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King Penguins. Photo by Gina Nichol.CHILE!
Torres del Paine & Tierra del Fuego

                                CONDORS, PENGUINS & PUMAS
                               October 10 - 20, 2018

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Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!


See the report from our fantastic 2016 Trip!>


Condors, Penguins and Pumas! Get ready for a Chilean wildlife adventure in this captivating country widely regarded as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Stretching 2,670 miles north to south between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, Chile offers a stunning variety of landscapes, majestic scenery and abundant wildlife. As one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations, Chile has so much to see that most wildlife tours are lengthy and expensive attempting to take in all that Chile has to offer.

We are taking a different approach and have designed an affordable tour at a reasonable length that highlights the best wildlife areas of Chilean Patagonia - Torres del Paine and Tierra del Fuego. With Andean Condors flying above the rugged mountain peaks, King Penguins “flying” in the waters of Useless Bay, and Pumas skulking under the massive towers of Torres del Paine, this is your chance to experience the wonders of Chile. Our itinerary will explore the sprawling steppes of Tierra del Fuego, as well as spectacular glaciers and fjords, and the massive towers of Torres del Paine. Tierra del Fuego is a stunning area of unspoiled nature separated from the mainland by the Straits of Magellan (which we will crossing more than once!). This expansive coastal plain is dotted with small ponds and is a mosaic of small islands with narrow waterways where colonies of penguins and sea lions make their home.

Join Sunrise Birding to experience the best birding and wildlife watching in Chilean Patagonia!

Photos: King Penguins, Useless Bay, Chile (Photo by Gina Nichol), Andean Condor (Photo by Steve Bird)


ITINERARY

Day 1, October 10 • Travel to Santiago, Chile
Today is a travel day. Plan to fly to Santiago, Chile arriving in the morning on Day 2 to connect with a flight to Punta Arenas. The international airport in Santiago is Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (Airport code: SCL). If you wish to arrive in Santiago a day or two early, just let us know and we can help with accommodation arrangements.



Ruddy-headed Goose (Photo: Steve Bird)

Day 2, October 11 •
Fly to Punta Arenas / Afternoon visit San Juan Bay

If you have not already arrived, be sure to be in Santiago this morning as mid-day we will fly to Punta Arenas, Chile’s southernmost city (Airport code: PUQ). This can be a truly enjoyable journey as will fly over seemingly endless Patagonian icecaps, deep fjords and the rugged peaks of the southern Andes. On arrival, we will bird along the coast of the Straits of Magellan looking for the endangered Ruddy-headed Goose (Photo: Steve Bird), Kelp Goose, Flying Steamer and Patagonian Crested Ducks, King and Rock Cormorant and Magellanic Oystercatcher. Overnight Punta Arenas (Dinner).


 

Magellanic Penguin (Photo: Claudio Vidal) Day 3, October 12 •
Boat Trip to Magdalena Island Penguin Colony / Drive to Torres del Paine National Park

This morning we will take a boat trip to visit Magdalena Island in the Straight of Magellan to see a Magellanic Penguin (Photo: Claudio Vidal) breeding colony. This protected area holds a huge Magellanic Penguin colony of more than 150,000 individuals. In addition to the penguins, there are several other species of seabirds to see such as Imperial and Rock Cormorants, Dolphin and Kelp Gulls, Chilean Skua and South American Tern. From the boat, we may see Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Southern Fulmar and other wildlife in their natural habitat.


Red-breasted Meadowlark (Photo: Gina Nichol)Later we will drive to one of the most stunning and beautiful places on the planet, Torres del Paine National Park. Along the way we will have the opportunity to visit some small brackish ponds that are an ideal habitat for small flocks of Chilean Flamingo, the ubiquitous Upland Goose, Red Shoveler, the scarce Silver Teal, Chiloe Wigeon, Black-necked Swan and noisy groups of beautiful Black-faced Ibis. We will admire the changing landscape and observe how the strong winds have sculpted the vegetation of the Patagonian steppes. We also hope to see Cinereous Harrier and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle hovering about in search for prey. Chilean Flicker, Red-breasted Meadowlark (Photo: Gina Nichol), Striped Woodpecker and Austral Pygmy Owl will be our target species around a patch of secondary woodland. We will scan the fast-flowing rivers hoping to find the remarkable Torrent Duck and search around some reed-fringed lagoons can be very interesting; with some luck offering the elusive and recently re-discovered Austral Rail. Finally we'll arrive at the Hostería Las Torres, located in the heart of this enormous and this very special UNESCO World Biosphere site, where we will spend the next two nights. Night Torres del Paine (B, L, D)

 

 

Days 4 & 5, October 13 & 14 •
Exploring Torres del Paine – Puma searches

Torres del Paine National Park, recently voted the 8th Wonder of the World, features iconic vertical granite pillars (photo: Gina Nichol)

Torres del Paine National Park, recently voted the 8th Wonder of the World, features iconic vertical granite pillars (photo: Gina Nichol) rising more than 6500 feet above the Patagonian steppe and its azure lakes (Photo: Gina Nichol), emerald forests and radiant glaciers. Torres del Paine is indeed one of South America's very finest national parks with unique bird life on offer and is perhaps the best place in the world to see wild Pumas.  The Paine Massif, a magnificent set of rugged peaks of granite and sedimentary rock, dominates the landscape of Torres del Paine National Park. The long-gone Indians of Patagonia gave it the name Paine, meaning “blue”, presumably referring to its remarkable color when observed at a distance. The contrasting mosaic of the towers, glaciers, lakes and forests will greet us we awake to explore the park.


