Patagonia: home to some of the world’s most picturesque landscapes. The southern reaches of Chile and Argentina offer a diverse and spectacular array of photo opportunities, from the windswept pampas to towering granite peaks. With these as backdrops we’ll be guaranteed to observe and photograph wildlife such as guanacos, rheas, condors and more, in their natural settings.
The wild ambience of Patagonia ensures that close encounters are possible around every corner. Stunning Torres del Paine national park plays host to the most accessible wild puma viewing anywhere in the world!
We’ll travel through southern Chile and Argentina visiting some five-star South American attractions: Torres del Paine National Park, the Fitzroy massif, and the Perito Moreno Glacier. Aside from these we’ll traverse less traveled but equally stunning areas, each adding variety to our portfolio of trip images.
Our expert bilingual guide will be on hand every step of the way, offering tips and guidance for beginners, and getting advanced photographers in the optimum location. Our itinerary will cater to all ability levels and types of equipment. Even without a camera, this is a high-quality wildlife tour. In mid-April the fall colours will be firing.
During this journey we’ll enjoy the charming culture of Chile and the local cuisine that puts Argentina on the map. Although we’ll brave the elements that make this part of the world so stark and beautiful, we’ll also relax with the comforts and modern amenities that both of these countries offer.
Day 1: Arrival in Punta Arenas, Chile
Our Patagonia photo tour begins in Punta Arenas, a lively city in the far south of Chile, accessible by domestic flight from Santiago. We will meet in the evening for a hearty dinner and discuss the upcoming trip. Night in Punta Arenas.
Day 2: Magellan Straight and Penguin Colony
This morning we cross on a long ferry ride across the Straight of Magellan. It’s an exciting opportunity to view Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel and marine mammals such as Dusky and Commerson’s Dolphins.
Upon arrival on the grand isle of Tierra del Fuego, we’ll stop at roadside salt lakes to find Chilean Flamingos. The main destination for today is stopping at South America’s only mainland colony of King Penguins. Here, around one hundred adults and some juveniles wait for us on the other side of a handy viewing blind. Night in Cerro Sombrero.
Day 3: Pali Aike
We keep moving and again cross the windy Magellan Straight staying on the lookout for dolphins and Magellanic Penguins in their marine environment. We have seen Leopard Seals on this crossing! We’ll stop on the other side to look for the endemic Ruddy-headed Goose and perhaps a Humboldt’s Hog-nosed Skunk.
The main focus of today is to venture into the remote Pali Aike National Park where terrestrial wildlife abounds. This is the guanaco’s domain, where herds roam freely and frequently on the slow-going roads within the park. We’ll literally rub shoulders with dozens of them. Where there are guanacos there are pumas, and we’ll be on the watch for these elusive cats.
Several caves in the park present interesting archaeological history and we can enter one of them. On the roads in Pali Aike we can see some photogenic birds such as Tawny-throated Dotterel, Chocolate-vented Tyrant and Crested Caracara. Some species have already flown north to their wintering grounds. After a lengthy afternoon drive we spend the night in Puerto Natales on the shores of the Pacific, our second ocean of the day. Anywhere along the way we can get out for some scenic landscapes. The “coiron” grass on the pampas is quite a nice foreground subject! Night in Puerto Natales.
Day 4: Canal of the Mountains
Today we’ve scheduled a scenic boat trip to a new destination to the west of Puerto Natales, in the Chilean Fiords region. This 50km-long canal is draped glaciers and waterfalls and will provide dramatic imagery. We get out to explore the toe of a glacier. Night in Puerto Natales.
Days 5-7: Torres del Paine
A restful morning may include a sleep-in and/or photographing Black-necked Swans in front of the hotel. After this we pack up and head north toward the jaw-dropping Torres del Paine, on the lookout for another large black-and-white bird, the Andean Condor.
We shouldn’t have any problem seeing these majestic birds soaring along the roadside cliffs. The drive will present other “pull over!” moments because the scenery is outstanding all around us. It only takes a bit of patience to frame some of it with a soaring condor in the foreground.
