Panoramic Patagonia

Chile and Argentina

February 11 to 24, 2022
Cost: $8,100
Leader: Claudio Vidal
Group Size: 8
Days: 14

Safari Overview

Patagonia, stretching over southern Chile and Argentina, is a sparsely populated, arid region with superb wildlife viewing opportunities. This breathtaking area encompasses the Andes Mountains and presents an image that is unmistakably South American. You’ll begin your adventure outside of El Calafate, Argentina with the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. Then you’ll take in the beautiful vistas of Torres del Paine and explore the most southerly Chilean islands. Visit a colony of king penguins, view soaring Andean condors, and search for guanaco herds roaming the plains of Torres del Paine. Spend two days tracking female pumas that are busy feeding their cubs. Soak up majestic scenery while appreciating the diversity of animals Patagonia has to offer.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Track female pumas while they search for food and care for their young.
  • Explore a king penguin colony in beautiful Tierra del Fuego.
  • Experience the astounding wingspan of an Andean condor as it soars above you.
  • Soak in the infamous Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park.

OPTIONS:

  • Continue your journey on our Easter Island extension from February 23 to 28, 2022. Come along for an unforgettable journey of exploration into the history of Easter Island (Rapa Nui).

Itinerary Updated: October 2020



Print Trip Safari Options
Date Description Lodge Meals
Feb 11 Travel to El Calafate, Argentina.
Feb 12 Arrive in El Calafate and enjoy a welcome dinner together. Hotel El Mirador del Lago, El Calafate D
Feb 13 Los Glaciares National Park to visit Perito Moreno Glacier. Hotel El Mirador del Lago, El Calafate B, L, D
Feb 14-15 Two days taking in the views of the spectacular Paine towers and great wildlife in eastern Torres del Paine National Park. Estancia Cerro Guido, Torres del Paine B, L, D
Feb 16-17 Puma tracking on a private ranch located at the eastern border of Torres del Paine National Park. Estancia Cerro Guido, Torres del Paine B, L, D
Feb 18 Birding and photography en route to Puerto Natales. Hotel Remota, Puerto Natales B, L, D
Feb 19 Explore Cerro Benitez in search of Andean condors. Hotel Remota, Puerto Natales B, L, D
Feb 20 Drive to Punta Arenas and visit Olga Teresa Ranch for Andean condor roosting sites. Hotel Ilala, Punta Arenas B, L, D
Feb 21 Take a Ferry to Tierra del Fuego Island to visit a king penguin colony. Hostería Yendegaia, Porvenir B, L, D
Feb 22 Spend the day exploring Tierra del Fuego. Hostería Yendegaia, Porvenir B, L, D
Feb 23 Morning in Tierra del Fuego then fly to Punta Arenas and join our Easter Island extension or fly home. B
Feb 24 Arrive home.

Our Trip Leaders

Claudio Vidal

Claudio is a native Chilean, a leading ornithologist, and co-author of more than 20 books on wildlife. An avid bird watcher from the age of 12, he now leads tours throughout the region, sharing his expertise about seabirds and marine mammals of the Humboldt Current, Patagonia, and Antarctica. Additionally, his passion for botany has led him to document wildflowers of the desert and Mediterranean regions of the world. He is easygoing, passionate about his work, and eager to share his knowledge with you.

Detailed Itinerary

A glimpse into our journey

Travel to El Calafate, Argentina

Feb 11

Arrive in El Calafate Argentina

Feb 12

Arrive in El Calafate, the main Argentinian gateway to one of the most spectacular landscapes of Patagonia: the Austral Andes Glaciers. Our local agent will transfer you from the airport to the hotel. If you would like to arrive earlier, we can arrange divergent airport transfers and extra nights.

Los Glaciares National Park

Feb 13

The Perito Moreno Glacier is one of the few glaciers on this continent that constantly advances and recedes (at present, it is the only advancing glacier in Argentina). One huge vertical 5-km ice wall of this glacier sinks into the Canal de los Témpanos (Channel of the Icebergs), which connects an arm of Lake Argentino, called Rico, to its main body. Once every four to five years, the Moreno Glacier fully crosses the channel, forming a dam that causes a rise in the waters of the Rico Arm. The pressure of the water will finally rupture the ice dam, providing a spectacular show that attracts hundreds of enthusiasts from around the world. The glacier was named after Francisco P. Moreno, a famous Argentinian explorer who discovered Lake Argentino and is known as the father of the Argentinian national parks. The 1,770 acres (717,800 hectares) of Los Glaciares National Park harbors this amazing glacier plus another 47 huge glaciers. This park has been declared a Worldwide Natural Heritage Site.

