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'Wildlife of the Far South'

What makes this trip special?

City life beside the Andes

City life beside the Andes

Santiago

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.

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.

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego

The Land of Fire

Across the water from Punta Arenas lies Patagonia’s final twist: the ‘Land of Fire’–a romantic name some attribute to a Spanish king who thought ‘Land of Smoke’ seemed dull, and others say was inspired by the sight of fires aboard native canoes. Bahia Inutil is home to a colony of King Penguin, one of most accessible places in the world to see these spectacular creatures.

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.

Itinerary map for Chile 'Wildlife of the Far South' holiday

Itinerary

  • Day      Overnight
  • 1 Santiago
  • 2 Puerto Natales
  • 3 Puerto Natales
  • 4 Torres del Paine
  • 5 Torres del Paine
  • 6 Torres del Paine
  • 7 Punta Arenas
  • 8 Punta Arenas
  • 9 Santiago
  • For the detail of each day click the ‘Day-by-day’ tab above.

Day-by-day itinerary for 'Wildlife of the Far South'

DAY 1

Santiago

Arrive Santiago, with a short walk with your guide to get to know the neighbourhood near your hotel.

DAY 2
B

Patagonian steppe

Back to the airport to fly to Punta Arenas in the far south. You are met and driven across the Patagonian steppe (3.5h) on your way to spend 2 nights in Puerto Natales on Last Hope Sound. Soon into the journey you may spot Chilean flamingo at Laguna del Toro, then look for Darwin’s (these days ‘Lesser’) rhea striding quickly across the landscape at your approach. Family groups of female guanaco and their young nibble away at the hummocks of steppe grasses guarded by their dominant male, and you should see a selection of roadside and soaring raptors.

DAY 3
BL

Bernardo O’Higgins NP

A wonderful boat trip in Bernardo O’Higgins NP to the head of Last Hope Sound and the Balmaceda Glacier, descending from the immense Southern Ice Field. You may see eagles, osprey and condor, along with Black-necked swans, gulls, grebes, geese, ducks and cormorants. Close to the glacier there are icebergs in brilliant turquoise and the captain should find one of the sound’s small groups of South American sealion. You dock and follow a trail of about 1km through lenga nothofagus beech woods, coihue and native mahonia to a small lake at the snout of Serrano glacier. Lunch is served at a traditional sheep estancia beside the Sound, with time to walk in the very birdy countryside nearby with superb views when the skies are clear.

DAY 4
BLD

Torres del Paine NP

Today you meet your private guide/driver for the next 4 days in and around Torres del Paine NP. On one of these days you are joined by a specialist puma tracker. Weather and recent sightings may influence which parts of the park you visit. The north east is favoured by large groups of guanaco and is dubbed ‘the pumas’ larder’ by some. It usually offers the best chance of seeing puma, sometimes impressively close. Pumas are secretive and solitary, but present around the massif in good numbers. Best chances for sightings are in early spring (September-October) when they are moving to higher areas as the snow recedes, or in early autumn (late March-April) when females bring cubs down before bad weather closes in. You should also find Patagonian hog-nosed skunk, hairy armadillo, huemul deer, grey fox on the steppe and the larger red fox in nothofagus forest. Chilean flamingo are seen in several lakes and Andean Condor is just one of the park’s 15 raptors.

DAY 5
BLD

Wildlife experiences in or around Torres del Paine NP.

DAY 6
BLD

DAY 7
BLD

Punta Arenas

A full day with your guide in or around the park and on your way back to Punta Arenas. You might call in at Shackleton’s Bar this evening.

DAY 8
BL

Tierra del Fuego

You join a guided shared tour, catching a ferry across the Strait of Magellan to the main island of Tierra del Fuego, arriving at the small town of Porvenir. You visit its museum which focuses on the native peoples of Tierra del Fuego, see box on p21. After lunch you travel by minibus to the shore of Bahia Inutil where a small but growing colony of King Penguins has taken up residence year-round–one of the very few places they are reliably seen outside Antarctica and the subantarctic islands. The adults are majestic: up to 1m tall, with strong orange markings on beak and cheek setting off the pure black of their heads, pure white chests and sleek grey backs. What their young lack in style they make up for in ways only their parents can truly appreciate. The colony is protected by a special reserve, whose staff provide a short briefing before you approach on foot to a wooden screen at a reasonably close distance. From a path to the shore you can see individual Kings making their way to the water. After a 45min timed visit, you drive over the steppe to catch a car ferry across the narrowest part of the Magellan Strait to Punta Delgada. From here the minibus makes a long journey back to Punta Arenas. You arrive in time for a late dinner and bed after a memorable day.

DAY 9
B

Magdalena Islands

Between November and March Magellanic penguins assemble in huge numbers to breed on the Magdalena Islands which lie 2h by boat from Punta Arenas. The colony is protected by a grandly-named reserve, the ‘Monumento Nacional Los Pinguinos’. You join a boat at the dock and land on the islands amid up to 40,000 breeding pairs. The penguins spend much of their year at sea but return to these islands with their life partners to hollow out nesting burrows and raise their young. It is an intense scene at many levels: sight, sound and smell. You can visit the lighthouse museum before the return. While sailing look for Commerson’s dolphin, kelp gull, cormorants, skuas and terns. On your return you collect your luggage and are taken to the airport for your flight to Santiago where you spend the night. Very occasionally, primarily for weather or tides, the penguin colony boat does not sail; you are refunded, with free time in Punta Arenas.

DAY 10
B

Santiago

From Santiago we could arrange additional days for you to visit Valparaíso or stay at a winery. If not, you are taken to the airport for your international flight home.

Guide prices for 'Wildlife of the Far South'

options based on all year low season mid season high season peak season other season
Mid-range hotels, mostly private tours 2 people sharing £4,670
Upper range hotels, mostly private tours 2 people sharing £5,140
Top range hotels, mostly private tours 2 people sharing £5,830
Prices are per person and include:
  • all travel in Chile
  • all accommodation
  • meals as indicated (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • tours as indicated
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 'Wildlife of the Far 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.

Average

Seasonal information for 'Wildlife of the Far South'

Along this route in January

Day Location Max °C Monthly rainfall
1 Santiago 30°C rainfall 1mm
2 Puerto Natales 17°C rainfall 31mm
3 Puerto Natales 17°C rainfall 31mm
4 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
5 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
6 Torres del Paine 10°C rainfall 117mm
7 Punta Arenas 15°C rainfall 36mm
8 Punta Arenas 15°C rainfall 36mm
9 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 'Wildlife of the Far South'

Day 1

Orly Hotel

Santiago
rating

Average rating 5.0 (1 ratings)

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 - 6

Pehoé Hostería

Torres del Paine

Hostería Pehoé was one of the first lodges in Torres del Paine, and has one of its most iconic locations on an island accessed by a long wooden footbridge. Its 40 simply-furnished cabin rooms are inward facing, but the hosteria’s restaurant and cafeteria look out across Lake Pehoé to the Cuernos del Paine. The standard of lodging here is more basic than other options in and around the park, but the location gives good access to the centre of the park and the view is amazing.

 

Pehoé Hostería
Pehoé Hostería Exterior
Days 7 - 8

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 9

Orly Hotel

Santiago
rating

Average rating 5.0 (1 ratings)

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