'Birds of the Centre and the South'

What makes this trip special?

City life beside the Andes

City life beside the Andes


Set against the backdrop of a long line of Andean peaks, Santiago is a colonial city, turned republican capital, turned modern metropolis. There's a lot to do, with good art galleries, unmissable museums, lovely parks, and a great range of shops, restaurants and hotels. Step outside the city and you are in some of Chile's most notable wine valleys.

Volcanoes and lakes

Volcanoes and lakes

Puerto Varas & the Chilean Lake District

Puerto Varas is a small town on the shores of Lake Llanquihue with stunning views across the lake to the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. It is a good base for exploring the southern part of the Lake District, touring around the lakes or sailing across them, active hiking, biking, kayaking and rafting, walking and birding in ancient forests, or just relaxing in wonderful scenery.

The Oldest Trees on Earth

The Oldest Trees on Earth

Alerce Andino National Park

This national park south of Puerto Varas takes its name from its many tall 'alerce' conifers (Fitzroya cypress). These are among the earth's oldest trees - the record for the species is 3,622. Very slow-growing, some extremely tall individual trees in this park are thought to be 1,500-2,000 years old. The park has excellent walking trails and good birds; its other wildlife includes puma (rarely seen), tiny pudu deer and the quique mustelid.

Seafood and stilts

Seafood and stilts

Chiloé Island

Chiloé's isolation from mainland Chile has preserved its long standing air of mystery and tradition. The island has some of the country's best seafood, and perhaps its most unique architecture in the form of its wooden churches and stilted houses on the sea front. There are large colonies of Humboldt and Magellanic penguins towards the beaches of Puñihuil, and this is the only known place in the world where both species exisit toegther.

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.

Itinerary map for Chile 'Birds of the Centre and the South' holiday


  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Santiago
  • 2 Santiago
  • 3 Santiago
  • 4 Puerto Varas
  • 5 Puerto Varas
  • 6 Chepu
  • 7 Punta Arenas
  • 8 Porvenir
  • 9 Cerro Sombrero
  • 10 Puerto Natales
  • 11 Torres del Paine
  • 12 Torres del Paine
  • 13 Puerto Natales
  • 14 Santiago
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Birds of the Centre and the South'



You are met on arrival and taken to your hotel in Santiago where you stay for three nights. As part of your transfer from the airport your guide introduces you to the area around your hotel, restaurants and places of interest. Relax, or perhaps take a birding walk in Parque Forestal.


Yerba Loca, Farellones and Batuco Wetlands

You are collected from your hotel by an English speaking local naturalist guide with a specialism in bird watching for a day of birding at three sites outside Santiago: Yerba Loca Sanctuary, Farellones and Batuco Wetlands. Target species are Giant Hummingbird and White-sided Hillstar, Chilean Tinamou, Tapaculo, endemic Moustached Turca, Andean Condor, endemic Crag Chilia, California Quail, Spot-billed White-browed and Cinerous Ground Tyrant, Great-shrike Tyrant, Grey-hooded and Band-tailed Sierra Finch, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, Rufous-banded and Creamy-rumped Miner, Burrowing Owl and Magellanic Horned Owl.


Maipo Canyon and El Yeso Valley

Today your bird guide takes you into the windy Cajón del Maipo canyon with rocky ridges studded with cacti and glacial springs, and then up to El Yeso Valley at 2500m for Torrent Duck and Diademed Sandpiper Plover. Other target species of the day include Chilean Mockingbird, Black-winged Ground Dove, Grey-flanked Cinclodes, Mountain Caracara, Red-backed Hawk, Mourning Sierra Finch, Grassland Yellowfinch, Yellow-rumped Siskin, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, Grey-hooded Sierra Finch and second chances for Andean Condor, Magellanic Horned Owl, Crag Chilia and Moustached Turca.


