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.
Chile occupies a 2,650 mile-long narrow ribbon of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes, and stretches from north of the Atacama Desert to Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Chile is one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations and our tour covers the highlights of this fabulous country as we search for its numerous specialities and endemics. These range from the giant Andean Condor to the tiny Chilean Woodstar, and include the unique Chilean tapaculos called huet-huets and turcas. One of our primary targets will no doubt be the highly prized Diademed Sandpiper-Plover, while other no less desirable species include James’s Flamingo, Puna Ibis, Chilean Tinamou, Rufous-bellied Seedsnipe, Andean Avocet, Rufous-legged Owl, Slender-billed Parakeet, Magellanic Woodpecker, White-throated Treerunner and the appropriately named Giant Hummingbird. We will also undertake an exciting pelagic excursion in search of the region’s seabirds, including the rare Peruvian Diving Petrel and Chilean Skua, while mammal possibilities include herds of stately Vicunas, the range-restricted Marine Otter and the bizarre Southern Mountain Viscachas. Accommodations, meals and wines are excellent throughout the tour and the Chilean people offer warm hospitality. Combined with the outstanding scenery of high altitude Puna lakes and snow-capped volcanoes, excellent coastal desert and rich Patagonian forest, this is without doubt one of South America’s most memorable birding destinations!
Chilean Tinamou, Lesser Rhea, Coscoroba & Black-necked Swans, Flying & Fuegian Steamer Duck, Upland, Kelp, Ashy-headed & Ruddy-headed Geese, Bronze-winged, Lake & Torrent Ducks, Chiloe Wigeon, King, Magellanic & Humboldt Penguins, Northern Royal, Black-browed & Salvin’s Albatrosses, Southern Fulmar, Juan Fernandez, De Filippi’s & Westland Petrels, Peruvian & Magellanic Diving Petrels, Chilean, Andean & James’s Flamingoes, Red-legged & Guanay Cormorants, Rock & Imperial Shags, Chilean Hawk, Red-gartered, Red-fronted & Giant Coots, Magellanic, Snowy, Two-banded & Rufous-chested Plovers, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Rufous-bellied, Grey-breasted & Least Seedsnipe, Dolphin Gull, Peruvian & Inca Terns, Chilean Pigeon, Bare-faced Ground Dove, Lesser Horned & Rufous-legged Owls, Austral Pygmy Owl, Band-winged Nightjar, Andean Swift, Andean Hillstar, Green-backed Firecrown, Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Sheartail, Chilean Woodstar, Magellanic Woodpecker, Mountain & Chimango Caracara, Burrowing Parrot, Austral & Slender-billed Parakeets, Puna, Short-billed, Greyish & Creamy-rumped Miners, Crag Chilia, Band-tailed, White-throated & Scaly-throated Earthcreepers, Grey-flanked, Dark-bellied & Chilean Seaside Cinclodes, Des Murs’s Wiretail, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, Streak-backed Tit-Spinetail, Sharp-billed, Canyon & Dusky-tailed Canastero, White-throated Treerunner, Chestnut-throated & Black-throated Huet-huet, Moustached Turca, White-throated, Chucao, Ochre-flanked, Magellanic & Dusky Tapaculo, Pied-crested & Yellow-billed Tit-Tyrants, Chilean Elaenia, Ticking Doradito, Austral & Andean Negrito, Spectacled Tyrant, White-fronted Ground Tyrant, Fire-eyed Diucon, Chocolate-vented & Patagonian Tyrant, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Chilean Swallow, Peruvian Martin, Chilean Mockingbird, Austral Thrush, Black-chinned Siskin, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Austral Blackbird, Tamarugo Conebill, Grey-hooded & Patagonian Sierra Finches, Slender-billed Finch, Puna, Greater Yellow & Patagonian Yellow Finches.
Southern Mountain Viscacha, Guanaco, Vicuna, Culpeo, South American Grey Fox, Marine Otter, Coypu, Degu, Coruro, Dusky, Chilean, Commerson’s, Risso’s, Peale’s & Common Bottlenose Dolphins.
mountains, forests, lakes, ocean, sea shore, coastal desert, marshes
warm to cool, but colder in the highland
spectacular scenery, friendly people, pristine landscapes, great food & wine
Day 1: Arrival in Santiago, afternoon birding in the Farellones area
Upon arriving in the city of Santiago, you will be met and transferred to a comfortable city hotel that is conveniently located near to our birding destination. Here, you will meet your Rockjumper leader. Time permitting, we will then spend the afternoon birding in the vicinity of Farellones for several Andean species, including our first opportunity to see the stately Andean Condor soaring overhead. Mountain Caracaras are also a conspicuous feature of this landscape while we search for White-sided Hillstar, Rufous-banded and Creamy-rumped Miners, Band-tailed Sierra Finch, Greater Yellow Finch and a host of Ground Tyrants including Cinereous, Black-fronted, White-browed and Rufous-naped. We will also look for the secretive endemic Chilean Tinamou and Chilean Mockingbird, while other raptors we might encounter are Variable Hawk and the sleek Aplomado Falcon.
