antarctic forests. During the afternoon we will be transferred back to Punta Arenas for overnight. Overnight at Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar. (B,L,D) 

  • Day
    11

    Depart

    Transfer to the airport after breakfast. (B)

Wildlife

Puma

The puma  is a large yet very secretive cat. Often, the presence of these cats is only made visible in finding tracks. Even tracks bring on excitement and a little apprehension as it means there is a large predator in your vicinity. Pumas are found from North America through Central America and down the length of South America to its extreme southern tip — Patagonia.  Amazingly, the puma is fairly common in Patagonia and a person’s chances of seeing one during International Expeditions' Patagonia tours is far better than observing one anywhere else within it very extensive range. The puma is a stealth predator that is extremely patient and a stalk of its favorite prey, guanaco may take hours.

From: $5,498 per person
Duration
11 Days, 10 Nights
Trip Type
Land

Trip Highlights

  • Expedition Dates: December 5, 2017; January 4 & April 4, 2018