Chile Birding Tours
Birding Chile with Far South Exp
Chile Birding Tours. Biogeographically speaking, Chile is an island in its own right, isolated from the rest of the Neotropical region (Central and South America) by natural barriers in all four cardinal points. Chile is a very scenic country with huge contrasts, and provides of excellent highlights for any birding trip, either you are a very experienced world birder looking for the endemics and local specialties OR a novice bird enthusiast enjoying also of other aspects of the natural world and the local culture. We invite you to read about the different birding zones you will come across while visiting this long and thin country.
Northern Chile holds the driest desert in the world, the inhospitable Atacama on the border with southern Peru and Bolivia. This unique area is home to such diverse species as the huge, flightless Giant Coot, to the tiny Chilean Woodstar. In the coast lies Arica, Chile’s northernmost city, with beaches, river estuaries and desert valleys, haunt of such specialties as Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Thick-knee and the odd Slender-billed Finch.
The pleasant hamlet of Putre is the perfect base to bird the surroundings. Sparkling Violetear, Puna Hillstar, Dark-winged Canastero, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Golden-billed Saltator and Hooded Siskin are among a range of exciting birds that occur here at the southern limit of their range.
Moving further up the Andes, the High Andean Plateau, Puna or Altiplano, supports a great diversity of Andean specialties: Puna Rhea, all three Andean species of flamingos (Chilean, Andean and James’s), Puna Tinamou, White-winged Diuca Finch and Andean Swallow are all part of an impressive avian cast, spiced-up with grazing herds of Vicuña and other mammals like Vizcacha and Southern Grey Fox.
Central Chile is one of the most interesting places in our country from a biogeographical point of view, as it contains the eco-region of Mediterranean Chile, one of the biodiversity hotspots in the world and an area of endemism. Not surprisingly, almost all of the Chilean endemic species of birds are found here, including White-throated Tapaculo, Moustached Turca, Dusky-tailed Canastero and Chilean Mockingbird. The remarkable Giant Hummingbird, largest of hummingbirds, is a regular here during Spring and Summer, and so is White-crested Elaenia. Other birds found here are Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle and several other raptors, Striped Woodpecker, Chilean Pigeon and Tufted Tit-Tyrant, among many others.
The Central Chilean Andes are an impressive collection of peaks and river valleys that are home to many very specialized birds adapted to high altitude and cold weather. Scanning the slopes and craggy ravines produces rare songbirds like the endemic Crag Chilia and the local Creamy-rumped Miner, and a representative sample of Andean birds including Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, White-sided Hillstar, Cinereous, Black-fronted, White-browed and Rufous-naped Ground-Tyrants, Greater Yellow-Finch, Yellow-rumped and Thick-billed siskins and one of the most beautiful shorebirds of the world, the Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, an enigmatic inhabitant of high Andean bogs.
The central Chilean coast, can produce some interesting birds like the endemic Chilean Seaside Cinclodes, various shorebirds, gulls and terns and other coastal seabirds, reed songbirds such as the stunning Many-coloured Rush Tyrant and Wren-like Rushbird and waterfowl like Black-necked and Coscoroba swans, Chiloe Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal and Red Shoveler.
Valparaíso, Chile’s oldest and main port city, is also the perfect gateway to launch an unforgettable pelagic birding trip to the cold waters of the Humboldt Current in the South-eastern Pacific Ocean, undoubtedly one of the highlights of birding in Chile and one of the best pelagic birding locations in the world and home to a great array of tubenoses such as Black-browed, Buller’s, Salvin’s, Chatham and Northern Royal Albatrosses, Southern and Northern Giant Petrels, White-chinned, Westland, Pintado and Masatierra Petrels, Pink-footed and Sooty Shearwaters, Wilson’s Storm Petrel, and Peruvian Diving-Petrel. Other seabirds found here include Humboldt Penguin, Inca Tern, Guanay Cormorant and Chilean Skua.
Southern Chile & Lake District
With its dense temperate rain forests, big lakes nestled among impressive snow-capped volcanoes, and a coast shattered in a myriad of fjords and islands, offers the chance to discover birds like the skulking and tiny Des Murs’ Wiretail, Patagonian Tyrant, Fire-eyed Diucon, Chucao Tapaculo, Ochre-flanked and Magellanic Tapaculos, Black-throated Huet-Huet and the magnificent Magellanic Woodpecker, one of the largest woodpeckers in the world.
The magical Chiloé Island is the home of birds like Flightless Steamer-Duck, Silvery Grebe, Black-necked Swan, and wintering flocks of Hudsonian Godwit and Red Knot. Exploring the native forests of the area, we search for the endemic Slender-billed Parakeet and Chilean Pigeon.
Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego
Further south from the Lake District lies mythical Patagonia, a windswept land of rolling hills, endless plains and wind-bent trees that has fascinated and captured the imagination of countless explorers over the centuries. In a remote bay in Tierra del Fuego stands the only King Penguin colony in mainland South America, and scanning the saline ponds of the area can produce the rare and odd-looking Magellanic Plover and other grassland specialties such as Rufous-chested and Tawny-throated Dotterels, Austral Canastero and the stunning Black-throated Finch.
Another essential highlight of Chile is a visit to Torres del Paine National Park, where a visit to subantarctic woods provides good chances to see Thorn-tailed Rayadito, White-throated Treerunner, Magellanic Woodpecker and the southernmost of all parrots, the Austral Parakeet.