Lake District: Vicente Pérez Rosales NP

You are collected from your hotel this morning by a Spanish-speaking driver and taken to Santiago airport for your flight to Puerto Montt where you are met by a local English speaking naturalist guide who specialises in bird watching. Your start your Lake District birding in the Vicente Pérez Rosales NP and end the day in Puerto Varas on the shore of Lake Llanquihue where you stay for two nights. You mainly focus on the target species of the region’s Valdivian forest. You should see Rufous-banded Miner, Des Mur´s Wiretail, Chucao and Magellanic Tapaculo, Chilean Pigeon, White-throated Treerunner, Black-throated Tapaculo, Magellanic and Striped Woodpecker, Chilean Flicker and Slender-billed Parakeet


Alerce Andino NP and Lahuen Ñadi

Your second day of birding in the temperate rainforest, this time in the beautiful Alerce Andino NP and Lahuen Ñadi Reserve where there are impressive stands of Fitzroya cypress which can live for thousands of years. Look for Black-throated Huet Huet, Ochre-flanked Tapaculo, Patagonian Sierra-Finch, and second chances for species missed yesterday. You could also see Darwin’s toad, colocolo opossum or monito del monte, hare and the best-avoided hog-nosed skunk or chingue.


Caulín, Chacao, Puñihuil and pelagics

Taking the ferry to Chiloé Island at Chacao you travel to Caulín Bird Sanctuary and beyond to bird along the intertidal coast and wetlands of this north part of the island. You visit the penguin colony of Puñihuil and take a pelagic trip into the Pacific. The day’s targets are Hudsonian Godwit, Franklin´s Gull, Pincoya Storm-Petrel (a new species), Ringed Kingfisher, Dark-bellied Cinclodes, Black-necked Swan, Speckled Teal, Chiloé Wigeon, Black Skimmer, Humboldt and Magellanic Penguin, Rock Shag, Imperial and Red-legged Cormorants, Black-browed and Salvin’s Albatross, Pink footed Shearwater, and Wilson´s Storm Petrel among others. You overnight on the island at a homestay in the Chepu area well-located for tomorrow’s birding; your room has a private bathroom.


Chepu River, Coluco, and wetlands

You start the day with a boat trip along the curious tidal Chepu river whose valley was created by an earthquake in 1960 when the ground sank by two metres. Here there are White-tufted and Great Grebe, White-necked Heron, Red-gartered Coots, and Great, Snowy and Cattle Egret. You navigate to Laguna Coluco for Brown-hooded Gull, Red Shoveler and other ducks. Your guide will help you choose which of three wetlands you should visit: Quilo or Pudeto on Chiloé on your way to the ferry, or Quenuir on the mainland after the crossing. Some of today’s other sightings might be Thorn-tailed Rayadito, Tufted Tit-tyrant, Flightless Steamer Duck, Southern Crested Caracara, Seaside Cinclodes, and South American Tern. Back on the mainland you are driven to Puerto Montt for your flight south to Punta Arenas, where you pick up your hire car at the airport for the short drive to your hotel in town.


Tierra del Fuego

An early start to be in line at the ferry terminal for the car-ferry over the Strait of Magellan to Porvenir, a small fishing town on the main island of Tierra del Fuego, where you stay for one night. There are good places for independent birding close to town at Laguna Santa Maria and Laguna Verde.


King Penguins

Taking the only road south out of town you drive to the King Penguin colony on the north shore of Bahia Inutil (see Day 8 of ‘Wildlife of the Far South’ on p44). Afterwards, you drive on, turning north to Cerro Sombrero and your hotel. The penguins are the day’s big attraction, but on your journey you may pick up common birds of the ‘cold steppe’.

DAY 10

Puerto Natales

You cross the narrowest part of the Strait of Magellan to Punta Delgada by car ferry, still in Chile. There is no fixed timetable, the ferry waits until it has enough vehicles. Back on the mainland you drive west by the main roads across the grasslands of the Patagonian steppe and up to Puerto Natales–a drive of 4h if you don’t stop. The roads are straight and open with light traffic so you should take breaks each hour to stay fresh: small lakes with flamingo, and rheas running across the steppe provide excuses. Arriving in Puerto Natales you check into your hotel with the rest of the day birding on the shore of the magnificent Last Hope Sound.

DAY 11

Torres del Paine NP

You have three days in Torres del Paine, amid spectacular scenery. Given plenty of notice we can arrange for you to be joined by a puma specialist guide for one of these days at extra cost. Driving into Torres de Paine NP at the western entrance at Rio Serrano you should stop at the Milodon Cave early on, and once in the park head up to the more forested, Lago Grey region, for most of today’s birding. Later, make your way across to your hotel in the eastern section where you stay for two nights.

DAY 12

Birding in Torres del Paine NP.