You’ll likely see guanacos and lesser rheas (a ratite like ostriches and emus) while you are in the open areas driving from El Calafate to the glacier. Watch carefully along the edge of rocky cliffs and up above the snow-covered peaks of the majestic Andes for the Andean condor, the “Master of the Sky.”

Torres del Paine National Park

Feb 14-15

On the east side of Torres del Paine National Park, which is the leeward side, the weather is usually quite sunny and clear. You’ll walk beside the impressive Towers of Paine granitic formations with wild guanacos roaming in the foreground.

At the eastern corner of Sarmiento Lake, you will reach a location that commands the most incredible views of the pinnacle peaks of Las Torres, the towers, from which the park takes its name. As you move around the park, you’ll encounter herds of guanaco, lesser rhea, and the impressive Andean condor soaring above. On the eastern side, enjoy the views of one of the impressive waterfalls of Paine River and, if it is clear, the fabulous granite columns of the Paine Massif from Laguna Amarga.

Puma tracking

Feb 16-17

You will have an experienced tracker on private land adjacent to Torres del Paine National Park to track female pumas. During this time of year female pumas are continually hunting to provide food for their almost fully-grown cubs. They are active during the day, at night, and during the twilight hours. Seeing a female puma and her cubs against the magnificent mountain backdrop and glorious skies is one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles.

Scenic drive to Puerto Natales

Feb 18

You’ll have a scenic drive that allows time for plenty of photography stops from Torres del Paine to Puerto Natales.

Cerro Benitez in search of Andean condors

Feb 19

Andean condors are abundant in the Cerro Benitez region, as they have communal roosting sites on the surrounding cliffs. Seeing them soar right above you is quite a remarkable experience as they are the world’s largest member of the vulture family with a 10-ft wingspan.

With a landscape of rolling hills, moorland, and lakes you will have the chance to see unique species of birds like the very localized ruddy-headed goose, the handsome chocolate-vented tyrant, long-tailed meadowlark, and Patagonian yellow-finch. The scrubby roadside vegetation provides concealment for a few species of skulking passerines, such as austral canastero. This area is prime to see rails, seedsnipes, and other lovely waders, such as rufous-chested plover and tawny-throated dotterel.

Olga Teresa Ranch for condor roosts

Feb 20

Olga Teresa Ranch boasts the largest concentration of Andean condor roosts. The steep cliff sides host as many as 100 birds with excellent access for viewing and photography. Olga Teresa Ranch is a protected space for these beautiful birds, as well as an important research site.

King penguins on Tierra del Fuego Island

Feb 21

Take a ferry across the Straits of Magellan to Useless Bay, Tierra del Fuego Island to visit a colony of approximately 100 king penguins, located at a small river mouth near the Straits of Magellan. This private nature reserve attracts the penguins with the bounty of food in the surrounding sea and aims to preserve the small numbers that breed and call it home year-round.

The vegetation is mainly wind-swept dwarfed bush and tussock grass, and you may spot common seabirds, especially southern giant-petrel plus kelp and dolphin gulls. Look for landbirds along the shore, such as dark-bellied and gray-flanked cinclodes. Other common species you may see include upland geese plus chimango and southern caracaras.

Tierra del Fuego Island

Feb 22

Tierra del Fuego Island is dominated by several of the most unique Patagonian habitats, especially Nothofagus or southern beech forest and Patagonian steppe. Aquatic habitats, including lakes, ponds, rivers, and rocky seashore add to the excitingly distinct subantarctic scene.

The avifauna of the southern-most region of Chile also has a distinct subantarctic influence. Typical birds found on the shore and on open water at this latitude include black-faced ibis, flightless steamer-duck, crested duck, ashy-headed and kelp geese, Magellanic oystercatcher, and Chilean skua. Other attractions in the area include torrent duck, austral parakeet, white-throated caracara, and Magellanic tapaculo.

You’ll have the chance to experience the typical Tierra del Fuego steppe along the shoreline of small lakes. Perhaps you’ll find the rare Magellanic plover, a strange southern wader that looks almost dove-like, as it picks away at the muddy edges. These birds frequently 'paddle' with their feet to disturb the animal life in the mud, a habit that often draws attention to them! Other birds that thrive in this windy terrain are least seedsnipe, short-billed miner, and correndera pipit.

