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'The Wildlife of Patagonia'

What makes this trip special?

Atlantic Patagonian wildlife

Atlantic Patagonian wildlife

Bahia Bustamente

The Atlantic Ocean meets the Patagonian Steppe at this small coastal village of Bahia Bustamante. For wildlife lovers this is a year round destination, but at various times of year you have good chances to see Orcas, Magellanic Penguins, sea lions, a great variety of sea birds and the curious non flying steamer duck.

Welsh Patagonia

Welsh Patagonia

The Chubut Valley and Welsh settlements

Patagonia's small pocket of Welsh settlements has grown from a solitary ship landing in 1865 with some 150 Welsh natives on board, to a region with 3 billingual schools. Aside from the language, the Welsh heritage is still clear in the Chubut Valley, in the form of the Welsh chapels around Trelew, and the famous Gaiman tearooms. A visit here is not complete until you have worked your way through a traditional Welsh tea of cakes, scones and jam at a 'casa de té' some of which are owned by descendants of the original settlers.

Navigate the Beagle Channel

Navigate the Beagle Channel

Beagle Channel cruise

The Beagle Channel runs through Tierra del Fuego and from the water offers the best views back to the city of Ushuaia and the end of the Andes mountain range. From the cruises you can see a good variety of sea birds, and marine life, whilst further down the channel towards Harberton there is a thriving colony of Magellanic Penguins.

Granite towers of Patagonia

Granite towers of Patagonia

Torres del Paine

Torres del Paine is one of South America's most dramatic national parks. Its focus is a colossal massif thrown up from deep in the earth beside the Andes and the Southern Ice Field. The tall towers of Las Torres are set in a complex of other dramatic peaks and glaciers, ringed by lakes, low hills and steppe. It is a great destination for dramatic scenery, stunning walks, and Patagonian wildlife.

Chile's southernmost city

Chile's southernmost city

Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas is a colourful relaxed town full of curiosities and tales to tell. Drive north to see Torres del Paine, board a cruise south into the fjords and channels that lead to Cape Horn, or take the ferry across the Strait of Magellan to Tierra del Fuego. There are good wildlife opportunities nearby, including the only King Penguin colony in South America.

Magellanic Penguins

Magellanic Penguins

Magdalena Island

A small uninhabited island in the Strait of Magellan that is home to a wide variety of seabirds, but most notably to a large colony of Magellanic penguins.

Poetic port-town

Poetic port-town

Valparaiso

Chile's unique second city of Valparaiso is now an UNESCO world heritage site made famous by its colourful hilltop neighbourhoods and rickety funicular railway elevators still in active use. The town's most famous resident and Nobel literature prize winner Pablo Neruda, was hugely influenced by the town. His former home 'La Sebastiana' has been preserved much as it was: a worthy pilgrimage for those new to his poetry and those who have made it part of their lives.

Itinerary map for Argentina 'The Wildlife of Patagonia' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Buenos Aires
  • 2 Buenos Aires
  • 3 Bahía Bustamante
  • 4 Bahía Bustamante
  • 5 Bahía Bustamante
  • 7 Ushuaia
  • 8 El Calafate
  • 9 El Calafate
  • 10 El Calafate
  • 11 Torres del Paine
  • 12 Torres del Paine
  • 13 Torres del Paine
  • 14 Punta Arenas
  • 15 Punta Arenas
  • 16 Santiago
  • 17 Valparaíso
  • 18 Santiago
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'The Wildlife of Patagonia'

DAY 1

Arrival in Buenos Aires

You arrive into Buenos Aires this morning after an overnight flight into Argentina's capital city. At the arrivals terminal a guide greets you and takes you to your chosen hotel where you stay for the next two nights. Once you have checked-in you then have a half day private tour of this elegant cosmopolitan city to give you an overview of its main sites such as the Obelisk and the historic Plaza de Mayo. Stop in the colourful quarters of San Telmo and La Boca before continuing with a drive through bohemian Palermo with its beautiful parks and gardens, the Recoleta, and the modern neighbourhood of Puerto Madero. The tour introduces you to this city of immigrants and you hear of the politics that swayed emotions, changed lives and became the theme of stories, music and theatre.

