I could not have been happier with our guides Adam is a terrific birder, good at getting the participants views of the birds, and a lot of fun to travel with.
Our pre-tour Arica Extension takes us to the country’s far north, where we explore the scenic, varied habitats ranging from the Atacama Desert oasis valleys (thousands of feet deep!), and venture up the desolate west face of the Andes to the high Puna. Coastal birds such as Grey Gull and beautiful Peruvian Tern grace the beaches, while Peruvian Martin, Tamarugo Conebill, Chilean Woodstar, Peruvian Sheartail and Oasis Hummingbird occur within the Oasis Valleys. Other highlights might include Lesser (Puna) Rhea, Puna Tinamou and thousands of flamingos of three species.
Lesser (Puna) Rhea, Puna & Ornate Tinamou, Andean Goose, Puna Teal, Peruvian Giant & Andean Coot, Pelican, James’ (Puna), Chilean & Andean Flamingo, Puna Ibis, Red-legged Cormorant, Andean, Brown-hooded, Grey & Band-tailed Gull, Inca & Peruvian Tern, Rufous-bellied & Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, Peruvian Thick-knee, Andean Avocet, Andean Lapwing, Puna & Diademed Plover, Croaking Ground Dove, Mountain Parakeet, Andean Flicker, Andean Swift, Greyish Miner, Golden-billed Saltator, Plain-breasted, Straight-billed & White-throated Earthcreeper, Peruvian Martin, Peruvian Sheartail, Chilean Woodstar, Oasis Hummingbird, Sparkling Violetear, Tamarugo & Cinereous Conebill, Streaked Tit-Spinetail, White-browed Chat-Tyrant, White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Bar-winged & White-winged Cinclodes, Puna & White-fronted Ground Tyrants, Andean Negrito, Peruvian Meadowlark, Slender-billed Finch, Giant Conebill, Cordilleran, Dark-winged & Canyon Canasteros, Blue-and-yellow Tanager, White-winged Diuca Finch, Black, Hooded & Thick-billed Siskin
Southern Mountain Viscacha, Guanaco, Vicuna.
coastline, arid cactus-studded valleys, puna, scrubby plains, lakes
warm to cool, but colder in the highland
spectacular scenery, pristine landscapes, great food & wine
Day 1: Santiago to Arica
After arriving and meeting in Santiago this morning, we will take a flight from Santiago to the coastal city of Arica, Chile’s northernmost city. Once we have settled into our accommodations, we will then commence our initial explorations of the area. Some of the species we may encounter in the surrounding habitats include Peruvian Tern, Grey Gull, many species of shorebird, Peruvian Meadowlark, Slender-billed Finch and, with a bit of luck, both Yellowish Pipit and Peruvian Martin.
Day 2: Quebrada Camarones and Arica coastal area
We have a full day of our Chile birding tour to investigate the arid cactus-studded valleys of Azapa, Lluta and Chaca. These sites are the haunts of some special birds that include the increasingly rare Chilean Woodstar, Croaking Ground Dove, Peruvian Sheartail, Oasis Hummingbird, Cinereous Conebill and the widespread but gaudy, Vermillion Flycatcher. Band-tailed and Chestnut-throated Seedeaters are normally quite common, though it could take some effort to connect with the unique Tamarugo Conebill.
Thereafter, we will explore the Arica coastal area where we expect to see a great array of localised seabirds, including Peruvian Pelican, the attractive Red-legged Cormorant, Brown-hooded and Belcher’s Gulls and the exquisite Inca Tern. Along the desert coast, we will also look for flocks of Willet, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Surfbird, Franklin’s Gull and Elegant Tern.
Day 3: Arica to Putre
After some further birding, if necessary, in the surrounding areas of Arica to catch up on any species we may still require, we will then transfer to the pre-puna zone, up to a height of over 3 000m (10 500ft). Travelling and ascending slowly, and being careful not to over-exert ourselves with the increase in altitude, we will look for Peruvian Thick-knee, Andean Swift and Greyish Miner, to name just some of our targets.
Arriving at the quaint town of Putre, which will be our base for the next two nights of our Chile birding tour, we will begin by looking for Dark-winged and Canyon Canasteros, Sparkling Violetear, bright Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Hooded and Thick-billed Siskins and Golden-billed Saltator, among a whole array of exciting birds that occur here, at the very southern limit of their range. We will also search for a trio of tricky furnarids called earthcreepers: namely Buff-breasted, Straight-billed and the scarce White-throated. Although unpredictable, we will also listen for the distinctive call of Ornate Tinamou.
Day 4: Surire Lake
We will start early for our long drive across the scenic Chilean Altiplano to access the remote Surire salt pan lake! The lake holds one of the largest concentrations of the rare James’s (Puna) Flamingo on earth. Here we should also find Chilean and Andean Flamingos plus a large variety of waterfowl species, including Andean Goose, Puna Teal and Crested Duck. The lake surroundings are excellent habitat for Lesser (Puna) Rhea and stately Vicunas strutting over the scrubby plains, the enigmatic White-tailed Shrike-Tyrant, Cream-winged and White-winged Cinclodes scurrying over the rocks, and the secretive Puna Tinamou lurking in the open grasses and scrub. What’s more, although it will admittedly require a healthy dose of luck, we also stand a chance of finding the endangered Andean Cat during our Chile birding tour!
Day 5: Lauca National Park to Arica
Established to protect the highest lake in the world, the lofty Lauca National Park supports a great diversity of Andean specialities. Puna Ibis, Giant and Andean Coots, Rufous-bellied and Grey-breasted Seedsnipes, Andean Avocet, Andean Lapwing, Puna Plover and an opportunity to find the scarce Diademed Plover are all possible here. In rocky areas, we will look for Andean Flicker, where we should even find the bizarre Northern Mountain Viscacha, a strange-looking mammal with a squirrel body and rabbit ears. We should also encounter Andean Gull, Cordilleran Canastero, Puna and White-fronted Ground Tyrants, Andean Negrito, White-winged Diuca Finch and Black Siskin, before we take the return journey to Arica.
Day 6: Arica to Santiago and commence the main tour
This morning on our Chile birding tour, we will have a little time to revisit a few of the areas we birded on our first day in the region, as one or two hoped-for species are often missed on the first pass. This will also give us an opportunity to search for the wayward tern, pipit or martin, as well as giving us further chances to expand on Chile’s ever-lengthening bird list. Arica is perhaps the most likely site for Chile’s newest species! Thereafter we will transfer to the Santiago International Airport, where the extension will conclude and the main tour will commence.
What our clients say about tours to Chile
- Chile 2015
Chile with Dušan and Rockjumper exceeded our expectations. What a wonderful experience Chile was for birding. Dušan really worked hard at finding the birds for the group. A very satisfying tour! Looking forward to our next trip with RBT.BS & VS, Chile 2017