Wildlife Tour to Chiloé Island
A 6-day wildlife tour to Chiloé, a large island located in the northern archipelago of Chilean Patagonia, where you will have opportunities to see a great array of seabirds, including Humboldt and Magellanic Penguins, Flightless Steamer-Duck, Kelp Goose, and Peruvian Pelican.
The highlight of this adventure is a pelagic trip aiming to find Pygmy Blue Whale, which regularly occurs around the archipelago during the southern summer months (December – early March).
We start our journey from Puerto Montt airport (or Castro), depending on your preference and/or flights availability. Later, we will drive southwards to the ferry across the Chacao Channel; this short 30-minute ride offers great marine wildlife viewing opportunities and is likely we can see pods of Peale’s Dolphin, groups of South American Sea Lion and a great array of seabirds including Southern Giant Petrel, Sooty and Pink-footed shearwaters, Imperial and Red-legged cormorants, Peruvian Pelican and South American Tern. Once in the island, we’ll take a scenic drive to the little fishermen’s cove of Puñihuil, where we will board a boat to the nearby islets that are home to several species of seabirds and marine waterfowl like Rock Cormorant, Kelp Goose and Flightless Steamer Duck, and especially, the only known mixed colony of both Humboldt and Magellanic penguins. Marine mammals like the South American Sea Lion and Marine Otter are regulars here as well.
Overnight at Puñihuil (Lunch, Dinner)(Guide)
For the morning we will have a special boat excursion towards the wild west coast of the island, facing the Pacific Ocean. This time we will spend more time at sea to have more opportunities for wildlife and aim to the impressive Metalqui Island. Pygmy Blue Whales, one of the races of the world’s largest living animal, are often seen from December until March. Humpback Whales are often spotted here as well. We also have other great pelagic prospects such as the little-known Subantarctic Shearwater, which probably nests in this rugged, densely forested coastline. Metalqui is well known to hold a very large breeding colony of South American Sea Lion. During the afternoon, we will visit the mudflats of Caulin Bay, an important stopover for flocks of migrating shorebirds which holds an important part of the world population of Hudsonian Godwit, a truly long-distance champion that winters here and in other extensive bays of Patagonia together with Red Knot and a variety of other shorebirds. Black-necked Swans are usually seen here at large numbers.
Overnight at Puñihuil (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)(Guide)
Early in the morning we will explore the rural communities of the northern part of the island. Our destination is the picturesque Chepu River, a scenic watercourse bordered by lush and dense forest and clear waters that are home to a critically endangered species, the Southern River Otter or Huillin, which we will attempt to see by taking a boat trip.
The fairly large reed-fringed pond of Coluco is also a wonderful wetland habitat; here, we will enjoy seeing large numbers of nesting waterbirds such as Black-necked Swan, Chiloe Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal, Red-gartered Coot, Brown-hooded Gull and Snowy-crowned Tern. We will also have chances to spot Coipo (a large rodent related to Capibaras), Osprey and passing flocks of the endemic Slender-billed Parakeet.
Later we will drive to the magnificent Tepuhueico Park, a private reserve where we will spend the next couple of days exploring the lush Valdivian humid forest, looking for stunning wildlife.
Mammals like Pudu Deer, and several frogs and lizards that live among moss and fern-covered tree trunks of these dense, lush woods, provide excellent chances for both wildlife and macro photography, as the miniature forests of lichens, fungi and mosses are home to a whole world of insects, amphibians and other tiny creatures living on the damp soil and old, fallen trees.
Hotel Tepuhueico, Tepuhueico (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)(Guide)
With an early start, we will explore the imposing Tepuhueico, a private reserve where we will spend the whole day looking for wildlife. The pristine Tepuhueico woodlands are part of the unique ecosystem known as Valdivian Temperate Rainforest. Tepuhueico has the reputation of being a highly reliable place to see the critically endangered Chilean endemic Darwin’s Fox. A few hundred individuals of this fox survive in the ecotone between the dense temperate forests and the coast. We will have interesting walks in search of Darwin’s Fox, Pudu Deer (the second smallest deer in the world) and the Kodkod or Guigna (a very rare woodland cat). While searching for this array of enigmatic and little known mammals, we find several endemic birds of the Patagonian woodlands such as Black-throated Huet-huet, Chucao, Ochre-flanked and Magellanic tapaculos, Patagonian Tyrant, Des Murs Wiretail, Chilean Pigeon, Magellanic Woodpecker, Chilean Hawk and Green-backed Firecrown. Hotel Tepuhueico, Tepuhueico (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)(Guide)
We will spend most of the morning exploring Tepuhueico. Later we will drive east to reach the picturesque towns in the protected eastern coast. Here we will concentrate on studying the cultural features including the famous stilt houses set right on the muddy shores and the wooden churches of the surroundings.
During the afternoon we will visit up to five churches, all representatives of the colonial wooden construction whose architecture was inspired by shipbuilding, a skill most old-time islanders mastered. The churches we will potentially visit include those located at Dalcahue, Achao, Quinchao, Castro and Nercón. These wooden remarkable temples are regarded as World Heritage Sites and represent the legacy of the Jesuit missionaries who explored these intricate archipelagos in the XVII and XVIII centuries.
Overnight at Hotel Parque Quilquico, Castro (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)(Guide)
This trip ends after breakfast with a transfer to Castro airport. Optional transfer back to Puerto Montt on request (Breakfast).
Marine Otters, Kodkod Cat, Pudu Deer, the scarce Darwin’s Fox
What is included?
- All accommodation, meals and guide services as stated in the itinerary
- private ground transportation during the tour, boat trips to Puñihuil and Metalqui islands and Chepu river, ferry fares and park entrance fees.
- Tipping for restaurant service is included.
What is not included?
- Domestic flights
- Tipping for drivers and local guides
- Travel insurance, entrance tax to Chile
- Excess baggage charges
- Private excursions
- Snacks, drinks
- Telephone calls and anything else of a purely personal nature
Far South Expeditions is one of the most important nature tour operations in Chile. Our company, based in Punta Arenas, the capital city of Chilean Patagonia, was founded by Claudio F. Vidal and Enrique Couve in 1997, and since then we have specialized in offering high-quality birding, wildlife and nature expeditions for small groups and individuals.