Day 2: El Yeso Valley
We have a full day of our Chile birding tour to explore the scenic surroundings of El Yeso reservoir in the Andean foothills. Rewarding sightings here could include the endemic Crag Chilia, the huge Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle, Black-winged Ground Dove, Greater Yellow Finch, Grey-flanked Cinclodes, Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant, Rufous-banded Miner, Cordilleran and Sharp-billed Canasteros, South American Snipe and Yellow-rumped Siskin, among other Andean specialities. Much of our time will be spent carefully scanning the boggy areas of shallow grass and streams for the stunning Diademed Plover, our main target species for the day. We can also listen for the call of Mountain Parakeets that regularly flock to this area, as well as the elusive Grey-breasted Seedsnipe.
Day 3: Laguna El Peral Nature Reserve and Maipo River mouth
Our time today will be divided between the Maipo River mouth and surrounding coastal wetlands, searching through areas that teem with birdlife for other water-associated species. We will also include a visit to the exceptional El Peral Nature Reserve where we will concentrate on finding the cryptic-coloured Stripe-backed Bittern, the brood-parasitic Black-headed Duck, White-tufted and Great Grebes, Coscoroba Swan, Red Shoveler and the striking Many-colored Rush Tyrant. In addition, today will be our best chance to locate the scarce Ticking Doradito, while we can also drive a short distance north where wetland birding could yield South American Painted-snipe, Chilean and Blue-and-white Swallows, Cocoi Heron and Rosy-billed Pochard.
Day 4: Pelagic trip off Valparaiso and Cachagua
Today on our Chile birding tour, we make an unforgettable visit to the cold waters of the Humboldt Current, considered to be one of the world’s finest pelagic birding locations. We can expect to see a great variety of tubenoses here, including Black-browed and Salvin’s Albatrosses, plus chances for Buller’s, Chatham, Antipodean (formerly part of the Wandering complex) and both Northern and Southern Royal Albatrosses. We should also find Southern and Northern Giant Petrels, Cape and the occasional De Filippi’s (Masatierra), White-chinned and Westland Petrels, Pink-footed, Buller’s and Sooty Shearwaters, Wilson’s Storm Petrel and the rare Peruvian Diving Petrel. Other seabirds we may encounter during our pelagic include Red (Grey) Phalarope, the decorative Sabine’s Gull and Chilean Skua.
During the afternoon, we will continue exploring the coastal areas, visiting a protected breeding colony of Humboldt Penguin – we also hope to find the scarce and range-restricted Marine Otter. Before ending the day we will then stop at a coastal marsh to scan through a variety of waterfowl that should include Red Shoveler, Yellow-billed Pintail, Yellow-billed Teal, Chiloe Wigeon, Red-gartered and White-winged Coots, Spot-flanked Gallinule and Plumbeous Rail, the latter of which can be surprisingly confiding. Towards the evening, we can then try our luck for Chilean Tinamou, Western Barn Owl and the impressive Lesser Horned Owl.
Day 5: La Campana National Park and coastal birding
This morning on our Chile birding tour, we visit La Campana National Park, a reserve that supports one of the last remaining Chilean Wine Palm forests amidst picturesque mountain peaks. Here, we will look for an interesting array of endemic passerines, including Dusky-tailed Canastero, Moustached Turca and the furtive White-throated Tapaculo. We are also likely to encounter the remarkable Giant Hummingbird, Striped Woodpecker, Austral Pygmy Owl, Chilean Elaenia, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail, Grey-hooded Sierra Finch, Chilean Pigeon and the endearing Thorn-tailed Rayadito while in the national park.
Later today, we will head westward to visit the Pacific coastline, where the productive rocky coast north of Valparaiso should produce the endemic Chilean Seaside Cinclodes and seabirds restricted to the Humboldt Current, including Guanay Cormorant, Peruvian Booby and Grey Gull. South American Sea Lions can often be seen basking on exposed rocks and we will look carefully for Blackish Oystercatcher.