DAY 2
B

Day at leisure

Today is a free day for independent sight-seeing and depending on what you visited during your walking tour and your interests you might choose to visit one of Buenos Aires many museums and galleries (MALBA collection of modern art, Evita Museum, National History Museum, Bellas Artes Museum). Alternatively you might prefer to visit the city's Costanera Sur Eco-reserve home to a variety of flora and fauna (particularly birds) Or simply marvel at the architecture, stop for a coffee at Argentina's oldest café, the beautifully grand Café Tortoni or wander the San Telmo flea markets. Later in the evening perhaps visit a tango show at one of the cities famous Tango theatres.

DAY 3
BD

Fly to Comodoro Rivadavia and transfer to Bahia Bustamante

This morning you are picked up from your hotel and taken to Buenos Aires domestic airport in time for your flight to Comodoro Rivadavia. On arrival in Comdoro a driver meets you and takes you on the 3 hours driver over the Patagonian Steppe and Atlantic coastline towards Bahia Bustamante. Bahia Bustamente is a Patagonian ranch set in 80,000 hectares and offers visitors an authentic insight into life on this isolated part of the Atlantic coast. Steeped in history, the ranch was founded by Don Lorenzo Soriano, an italian migrant, who was in search of seaweed in order for him to continue with his hair gel business. His search ended at Bahia Bustamente and the seaweed harvesting continues to this day, although with more varied uses now. The sea here is rich in plankton, seaweed, fish and jellyfish which in turn attracts large populations of sea birds and marine mammals. There is a colony of sea lions and from February to May you can view Orcas from the shore. The area is also home to some beautiful sea birds: a petrel with 2m wing span and two endemics - the Flightless steamer duck and Band tailed gull. Activities offered by the estancia include riding, biking and opportunities to visit the seaweed factory and a local petrified forest.

DAY 4
BLD

Wildlife viewing at Bahia Bustamante

The daily excursions at Bahia Bustamante are decided on a day-to-day basis, taking into account the weather, and state of the tide. This is therefore arranged for you locally, and there is a huge variety of things to see and do in the region. Excursions from the ranch are on a shared basis with other guests. The majority of wildlife viewing options are right on the doorstep of the Estancia, and few places can offer quite such an abundance and diversity of seabirds in such a small area. Two of the biggest draws are the native Steamer Duck and Olrog's Gull. As a flightless bird the Steamer Duck does not migrate and therefore can be seen all year round, whilst the Olrog’s Gull is considered an endangered species due to its restrcited breeding range. From September meanwhile around 100,000 Magellanic Penguins arrive, and the colony can be spotted through until April. Other bird species are seen through the year at varying times include Skuas, Cormorants, Petrel, Terns, Oyster Catchers and Red Plovers in the migrating season. This stretch of coastline is also a place where female elephant seals are present all year round whilst perhaps the most dramatic months are during the mating season of September and October as the bulls vie for male dominance within the group. From January to March meanwhile is another opportunity for a unique wildlife experience as this is the brief window in the year where Orca are in the vicinity of Bahia Bustamante, looking to attack seals and penguins on the land. A sighting of this whilst rare, is one of the most impressive Argentina has to offer. Back on the land and around 30 kilometres from the Estancia is the Petrified Forest and a walking trail eventually ending up in the lunar like landscapes of the 'The Pyramid'. On the way it is common to come across guanacos, armadillos, nandus, foxes and skunks, whilst the spectacular views at the end of the hike give a glimpse of Patagonia 60 million years ago and in stark contrast to the flora and fauna back at the Estancia.

DAY 5
BLD

Wildlife viewing at Bahia Bustamante

Nature viewing and other excursions around the area shared with other guests. As well as the wildlife viewing options that are available the Estancia also offers outings on horseback and in kayaks, though these are at additional cost and would be bookable locally.