Take a look at the birding tours we have devised for you and experience birding Chile firsthand, following in Darwin’s footsteps and enjoying its unique birdlife. We will have the great pleasure of introducing you to the country we proudly call home. The wines flow freely, people are friendly and the sight of the Condor soaring overhead will linger long in your memory – this is our commitment.
Also, take the time and read about our Patagonia nature trips. Learn more.
Read more in our old site. Click here.
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What our Guest Say!
“Dallas and I have just got back to New Zealand after a most enjoyable holiday and a wonderful introduction to the wildlife of Chile. Many thanks for all your help in arranging this trip. All the transport arrangements worked well and we were most appreciative of your prompt and helpful replies to our emails. Ana Maria and Rodrigo were both great hosts as well as having an in depth knowledge of Chilean birds. We must not forget the drivers Rodolfo and Christian – they were much more than just drivers. They certainly added to the enjoyment of our time in Chile. We would not hesitate in recommending Far South Expeditions to those wanting to see Chilean wildlife”. Geoff & Dallas B. (NZ), October 2017
“Custom photographic tour to Patagonia. My husband and I & our friend traveled with photographer and guide Claudio, exploring and photographing Patagonia. It was a wonderful trip. Claudio and Ruben were amiable and accommodating companions and guides, even in the dark of early morning as we rose before sunrise to position ourselves for the best light. We would love to travel with them again!” – M. Tartar, USA
“Among all my trips to South America the travel to Patagonia was undoubtedly the most exciting one. The staff is exceptional but most of all, we were impressed by the intellect and human qualities of our guide Jaime who accompanied us during our specially designed trip to Tierra del Fuego. Since that time I harbor hopes that I can make another trip to Patagonia with Far South Expeditions!” – A. Fedorchenko, Russia
“We just finished the 8-day tour of Patagonia, and it was an amazing experience. Far South Expeditions handled everything smoothly and efficiently, we literally just showed up and they took care of the rest. The lodging provided with the tour was great for the whole trip, and our guide, Rodrigo Tapia is a true expert. He was able to spot wildlife that we could not see – including a Puma, and was great at accomodating the needs of our group. Far South Expeditions was great in handling all the details. I would definitely use them again.” – B. Funai, USA
“Many thank’s to Far South Expeditions for my recent birding tour of Punta Arenas, especially to Cecilia Faundez and excellent birder/naturalist Sebastian Saiter for helping me find Magellanic Plover.” – B. Nixon, UK
“Just a note of thanks to say that we enjoyed our trip to Torres del Paine on the botanical tour. We appreciated his friendly company. The accommodation and food was excellent, and we learnt a great deal about Patagonian natural history from Sebastian. The locations and walks selected for the tour were all interesting and different. We appreciated the flexibility of the schedule.” – D. & B. Keith, Australia
“Just a quick note to say that we thoroughly enjoyed our Patagonian adventure. Sebastian was an excellent guide and found us so many things; he was a great companion and always pleasant.” – D. & D. Stannard, UK
“We enjoyed the trip very much and have many beautiful photos of the scenery and wildlife in this region.” – D. James, UK
“David was an excellent guide for our King Penguin Day Trip. As a whole, Far South is running a very efficient tour company.” – P. Leslie, USA
“The highlight of our whole cruise around the Cape from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso was the half day excursion to see the incredible condors of Patagonia. The condors were most amazing. About 100 gather on the ranch at a cliff and we were privileged to see them roosting, stretching and flying en mass. This was a really authentic wildlife encounter.” – D. King, USA
“I asked Far South Expeditions to put a trip together to Patagonia for our small group of six, four of us being serious amateur photographers. Once I contacted Far South I knew that we were in good hands. Cecilia (who answered my endless questions) and Claudio put together the perfect trip. I can not recommend Far South Expeditions highly enough. It is a first rate, professional organization with vast personal knowledge of Patagonia.” – R. Badger, USA
“Far South Expeditions organised and booked a three-week tour with an outstanding expert guide, driver and minibus for two couples with interests in bird-watching, wildlife, history and culture. The tour was fantastic. Our guide, Rodrigo, was excellent. His English was flawless and as a Chilean Spanish speaker his help was essential. He is at the very forefront of southern South American ornithologists, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the local and world-wide avian fauna, and also of other animals, plants and natural and cultural attractions of Chile and Argentina. He is an interesting, friendly, amiable and amazing person and an outstanding photographer. The places Far South Expeditions booked for us were all good quality, with some of them being outstanding, and Rodrigo’s local knowledge meant that we saw many fascinating animals and places that we would not have known about or found for ourselves. We loved this tour with its wildlife (penguins, flamingos, guanacos, vicunas, llamas) and contrasts from the Punta Arenas area, to Ushuaia on the southern end of Tierra del Fuego, to the Andean peaks, glacial lakes and old growth southern beech forests and glaciers of El Chalten, El Calafate, Torres del Paine and finally to the starkly beautiful, high altitude, desperately dry altiplano, active volcanoes, salt lakes and peaks of the Atacama desert. Throughout, our guide and drivers were terrific: patient, helpful, friendly and knowledgeable. It was an unforgettable trip and we highly recommend this tour company and its staff.” Don Gartside, Australia