Stacks Image 314


January 23-February 2, 2015

Deposit: $750

Run in conjunction with Strabo Tours. Sign up here:

January 23:
Board your flight to Punta Arenas, Chile, landing the morning of January 24, airport code PUQ.
You will likely connect with a flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas. The group will travel together from the Punta Arenas airport to begin your adventure. The flight arrival time will be announced in your first packet of pre-departure materials. (current LAN flights depart SCL-PUQ non stop at 7:45A, or one stop 2PM)
If you would like to spend time in Santiago to rest, relax, or recover from jet lag, hotel options can be provided. In doing so you would have to depart home prior to January 23.

January 24:
Your guide will meet you at the Punta Arenas airport, time to be announced. This is Chile’s most southerly city and gateway for your explorations in Patagonia. From the air you will appreciate how long and narrow this country is. Traveling south, and looking to the east, enjoy great views of the Andes; several of its volcanoes are quite active. At some point, you will see how the topography drastically changes and the country transforms into a mosaic of fjords, islands, and glaciers. This is Patagonia, the scenario for your photography outings during the following week. Overnight HOTEL REY DON FELIPE (D)
Stacks Image 458
January 25:
During the morning we will have an excellent opportunity to observe penguins in their natural habitat and learn more about their natural history and breeding strategies. We will sail the mythic waters of the Straits of Magellan, in Patagonia, towards Magdalena Island. This protected area holds a huge Magellanic Penguin colony, holding more than 120,000 individuals. Besides the penguins, several other species of seabirds such as King Cormorants, Chilean Skua and South American Tern nest here. En route to the island, we will be escorted by magnificent Black-browed Albatross and playful pods of Peale’s dolphin.
During the afternoon, we will visit the Condor roosting site of Palomares Hill. Andean Condor, is one of the world's largest flying birds, with an impressive wingspan of more than 10 feet (nearly 3 meters); these magnificent birds soar over the summits of the Andes, all the way from Venezuela down to Tierra del Fuego. In Patagonia, Condors are an unusual sight and we will try to see them in the field, flying or resting on the cliffs, with the help of binoculars and spotting scopes. It is quite an amazing experience to see these colossal birds flying low, very close to the sea level. There are very few places in the world were you can see penguins and condors on the same day, and on this trip we will discover a wealth of birds and a sample of the most common mammals of the region, amidst the dazzling scenery of the remote Chilean Patagonia. Overnight HOTEL REY DON FELIPE (B, L, D)
Stacks Image 461
January 26:
Today we will take a 2-hour ferry journey towards Porvenir, in Tierra del Fuego; while crossing the mythic Straits of Magellan, we will see a variety of tubenoses such as Black-browed Albatrosses, Southern Giant Petrels, Cape and White-chinned Petrels, Sooty Shearwater and Magellanic Diving-Petrels. We will see other seabirds including Chilean Skua, Kelp and Dolphin Gulls and South American Tern. Possible marine mammals will include the common South American Sea Lion and playful pods of Peale’s Dolphin. Once we land at the island, we will check the coast around the little town of Porvenir, where we shall see Crested Duck, Chiloe Wigeon, Baird’s Sandpiper, Magellanic Oystercatcher and Dark-bellied Cinclodes, among several other species.
We will drive along the shores of the huge bay of Useless Sound, and photograph the newly established breeding colony of King Penguins. This is a private nature reserve, which aims to preserve the small numbers of the 'Kings' that remain year-round and even breed here (in small numbers), taking advantage of the excellent feeding conditions of the surrounding seas. We will have ample opportunities to observe and photograph the penguins from a reasonable distance (maximum approach distance will be given by your guide and must be respected at all times during your visit). Overnight HOSTERIA YENDEGAIA or HOTEL ESPANA, PORVENIR (B, L, D)
January 27-28:
Today we will cross the wind-swept steppes of Tierra del Fuego and mainland Patagonia in search of several of its specialties including Least Seedsnipe, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Common Miner, Band-tailed Earth creeper and Chocolate-vented Tyrant. A short ferry ride will take us to mainland once again and we hope to see the striking Commerson’s Dolphin following the wake during our crossing of the Straits. Large herds of camel-like Guanaco will be a common sight along the entire drive towards Punta Arenas and other mammals potentially include Southern Grey Fox, Patagonian Hairy Armadillo and Patagonian Hog-nosed Skunk. Chilean Flamingo, Upland and Ash-headed geese, Coscoroba and Black-necked swans and Silver Teal are all possible sightings along with thousands of waders such as Baird’s and White-rumped sandpipers and Wilson’s Phalarope at the roadside wetlands. We will truly enjoy our day exploring the beauty of this 'big sky' open country.
Visit Estancia Cerro Negro, a typical working sheep-farming station, where you will enjoy a shearing and sheep dog show and a delicious Patagonian-style barbecue. At the picturesque coastal town of Puerto Natales, we will enjoy gorgeous vistas of the Chilean fjords with stunning Black-necked Swans feeding along the shoreline.
We will start the next day driving a short distance towards 'Mylodon Cave’ Nature Reserve. This outstanding natural formation – consisting of a massive cavity within conglomerate rock – was used as shelter for a large array of long-gone Pleistocene mammal species, including Giant Ground-Sloth (Mylodon darwinii), when glaciers covered most of the surroundings. The paleontology of the area results fascinating and we will learn some interesting accounts from our guide, in the field as well as by visiting the small interpretation center of the reserve. The trail passes through some beech woodlands, which will provide great chances of seeing new forest birds as well as raptors and soaring Condors. Overnight REMOTA LODGE (B, L, D both days)
Stacks Image 467
January 29:
We will have three full days to explore Torres del Paine National Park and we will have early starts in order to be at locations to photograph the Paine Massif at dawn. Today and tomorrow we will concentrate in exploring the eastern region of this huge Biosphere Reserve, which comprises a total of nearly 600,000 acres.
At the eastern corner of Sarmiento Lake, we will reach locations that command the most incredible views of the towering peaks of Las Torres or the 'Towers', the pinnacles from which the park takes its name. As we move around the park, you shall observe confiding herds of Guanaco, most southerly camelid, the curious-looking Lesser Rhea and impressive Andean Condors soaring along the road. We will visit the eastern side of the park to enjoy the views of one of the impressive waterfalls of Paine river and if it is clear, of the fabulous granite columns of the Paine massif from Laguna Amarga and Azul. After our return to the hotel, enjoy dinner, and have an opportunity to photograph the mountains and clouds at sunset. Overnight HOTEL LAS TORRES (B, L, D)
January 30-31:
Rise early this morning for sunrise photography, further exploration of the Eastern section, the alkaline ponds and reed-fringed lagoons located in the eastern part of the park. Also the flora is a very interesting subject for observation and photography. The park holds nearly 500 species of plants; the southern spring and early summer (mid-October through late January) are great to see the myriad of flowers that bloom in these magnificent landscapes. End the day by driving to the Western Sector to explore further afield.

