Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Extension
3-8 November 2023
Tour length: 6 days
Group size limit: 7
Dani Lopez-Velasco and a local leader
Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego Extension
15-20 December 2024
Tour length: 6 days
Group size limit: 7
Joshua Bergmark and a local leader
NOTE: Can be linked with Argentina: Southern in 2024
Day 1: Our Chile birding tour begins this morning at Iquique Airport and will be timed to coincide with the arrival of a morning flight from Santiago which everyone can book closer to the date. After arriving, we will go check some spots along the coast where we hope to see Humboldt Penguin, Red-legged Cormorant and Belcher’s (Band-tailed) Gull, amongst others. Later we will drive to some Tamarugo woodlands inland from the coast in search of Tamarugo Conebill, which is found only in northernmost Chile and southernmost Peru. Overnight at Iquique.
Day 2: This morning we will embark on a pelagic off Iquique. It must be stressed that pelagics off Iquique are generally far better than those off Arica. Our main targets here are Markham’s and Elliot’s Storm-Petrels. There are also slim chances for the much-wanted Hornby’s Storm-Petrel. We might also see Back-browed and Buller’s Albatrosses, Southern and Northern Giant Petrels, White-chinned Petrel, Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Peruvian Diving Petrel, Peruvian Pelican, Peruvian Booby, Neotropic, Red-legged and Guanay Cormorants, Chilean Skua, Grey, Swallow-tailed, Belcher’s and Franklin’s Gulls, the stunning Inca Tern and Elegant and Peruvian Terns. We will be back on land by lunch time, and afterwards we will drive north towards Arica. On the journey we will make several stops to search for the Critically Endangered endemic Chilean Woodstar, as well as for Raimondi’s Yellow Finch, discovered here in Chile just a few years ago. Other species we hope to see include Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Sheartail, Pied-crested Tit-Tyrant and Slender-billed Finch. In the evening we will search for Tschudi’s Nightjar. Overnight at Arica.
Day 3: After some birding around Arica, searching for Peruvian Thick-knee and anything we might have missed the previous day, we will start driving out of the Lluta Valley, climbing through the desert foothills into the high Andes. We will be making some stops en route, searching for Peruvian Pygmy Owl, Greyish Miner and Straight-billed Earthcreeper, before reaching Putre, where we will spend the following two nights.
Day 4: Dawn will see us in a gulley close to the village, where we will search for some key targets such as White-throated Earthcreeper and Dark-winged and Canyon Canasteros. Some widespread species we are likely to see here include Bare-faced and Black-winged Ground Doves, Andean Hillstar, Giant Hummingbird, Plain-breasted Earthcreeper, White-winged Cinclodes, Streaked Tit-Spinetail, Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrant, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, Chiguanco Thrush, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Golden-billed Saltator, Black-hooded and Ash-breasted Sierra Finches, Greenish Yellow Finch, Band-tailed Seedeater, Hooded Siskin and Spot-winged Pigeon. Later we will commence our exploration of the altiplano in the stunning Lauca National Park with its snow-capped volcanoes, tussock grasslands, deserts, steppes, and deep blue lakes. A number of specialities occur here, including White-throated Sierra Finch, Puna and Ornate Tinamous, Giant Coot, Puna Snipe and Golden-spotted Ground Dove, and we will have our first chance to see Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. We will also be on the lookout for other widespread high Andean species such as ‘Puna’ Rhea, Andean Goose, Puna Teal, Andean Duck, Puna Ibis, Mountain Caracara, Andean Coot, Andean Lapwing, Puna Plover, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Andean Avocet, Andean Gull, Andean Flicker, Puna Miner, Cordilleran Canastero, Puna, White-fronted and Rufous-naped Ground Tyrants, Andean Negrito and White-winged Diuca-Finch. Up to three flamingo species (Chilean, Andean and the rare Puna or James’s) can often be found at Lauca in good numbers too. Overnight at Putre.
Day 5: All morning birding at Lauca National Park and surroundings. In the afternoon we will return to Arica for an overnight stay.
Day 6: Today we will take an early flight back to Santiago. Afterwards we will make our way into the Andes, searching for Chilean Tinamou, Chilean Flicker, Andean Condor, Chilean Pigeon, Moustached Turca, Crag Chilia and other specialities. Night in Santiago.
Day 7: We will spend most of the day birding various areas around the coast where our main targets will be endemic White-throated and Dusky Tapaculos and Dusky-tailed Canastero. Other species we will search for include Ticking Doradito, Many-colored Rush Tyrant, Stripe-backed Bittern, Chilean Elaenia, Fire-eyed Diucon, Chilean Mockingbird, Chilean Swallow, Common Diuca-Finch, Austral Blackbird and Black-chinned Siskin. Night near Santiago.
Day 8: Today we will do a very exciting pelagic trip off Valparaiso into the bird-rich waters of the Humboldt Current. December is the best time of year for Juan Fernandez Petrel, but we additionally expect several species of albatrosses including Northern and Southern Royal, Wandering, Salvin’s, Buller’s, Black-browed and even Chatham Albatrosses. Tubenoses such as Westland, De Filippi’s, White-chinned and Cape Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters are also targets, while Red-necked and Red Phalaropes or Sabine’s Gull could be sighted. After lunch we can search for any species we might have missed the previous day back on dry land. Night near Santiago.
Day 9: We will spend most of the day birding in the high Andes, amidst some fantastic scenery. The incomparable Diademed Sandpiper-Plover will be one of our main targets here, together with Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, White-sided Hillstar, Rufous-banded Miner, Grey-flanked Cinclodes, Sharp-billed Canastero, White-browed, Ochre-naped, Cinereous and Black-fronted Ground Tyrants, Grey-hooded, Mourning and Band-tailed Sierra Finches, Greater Yellow Finch and Yellow-rumped Siskin. amongst others. If lucky, we might see Mountain Parakeet, Creamy-rumped Miner or even Great Shrike-Tyrant.