DAY 6
B

Transfer from Bahia Bustamante to Trelew and fly to Ushuaia

Today you depart from your base in Bahia Bustamante and drive north to Trelew airport for a flight to Tierra del Fuego and Ushuaia. This flight down towards the southernmost tip of Argentina is a stunning one, and on a clear day the landing offers some of the best views of this part of the country. On arrival, a driver and guide meet you and take you to your hotel before you then have the rest of the day at leisure to explore the town independently.

DAY 7
B

Morning excurison to the Tierra del Fuego National Park

Depart for your half day tour to the Tierra del Fuego National Park travelling through scenic coastal landscapes before stopping first at the Southern Fuegian Railway station where you have the option to enter the Park on board the famous ‘End of the World Train’. During the tour you can observe the varied flora of the area and see the local fauna of both native and introduced species such as the red fox, beavers, rabbits and numerous types of birds. The Park is home to some beautiful scenery and, once inside, you visit Ensenada Bay and Lake Roca, where you have the chance to see beaver lodges. Finally, at Lapataia Bay, and some 3,063 km from Buenos Aires, you will reach the end of Argentina’s National Route 3 to truly have the sense of being at the end of the world.

DAY 8
B

Beagle Channel and then a flight to El Calafate

This morning take a cruise down the Beagle Channel for spectacular views back towards Tierra del Fuego as well as the possibility of seeing some marine wildlife. On the water, you pass the Bridges Islands, all named after the six Bridges children, and where it is possible to see South American fur seals, South American seas lions and huge colonies of cormorants. You cruise past the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, the Chilean city of Puerto Williams, then cross the Mackinlay pass to Martillo Island where from the boat there is a chance to observe a 1,000 nest colony of Magellanic Penguins and 9 breeding couples of Gentoo penguins. You return to the port later this morning and are taken to the airport and your onward flight to El Calafate. On arrival in El Calafate you are met and taken to your accommodation.

DAY 9
B

Perito Moreno galcier

Today you visit the spectacular Perito Moreno glacier located within the Los Glaciares National Park. En route you might have the chance to spot a variety of birds of the Lake Argentino area, such as black-necked swans, flamingos, Magellanic geese and Steamer ducks. For the first half of your journey you travel across the Patagonian steppe before entering the National Park where more verdant vegetation is to be found, dominated by abundant trees such as Antarctic beech, sour cherry, lenga (Nothofagus pumilio) and notro (Chilean firetree) with its colourful intense red. Arrive at the Perito Moreno glacier, one of the few glaciers in Patagonia that is still growing and you then have the chance to view the glacier in all its glory walking the footbridges for close up views and the chance to enjoy the spectacular crashing sounds of the breaking ice. The wooden walkways opposite the face of the ice are an ideal viewpoint, but if you would like to see the glacier from close up then it is also possible to take a short boat trip on the water next to the ice mass.

DAY 10
B

Estancia Cristina

Today you visit a traditional and very remote estancia across Lago Argentina. Amidst a setting of glaciers, snow capped peaks and lakes of outstanding beauty; the Estancia Cristina was founded in 1914 by Joseph Percival Masters, an Englishman who came to Patagonia in search of the promising future that the fine lands around Lake Argentina offered to adventurous pioneers. Sailing the Lake on a full day excursion from El Calafate, you visit the stunning Upsala Glacier and stop at the Estancia on a day that combines nature, adventure, history, and pleasure. You have an early departure from El Calafate around 7am to Punta Bandera to board your boat across Lake Argentina. Amidst a stunning Patagonian setting you can see the Western front of the spectacular Upsala Glacier and pass the Cristina Channel to arrive at the Estancia by mid morning. During a stay of approximately 6 hours there is a guided walk up to the Caterina River and Chapel (around 1 hour of easy walking), a visit to the Estancia and the Costumbrista Museum which is housed in the old shearing shed, and lunch. At around 17:30 you travel back to Puerto Bandera to and from there transfer to your hotel in El Calafate.

DAY 11
BD

Travel from El Calafate to Torres del Paine National Park

Today travel from your hotel in El Calafate across the border of Chile and into the iconic Torres del Paine National Park. Your lodge here is your base for the next 3 nights, and your stay is on an all inclusive basis with all of your meals and excursions chosen by you on a daily basis.

