Birds and Culture of Robinson Crusoe Islandfrom
The Juan Fernández archipelago is a sparsely inhabited island group located 670 km off the coast of Central Chile. The archipelago is composed of three main volcanic islands: Robinson Crusoe, Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara. Robinson Crusoe is the most accessible and biggest island of the archipelago and owes its name to the famous novel of the English writer Daniel Defoe published in 1719. The name of the main character in this novel was Robinson Crusoe, a fictitious English castaway who spends 28 years on a remote desert island.
A very marked process of speciation has taken place on these islands because of their geographic isolation, resulting in high levels of endemism in flora and fauna. There are three species of endemic terrestrial birds, two of them occur on Robinson Crusoe; the spectacular Juan Fernández Firecrown and the tiny Juan Fernandez Tit-tyrant. The third endemic species is the Masafuera Rayadito, which only occurs on Alexander Selkirk Island (formerly Masafuera Island).
Another very important and interesting ecological aspect of Juan Fernández is that some very rare and scarce marine birds only nest here. Such is the case of Masatierra and Stejneger’s Petrel, both endemic breeders of these Chilean islands. The Pink-footed Shearwater and Kermadec Petrel breed on the archipelago as well.
As is frequently the case, anthropic disturbance has had profound ecological impact on the island. On Juan Fernández, loss of habitat for breeding species and introduction of exotic plant and animals species are the main factors that have led most of the endemics to be of dire conservation concern. This is the case for both the Masafuera Rayadito and Juan Fernandez Firecrown, both classified as Critically Endangered.
Both the striking volcanic landscape and its unique biodiversity set Juan Fernández apart as a fascinating destination. To top it off, the seafood on these islands is absolutely fabulous! This trip visits a dramatic and far-flung destination, promising a truly unforgettable experience.
Private trips can be organized from September to May.
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Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Pelagics & Whalewatching
Day 1 – Arrival in Santiago
Day 2 – Flight from Santiago to Robinson Crusoe
Day 3 & 4 – Pelagic trip and endemic birds of Robinson Crusoe
Day 5 – Return to Santiago
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Private trips can be organized as request
- Endemic stunners: Juan Fernandez Firecown and Juan Fernandez Tit-Tyrant
- Fantastic seabirds; Juan Fernandez Petrel, Kermadec Petrel, Stejneger’s Petrel, Masatierra Petrel
- The dramatic landscapes of Daniel Defoe’s mythical island
- Relaxed pace; short and easy walks
Ease of Birding
- Most species are easy to see. Some seabirds, particularly the Storm-Petrels, are low density.
- All meals
- Pick up/drop off in Santiago
- Three pelagic trips, totaling 12 hours
- Flights Santiago – Robinson Crusoe – Santiago
- National park and private reserve entrance fees
- eBird checklists for the day’s stops
- This tour is limited to a group of 6 participants with one tour leader.
DAY 1 - ARRIVAL IN SANTIAGO
Most international flights to Santiago are overnight. As they arrive in the early morning, participants will be able to spend a relaxing first day at a hotel close to the airport. During the afternoon their guide will meet them at the hotel in order to explain, discuss and answer last questions regarding the itinerary or any necessary detail before beginning the trip.
DAY 2 - FLIGHT TO ROBINSON CRUSOE AND BOAT TO JUAN BAUTISTA
This morning we’ll board a two hours flight over the Pacific Ocean from Santiago to Robinson Crusoe. Once on the island we will take a 45-min boat trip to reach the town of Juan Bautista, located at the other side of the island. From the boat we’ll be able to observe the first seabirds, Black-browed Albatross, Kermadec Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel and Juan Fernandez Petrel. We’ll also pass by a Juan Fernandez Fur Seal colony. Not many years ago this endemic species of mammal nearly went extinct, because of hunting. Fortunately, the population numbers have since increased to no longer being a concern.
The clarity of the water this far out into the Pacific is stunning, and is a real spectacle for watching schools of fish. Arriving in Juan Bautista we’ll head to our lodging for a nice and deserved seafood lunch.
In the afternoon, we will tour the town and its surroundings.
DAY 3 & 4 - MORNING PELAGIC AND ENDEMIC LANDBIRDS
Early in the morning we will embark another boat and sail for the next 6 hours, heading to the North of the island into deeper waters. Using bait, we’ll sail for some 5 to 8 miles attracting seabirds. Particular effort will be focused on the rare and scarce Masatierra y Stejneger’s Petrels. The more common species in the area are Juan Fernández Petrel and Pink-footed Shearwater.
After spending the morning in this boat trip, we’ll return to Cumberland Bay to have lunch in a local restaurant. Later we will walk the foothills of El Yunque hill where the fantastic Juan Fernández Tit-Tyrant and the dazzling Juan Fernandez Firecrown are frequently found. We will spend the afternoon in the company of these stunning endemic birds and the exuberant vegetation of Juan Fernández National Park.
With the purpose of finding more seabirds, on day 4 we’ll do two pelagic excursions. In the morning, we will head to the North of the island in search of more petrels; White-face and Black-bellied Storm-Petrels.
After a delicious lunch and a brief break back in town, we will continue to our second pelagic, this time heading to Southeast to visit the Verdugo Islet. Here we will see a breeding colony of Kermadec Petrel.
At the end of the day we will go back to our accommodation to relax and have a nice dinner.
DAY 5 - RETURN TO SANTIAGO
On the last day we can keep birding on our way back to the Robinson Crusoe’s airfield in the morning for our departure flight from the island at noon. We’ll arrive back in Santiago mid-afternoon and take you back to your hotel.