Day 10: This morning we will drive southwards to Vilches, stopping en route, if needed, to look for Chilean Tinamou. In the afternoon we will explore the extensive Nothofagus forest in the Andean foothills, searching for the rare Chestnut-throated Huet-huet. Other species we might find include Green-backed Firecrown at the feeders of our hotel, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Austral Parakeet, Chucao Tapaculo, Striped Woodpecker, White-throated Treerunner, Thorn-tailed Rayadito and Patagonian Sierra Finch. In the evening we will try for Rufous-legged Owl at a reliable site. Night at Vilches.
Day 11: After some final birding in the Vilches area, we will head southwards to Termas de Chillán for an overnight stay, stopping en route to search for Burrowing Parrot and Spectacled Duck. Once in Termas de Chillán, our key targets will be Patagonian Forest Earthcreeper and Des Murs’s Wiretail, while we will also have a fair chance to see the sought-after Magellanic Woodpecker, as well as White-throated Hawk and Magellanic Tapaculo. Night at Termas de Chillán.
Day 12: We will spend some time birding in the early morning around Termas de Chillán and then we will continue southwards to Puyehue National Park for a two nights stay.
Day 13: The old Nothofagus forest of Puyehue is home to the huge near-endemic Black-throated Huet-huet, which we should see, as well as Slender-billed Parakeet, Ochre-flanked Tapaculo, Chilean Hawk, Austral Pygmy Owl and the uncommon Patagonian Tyrant.
Day 14: Today we will head to Puerto Montt, and from there we will take a ferry across to Chiloé Island. We have a fair chance of seeing the recently-described Pincoya Storm Petrel, as well as Magellanic Diving Petrel and Imperial and Rock Cormorants. During our time in Chiloé Island, we will see ‘Chiloe Steamer-Duck’, Hudsonian Godwit, Kelp Goose and Magellanic Oystercatcher. We will also visit a mixed colony of Magellanic and Humboldt Penguins.
Day 15: After some final birding on Chiloé we will take the ferry back to Puerto Montt and continue to the Puerto Montt Airport, where the main Chile tour ends this afternoon. Those continuing on the extension will fly to Punta Arenas. NOTE: If you are wish to visiting the remote Juan Fernández Islands before the tour for Juan Fernández Firecrown, Juan Fernández Tit-Tyrant, and an exciting pelagic hoping for both De Filippi’s and Juan Fernandez Petrels plus White-bellied Storm Petrel, please let us know at the time of booking. We must stress that this expedition would involve a charter flight and is rather expensive!
PATEGONIA & TIERRA DEL FUEGO: KING PENGUINS AND PUMAS EXTENSION (can be taken as a stand-alone tour)
Day 1: In the afternoon we will fly from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas in southernmost Chile for an overnight stay.
Day 2: In the morning we will take the ferry from Punta Arenas to Porvenir on the island of Tierra del Fuego, where we will stay overnight. Seabirds we are likely to see include Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant-Petrel and Magellanic Diving Petrel. We might see some lingering Southern Fulmars too. Once we get to dry land we will drive to a lake where we will search for the sought-after Magellanic Plover, a unique bird placed on its own family. Other target birds for the day include the endangered Ruddy-headed Goose, Fuegian and Flying Steamer Ducks, Two-banded Plover, Rufous-chested Dotterel and Dolphin Gull. We will also visit Bahía Inútil, where a colony of King Penguins has recently been established.
Day 3: In the early morning we will make the short ferry crossing to the mainland. Commerson’s Dolphins, a stunning species endemic to Patagonia and the Falklands, is usually seen on these waters. Once on the mainland, we will head towards Torres del Paine National Park area for a two nights stay. During the journey we will search for Tawny-throated Dotterels, Band-tailed Earthcreeper, Chocolate-vented Tyrant and White-bridled Finch. If very lucky we might come across a Patagonian Tinamou.
Day 4: We will spend all day exploring the world-famous Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most scenic places in the whole world. A professional Puma Tracker will come along during our two day stay, and is included in the tour price, highly increasing our chances of seeing this incredible and sought-after feline at what is definitely the best site in the world to see it. Either today or tomorrow we will also visit the impressive Sierra Baguales. We will search for the localized Austral Rail, the rare White-throated Caracara and the beautiful Yellow-bridled Finch, as well as ‘Darwin’s Rhea’, Silvery Grebe, Coscoroba Swan, Upland and Ashy-headed Geese, Spectacled Duck, Cinereous Harrier, Austral Canastero, Cinnamon-bellied Ground Tyrant, Patagonian Mockingbird and Patagonian Yellow Finch. We have another good chance here to find the impressive Magellanic Woodpecker.
Day 5: All morning birding in the Torres del Paine / Sierra Baguales area, searching for any birds (or cats!) we might have missed. After lunch we will head back to Punta Arenas for an overnight stay.
Day 6: The extension ends this morning at Punta Arenas Airport.
MAIN TOUR 2024
Cost: $ 7600
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 810
Cost: $ 5000
Deposit: $ 750
Single room supplement: $ 350
Please note that our extension includes flights from Puerto Montt, all tourism permits, a legally accredited driver for operating tours within national parks, and a dedicated local Puma Tracker to accompany us while birding in Torres del Paine. These inclusions may make our price seem expensive compared to similar offerings by other companies.
Accommodation: Mostly good, occasionally medium standard hotels throughout our stay.
Walking difficulty: Mostly easy with only a couple of moderate effort walks, mostly due to the altitude.
Tour cost includes: All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.
Tour cost excludes: Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks and other items of a personal nature.