Over the next two days, we organized a busy schedule of outings to search for pumas in the area. We will inspect the immediate surroundings of our hotel as well as the known puma hunting grounds in the eastern flank of the park. This area which includes the northern coast of Sarmiento Lake, Laguna Amarga and Laguna Azul, is well known for holding one of the largest concentrations of pumas in the wild. To see a Puma (Photo: Steve Bird) against this magnificent mountain backdrop and big sky is a magnificent wildlife spectacle. In company of our guide and puma tracker we will look for pumas at a prudent distance and view them with the help of binoculars and spotting scopes.

 

Puma searches will be mainly in the early morning. In between, we will do some birding and wildlife watching on the eastern site of the park. We’ll look for Andean Condor, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, Black-necked Swan, Chilean Flamingo, Spectacled Duck, Magellanic Woodpecker, Austral Parakeet, Chilean Hawk, White-throated Treerunner, Patagonian Sierra-Finch and Common Diuca-Finch among others. Two nights Torres del Paine (B, L, D)

 

Guanaco (Photo: Gina Nichol)

Day 6, October 15 • Torres del Paine National Park / Sierra Baguales
Today we will bird the Sierra Baguales range and the high desert habitat (3000 feet). The multicolored peaks as the backdrop, we will likely see Guanaco (Photo: Gina Nichol), a camelid native to South America, Darwin’s Rhea, and Andean Condor. Along the road, in the scrubby gullies, we will look for interesting passerines such as Patagonian Mockingbird and Gray-bellied Shrike-Tyrant. As we continue exploring this montane habitat we might find the local White-throated Caracara, Gray-breasted Seedsnipe, Rufous-banded Miner, Cinnamon-bellied and Ochre-naped Ground-tyrants, Patagonian and Greater Yellow Finches and the stunning Yellow-bridled Finch.


We will bird the piedmont and sub-Antarctic Southern Beech forests where we will look for, among others, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, White-throated Treerunner, Austral Parakeet, southernmost of all parrots, Austral Blackbird and the striking Magellanic Woodpecker, one of the largest in the world. If we are lucky, we will see the shy Andean Deer or Huemul. Overnight Puerto Natales (B, L, D)

 

Day 7, October 16 • Pali Aike Road / Straits of Magellan / Tierra del Fuego
Today we will cross the wind-swept steppes of mainland Patagonia in search of several of its specialties including Least Seedsnipe, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Common Miner, Band-tailed Earthcreeper and Chocolate-vented Tyrant. Large herds of camel-like Guanaco will be common sights and we’ll keep an eye out for other mammals including Southern Gray Fox, Patagonian Hairy Armadillo and Patagonian Hog-nosed Skunk.

 

Coscoroba Swans (Photo: Steve Bird) Driving south we will take another ferry from Punta Delgada crossing a narrow stretch of the Straits of Magellan giving us another opportunity to see some pelagic birds plus groups of the small but beautiful Commerson's Dolphin. On our way back to the mainland, we will visit the coast and search for species such as Magellanic Oystercatcher while also approaching a breeding colony of Rock Cormorants. Chilean Flamingo, Upland and Ash-headed Geese, Black-necked and Coscoroba Swans (Photo: Steve Bird) and Silver Teal are all possible sightings along with waders such as Baird’s and White-rumped sandpipers and Wilson’s Phalarope at the roadside wetlands. We will truly enjoy our day exploring the beauty of this 'big sky' open country. Night Porvenir (B, L, D)

 

Day 8, October 17 • Tierra del Fuego: Useless Bay for King Penguins / Baquedano Hills
Flightless Steamer-Duck (Photo: Gina Nichol) Today we will explore the huge embayment of Bahía Inútil - Spanish for Useless Bay - for a wealth of seabirds, waterfowl and other shorebirds. Thought the bay was “useless” as a port, it offers great birding. We will concentrate on finding Flightless and Flying Steamer-Ducks (Photo: Gina Nichol) and Kelp Goose as well as King, Imperial and Rock Cormorants.


En route, we’ll be checking the meadows and fields for the endangered Ruddy-headed Goose as well as for potential raptors including Variable Hawk, Aplomado and Peregrine Falcons. Magellanic Great Horned Owls nest in some ravines we will pass by, and there might be a chance of spotting this largest of Central and South American owls, second largest in the Americas.


The main target of our visit to this scenic part of the island is the only continental King Penguin breeding colony (Photo: Gina Nichol). This splendid species congregates year-round on this site and in the past few years they have successfully re-started to breed here.