Arguably the single most scenic location in all of South America, Torres del Paine is a photographer’s dream. We’ll spend three days here to get our fill of incredible landscapes and wildlife, combining the two when possible. It is here we’ll have our best chance at photographing a puma, however many other subjects will beckon, including a sudden proliferation of condors, guanacos and rheas on the protected pampas.
We’ll enjoy some short hikes, one or more waterfall sessions and a trip to Lago Grey with its icebergs and forest of Southern Beech. Magellanic Woodpeckers are found in these gnarled woods, and if lucky, a roosting owl. An endangered ungulate, the Huemul, is possible I this area. Pleasant walks lead to lakes, glaciers, and stunning sunrises on these days in the park. We’ll employ a local puma guide, and be out early to help us get into position for the most dramatic photos possible. Nights in Torres del Paine.
Day 8: Argentina
Depending on our previous success, we’ll have one last drive along the slow backroads of Torres del Paine, which could finish with a bonus puma sighting. Then we’ll leave the park and cross into Argentina at a small border crossing.
Several hours of scenic driving brings us to El Calafate, where we’ll settle in and have some time to shop, rest and edit. If the weather cooperates it’s possible to see the Southern Patagonian Icecap from town. A steak dinner awaits, if that is your thing! Night in El Calafate.
Day 9: Perito Moreno
Perito Moreno glacier, one of Argentina’s top attractions is located in Los Glaciares National Park about forty-five minutes from town. We get amazing views of this behemoth spilling chunks of ice into Lago Argentina, while fall colours reveal themselves at treeline above.
We have plenty of time here to capture the majesty of this gigantic glacier as it advances toward the elaborate viewing platforms. Austral Parakeets, Fiery-eyed Diucons and Thorn-tailed Rayaditos might dictate keeping the long lenses in hand. After we’ve had our fill we return to Calafate and continue onward to the towering spires of Fitzroy and Cerro Torre. Night in El Chalten.
Day 10: El Chalten
Sunrise on the Fitzroy massif is our pre-breakfast target this morning. With luck, we’ll frame pampas, colourful lenga trees and towering spires not far from roadside and with coffees in hand.
On site we’ll discuss the use of filters and lens techniques to capture images as crisp as the autumn air. This scene of Cerro Fitzroy (or “Chalten”) and Cerro Torre epitomizes the stark landscape of Patagonia. These peaks are truly impressive sights.
After breakfast we’ll roam this northern section of Los Glaciares for more images, including a stunning waterfall that provides more scenic opportunities if there’s any more room on our memory cards. For the long lens the area hosts Chilean Flickers, Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and both Spectacled and Torrent Ducks. The backdrop of Fitzroy is not to be missed, and we’ll hope for clear vistas that so often materialize at this time of year. Night in El Chalten.
Day 11: Transfer to El Calafate
In the morning we will fine-tune our Fitzroy imagery before heading to El Calafate. We’ll drive past the turquoise Lagos Viedma and stop whenever something exciting shows up! Night in El Calafate.
Day 12: Departure from El Calafate
You can depart anytime today. If you are joining our Patagonia Photo Tour Extension you can fly to Puerto Madryn.
Departures & Prices
Tour Price Includes
- All accommodations
- All meals
- Guides: 1 guide with 4 - 8 participants, 2 guides with 9 - 12
- Ground transportation
- Park entry/ tour fees
- Gratuities to local guides and drivers
Tour Price Does Not Include
- Flights to and from start/end
- Travel Insurance
- Items of a personal nature
What to Expect
What to Expect
• Some longer drives
• Shorter days mean better light and more time in the evenings to review images and go over editing techniques
• Some early mornings
• Accommodation ranges from good to very good
• Food ranges from simple Chilean to the best steak you’ve ever eaten across the border
• We could encounter inclement weather including snow or rain; wind is a certainty but fair weather is also likely at this time of year (autumn)
• Equipment list and recommendations will be discussed before the trip