Chile

  1. 2020
    Friday, November 6, 2020 to Tuesday, November 17, 2020
    Tour Duration: 
    12 days
    Tour Starts/Ends: 
    Puerto Montt/Santiago
    Number of Persons Limit: 
    12
Highlights

• Spectacular and surprisingly diverse scenery

• A very pleasant, comfortable and attractive country: South America's equivalent of New Zealand and California

• Many special target species and endemics: seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and a host of unusual and unique landbirds

 

Overview

Chile is South America's hidden gem, a place that few people have discovered but is a tourist and naturalist dream come true. Infrastructure is modern, with good roads, comfortable hotels and all the amenities one finds in North America and Europe. It is also a stunningly beautiful country, with crystal clear lakes, gorgeous conical volcanoes, dense temperate forests festooned with waterfalls, and dry Mediterranean countryside. This is an incredibly diverse nation, from the Atacama Desert in the north, the driest place on earth, to the Valdivian forest of the south, one of the wettest places in the world! Put it all together and we have one wonderful destination to explore.

Our tour will sample Chile’s major bird habitats and we will see a large majority of the country’s birds. Our trip is scheduled to coincide with the Chilean spring, a time of activity and rebirth—remember that for the most part this is a temperate country. Get ready to see penguins, albatrosses, rayaditos, firecrowns, miners, earthcreepers, huet-huets, and wiretails, and lots more with such unfamiliar names!! Join us on this tour of Chile, a rather un-South American part of South America—it will remind you of New Zealand, California and the Sahara! A world of amazing discoveries awaits you!

Join us on our pre-tour to Chile - The South: Tierra del Fuego & Torres del Paine or join us on our birding tour to Eastern Argentina.

 

Itinerary View Short Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Puerto Montt

Our tour starts today in the attractive town of Puerto Montt, in the temperate zone of Chile, its famous “lake district”, after a flight from Santiago (or from Punta Arenas if joining from the pre-tour extension). Night in Puerto Varas.

Day 2: Puerto Montt area

Puerto Montt area: Today we look for Valdivian Rainforest specialties such as Black-faced Ibis, Southern Caracara, Chilean Pigeon, Austral and Slender-billed Parakeets, Austral Pygmy-Owl, Green-backed Firecrown, Magellanic Woodpecker, Des Murs's Wiretail, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, White-throated Treerunner, Black-throated Huet-huet, Chucao Tapaculo, Ochre-flanked Tapaculo, Magellanic Tapaculo, White-crested Elaenia, Patagonian Tyrant, Patagonian Sierra-Finch and Black-chinned Siskin, among others. Night in Puerto Varas.

Day 3: Chiloe Island

From Puerto Montt we take the ferry to Chiloe Island, providing good chances to see coastal and pelagic seabirds such as Black-browed Albatross, Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwaters, Wilson´s Storm-Petrel, Magellanic Diving-Petrel, and the recently discovered new species, the Puerto Montt Storm-Petrel. We should encounter Black-necked Swan, Chiloe Wigeon, Speckled Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Peruvian Pelican, Brown-hooded Gull, and South American Tern on the way. After the ferry we visit a Magellanic Penguin Breeding Colony, where there are also Rock, Imperial and Red-legged Cormorants, Kelp Goose, Flying Steamer-Duck and Austral Negrito. Later we drive to coastal wetlands where we may find Flightless Steamer-Duck, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Hudsonian Godwit, Sanderling, South American Snipe, Kelp and Franklin´s Gulls, Black Skimmer, Ringed Kingfisher, Dark-bellied Cinclodes, Ochre-flanked Tapaculo, Fire-eyed Diucon, Grassland Yellow-Finch and Common Diuca-Finch. Time permitting, we revisit Alerce Andino Park in the late afternoon should we be missing target species. Lodging at Puerto Varas.

Day 4: Transfer to Santiago and into the Andes

This morning we fly to Santiago. From here we drive deep into the Andes, the largest mountain range in the world, and we are going to be at heights above 2000m (6500 ft), and enjoy scenery with peaks reaching more than 6000m (19700 ft). We arrive at our delightful lodgings in the Maipo Valley, where we settle into our accommodations and spend the rest of the day becoming familiar with species at this altitude including Picui and Black-winged Ground Doves, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, Buff-winged Cinclodes, Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant, Chilean Swallow and Mourning Sierra Finch. Lodging at Maipo Valley.

Day 5: Birding the Andes

We spend the entire day birding the mountain range for Andean birds, concentrating on those species that only live in this ecosystem. Among them we look for the majestic Andean Condor, the “Spirit of the Andes”, as well as Andean Goose, Crested and Torrent Ducks, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, Variable Hawk, Mountain Caracara, White-browed and Dark-faced Ground-Tyrants, Rufous-banded Miner, Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch, Greater Yellow Finch, Thick-billed and Yellow-rumped Siskins, White-sided Hillstar, the endemic Crag Chilia, and the extraordinary Diademed Sandpiper-Plover. Lodging at Maipo Valley.

Day 6: Batuco Wetlands, Chile’s wine district and the Pacific Coast

Today we drive to the extensive Batuco wetlands north of Santiago, where we look for Rosy-billed Pochard, Bahaman Pintail, Coscoroba and Black-necked Swans, Cocoi Heron, South American Snipe, and Long-winged Harrier. We then head west through Chile’s wine-growing country, perhaps taking time to sample some of the vineyards en route. We arrive in the afternoon at the Pacific coast with time to find coastal seabirds such as Neotropic Cormorant, Guanay Cormorant, Red-legged Cormorant, Kelp Gull, Grey Gull, Inca Tern, Blackish Oystercatcher, Gray-flanked Cinclodes and the endemic Chilean Seaside Cinclodes, probably the most maritime of Passerines. Lodging at Viña del Mar.

