9 recommended wildlife locations. The species listed below are just a selection of those you may see.

Atacama Desert & The Altiplano

Chile’s northern desert comprises virtually lifeless coastal plains divided by dramatic deep gorges, while further east the barren landscape changes as it rises through the Andes. The altiplano is an impressive expanse of alluvial salt flat edged by snow-capped volcanic peaks, home to a surprising variety of wildlife.

  • Where: Atacama Region
  • Ideal for viewing: Andean flamingo, Chilean flamingo, Guanaco, Rhea, Vicuna
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Chiloe Island

This fertile island lives from farming, fishing and forestry – arriving here is like stepping back in time. The west side is a dense swathe of temperate rainforest, supporting a variety of birdlife. Magellanic and Humboldt penguins live at the southern tip, and blue whales can be sighted between January and April..

  • Where: Chiloe province
  • Ideal for viewing: Black-necked swan, Darwin’s fox, Humboldt penguin, Pudu, South American sealion
  • Excellent for: Whale watching, Birdwatching, Penguin watching

Crossing the Andes to Bariloche, Argentina

This classic two-day trip from Puerto Montt or Puerto Varas through the exquisite Lake District skirts Lago Llanquihue past the impressive volcanoes of Osorno and Calbuco to Vicente Perez National Park. After crossing the Andes, the final legs takes you across Lago Nahuel Huapi to San Carlos de Bariloche.

  • Where: Andes & Lake District
  • Ideal for viewing: Andean condor, Guanaco, Puma, Rhea, Agouti
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Juan Fernandez Archipelago

This archipelago is situated 680-800kms off mainland Chile. Robinson Crusoe, the main island in the group and the subject Daniel Defoe’s eponymous novel, is covered in sub-tropical forest and is of particular interest to botanists. It has around 120 endemic plants, and three endemic bird species.

  • Where: Valparaíso Region
  • Ideal for viewing: Juan Fernandez fur seal, Juan Fernandez firecrown, Juan Fernandez tit-tyrant, Magellanic penguin, Pink-footed shearwater
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Lauca National Park

This spectacular northern area of dry, high altitude grassland plain and giant volcanoes supports many plants and a few mammals. Temperatures oscillate between -10°C at night and 20°C by day, and rainfall here is rare. This is one of the best parks in Chile for birding, with many species living around the lakes.

  • Where: Putre Parinacota Province
  • Ideal for viewing: Chilean flamingo, Guanaco, Taruca, Vicuna, Vizcacha
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Magellanes & Tierra del Fuego

The Chilean portion of Patagonia is called Magellanes after its Portuguese explorer. On the Pacific side glacial action has excavated a complex coastline of fjords and islands. Between the mainland and Tierra del Fuego, the Strait of Magellan has Chile’s first and only marine reserve, Francisco Coloane Marine Park.

  • Where: Magallanes Province
  • Ideal for viewing: Andean condor, Firecrown hummingbird, Guanaco, Humpback whale, King penguin
  • Excellent for: Whale watching, Birdwatching, Penguin watching

The Lake District

Four adjacent national parks, Vicente Perez Rosales and Puyehue in Chile, plus Nahuel Huapi and Lanin in Argentina, protect this southern region. With snowcapped volcanoes, rushing rivers, tumbling waterfalls, placid lakes and dense forests, it is a place of immense natural beauty and has many interesting tree species.

  • Where: Ranco Province
  • Ideal for viewing: Lesser rhea, Ocelot, Puma, Humboldt penguin, Magellanic penguin
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Torres del Paine National Park

Chilean Patagonia’s premier attraction is a scenic mix of craggy peaks, glacial lakes, icefields and green valleys – a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The omnipresent Paine Massif, a magnificent set of rocky spires formed from granite and sedimentary rock, dominates the landscape. It is also a photographer’s paradise.

  • Where: Última Esperanza province
  • Ideal for viewing: Andean condor, South American grey fox, Guanaco, Puma, South Andean deer
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

Valparaiso

The main port and one of the oldest cities in Chile, this delightful UNESCO World Heritage Site is sprawled across the hillsides and cliffs around a wide bay. A variety of seabirds can be seen along the coastline, while inland you will find the renowned wineries of the Casablanca and Colchagua valleys.

  • Where: Valparaiso region
  • Ideal for viewing: Brown pelican, Royal albatross, Buller’s albatross, Giant petrel, Southern fulmar
  • Excellent for: Birdwatching

2 recommended locations for extending your wildlife trip.

Easter Island

Rapa Nui, as it is known locally, is a small triangle of volcanic rock in mid-Pacific. Its 600 enigmatic stone faces have always been the subject of intense curiosity and speculation. A stay here will include a sunset boat trip as many thousands of seabirds return to their nests on high cliffs.

Santiago de Chile

Chile’s capital is located in the central valley, with the Andes to the east, and the coastal range to the west. A lively and dynamic place, there is lots to see in the historic downtown area, and a side trip into the Andes will reward you with breathtaking mountain scenery.

4 recommended trips. All our trip ideas are offered to inspire you, but our strength is in tailoring your itinerary.

Puma-tracking in Southern Chile

The focus of this exceptional small group trip is tracking and photographing pumas and other wildlife in Torres del Paine National Park in the company of a local wildlife photographer-expert.  

  • Trip type: Group tour
  • Duration exc. international flights: 9 days

Wild Patagonia

Marvel at the scenic and wildlife highlights of the immense treeless plateau of Patagonia in both Argentina and Chile!

  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
  • Duration exc. international flights: 16 days

Patagonia Wildlife Adventure

This adventure-packed trip combines marine wildlife with mountains, walking and boating.

  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
  • Duration exc. international flights: 12 days

Land of Extremes

Explore the unique and contrasting panoramas and wildlife of the north and south of the country.

  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
  • Duration exc. international flights: 13 days

When to go

Dues to its geographical location and size, the differences between north and south are extreme. December to March is best to visit the South, but head north from May to October.

Seasons

  • Summer

    Oct to Apr: Southern Chile is warmer, while the central area receives plenty of sunshine. The north is pleasant year-round
  • Winter

    May to Sep: Winter in the south is harsh, but farther north the climate remains warmer

Wildlife events

  • Feb to Apr: Blue whales off Chiloé Island
  • Feb to Apr: Buffeting wind in Patagonia and Torres del Paine drops
  • May to Oct: The best time to visit northern Chile
  • Oct to Mar: The southern hemisphere summer

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