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Birding In Patagonia

Chilean Patagonia

Patagonia Birding Destinations
Chilean Patagonia
Argentine Patagonia (Bariloche)


For the active birder, this trip offers excitement amidst a unique culture and temperate rainforest ecosystem with bird life not found anywhere else in the world. Accompanied by a professional bilingual guide and specialist, it combines several days on the big island of Chiloe, where the forest dwelling Thinocryptidae, the Chucao Tapaculo (Scelorchilus rubecula), and Magellanic Woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus) live.

Wetlands excursions will focus on the Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis), and the Black-Necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus), among others. One day will be spent visiting the small island Chucao Tapaculo (Scelorchilus rubecula)reserve of Puduel, home to both Magallanic and Humbolt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti and magellanicus) on the majestic Pacific coast of the island. 

Then, you and your guides will meet the boat for the trip over to the wild fjord region of Continental Patagonia. This is also the home of the Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) and many other raptors, plus the Torrent Duck (Merganetta armata), Ringed Kingfisher (Ceryle torquata) and many types of Cormorants (Phalacrocorax olivaceus, magellanicus, bougainvillii and gaimardi). We will spend the days in isolated fjords, traveling by zodiac to quiet beaches and estuaries.

The bird life is accompanied by an exciting array of mammals as well, including sea lions, orcas, dolphins, the tiny marsupial Monito del Monte, and the smallest deer in the world. We will also make sure that we visit several of the region’s natural hot springs – one bubbling out of the beach on the Cahuelmo Fjord and another nestled deep in the native forest of the area. And remember, although you might be in a wild part of the world, the comfort and the fine food served on the boat will make every moment a pleasure. 

Includes: All transport from Puerto Montt onwards, all lodging, cabin berth, all meals and snacks prepared by a professional chef using the freshest the region has to offer, all excursions, expert bilingual guides (including at least one ornithologist who is an expert in the area), and insurance. 

Guided Connections is happy to assist you with all of your travel plans within Chile, from making reservations to simply giving sound advice. 

Sample Itinerary

Arrive to the city of Puerto Montt. Guided Connections will gladly arrange all domestic Chilean flights, transfers and hotels. 

Day 1

Leaving in the morning from Puerto Montt, we’ll take the open-air ferry across the Gulf of Ancud to the big island of Chiloe, known as a South American version of Ireland. Amidst the sea lions, Humboldt penguins and many gull species, it becomes apparent that while similar to the Northern hemisphere’s temperate ecosystems, everything is just a bit different.

Time permitting, we will take a trip 40 minutes away to the penguin colony of Punihuil on Chiloe’s Pacific coast where Humboldt (Spheniscus humboldti) and Magellanic penguins’ (Spheniscus magellanicus) normally distinct ranges overlap.  We will also have our eyes out to see several northern hemisphere species: Baird’s Sandpiper (Calydris bairdii), Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus triolor), Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca), and Franklin’s Gull (Larus pipixcan) in their summer migratory habitats.

You will have a room in the elegant Hosteria Ancud, a lovely hotel decorated with native wood overlooking the bay of Ancud. A visit to a local chef’s house where we will enjoy local dishes home cooked to perfection, followed by the first talk by our ornithologist, Steve McGee, whom for several years has been doing field work in the area on a number of species. 

Day 2 – Chiloe’s Wetlands 

After a hearty and healthy breakfast of home baked delicacies, we will head east from Ancud to the town of Caulin. Situated on the estuary of the Chacao Canal, Caulin is the permanent home to over a hundred Black Necked Swans (Cygnus melancoryphus).  Other highlights will hopefully include: Chilean FlamingoBlack Necked Swans (Cygnus melancoryphus) (Phoenicopterus chilensis) during the winter months, Cormorants (Phalacrocorax olivaceus, magellanicus, bougainvillea, and gaimardi), Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), Great Egret (Casmerodius albus), and White Necked Heron (Ardea cocoi) among many others.

Then we head west to where the Chepu River joins the Pacific Ocean. After a locally prepared Curanto lunch (regional specialty) we head upstream on a local skiff to Coluco Lake. Here are the nesting grounds of the Brown-hooded gull (Larus maculipennis) where thousands of nesting pairs may be observed. Other species include the Great Grebe (Podiceps major), Red-gartered Coot (Fulica armillata), Ringed Kingfisher (Ceryle torquata) and the Magellanic Flightless Steamer Duck (Tachyeres pteneres) among others.

The evening and night will be spent in the island’s quaint capital, Castro with its abundant local crafts and seafood. Steve will lead the customary nightly wrap up resuming the day’s sightings and briefing for the next day.