DAY 13

You could bird the whole day in the park or drive to an area of the Sierra Baguales along the Argentine border, for a hard chance of White-throated Caracara. End the day in Puerto Natales.

DAY 14

Humedal Tres Puentes, fly to Santiago

Birding on the shore of Last Hope Sound, then drive back to Punta Arenas. Try to allow time to stop at Humedal Tres Puentes, just north of Punta Arenas, for Ruddy-headed Goose. Drop your hire car at the airport and check-in for your flight back to Santiago. You are met on arrival and driven to a different section of the city for your final night.

DAY 15

Free to relax on your hotel’s rooftop terrace or explore the local neighbourhood. At the appropriate time you are collected from the hotel and transferred back to the international airport for your flight home.

Guide prices for 'Birds of the Centre and the South'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid-range hotels with local bird guides in Santiago and Lake District and selfdrive D.I.Y birding in Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego 2 people sharing £3,995
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Chile
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
Prices do not include:
  • international flights
  • travel insurance
  • airport and departure taxes
  • items of a personal nature such as drinks, tips, laundry, etc
  • any optional excursions you may buy locally

Customer reviews for 'Birds of the Centre and the South'

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.


Seasonal information for 'Birds of the Centre and the South'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
2 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
3 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
4 Puerto Varas 20°C rainfall 76mm
5 Puerto Varas 20°C rainfall 76mm
6 Chepu 17°C rainfall 96mm
7 Punta Arenas 15°C rainfall 36mm
8 Porvenir 15°C rainfall 38mm
9 Cerro Sombrero 15°C rainfall 31mm
10 Puerto Natales 17°C rainfall 31mm
11 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
12 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
13 Puerto Natales 17°C rainfall 31mm
14 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm

Typical weather for January


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

Hotels for 'Birds of the Centre and the South'

Days 1 - 3

Orly Hotel


Located in the bustling district of Providencia, the Hotel Orly is a small characterful hotel. All 28 rooms have en-suite facilities and vary in size but single rooms are quite small and do not have a bathtub. Additional amenities include a desktop, a/c and heating units, safe, hair-dryer, cable TV and Wi-Fi. Some rooms overlook the back garden. There is a café at the front (also used by members of the public) and lounge areas as well as a craft shop.

Orly Hotel
Hotel exterior
Days 4 - 5

Cabaña del Lago

Puerto Varas

Located 5 blocks from the centre of Puerto Varas this 157-room hotel has some of the most beautiful views in Puerto Varas. All rooms which are divided between Standard, Superior and Suites (some with park view and some with Lake view) have en-suite facilities, mini-bar, Cable TV and electronic safe. The hotel also features a Spa with heated swimming pool, 2 panoramic terraces, hot tub located on the hillside of the park of the hotel, gym, restaurant, bar and roof terrace with full bar.

Cabaña del Lago
Superior room
Day 6

Homestay in Chepu area

Chiloé Island

Homestay in Chepu area
Day 7

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
Day 8

Yendegaia House, Porvenir


Yendegaia House, Porvenir
Day 9

Hosteria Tunkelen, Cerro Sombrero

Cerro Sombrero (nr narrow ferry to Pta Delgado

Family run, 22 room hotel conveniently situated in the northern part of Chile's Tierra del Fuego for the ferry that crosses the narrowest stretch of the Straits of Magellen. (This is a roll on, roll off service which crosses back and forth all day as soon as it is full - rather than operating to a set timetable).20 Bedrooms have central heating, private bathrooms plus 2 dorm rooms with shared bathroom which we don't use with our clients. There is a restaurant on site.

Hosteria Tunkelen, Cerro Sombrero
Day 10

Altiplanico Patagonia

Puerto Natales

Altiplanico Patagonia
Days 11 - 12

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
Day 13

Altiplanico Patagonia

Puerto Natales

Altiplanico Patagonia
Day 14

Solace Santiago


Solace Santiago is a modern hotel located in the Providencia district of Santiago. The hotel has 108 rooms ranging from suites to superior rooms. Rooms are in a clean contemporary style. Guests can enjoy the 'Zafferano' restaurant located on the ground floor, a bar with roof-top terrace and a gym and outdoor pool. There is free access to wifi in the rooms.

Solace Santiago
Rooftop bar