Patagonia Birds & Wildlife with Canadian Geographic

11 Days from
$6,450 USD
Land Tour
Highlights

Highlights

  • In partnership with Canadian Geographic
  • Spectacular and surprisingly diverse scenery, including the magnificent Torres del Paine and Perito Moreno Glacier
  • Searching for pumas in Torres del Paine National Park
  • Boat trip to view penguins, albatross and more
  • Many special target species and endemics
Partners
Map

Map

Tour Overview

On this tour with Canadian Geographic we explore Patagonia, a land of incredible landscapes filled with abundant marine and terrestrial wildlife. Southern Chile and Argentina offer exceptional close-up viewing of birds and mammals, where one can find King, Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins—as many species of penguins as an average Antarctic journey! Even Leopard Seals are a possibility!

In the mountains and on the pampas we find accessible puma (mountain lion) viewing below the spires of Torres del Paine National Park. We’ll be guaranteed to observe and photograph guanacos, rheas, and condors roaming free in their natural settings, and with some patience we hope to see puma up close. A great assortment of breeding birds will be on display, including Austral Parakeet, Chilean Flamingo, Chocolate-vented Tyrant, Flightless Steamer-Duck and perhaps the endangered Magellanic Plover.

In Argentina we’ll enjoy the food and wine culture, while in Chile the quaint atmosphere and friendly locals will further enrich our experience. Chilean wine isn’t so bad either, paired with the finest of seafood.

This is a wonderful jaunt through magnificent landscapes full of history, culture and of course, wild animals. In comparison with our main Patagonia Wildlife Safari, this tour is shorter and does not include any flights, starting in Ushuaia and ending in El Calafate. Finishing in El Calafate allows us to include the world-famous Perito Moreno Glacier. You also get the pleasure of travelling with an ambassador or two from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

Dates & Prices

DATES & PRICES

What's Included

Tour Price Includes

  • All accommodation
  • All meals
  • Ground transportation
  • 5 - 8 Participants will be guided by one guide and an ambassador. 9 - 12 participants will be guided by two guides and ambassador.
  • All park, conservation and entrance fees
  • Gratuities to local guides/drivers

Tour Price Does Not Include

  • Travel to and from start/end location
  • Travel Insurance
  • Items of a personal nature

Itinerary

Days 1 – 3: Arrival in Ushuaia, Argentina

This Patagonia Birds and Wildlife Tour with Canadian Geographic begins in Ushuaia, known by the Argentines as the world’s most southerly city, located on the island of Tierra del Fuego. It is also the country’s only community on the western slope of the Andes. This is the sending-off point for most Antarctic cruises. We won’t have to go that far to see exciting wildlife, as up to three species of penguins can be found regularly within a short distance of town.

On our first day here we’ll visit a penguin rookery that features hundreds of Magellanic Penguins and a small number of Gentoos—the only South American colony of this latter species. It’s possible to see the penguin’s most feared enemy here: Leopard Seals, which are recolonizing the area. This excursion will include a visit to an interesting whale museum and historic farm.

We’ll ply the waters of the Beagle Channel in a large boat where we’ll see South American Sea Lions up close, and seek out a variety of birds such as Dolphin Gull, Flightless Steamer-duck, Snowy Sheathbill, Blackish Cinclodes and Black-browed Albatross. On land we’ll have time to check out three species of goose and other birds such as caracaras, eagles, woodpeckers and swallows.

The Southern Beech forests spill into the ocean here, providing that “Edge of the world” feeling, not to mention an out-of-this-world experience! During our downtime, along the touristic streets of Ushuaia, there will be a chance to shop for crafts made by local artisans and sample some delicious Argentine food. Three nights in Ushuaia.

Gentoo Penguin

Day 4: Traversing Tierra del Fuego

This morning, we embark in our comfy van over the southernmost section of the Andes into the flatlands, showing us the vast scale of Tierra del Fuego. We’ll stop at a quaint bakery to try some delicious Argentine treats, such as medialunas and alfajores. Bus drivers fill up on hot water for their mate drinks.

We’ll pass over Rio Grande—the mouth of the largest river on the island and an area where some of the longest-migrating North American birds spend their off-season. With luck we’ll see some Red Knots and Hudsonian Godwits 15,000km from their breeding grounds.

In the afternoon, we’ll cross into Chile at a backroads border station and continue to Bahia Inútil (Useless Bay) for a special visit to Chile’s only King Penguin colony. Hosting around one hundred adults (and growing) and a few fuzzy adolescents, the site is a great example of a well-managed tourism and conservation initiative. It is always a highlight. Night in Cerro Sombrero.

King Penguins

Day 5: Pali Aike National Park

We have an hour drive to arrive at the Magellan Straight, where we’ll cross on a car ferry, staying on the lookout for Commerson’s and Dusky Dolphins and many ocean birds. The main focus for today is the remote Pali Aike National Park where terrestrial wildlife abounds. This is the guanaco’s domain, where herds of this llama-like mammal roam freely on the protected grasslands. Lesser Rheas are abundant here.

Where there are guanacos, there are pumas, and we’ll be on the lookout for these elusive cats. Several caves in the park present interesting archaeological history and we can enter one of them after we walk into the crater of an extinct volcano!

On the roads in Pali Aike we should find some nice-looking birds such as Chocolate-vented Tyrant, Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant, White-bridled Finch and Tawny-throated Dotterel. Other mammals may include both South American Gray Fox and Humboldt’s Hog-nosed Skunk.

After a steady drive we will spend the night in Puerto Natales on the shores of the Pacific, our second ocean of the day. Night in Puerto Natales.

