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 and expert.
This once-in-a-lifetime photographic adventure allows you to explore the Torres del Paine area and see its remarkable wildlife, accompanied by leading Chilean photographer and wildlife professional Diego Araya, supported by a team of trackers. Each day you try to locate Patagonia's most elusive animals, and enjoy moments of intimacy with the enigmatic Andean puma and endangered South Andean deer while enjoying the park’s impressive mountain topography, and its native flora.
The base for your stay in Torres del Paine is the innovative, award-winning EcoCamp Patagonia, in its sustainable geodesic Suite Domes.
Day1: Depart UK
Day2: Arrive Santiago
On arrival at Santiago you are met and transferred to your accommodation in the centre of the city, a drive of around 18 kilometres which can take anything from 30 minutes to one hour – depending on traffic. Once you have checked in, the remainder of the day is free.
Day3: Fly to Punta Arenas; transfer to Torres del Paine NP
After a free morning you transfer back to Santiago international airport to check in for the long flight south to Punta Arenas. At Punta Arenas you are met and driven northward to Torres del Paine National Park (340 kilometres or around four hours) via Puerto Natales.
En route you stop to visit the Cueva del Milodon, a 200-metre-long cave discovered in 1895 by a German explorer who came across a large and seemingly fresh piece of skin from an unidentified animal. The following year the skin was identified as belonging to a mylodon – a large prehistoric herbivore that became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene Era, meaning that the creature died between 10,200 and 13,560 years ago! The remnants of other extinct animals, as well as human remains, have also been found in the cave and other caves in the immediate area. Nowadays there is little to be seen other than a life-size replica of the bear-like prehistoric giant ground sloth which stands in the entrance.
On arrival at Torres del Paine National Park, head directly to your unique accommodation. After dinner this evening, your photographer-wildlife expert, Diego Araya, will give an introductory briefing and talk about the programme.
Days4-7: Explore Torres del Paine National Park in search of puma
During this photographic adventure you explore in the company of Diego, supported by a team of wildlife trackers. The plan is to set out early each day to photograph sunrise, with a hearty breakfast and coffee on the go, then focus on a different species and/or a different area of the park. The tracking team will already be hard at work, and will advise the location of any wildlife they spot by radio, so you can head immediately to the appropriate site. It goes without saying that puma sightings take priority over all others, and the actual itinerary will depend on sightings, weather conditions and the interests of the group. The animals you are likely to see include the shy and reclusive Andean puma (a.k.a. mountain lion or cougar) and the endangered huemul (South Andean deer), as well as ñandus (a large, flightless, ostrich-like bird), Andean condors, and culpeos (Andean foxes). There is also ample opportunity to enjoy and photograph the area’s stunning scenery – with spectacular sunrises and sunsets amidst dramatic mountain landscapes. You will visit Laguna Amarga, Laguna Azul and Los Cuernos (the Horns) – for the most dramatic scenery of all – and can photograph Patagonia’s unique flora as well as its wildlife.
You generally start close to camp, in the park’s eastern sector, making the most of the beautiful morning light and whatever wildlife activity you happen to come across. Thereafter you may be out for as long as six hours, watching, learning about and photographing native flora and fauna – with tips from Diego – before heading back to camp for lunch and a chance to relax in the middle of the day. In the afternoon – after peak daylight hours, during which there is little or no animal movement, have passed – you head over to the western sector of the park to enjoy its impressive landscapes, visiting Grey Glacier and other striking natural landmarks. Diego will introduce you to the area's different habitats and ecosystems, and show you Torres del Paine's unique and colourful wildlife in an ecologically sensitive manner. After capturing iconic images of the sun setting over the Paine massif, you return to camp for dinner and a well-earned rest.
N.B. in the event of bad weather impeding wildlife tracking, alternative activities such as a visit to the scenic waterfall of Paine Grande or to Laguna Azul will be planned..
Day8: Transfer to Punta Arenas
After a final morning’s activity in the park, following lunch you retrace your route back to Punta Arenas, where you check into a hotel for an overnight stay. On arrival what remains of the day is free to explore the town.
Hotel Cabo de Hornos, 1-night on bed and breakfast basis.
Day9: Fly to Santiago
This morning you are transferred to Punta Arenas airport to check in for a flight north to Santiago. On arrival at Santiago international airport you are met and transferred to your accommodation in the city centre – the same hotel as before. Once you have checked in the remainder of the afternoon is free.
Hotel Le Rêve, 1-night on bed and breakfast basis.
Day10: Depart Santiago
Day11: Arrive UK
You should note: The price indicated is based on a minimum group size of 4 people joining the tour, and subsequently may increase in the case of smaller group sizes.
Duration and price including flights from/to UK: 11 daysfrom £4,695 pp
Duration and price excluding international flights: 9 daysfrom £3,795 pp
Single supplement: From £1,110
Group size: 4
Included in the price/package:
Domestic flights between Santiago and Punta Arenas
2 nights hotel in Santiago (bed and breakfast basis)
1 night hotel in Punta Arenas (bed and breakfast basis)
5 nights at EcoCamp (full board basis)
National Park fees and activities
Services of expert photographer wildlife guide, plus team of wildlife trackers
Services of transfer reps in Santiago
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.
Where: Última Esperanza Province
Ideal for viewing: Andean condor, South American grey fox, guanaco, puma, South Andean deer
Excellent for: Wildlife photography
Chile’s capital and its largest city is located in the central valley, with the snow-capped Andes to the east, and the coastal range to the west. A lively and dynamic place, it is one of Latin America’s most sophisticated locations, and here is lots to see in the city and surrounding Andes.
Where: Santiago Metropolitan Region
Excellent for: City stopover, History & culture
Designed to withstand the elements of the Patagonian wilderness and minimise environmental impact, Eco-Camp is an innovative complex of geodesic dome tents on wooden platforms. The accommodation is warm and comfortable and offers a perfect compromise between a hotel and camping.
This elegant boutique property occupies a four-floor building – a national monument – whose original French architecture has been exquisitely restored to combine the traditional with the modern. Located in the elegant neighbourhood of Providencia, la Rêve is close to several restaurants and visitor attractions.