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  • Photograph of Diademed Sandpiper Plover

    Diademed Sandpiper Plover by David Beadle.

    CHILE

    Best Wildlife in Chile

    Mammals
    Puma, Blue Whale (mostly Feb-Mar), Chilean (Black) and Peale's Dolphins, Guanaco, Vicuna, Mountain Viscacha, Southern Pudu, Chilla, Patagonian Skunk, Marine Otter and Southern Sealion. Also a chance of Humpback Whale, Commerson's Dolphin, Kodkod, Large Hairy Armadillo and Southern River Otter.


    Birds

    Endemics
    The nine endemics which are possible to see on the main circuit are Chilean Tinamou, Slender-billed Parakeet, Moustached Turca, Dusky and White-throated Tapaculos, Crag Chilia, Seaside Cinclodes, Dusky-tailed Canastero and Chilean Mockingbird.

    Other Specialities
    Lesser Rhea, Ruddy-headed Goose, King Penguin, Pincoya Storm Petrel, Andean, Chilean and James's (Puna) Flamingos, Andean Condor, Andean Avocet, Diademed Sandpiper Plover, Magellanic and Puna Plovers, Inca Tern, Chilean Woodstar, Oasis Hummingbird, Peruvian Sheartail, Magellanic Woodpecker, Black-throated and Chestnut-throated Huet-huets, Short-billed Miner, Grey-flanked and Dark-bellied Cinclodes, Austral Canastero, Great Shrike Tyrant, Fire-eyed Diucon, Many-coloured Rush Tyrant, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Tamarugo Conebill, Grey-hooded and Patagonian Sierra Finches, and Greater and Patagonian Yellow Finches. Also a chance of Austral Rail, Swallow-tailed Gull, Snowy Sheathbill, Rufous-bellied and White-bellied Seedsnipes, South American Painted Snipe, Snowy-crowned Tern and Giant Conebill.

    Others
    Tinamous, Magellanic and Humboldt Penguins, Black-browed, Buller's, Chatham and Salvin's Albatrosses, Black-necked and Coscoroba Swans, geese, ducks including Flightless Steamer Duck and Torrent Duck, grebes, Pintado Petrel, Pink-footed Shearwater, Magellanic and Peruvian Diving Petrels, Peruvian Booby, Peruvian Pelican, cormorants, Black-faced and Puna Ibises, Black-chested Buzzard Eagle, caracaras, coots, Peruvian Thick-knee, Andean Lapwing, Rufous-chested and Tawny-throated Dotterels, Two-banded Plover, Blackish and Magellanic Oystercatchers, Black-necked Stilt, Grey-breasted and Least Seedsnipes, Andean, Dolphin and Grey Gulls, Black Skimmer, Chilean Skua, Burrowing Parrot, Burrowing and Great (Magellanic) Horned Owls, Andean Swift, Andean and White-sided Hillstars, Giant Hummingbird, Ringed Kingfisher, Andean and Chilean Flickers, miners, earthcreepers, cinclodes, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, Des Murs's Wiretail, canasteros, White-throated Treerunner, ground tyrants, Chocolate-vented and Spectacled Tyrants, negritos, Vermilion Flycatcher, sierra finches, Black-throated Flowerpiercer, Slender-billed Finch, Long-tailed and Peruvian Meadowlarks, and Black Siskin. Also a chance of Wandering (Antipodean) and both Royal Albatrosses, Cook's, Juan Fernandez, Masatierra (De Filippi's), Stejneger's and Westland Petrels, Buller's Shearwater (mostly Feb-Mar), Elliot's, Hornby's, Markham's, Wedge-rumped and White-bellied Storm Petrels, Stripe-backed Bittern, Sabine's Gull, White-tailed Shrike Tyrant, and Canary-winged and Yellow-bridled Finches.


    Plants
    Pan de Azucar and Tres Cruces National Parks are particularly good for cacti.


    Other Natural Wonders of Chile

    Torres del Paine Three spectacular isolated towers of granite rising to 2670 m (8760 ft) at the southern end of the Andes in the National Park named after them.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Chile

    Photograph of Andean Condor

    The magnificent Andean Condor by Dubi Shapiro.

    Best Times for Wildlife in Chile

    The best time to look for Puma and Blue Whale is March, when female Pumas usually have cubs to feed and are therefore more active than usual, but the peak time for birds is November, at the height of the austral spring, although from then until January can still be good. November is also the peak time for flowering cacti.

    Recommended Books etc. for Chile

    A Wildlife Guide to Chile by S Chester. Helm, 2008.

    Mammals of South America by R D Lord. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.

    Field Guide to the Birds of Chile by A Jaramillo. Helm, 2003 (Revised Spanish Edition, Lynx Edicions, 2007).

    Birds of Southern South America and Antarctica by M R de la Pena and M Rumboll. Collins, 1998.

    Birds of South America: Non-Passerines by J R Roderiguez Mata et al. Harper Collins, 2006.

    The Birds of South America: Passerines by R S Ridgely and G Tudor. University of Texas Press, 1989 and 1994 (Two volumes).

    Where to watch birds in South America by N Wheatley. Helm, 1994.

    Don’t know which country/countries to visit in South America? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them on the continent, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Chile

    Many trip reports, some for Chile, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Chile. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Chile' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Chile

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Chile

    Some Organized Tours to Chile

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Chile include the following.