Investigate the southern and western regions of this huge national park. There will be opportunity to explore the Nothofagus or southern Beech forests to study its diversity of plants and animals.
'Lago Grey' will certainly be a highlight. Colossal icebergs are stranded on the southern shore of the lake after a long and slow transit from the glacier front. From this shore board the M/V Grey II, for a 3-hour excursion through the icy waters of the lake towards the impressive and actively calving front of the Grey Glacier. 'Grey' is one of the nearly 50 outlet glaciers which originate from the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field, world's third largest after Antarctica and Greenland, and is one of
the most beautiful and colorful in all Patagonia. The front is full of crevasses and the solid glacial ice colors vary from whitish to deep indigo. The glacier is flanked towards the east by impressive granite walls which are part of the Paine Massif, and towards the west by the eroded and low summits of the older Andes. The photography is great at this particular spot. You will be treated with a glass of 'pisco sour' or 'scotch' containing glacier ice of hundreds, possibly thousand years old! Overnight HOTEL PEHOE (B, L, D both days)
Stacks Image 694
February 1:
Your last day in Patagonia! Explore the impressive and seldom-visited mountain range, called Baguales – meaning ‘wild’. The name of this wonderful and remote location refers to the semi-wild horse herds that can be seen in the mountain surroundings. The peaks are very impressive and beg you to capture part of the grandeur of this unique corner of Patagonia. There will also be time and flexibility to re-visit some preferred shooting locations. Overnight HOTEL REY DON FELIPE (B, L, D)

February 2:
Depart early this morning for Punta Arenas, flying to Santiago, and connect with your flight home (flight time from Punta Arenas to be announced). The majority of flights to North America depart SCL from 8PM-Midnight, landing home the next day February 3. (B) (the current schedule with LAN departs PUQ 10:05A, landing in SCL 2:40P)