DAY 12
BLD

Included excursions in the Torres del Paine National Park

There is a varied menu of excursions on offer to suit all activity levels. Guided walks range from full day strenuous hikes to flatter, more scenic and relaxed nature trails. Within the park lodges can arrange a full a day tour via 4WD for those not keen on walking long distances, and for riders there is the option to explore by horseback. Excursions are on a shared basis with other guests, and vary in length between full and half days tours.

DAY 13
BLD

Included excursions in the Torres del Paine National Park

Your choice of shared excursions in the park.

DAY 14
B

Shared Transfer from Torres del Paine to Punta Arenas

Depart the National Park today and drive for around 5 hours towards the Chilean town of Punta Arenas. You have the remainder of the day at leisure.

DAY 15
B

Magellanic Penguins on Isla Magdalena

Pick up from your hotel and transfer to the pier to sail through the Straits of Magellan to Magdalena Island. Magdalena has a population of 150,000 penguins who cohabit with abundant marine fauna during the months of November to March and, along with Marta Island, forms one of the most important penguin colonies in southern Chile. In addition to the penguin colony you can also observe various bird species such as the Rock Cormorant, the Dolphin Gull, the Skua and marine mammals such as the South American Sea Lion and the South American Fur Seal.

DAY 16
B

Fly from Punta Arenas to Santiago

This morning you depart Patagonia and transfer to Punta Arenas airport for a flight to Chile's capital, Santiago. You are met out of the arrivals area at the airport, and transferred to your hotel in town. Depending on the time of your flight, you may have some time this afternoon to explore the city independently. Otherwise, your English speaking guide gives you a brief rundown on places to visit close to your hotel, and some background information on the city.

DAY 17
B

Visit to Viña del Mar and Valparaíso

Depart in the morning and travel towards the Pacific Coast passing through the Casablanca and Curacavi valleys before arriving at Viña del Mar, Chile’s largest beach resort which is known as the ‘Garden City’ due to its well kept parks and gardens. Stop at the Quinta Vergara Park and then have time (approximately ½ hour) for a quick optional visit to either the Carrasco Palace, the Fonck Museum of Archaeology and Natural History or a lapis lazuli shop. Continue along the most important ocean front of the central coast to reach the city’s famous clock of flowers before proceeding to the port city of Valparaíso. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Valparaíso is renowned for its important role in maritime history as well as its picturesque hillside houses and its National Monuments, such as the monument to the Heroes of Iquique near the port in Sotomayor Square. The tour finishes, with a short boat trip (approximately ½ hour) to appreciate views of the city from the bay. Return to your hotel in Santiago in the afternoon.

DAY 18
B

Depart Santiago flying overnight into the UK

This morning you depart Chile, and are taken to the airport in time for your flight back to the UK.

Guide prices for 'The Wildlife of Patagonia'

Seasonal: November to March

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid-range hotels. Most excursions on a shared basis 2 people sharing £6,225
Mid-plus hotels. Most excursions on a shared basis 2 people sharing £7,120
Upper-range hotels. Most excursions on a shared basis 2 people sharing £7,545
Top range hotels. Most excursions on a private basis. 2 people sharing £8,395
Prices are per person and include:
  • all land transport in Argentina & Chile
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner
  • excursions as described
  • domestic flights in Chile and Argentina
Prices do not include:
  • transatlantic flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • optional Cape Horn cruise extension [e.g. 4-nights on M/V Ventus Austalis in Cabin type B, from: £1,475pp]

Customer reviews for 'The Wildlife of Patagonia'

Recent reviews are shown here from holidays based on this initial design. In each case the itinerary may have been modified (a little or a lot) to suit the individual traveller.