Fly from Porvenir to Punta Arenas

Feb 23

Spend the morning on Tierra del Fuego Island then take a late afternoon flight from Porvenir to Punta Arenas to continue on our Easter Island extension or connect with your flight home.

Arrive home.

Feb 24

Chile and Argentina

Patagonia, stretching over southern Chile and Argentina, is a sparsely populated, arid region with superb wildlife viewing opportunities.

-50.942326, -73.406788

Cost & Payments

Costs (in US$)

Type Cost Per Person
Trip Cost, double occupancy $8,100
Single Supplement $1,555

Costs are per person, double occupancy, not including airfare (except for one-way flight from Porvenir to Punta Arenas), singles extra. See Included and Not Included sections for more details.

If you are a single traveler, we will find a roommate for you, but if we cannot find you a roommate, we may charge you a single supplement. Single rooms cost extra and are subject to availability.


Payment Schedule

Payment Due Date Amount Per Person
Deposit Due now to reserve your space $500
Second March 1, 2021 $1,000
Final September 15, 2021 Remaining Balance

Payments are due based on the schedule above. All reservations require a deposit to confirm reservation of your space.


Cancellations

Until the Final Payment due date, deposits are refundable except for a cancellation fee of $150 per person, which can be applied toward another trip if reserved within six months of the cancelled trip’s departure date. Cancellations are non-transferrable. No refunds are given after the Final Payment due date.

Included

  • All leaders, transport, park entry fees, and permits for all activities unless described as optional.
  • One-way flight from Porvenir to Punta Arenas.
  • Accommodations for the nights of February 12 through February 22.
  • Meals from dinner on February 12 through breakfast on February 23.
  • Transfers from El Calafate Airport to Hotel El Mirador del Lago, regardless of arrival day, and to the Porvenir Airport on February 23.
  • Puma tracker on February 16 and February 17.
  • Ferry fare to Tierra del Fuego on February 21.
  • Bottled water.
  • Trip Materials – information about flights, packing, entry and departure requirements, airport transfers, gratuities, etc.

Not Included

  • All airfare (except flights listed as included), airport and departure taxes, and excess baggage fees. Airfare is approximately $1,500 to $2,500 from the US to El Calafate, Argentina, and back to the US from Punta Arenas, Chile, depending on origin.
  • Passport and visa fees.
  • Gratuities – tipping is always discretionary. However, we will add a gratuity of $250 per participant ($25 per participant per day for February 13 to February 22 with our local guides) to your final payment.
  • Emergency medical and evacuation insurance and trip cancellation insurance. For more information see travel insurance.
  • Items of a personal nature such as laundry, telephone calls, medical costs or hospitalization, room service, alcoholic and other beverages, items not on the regular menu, etc. If you have special dietary needs, please indicate them on your Reservation Form.

Climate

The extremes of climate match each change of scenery. Because February is approaching late summer in Argentina and Chile, it’s a good time to visit. You’ll mainly be in the chillier southern region so dress in layers, including a waterproof outer layer to guard against windy or cold conditions. Torres del Paine is notorious for its unpredictable weather conditions, but average temperatures range from lows in the mid-40s°F (7°C) to highs in the lower-50s°F (11°C).

Fitness Level

Most walks are short distances and around less than three hours at a slow pace, allowing for observation and photography. Most walking is on relatively level ground, but occasionally you may take short, steep walks to look for animals.

Flights

Unless listed as included, airfare is not included in trip costs. Detailed logistical information and the contact information for our recommended flight-ticketing agent are included in the Trip Materials we will send you. Please let us know if you are arriving earlier or staying later as we are happy to assist you with any extra overnights that you might want to arrange.

Flights you (or a travel agent) book: Arrive in El Calafate, Argentina (FTE) by 7:00pm on February 12 in time for dinner. Depart from Punta Arenas, Chile (PUQ) after 12:00pm on February 23. If you are continuing on our Easter Island extension, see the Flights section in its itinerary for departure information.

Flights we book for you: The one-way flight from Porvenir to Punta Arenas is included in the trip cost.

FAQ

Accommodations

Seasickness

Transportation

Conditions

Read our current Terms and Conditions.