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Bird Watching in Patagonia Chile
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Bird Watching in Patagonia Chile

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Key Information:
Tour Duration: 11 day(s)
Group Size: 4 - 16 people
Destination(s): Chile  
Specialty Categories: Birdwatching  
Season: November - April
Airfare Included: No
Tour Customizable: No
Minimum Per Person Price: 2995 US Dollar (USD)
Maximum Per Person Price: 2995 US Dollar (USD)

The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as "responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people". For us, eco-tourism means developing trips and eco-tours that focus on local cultures, wilderness areas, and flora and fauna of the region while creating a sustainable, economic, minimally consumptive business model to maintain the viability of the resource. We make a point of hiring guides, naturalists and employees from the local communities whenever we can and to help the communities themselves recognize the valuable resources over which they have stewardship.

Over the years we have worked with educational groups to develop customized trips with an eco-emphasis. Our partners have included high schools, universities and even the prestigious Explorer’s Club. If you or your organization are planning a Patagonia eco-tour and are looking for a partner to help develop your trip please contact our office.

In addition to the trip on this page, we offer a full menu of eco-friendly multisport activities from which to choose, including: whitewater rafting and kayaking, sea kayaking, kayak school, river guide school, trekking, fly fishing, horseback riding, canyoning, mountain biking and more formal eco-tours in Chile like the one you see here. We also offer trekking trips to Torres del Paine, Cerro FitzRoy and other spectacular destinations in South America.

Your Itinerary

Day 1: Leave from your hometown city on an over night flight to Santiago, Chile.

Day 2: Arrive in Santiago International Airport, Chile, clear customs, and transfer to a connecting flight to Puerto Montt Chile. Spend the rest of the day in the coastal Chilean city of Puerto Montt, the gateway to Patagonia, located on the Golfo Corcovado. The city of Puerto Montt is ringed by magnificent volcanic peaks, including the still active Volcan Orsorno. Enjoy shopping at the Angelmo Market for Chilean wool goods, or stroll the harbor area for coastal birds. Enjoy a salmon dinner at the Club de Yates restaurant and spend the night in the luxurious El Presidente hotel.

Day 3: Early breakfast at your hotel and ground transport to the harbor. This morning we will take a spectacular five-hour Catamaran ride across the Golfo Corcodova. We often spot Humboldt and Magellanic Penguins and numerous coastal varieties like, Albatross, Petrels and Shearwaters on this trip.

We arrive in the small coastal fishing village of Chaiten and drop our baggage off at the Hotel Mi Casa, overlooking the bay, and then head off to the famous Parque Pumalin for a several hour trek to see the old-growth giant alerce trees, and experience a unique coastal rainforest environment. The Parque Pumalin rainforest is home to a wide variety of bird species including the magellenic woodpecker. We return to Hotel Mi Casa and eat dinner overlooking the Chaiten harbor and scenic bay below.

Day 4: A hearty breakfast in Chaiten before setting out on a short bird watching hike along the Chaiten harbor and Santa Barbara beach coastline. After lunch we board a comfortable Safari bus and drive up the river valley along the Carreterra Austral, through a spectacular lake/fjord eco-system. We will cross the scenic Rio Yelcho, viewing snow-capped mountains, extinct volcanoes, glaciers, and the magnificent Lago Yelcho.

We will finish this day's journey at our lodge, with wine and cheese, in the little alpine village of Futaleufu, where we will spend the night. The birds and wildlife we will encounter will be as varied as the habitats we travel through. As the day begins keep an eye out for Biterns, Egrets, Cormorants, Herons and Ibis' followed by Condors, Eagles and Falcons as we traverse the high mountain passes.

Day 5: Wake up to a hot breakfast in the little alpine village of Futaleufu. before starting out to the headwaters of the Espolon river on mountain bikes and/or horses that will be waiting in front of the lodge to take you on this journey. The trails we will take wind along the turquoise blue Espolon river, across small bridges, and white sand beaches, before reaching the spectacular waterfalls below Lago Espolon.