King Penguin breeding colony (Photo: Gina Nichol)


On our way back to Porvenir, we will explore the shrubby slopes and moorlands of the Baquedano Hills, searching for specialties such as Rufous-chested Dotterel, Austral Canastero, and the stunning White-bridled Finch. Overnight Porvenir. (B, L, D)

 

Day 9, October 18 • Laguna de los Cisnes / Ferry to mainland / Punta Arenas
Magellanic Plover (Photo: Steve Bird)During the afternoon we will visit some alkaline lagoons and ponds east of the village. Our target here will be the local and rare Magellanic Plover (Photo: Steve Bird). This enigmatic wader looks more similar to a little dove rather than to any shorebird, and is often seen feeding ‘scratching’ the mud with its bright pink legs. Other birds of the area will include Two-banded Plover, Wilson’s Phalarope, the abundant White-rumped Sandpiper, Short-billed Miner and the ubiquitous Austral Negrito.

 

Today we will take a 2-hour ferry journey towards Porvenir, in Tierra del Fuego; while crossing the mythic Straits of Magellan, we will see a variety of tubenoses such as Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Cape and White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwater and Magellanic Diving Petrel. We will see other seabirds including Chilean Skua, Kelp, Dolphin and Brown-hooded Gulls and South American Tern. Possible marine mammals include the common South American Sea Lion and playful pods of Peale’s Dolphin. Overnight Punta Arenas (B, L, D)

 

Day 10, October 19 • Punta Arenas / Fly Santiago and connecting flights home
Transfer to Punta Arenas airport after breakfast. End of the trip. (B).


Day 11, October 20 • Arrival to home airport



Torres del Paine National Park. Photo by Gina Nichol.

Plumbeous Sierra Finch. Photo by Gina Nichol. CHILE! Condors,
Penguins & Pumas

October 10 - 20, 2018
Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!    Registration Form>

TOUR PRICE: $4395.00 per person/double occupancy based on 8 passengers from Punta Arenas, Chile (Airport code: PUQ).

Deposit: $500 per person.  Note: Tour deposits can be paid by credit card via PayPal.  Use this link to make your credit card payment.  Please advise gina@sunrisebirding.com when you have made payment. 

Single Supplement: $495.00 per person (subject to availability)

Group Size: Minimum 6 to go with local guide, 8 to go with Sunrise Birding guide as well. Maximum 12.

Included in cost: Group airport transfers, private transportation during the tour, all accommodations, meals beginning with dinner on Day 2, professional guide services, local guides, local park and reserve entrance fees.

Not included: Cost does not include roundtrip airfare to and from Punta Arenas, Chile, passport/visa fees, insurance, departure taxes, items of a personal nature such as: laundry, telephone, beverages, or gratuities for porterage or personal services.

Transportation/Travel Planning: You will be responsible for making your travel plans to Punta Arenas.  We have a flight agent that can help if needed. Information will be forthcoming about timings for arrivals and departures.

RESERVATIONS: To reserve your place on this tour, complete the Registration & Release Form and mail it with your deposit of $500.00 per person to Sunrise Birding, LLC.  Instructions are on the form. Reservations are held with a deposit on a first-come, first-served basis.   >Download & print the Registration Form 

Contact gina@sunrisebirding.com to reserve your space!  Then follow up with your completed registration form and deposit within two weeks to secure your place.  Final payment is due May 10, 2018.  Check or bank transfer are preferred but credit card payments are possible (surcharges of up to 5% are added depending on amount to cover credit card company fees).  Please inquire.

 

Please note: Tour prices are based on quoted costs from ground operators (in their local currency), estimated fuel costs, and the rate of exchange the time of itinerary publication. The erratic nature to global financial markets makes it difficult to predict changes in costs and foreign currency exchange rates over the long term. Since tours are priced well in advance of the actual operation of the tour, tour costs, fuel costs and exchange rates can change, sometimes drastically. Depending on the extent of such changes, it may be necessary to implement a surcharge on this tour. If a surcharge is necessary, every effort will be made to minimize the amount.

Cancellations and Refunds:  All cancellations must be made in writing.  In the event that you must cancel your booking at any stage, all payments you have made to Sunrise Birding, LLC will be retained by us, except at our discretion. Please ensure that you take out adequate insurance to cover this and any other eventuality as early as possible. You may have the opportunity to transfer your booking to another tour or another person, provided you are unavoidably prevented from coming on the tour. In this case, you will bear any extra costs that such changes may incur.

There are no refunds once the trip is confirmed to go ahead and no refunds will be made for unused meals, accommodations, or other trip features. 

Insurance:  The purchase of trip cancellation insurance to cover any eventuality is strongly recommended.  Sunrise Birding, LLC cannot accept liability for airline cancellations or delays or penalties incurred by the purchase of non-refundable airline tickets or other expenses incurred by tour participants in preparing for this tour. 

 

Travelex

Questions? Contact Gina Nichol at gina@sunrisebirding.com 
Phone: 203.453.6724

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