Forest birding near Santiago – Tapaculos and Woodpeckers

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In Forest birding near Santiago we’ll visit lakes, rivers, meadows and above all fantastic forested environments. Driving south we’ll reach the transition between Mediterranean vegetation and the temperate Nothofagus forest, where the Altos de Lircay National Reserve lies. It is at these latitudes that we begin to see species that we commonly associate to the Chile’s southern temperate forests. These forests are home to large woodpeckers and poorly-known Tapaculos, like the Chestnut-throated Huet-huet.

This tour can be extended to continue birding further south or combined with tour near Santiago.

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
  • Activity Level Birding


Day 1. Santiago to Colbún Lake and Vilches

Day 2. Full day in Altos de Lircay National Reserve

Day 3. Morning of birding and return to Santiago


Private trips can be organized any day between October and May.



  • Magellanic Woodpeckers and Chestnut-throated Huet-huets
  • Temperate forest specialists
  • Stunning Nothofagus forest and diverse flora



  • Relaxed pace. Trails in the park do not have steep inclines and have steps when necessary.


Ease of Birding

  • Most species are easy to see. Many come to playback, including the forest Tapaculos, but some may require some effort to get close looks.


What is included in this tour?
  • 2 nights of lodging at a comfortable hotel
  • Transport (1-3 SUV, 4-6 minivan)
  • Pick up/drop off at your hotel in Santiago/airport
  • English speaking guide with birding equipment
  • Snacks (water, fruit, cereal bar)
  • Meals
  • Park entrance fees

Next departures

Shared trip dates 2019-2020: SOON


    Today we’ll start driving south on our way to Talca and on towards Colbún Lake. Still in drier Mediterranean habitat our main targets will be the spectacularly colorful and very noisy Burrowing Parakeet, and the beautiful Spectacled Duck. Upon arriving at the lake we will scan for a number of other interesting ducks and grebe species and a chance to see Spectacled Tyrant and Andean Gull. We’ll then make a short trip north of the lake and spend the rest of the afternoon and the next day in the magnificent Altos de Lircay National Reserve. At dusk we’ll look for the elusive Rufous-Legged Owl and spend the night in a quiet and comfortable forest lodge in Vilches, just outside the reserve.


    Located at the southern limit of the Mediterranean Region, this park is in the ecotone (transition area between two biomes) between the Temperate Rainforest and the Mediterranean Region. Here we’ll see a mix of the bird communities characteristic of the more scrubby and dry Mediterranean habitat and the lush temperate Nothofagus forests. In Altos de Lircay, we’ll encounter our first forest specialists. While walking along forest trails participants will be amazed by the spectacular mature Nothofagus trees, as well as ferns, mosses and forest bird species that are unique to the southern cone of South America. Additionally, in this area we’ll also find interesting geological rarities.

    We’ll spend a full day in Altos de Lircay exploring the extensive forest. We’ll be carefully listening for the nasal scolding of Chile’s least known Tapaculo, the Chestnut-throated Huet-Huet. We’ll also be looking for more Nothofagus forest’s specialties such as Austral Parakeet (the world’s most southerly distributed parrot species), Chucao Tapaculo with its explosive voice, Magellanic Tapaculo and the colorful Patagonian Sierra-Finch. This will be our first opportunity for seeing the truly spectacular Magellanic Woodpecker, and there is a chance to spot the rare and difficult-to-find Chilean and White-Throated Hawks. In the afternoon we’ll return to our accommodation at Hostería de Vilches.


    After breakfast we can head back to the entrance of the reserve for another chance at seeing Magellanic Woodpecker and the Chestnut-throated Huet-huet, or any other species we may have missed on previous days. After a relaxed lunch we will make our way back to Santiago.


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