Guanacos

Days 6 – 8: Torres del Paine

The next morning we will walk the town’s ocean-front promenade to see Black-necked Swans, often with fluffy cygnets on their backs. Not far out of town we stop by the Cueva de Milodon, a massive cavern where these now-extinct mammals lived over 5,000 years ago.

Then it’s off to the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park. Arguably the single most scenic location in all of South America, this large and wild reserve is a nature lover’s dream and on every landscape photographer’s bucket list. Based at a cozy hotel inside the park, we’ll drive the dirt roads in hopes of tracking down a puma (mountain lion). On previous trips we’ve seen up to nine cats in several hours! This is the best place in the world to see them and with luck we’ll find them hunting among the herds of guanacos.

Other highlights in Torres del Paine include Andean Condors soaring overhead looking for scraps, and Chilean Flamingoes walking the shores of Laguna Amarga. Another possibility is the Huemul, a deer known as one of the rarest mammals in South America. Spectacled and Torrent Ducks, Magellanic Woodpecker, White-throated Treerunner and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle are just some of the exciting birds that round up the park’s list.

We’ll walk the shores of a glacial lake to see turquoise icebergs up close. Horseback riding is an optional excursion while here. Nights in Torres del Paine.

Torres del Paine

Days 9 – 10: El Calafate

We exit the park today and cross back into Argentina at another small border crossing. A drive across the windswept pampas will highlight the importance of sheep farming in the region and we might encounter some Argentine gauchos working the land.

Soon we’ll arrive in El Calafate, a former gaucho enclave but now one of Argentina’s most touristic centres. In the evening we can explore the waterfront on the shores of Lago Argentina then enjoy a fantastic meal.

Our main objective is to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier, a river of ice spilling from the Southern Patagonian Icecap. We get amazing views of this behemoth spilling chunks of ice into Lago Argentina, sometimes forming a spectacular ice bridge that collapses every few years.

We have plenty of time here to view the majesty of this gigantic glacier as it advances toward the elaborate viewing platforms. Austral Parakeets, Fiery-eyed Diucons and Thorn-tailed Rayaditos are some local birds with strange names and varied morphology.

After we’ve had our fill we return to El Calafate to relax on our last evening of the tour.

Photography at Perito Mereno Glacier

Day 11: Departure, El Calafate

Our Patagonia Birds & Wildlife tour with Canadian Geographic ends this morning in El Calafate. You can depart anytime and there are regular flights to Buenos Aires where you can connect to flights home.

What to Expect

Our daily travel schedule on this tour will vary to account for weather, opening times and other variables. However, as travel distances are relatively long we’ll stick to the schedule as much as possible. We also make two land border crossings, each of which requires a couple of short stops.
Dinners are served late, especially in Argentina. Due to this, we don’t undertake more than a couple of early morning walks, although puma viewing may require an early, pre-dawn start (or a late evening finish).

Food-wise, meat is always an option on this tour but we have had vegetarians enjoy the tour happily. On the day we leave Tierra del Fuego we explore a more remote area and will have a long drive between establishments.

The tour generally involves easy to moderate walking. In general, we keep all our nature study to a pleasant stroll, maximizing the number of things we see but allowing enough time to properly enjoy them. If we have two leaders we may split into “faster” and “slower” groups but it is more ideal to stick together.

For lunch we generally try to stop somewhere pleasant— but not for too long— and a picnic may be an option. An enjoyable option is take-out empañadas.

We embark on a boat trip that is generally on seas without swell, but can involve wind and chop. The same goes for the short car ferry.

Weather is usually fairly pleasant but we can encounter some strong winds and possibly rain while exploring. Participants should be prepared for some cool days and especially mornings. Gloves and warm hats are useful and comfortable hiking footwear is fine (no rubber boots required). Sometimes we experience surprisingly warm weather.

We aim to combine the best of mammals, birds and scenery on this tour. It should be noted that although this tour is focused on wildlife in general, this includes birds. We don’t often pass up the opportunity to observe the avifauna found along the way, even some little brown birds. Therefore, dedicated birders often see many species found in this part of South America.

In the evenings, we discuss the day’s activities and review the list of birds and wildlife seen, and outline events for the next day.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of joining a tour with Canadian Geographic?
Eagle-Eye Tours and Canadian Geographic partnered in 2022 to develop some amazing tours in Canada and beyond. The Eagle-Eye Tours in-house logistics team still handles all of the details, and we still send one or two of our expert guides, so you can expect the same great experience you would have on our other tours. But in addition, you will be joined by a Canadian Geographic ambassador. The ambassador is selected from among the Society’s Explorers-in-Residence program, or its College of Fellows, or a Can Geo Photographer-in-Residence or Filmmaker-in-Residence. The ambassador serves as an extra resource during your tour. Whereas our EET guides will be expert birders and naturalists, the Can Geo ambassador will contribute insights in other areas such as history, exploration or culture. You will feel an amazing benefit from having these interesting individuals come along on your travels. Guest experiences are further enhanced by a pre-trip virtual meet-and-greet, customized digital libraries from Canadian Geographic’s award-winning story collection, a Can Geo welcome package and, if you choose to subscribe to the magazine, membership in the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. Eagle-Eye Tours standard terms and conditions apply. A portion of the fees from every Canadian Geographic Adventure booked is donated to the Royal Canadian Geographical Society to further its important programming.

Featured Wildlife

While we cannot guarantee sightings of the birds or mammals listed below, we believe that encountering these species is quite likely during this tour.

  • Puma (Mountain Lion)
  • Chilean Flamingoes
  • King, Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins
  • South American Sea Lions
  • Huemul Deer
  • Andean Condor