Day 7: Pelagic trip off Valparaiso

We take a pelagic trip into the cold waters of the Humboldt Current, one of the world's finest pelagic birding locations. Departing from Quintero, we head offshore to meet the current, and to look for species which are endemic to this system such as Humboldt Penguin, Inca Tern, Peruvian Booby, Guanay Cormorant, Peruvian Pelican, Grey Gull and Peruvian Diving-Petrel. We also could encounter Northern Royal Albatross, Black-browed Albatross, Salvin´s Albatross, Southern and Hall's Giant Petrels, Southern Fulmar, Cape Petrel, Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters, White-chinned Petrel and Wilson’s Storm-Petrel. With a little bit of luck we might find Chatham Albatross, Buller's Albatross, Juan Fernandez Petrel, Masafuera Petrel, Westland Petrel, Red-billed Tropicbird and Chilean Skua.

After the pelagic, we head south to ponds and coastal marshes searching for the beautiful Many-colored Rush-Tyrant as well as many other species such as Great and White-tufted Grebes, Speckled Teal, Yellow-billed Pintail, Chiloe Wigeon, Lake Duck, Red Shoveler, Snowy Egret, Cinereous Harrier, Red-gartered Coot, Red-fronted Coot, White-winged Coot, Spot-flanked Gallinule, Plumbeous Rail, White-backed Stilt, American Oystercatcher, Burrowing Owl, Wren-like Rushbird, Spectacled Tyrant, Yellow-winged Blackbird and the endemic Dusky Tapaculo among others. Lodging at Viña del Mar.

Day 8: Coastal Mountain Range

We start early and drive east into the heart of the Coastal Mountain Range, with peaks above 2000m (6500 ft) and we search for endemics such as Chilean Tinamou, Chilean Mockingbird, Moustached Turca, White-throated Tapaculo and Dusky-tailed Canastero. We intend to visit La Campana National Park (Ocoa area), which was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. This park has a varied native flora composed of Mediterranean Forest. It is particularly rich in birds, including Variable Hawk, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, American Kestrel, Harris’s Hawk, Chimango Caracara, California Quail, Chilean Flicker, Striped Woodpecker, Green-backed Firecrown, Giant Hummingbird, Patagonian Sierra-Finch, Grassland Yellow-Finch, Rufous-collared Sparrow, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Southern House Wren, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Fire-eyed Diucon, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, Austral Blackbird and Common Diuca-Finch. Drive to Santiago for the night.

Day 9: Arica and transfer to Putre

Today we fly from Santiago to Arica. Upon arrival, we drive east and investigate the rich valleys of Lluta for Peruvian Thick-knee, Croaking Ground-Dove, Peruvian Pygmy Owl, Andean Swift, Peruvian Sheartail, Oasis Hummingbird, Grayish Miner, Tamarugo Conebill, Vermilion Flycatcher, Bran-colored Flycatcher, Peruvian Meadowlark, Groove-billed Ani, Blue-black Grassquit, Chestnut-throated Seedeater and Slender-billed Finch.Drive to the Pre-puna zone. Night at Putre (3500m. 11400ft.).

Day 10: Putre

We look today for Ornate Tinamou, Spot-winged Pigeon, Bare-faced Ground-Dove, Andean Hillstar, Sparkling Violetear, White-throated Earthcreeper, Straight-billed Earthcreeper, Cream-winged Cinclodes, Black-throated Flower-piercer, Golden-billed Saltator, Blue-and-Yellow Tanager, Canyon Canastero, White-browed and D'Orbigny's Chat-Tyrant, Chiguanco Thrush, Ash-breasted Sierra-Finch and Band-tailed Seedeater, among others. Night at Putre.

Day 11: Altiplano

We visit the Altiplano in search of high altitude and target birds such as Giant Coot, Andean Lapwing, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe and White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant. We´ll enjoy birding around Parinacota and Chungara Lake, searching for more Andean specialties such as Puna Tinamou, Puna Rhea, Silvery Grebe, Puna Ibis, Andean Goose, Puna Teal, Puna Plover, Andean Avocet, Andean Coot, Chilean Flamingo, Andean Flamingo, Puna Flamingo, Andean Condor, Mountain Caracara, Andean Gull, Andean Flicker, Puna Miner, Puna Ground-Tyrant, White-fronted Ground-Tyrant, Andean Negrito, Giant Conebill, White-winged Diuca-Finch, Black-hooded Sierra-Finch and Black Siskin. Drive back to Arica. We then leave the high altitudes and drive back to Arica.

Day 12: Transfer to Santiago and Departure

Time permitting, we visit the surroundings of Arica and the Lluta River Mouth, looking for Little Blue Heron, Puna Ibis, Cinnamon Teal, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Black-bellied Plover, Least Sandpiper, Band-tailed Gull, Pacific Dove, Croaking Ground-Dove, Vermilion Flycatcher, Cinereous Conebill, Chestnut-throated Seedeater, Peruvian Meadowlark and Slender-billed Finch, among others. We fly from Arica to Santiago. Transfer to Santiago airport (or to overnight hotel).

 

Map
Featured Wildlife
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Reviews

"Fabulous range of habitats visited in a short time. An excellent way to combine birding and touring of a range of habitats across the southern part of South America." - 2014 Chile participant