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Chile – pumas and penguins in Patagonia

A fantastic journey through some of South America’s most spectacular scenery, home to rare and endangered wildlife.

Southern Patagonia is renown for its landscape and the Torres del Paine National Park is often described as ‘Chile’s prized jewel’. Many photographs on travel guides show its stunning granite ‘towers’ over snow-covered slopes. It is an area of rolling steppes, glassy lakes, bare rock, ‘electric blue’ glaciers and beech forests. The diversity of habitats is high for such a southerly region. The area is home to grazing guanacos and more than 100 species of birds, such as parakeets and flamingos. It is, perhaps, most famous for its population of Puma, with a strong breeding population living in areas where they can be watched, if time and care are taken. The Park and its wildlife are of high conservation value with all activities regulated and eco tourism is of great value.

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In addition to our time in Torres del Paine, we visit the island of Tierra del Fuego to see the largest mainland colony of King Penguins and explore the famous Straits of Magellan for its abundant marine life. With time to visit the high Andes near Santiago and discover some of Chile’s fascinating history and culture, this trip gives a good introduction to the country as well as providing an opportunity to see some iconic mammals and birds accompanied by one of Chile’s top wildlife guides.

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Wildlife Travel Chile 2016

Please note that holidays change, although sometimes only slightly, from year to year and previous trip reports may not reflect the planned itinerary, or other holiday details, for the current trip. Please ask us if you would like to know of any significant differences.

Dates

30 November – 13 December 2020

Leader

To be confirmed

Price

To be confirmed

Included

Return flights from the UK. Local transport as specified, including domestic flights and ferries. Eleven nights’ full board.

Not included

Refreshments. Entrance fees for optional sightseeing. Gratuities. Travel insurance.

Group size

To be confirmed

Day 1 An evening flight takes us to Santiago via Amsterdam – arriving Day 2

Day 2 We will visit the famous Viña Concha y Toro, located in the Maipo Valley. This winery is one of the oldest in Chile, and we will visit the famous ‘Casillero del Diablo’, the Devil’s Cellar that has given its name to one of their most familiar wine.

Day 3 We have a morning visit to Rio Clarillo nature reserve, near to the city, for our first introduction to the flora and fauna of Chile. In the afternoon, we fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas in the far south of Patagonia.

Day 4 Our day is spent travelling north to the famous National Park of Torres del Paine with plenty of stops on the way to take in the stunning landscapes and explore the variety of habitats from lagoons, small woodlands, and steppe grasslands, for which the area is famous.

Days 5 to 7 We have three days to explore the Park for sightings of Puma. On our travels we will find other interesting and iconic species of the region including Guanaco, Humboldt’s Hog-nosed Skunk, Big Hairy Armadillo and Chilla Fox, along with birds such as Darwin’s Rhea, Chilean Flamingo, Andean Condor and Austral Rail. We are likely to spend early mornings and evenings on puma watching.

Day 8 We make our way back to Punta Arenas, with further chances of discovering more wildlife along the way.

Day 9 Our journey continues with a ferry trip to Tierra del Fuego from Tres Puentes. During the crossing we will look out for Humpback Whales, Commerson’s and Peale’s Dolphins, Black-browed Albatross and Chilean Skua. At Useless Bay we visit the largest mainland colony of King Penguin. Our day finishes at the remote Hostería Yendegaia, Porvenir, an area with great historic significance and ideal as a base for wildlife watching.

Day 10 Our day will be spent exploring the iconic landscapes and unique moorland and wetland habitats of Tierra del Fuego including Laguna Verde and the Baquedano Hills. We will look for birds such as Magellanic Plover, Coscoroba Swan, Southern Silvery Grebe, Rufous-chested Dotterel and both Ashy-headed and Ruddy-headed Goose.

Day 11 We return by ferry to the mainland and visit Pali Aike National Park, a desolate volcanic area.

Day 12 Morning excursion in Punta Arenas, lunch and afternoon flight to Santiago.

Day 13 We have some free time this morning before returning to the airport for our flight home to the UK (arriving Day 14).

Please note that the itinerary may be changed to suit the weather or other practicalities at the discretion of the leaders. 

At Torres del Paine, we stay at the Hosteria Las Torres, of a high standard and situated at the foot of the mountain. On Tierra del Fuego, our base is the very good Hostería Yendegaia in Porvenir. Single accommodation is available at all locations, and all rooms have private en suite facilities.

Fod will be a mixture of local and international dishes, all of a good standard.

Land transport will be by minibus.

Group flights are from London Heathrow with KLM: 2020 times are likely to be similar to 2019:

30 November departs Heathrow 17.50, arrives Amsterdam 20.10, departs Amsterdam 21.20, arrives Santiago 11.10 (1 December)
12 December departs Santiago 12.45, arrives Amsterdam 09.45 (13 December), 13 December departs Amsterdam 11.40, arrives Heathrow 12.05

Chile is four hours behind the UK: Amsterdam is one hour ahead.

It is also possible to fly from other regional airports, including Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh: ask us about options.

You must have a valid passport for this trip (valid for at least 6 months after the end of the holiday). Temporary tourist visas are issued on arrival in Chile for holders of UK/EU passports. For holders of other passports please check with the relevant embassy.

A range of weather is expected. In central Chile it is likely to be sunny, warm/hot, and dry, but colder on our trip up into the Andes. In the south the weather can be mixed but we expect it to be mostly dry and, hopefully, sunny. It can be windy and cold at times. We will adapt our itinerary and will not walk far in very hot, cold or windy conditions.

No strenuous walking is involved but you need to have a reasonable level of general fitness. Most of the walks are not long (perhaps a couple of hours), but we will sometimes walk on rough ground. There are a few occasions when we walk uphill but this is not excessive. General inoculations for travel are recommended. We do not visit malaria/yellow fever areas.