Birding and Pumas in Patagonia
Birding and Pumas takes you to some of Chile’s most famous and striking landscape, in search of its fascinating birds and mammals. We’ll board a ferry and cross the famous Straits of Magellan, bird Tierra del Fuego, drive through the vast Patagonian steppe and look for the recently rediscovered Austral Rail in the reed-fringed lagoons of the wonderful Torres Del Paine National Park. Many stunning and sought-after species are our targets on this trip, including King Penguin, Magellanic Plover, Ruddy-headed Goose, Chocolate-vented Tyrant, White-bridled Finch.
But Patagonia is not only a great destination for interesting birds and breathtaking landscapes, it’s also full of charismatic mammals, including Guanaco, Grey Fox, Peale’s Dolphin, and of course the King of the Andes, the Puma. This tour includes two days of specialized Puma trackers to significantly increase our chances of seeing and photographing this stunning large cat.
16th Dec – 21st Dec 2020
Birding and Pumas can be easily extended to include a day tour to the Magellanic Penguin colony on Isla Magdalena.
Private trips can be organized upon request
You can request pricing and the itinerary using the Contact Form
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Birding
Day 1 – 16th Dec: Birding around Punta Arenas
Day 2 – 17th Dec: Tierra del Fuego and King Penguin colony
Day 3 – 18th Dec: Birding the steppe and drive to Puerto Natales
Day 4 – 19th Dec: Sierra Baguales and Torres del Paine
Day 5 – 20th Dec: Birding and Puma tracking in Torres del Paine
Day 6 – 21st Dec: Punta Arenas airport
- Two days of Puma tracking in the stunning landscapes of Torres del Paine NP
- A comprehensive trip through Patagonian landscapes.
- Fabulous King Penguin colony
- Patagonian specialties: Magellanic Plover, White-bridled Finch, Austral Rail, Ruddy-headed Goose
- Relaxed pace. Some days cover large distances, but the driving will be broken up by multiple birding stops.
Ease of Birding
- Most species are easy to see. Some steppe species are low density and cover long distances is necessary to see them. The Austral Rail is a bit of a skulker and might take some effort to tease one out.
- 5 nights of accommodation
- Transport: Comfortable vehicle with qualified driver.
- English speaking guide with birding equipment (Binoculars and scope)
- Snacks (fruit, nuts, cereal bars, water)
- All meals
- Park entrance fees
- eBird checklists for the day’s stops
- This tour runs from 6 to 10 participants with one tour leader. Over more than 10 participants would be consider an additional tour guide.
DAY 1. 16th DEC. BIRDING AROUND PUNTA ARENAS
This morning we’ll have an early flight to the city of Punta Arenas in the very far south of Chile, on the Straits of Magellan. We’ll have a nice lunch in Punta Arenas and then head south birding along the coast, looking for Flying and Flightless Steamer-Ducks, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Imperial Cormorant, Upland Goose, Chilean Skua and the splendid Dolphin Gull. The tiny Austral Negrito is sure to be found as well. In the afternoon, we’ll drive to the Estancia San Juan, where the endangered Ruddy-headed Goose breeds. Along the coast we’ll also be looking for Kelp Goose, to complete the five Chilean geese collection, and head back towards Punta Arenas.
DAY 2. 17th DEC. TIERRA DEL FUEGO AND KING PENGUIN COLONY
We’ll take the early morning ferry crossing (2 hrs) to Porvenir, which is the main town in the Chilean side of the mythical island at the end of the world, Tierra del Fuego. We should see scores of Southern Giant-Petrel, Magellanic Diving-Petrel, Chilean Skua, Black-browed Albatross and Peale’s Dolphins. We’ll spend the morning birding around Laguna Verde and Laguna Santa Maria. The bird species we‘ll be looking for in the next couple of days will be Ashy-Headed and Upland Goose, Two-banded Plover, Magellanic Plover, Chilean Skua, Short-billed Miner, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Flightless Steamer-Duck, Black-necked Swan and Crested Duck.