Average

Seasonal information for 'The Wildlife of Patagonia'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Buenos Aires 29°C rainfall 100mm
2 Buenos Aires 29°C rainfall 100mm
3 Bahía Bustamante 25°C rainfall 11mm
4 Bahía Bustamante 25°C rainfall 11mm
5 Bahía Bustamante 25°C rainfall 11mm
7 Ushuaia 12°C rainfall 57mm
8 El Calafate 17°C rainfall 19mm
9 El Calafate 17°C rainfall 19mm
10 El Calafate 17°C rainfall 19mm
11 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
12 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
13 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
14 Punta Arenas 15°C rainfall 36mm
15 Punta Arenas 15°C rainfall 36mm
16 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
17 Valparaíso 23°C rainfall 3mm
18 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm

Typical weather for January

rainchart

Max °C figures are the average daily maximum temperatures for the month. Rainfall is the average precipitation for the month.

Hotels for 'The Wildlife of Patagonia'

Days 1 - 2

Pulitzer

Buenos Aires

The Pulitzer is a modern hotel located in the centre of Buenos Aires. Rooms are equipped with safe, minibar, airconditioning and free high speed wifi whlist there is a downstairs bar that serves lights meals and drinks throughout the day. Up on the 7th floor there is a swimming pool and even a gym where it is possible to book in for a massage.

 

 

Pulitzer
Hotel exterior
Days 3 - 5

Bahia Bustamente

Bahia Bustamente

Bahia Bustamante is a simple, rustic Estancia that offers an excellent base to explore the surrounding area. The village has a dramatic setting with the Atlantic Ocean on one side, and the Patagonian Steppe on the other. The lodge itself has 12 sea front rooms as well as 5 facing inland and each has a separate bedroom, living area, bathroom and terrace with views of either the bay or the plains. Due to its remote location the accommodation is basic, with limited hot water, no WIFI, and electricity that is available until 11pm (all rooms are equipped with emergency battery powered lights), but the situation makes this the perfect place for exploring this section of coastline. Daily shared excursions around the lodge enable ample wildlife and cultural opportunities from visiting sheep ranches to seeing Magellanic Penguins up close, whilst the onsite restaurant serves up typical Patagonian fare. Service is friendly and welcoming and stays here are on a full board basis.

Bahia Bustamente
Penguins at Malaspina Cove
Days 6 - 7

Hotel Fueguino

Ushuaia

Hotel Fuenguino is a good mid-range hotel choice close to the centre of Ushuaia. All the hotel's 53 rooms have a safety deposit box, mini bar, wifi, heating and cable TV. There is a restaurant at the hotel serving Mediterranean and local cuisine.

Hotel Fueguino
Hotel exterior
Days 8 - 10

Hotel Sierra Nevada

El Calafate

This is a lakeside hotel with attractive gardens running down towards the shore of Lago Argentino. Rooms are a little dated, but are equipped with cable TV, private bathroom and heating for the colder months, whilst there is wifi in the communal areas, a small gym and bikes which are free to hire.

Hotel Sierra Nevada
Hotel gardens
Days 11 - 13

Hotel Las Torres

Torres del Paine

Located near the start of the trail to the base of the Torres (Towers) the lodge is one of the few located within the park. All the rooms, divided between Standard, Superior and Suites, are en-suite and have central heating, Wi-Fi and hairdryers. There is a restaurant and bar, a Spa, a gift shop, an interpretation centre and a conference centre as well as stables where the local guides work and an organic garden. The location of this hotel is what really sets it apart, and it offers B&B as well as all inclusive programmes.

Hotel Las Torres
Lodge Exterior
Days 14 - 15

Isla Rey Jorge

Punta Arenas

Located near the main square, this colonial building features 22 rooms (including one junior suite) with amenities such as cable TV, telephone, hair-dryer and safety box. The hotel also has a bar which serves food, a games room and internet access.

Isla Rey Jorge
Front of the hotel
Days 16 - 17

Providencia

Providencia

A newly renovated, 75 room traditional hotel with a garden swimming pool and fitness centre, conveniently located near the Providencia metro station and close to the entrance to the Cerro San Cristobal. Rooms have cable TV, A/C and free Wi-Fi. There is a restaurant on site, as well as pleasant gardens and food is served in the terrace area by the pool.

 

Providencia
Double room