Day 6: Lampa Marsh to Talca and Altos de Lircay Nature Reserve
Our first stop this morning will be at the Lampa Marsh for outside chances of the difficult Black Rail, as well as Harris’s Hawk, Wren-like Rushbird, the boldly-patterned Spectacled Tyrant, Sedge Wren, Correndera Pipit, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Picui Ground Dove and the sometimes diurnal Short-eared Owl. We will then continue our exploration south of Santiago to seek forest-dwelling birds of the Andean slopes. These rich forests host a wide range of specialised birds, although few conjure up such magnificence as the goliath Magellanic Woodpecker! Males show off a bright red head over a huge black body, while females adorn a ridiculously curled crest. We will listen for the distinctive taps of what is surely one of the world’s greatest woodpeckers, while also searching for the localised White-throated Treerunner, Dark-bellied Cinclodes and near-endemic Chestnut-throated Huet-huet. Tonight on our Chile birding tour, we can also stay out in search of Rufous-legged Owl.
Day 7: Altos de Lircay Nature Reserve and Colbun Lake to Santiago
While exploring the beautiful temperate forests of Vilches Altos adjacent to an Andean reservoir, our search will concentrate on locating the endemic Dusky Tapaculo and the threatened Chilean race of Burrowing Parrot, which usually congregates in noisy flocks. Along the route, we should also have the opportunity to observe Upland Goose, the scarce Bronze-winged Duck and Great Shrike-Tyrant, the largest of all the tyrant-flycatchers. Later today we will journey back to the capital city of Santiago.
Day 8: Santiago to Puyehue National Park via Osorno
Today on our Chile birding tour, we will catch a flight to Osorno, from where we will then drive to Puyehue National Park. En route, we will stop at several of the water features near town to search for various species more readily found further south. These may include Flying Steamer Duck, the dapper Silver Teal and Two-banded Plover. We will also scan through the thicker undergrowth, after we enter the park, for Des Murs’s Wiretail, amongst other species, while scanning for the local and rare Rufous-tailed Hawk overhead.
Day 9: Puyehue National Park
We have a full day of our Chile birding tour inside Puyehue National Park. Here, the sight of the magnificent temperate rainforests amidst a fantastic mountain backdrop is simply breathtaking! Amongst the Patagonian specialities that we will search for inside the park are Austral Pygmy Owl, Green-backed Firecrown, Black-throated Huet-huet, Ochre-flanked Tapaculo, Chilean Elaenia, Patagonian Tyrant and other gems of these Nothofagus forests.
Day 10: Puyehue National Park to Punta Arenas via Puerto Montt
After some final birding in the park, we will transfer to Puerto Montt, the entrance to Chile’s famous Lake District. Here we will search over the intertidal mudflats for wintering flocks of Hudsonian Godwit, Red Knot, Sanderling, the stocky Fuegian Steamer Duck, large congregations of elegant Black-necked Swans, attractive Silvery Grebes and the local Snowy-crowned Tern. The grasslands, orchards and meadows here are ideal for sighting Black-faced Ibis, the endemic Slender-billed Parakeet, Chilean Flicker, Austral Blackbird, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Black-chinned Siskin, Common Diuca Finch and Grassland Yellow Finch.
Thereafter, we will catch a flight to Punta Arenas, while the afternoon will see us visit the Otway Sound Magellanic Penguin colony if time permits.
Day 11: Ferry trip to Tierra del Fuego, visit King Penguin colony of Useless Bay
This morning on our Chile birding tour, we catch a ferry to Tierra del Fuego, where our main target will be the very unusual and monotypic Magellanic Plover. Fuegian Steamer Duck, plenty of seabirds, as well as Rock and Imperial Shags. En route to the various viewing sites for the spectacular King Penguin, we’ll also be searching for beauties that include Ruddy-headed and Kelp Goose and the stunning Rufous-chested Plover. We will no doubt have a full and rewarding day exploring this fascinating area!
Day 12: Ferry to Punta Arenas, explore the Pali Aike Road
This morning on our Chile birding tour, we board another ferry, this time destined to Punta Arenas. Here we will explore the Pali Aike road to search for some of the many special birds here, including both Upland and Least Seedsnipe, Tawny-throated Dotterel, White-bridled Finch, Austral Canastero and Band-tailed Earthcreeper, to name just a handful! Mammal opportunities also abound, as well as adding the opportunity for several Patagonian species. The landscape in this region is utterly stunning, while a plethora of plants should be in bloom, adding to the overall aesthetic.
Day 13: Punta Arenas to Santiago and depart
After breakfast, we head to the airport to board our departure flights.