After lunch we’ll drive to Bahia Inútil to visit a colony of magnificent King Penguins. This colony is the most northerly colony of this species, and the only one outside Antarctic waters. On our way to our accommodation in Cerro Sombrero we’ll be looking for Rufous-chested Dotterel, Chocolate-vented Tyrant and Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant that breed in the Patagonian steppe. Night in Cerro Sombrero.
DAY 3. 18th DEC. BIRDING THE STEPPES AND DRIVE TO PUERTO NATALES
After breakfast we’ll continue birding the Patagonian Steppe on our way to the northern tip of Tierra del Fuego and hop on a short ferry back to the continental mainland. This is a shorter ferry crossing (20 min) with good chances of seeing Commerson’s Dolphin, Magellanic Diving-Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel and White-chinned Petrel. Back on the mainland we will make a stop at a wetland in the steppe, Buque Quemado. A good spot for seeing a variety of waterfowl, including Silver Teal, Rosy-billed Pochard, Chiloe Wigeon, White-cheeked Pintail, Coscoroba Swan, and variety of shorebirds. We will continue our trip towards Puerto Natales making our way across the vast steppe looking for Darwin’s Rhea, Austral Canastero, Chocolate-vented Tyrant, Band-tailed Earthcreeper, Common Miner, Patagonian Yellow-Finch and the stunning White-bridled Finch. We’ll spend the night in Puerto Natales.
DAY 4. 19th DEC. SIERRA BAGUALES AND TORRES DEL PAINE
This morning we’ll be heading north towards the scenic mountainous valley of Sierra Baguales. Here we’ll be looking for Band-tailed Earthcreeper, Patagonian Mockingbird, and the gorgeous Yellow-bridled Finch. On our drive up the valley the rocky cliffs surrounding us are a great place to watch Andean Condors soaring above us. The valleys in this area are also a breeding area for White-throated Caracara and the very rare Gray-bellied Shrike-Tyrant. We’ll plan to have a nice picnic lunch surrounded by the mountains and then head to the most anticipated location of the trip, the incomparable and breathtaking Torres del Paine National Park. Of the entire trip, this will most likely be the most unforgettable scenic highlight. While the park is most famous for its astonishing scenery, it’s also rich in birds and mammals. Throughout the day Guanaco, Patagonian Skunk and Gray Fox are among the mammals we are likely to encounter during our stay in this area.
We’ll be looking for Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant, White-throated Caracara and Patagonian Mockingbird. Focusing our efforts on the eastern side of the park, we’ll visit lakes looking for waterfowl, and on reed-fringed lagoons looking for the recently re-discovered and secretive Austral Rail. Nearing late afternoon we’ll focus on our search for Pumas. The rolling hills in and around Torres del Paine are arguably the best place to see Pumas in the world. Our best chances of encountering them are at dawn and dusk, so we’ll be scanning our surroundings and be aided by expert trackers. The trackers will have been searching for them throughout the day and when one is spotted the tracker will radio and inform us of the best way to approach them to have the best photographic opportunities at a safe distance. All this with a breathtaking mountain backdrop of the Paine Towers and Horns. After this we’ll head to our hotel in the steppe for dinner. Night in Cerro Castillo.
DAY 5. 20th DEC. BIRDING AND PUMA TRACKING IN TORRES DEL PAINE
Today we’ll head back in the direction of the park, searching for Pumas in a ranch bordering the eastern edge of the park, where traffic is low and Puma encounters are more frequent. We’ll head out early to have the best chances to see them while they’re active. During the late morning we’ll explore other areas of the park and have lunch at a lakefront hotel with breathtaking views of the mountains.
During the midday hours we’ll explore other areas of the park looking for more wildlife, paying special attention to large groups of Guanaco, where Pumas may be stalking close by. Once again, close to dusk we will focus on searching for the Pumas when they become more active after a day of resting. After sunset we’ll head back for dinner at our hotel in the steppes.
DAY 6. 21st DEC. PUNTA ARENAS AIRPORT
Sadly this is the last day of our trip. After a relaxed breakfast, we’ll make our way back to the airport in Punta Arenas where we’ll take our flight back to Santiago and connecting international flights.