Day 3 – The forested Heartland of Chiloe

We continue south, visiting the forested environs of Lake Natri where, with patience, we will observe Davwin’s famous discovery, the Rhinocryptidae Chucao Tapaculo (Scelorchilus rubecula), the Black Throated Huet Huet (Pteroptrus tarnii), Des Mur’s Wiretail (Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii), the Buff-necked Ibis (Theristicus caudatus), and, with a little luck, the Slender Billed Parakeet (Enicognathus leptorhynchus), among many others.

With a picnic lunch, we will explore several forested areas on our way to join the boat. The evening will be spent aboard in the protected, yet beautiful bay where our professional staff and chef await your arrival for a sunset dinner.

Day 4 – Untouched Chiloe 

Setting sail early, the boat will take us ever south amidst the seemingly endless canals and islands of the Chiloe Archipelago where human presence still has not made its mark. We will enter the isolated San Pedro Canal winding our way through the Guamolat Calal to access Chiloe’s southernmost secrets. Here we will witness nesting Cormorants and Magellanic Penquins, and even a sea lion colony. By now sightings of the Southern Lapwing (Vanellus chilensis), Black and Turkey Vultures (Coragyps atratus and Cathartes aura), and Chimongo Cara Cara (Milvago chimango) will have become commonplace and our sights will be on the increasing number of sea birds. Evening promises a secure cove, a gourmet meal, and sunset over the Pacific.

Day 5 – The Gulf of Ancud

Glaciers ease into view and the Andes loom ever larger as we head to the Patagonian mainland during this day of motor sailing. En route to American conservationist Douglas Tompkin’s 600,000 acre private park, Pumalin, we will be accompanied by numerous sea birds, such as: Pink Footed Shearwater (Puffinus creatopus), Southern Giant Petrel (Macronectes giganteus), Southern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialoides), Pintado Petrel (Daption capense) among others. We also will see Toninas (dolphins) swimming in the boat’s wake, sea lions, and penguins as we weave among the islands of the gulf. Dinner includes an authentic local barbecue (“asado”) with a local family on Chulin island.

Day 6 – Pumalin

The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus)Forest and mountain birds abound in the old growth temperate rainforest wilderness of Pumalin Park with its giant stands of the cypress, Alerce, which at 3600 years of age, is the second longest living tree on the planet. Born from the endless glaciers, numerous waterfalls are always within view as we cruise this roadless, virgin paradise. The Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) dominates the heights while species such as the following forest dwellers populate the understories; Chilean Flicker (Colaptes pitius), Magellanic Woodpecker (Campephilus magellanicus), Black Crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nictorax), Andean Tapaculo (Scytalopus magellanicus), Thorn-tailed Rayadito (Aphrastura spinicauda), and the White-throated Tree Runner (Pygarrhichas albogularis). Here we can hike among ancient trees, search for a glimpse of Torrent Ducks (Merganetta armata) amid the areas many rapids and bathe in natural hot springs in the Cahuelmo Fjord, all the while admiring the wildlife whose evolution includes minimal fear of humans. As expected, a spectacular gourmet dinner on board the boat and Patagonian sunset will set the scene for the ocean sounds to coax us to sleep.

Day 7 – Pumalin

As we work our way north along the rugged green of the Andes as they surge skyward in Comau fjord, we will test our skills at recognizing formerly unknown raptors such as the Red-backed Hawk (Buteo polysoma), Brown-chested Buzzard Eagle (Geranoaectus melanoleucus ), Cinereuos Harrier (Circus cinereus), and the White Throated Caracuar (Phalcoboenus albogularis). Despite being the last day, we will still hope to catch a glimpse of the wary Bicolor hawk (Accipiter bicolor), or at night the nocturnal Austral Pygmy Owl (Glaucidium nanum), the Short Eared Owl (Asio flammeus), or the rarely seen Rufous Legged Owl (Strix rufipes). One last chance for perfection as our chef and the sunset work together to see if it is possible to beat the previous night’s show…

Day 8 – Despedida (Goodbye)

Breakfast will be accompanied by a final discussion led by Steve, your ornithologist, to wrap up your Patagonian birding adventure. One last hedonistic soak in the hot springs at Llancahue Island and then lunch in Hornopiren. Here, the boat’s crew will bid you goodbye as you are met by a van to take you to Puerto Montt.

Guided Connections will be glad to arrange accommodations, tours or other activities for you in Chile.

 

Patagonia Birding Destinations
Chilean Patagonia
Argentine Patagonia (Bariloche)

 


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Guided Connections
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