The Futaleufu and Rio Espolon valleys are at the center of a unique rain-shadow microclimate ecosystem that provides a home to numerous bird species from different habitats. After viewing the falls we will board rafts and journey down the clear blue Espolon back to the village of Futaleufu. Our previous guests have compared this raft trip to a "magic carpet ride" as the water is so clear you feel you are floating in the air above the river bottom. There are some exciting, but easily negotiated class II-III whitewater sections on this trip. We spend another night in the village lodge.

Day 6: We start our horseback or trekking trip down the roadless upper Futaleufu river valley along the senderos used by the local Chileans. Horses carry our gear through forests and farmland ecosystems. We traverse the Class 5 Infierno Gorge of the Rio Futaleufu. Coming out of the Las Escalas Valley we go through an old growth Coihue forest to our remote tent camp at an isolated ranch.

This is the half-way point of the Futaleufu River Valley trail. There will be ample opportunity for birding, sight seeing and photography throughout the day. This is a location very few people ever visit and is a real glimpse of a world that is that is quickly disappearing - a journey back in time. When night falls we use candles and lanterns to light our way, and finally settle down to sleep under the southern stars.

Day 7: After breakfast we continue trekking or riding in the valley to the thundering Throne Room rapid, the most powerful rapid on this Crown Jewel of rivers, and one of the largest rapids in the world. We will spend some time bird watching and sight seeing, and if we arrive at the right time we may see some intrepid world class kayakers descending this mighty cataract. The ecosystems of this day will vary between forests and farmlands to riparian as we meander along the Futaleufu river.

We continue along the "Wild Mile" rapids till we come to a spectacular confluence of two rivers under the gaze of the Tres Monjas peak. We cross a high foot bridge over the Futaleufu river to discover the rustic but luxurious riverside Tres Monjas eco-camp. This camp is so spectacularly located that many of our guests have declared it a combination of Yosemite and Glacier National Parks. At this camp we have hot showers, a wood sauna, and masseuse to soothe your tired muscles. Here you will have an opportunity to explore the Rio Azul valley, do more birding, or just relax on a white sand beach along the caribbean-blue Futaleufu river.

Day 8: We wake up at to the sounds of two rivers flowing around the peninsula of Campo Tres Monjas. As we walk down the forest path, toward the dining lodge for breakfast, we look across the beach and the river to a view of the sun rising over the Tres Monjas peaks. Today we will get an introduction to sea kayaking on the nearby protected, and mountain ringed, Lonconao Lake.

Partners are selected as we introduce paddling and rescue techniques before setting out on the lake. Our stable two man kayaks are very forgiving for the first time kayaker and allow us to concentrate on the scenery and wildlife in this spectacular place. Paddling under your own power, on such clean water, in a pristine setting, will be an experience you will not soon forget.

Day 9: This is an optional multisport ala-carte day to enjoy the beach, masseuse, sauna, and the incredible views. On this day we offer optional adventure activities for those that want them: fly fishing, sit on top kayaking, world class whitewater rafting, mountain bike riding, and a learn to kayak clinic. The bird watching from the camp is also very good and includes three different habitats: riparian, farmland, and temperate forests. This night we have a Chilean lamb barbeque.

Day 10: On this morning we will divide into two groups; the most adventurous group will get an early start crossing the Futaleufu river, to climb to the base of the Tres Monjas spires for one of the most spectacular and rewarding views of both the Futaleufu and Rio Azul valleys. This is an all day trek that will involve climbing above tree line and possibly into the snow line, depending on the season. On this trek we will likely encounter Andean Condors that live along the cliffs of the Tres Monjas Peaks.

A lighter trek or horseback ride to the world class Terminator rapid is an option for those that want a more relaxing day. This secondary ride is as equally spectacular. On the banks of the Terminator rapid is an enchanting coihue forest that will provide us more bird watching opportunities. We will have a riverside lunch along side this powerful and spectacular rapid and then return to camp.

Day 11: We get an early start this morning to head back to Chaiten, to catch flights to Puerto Montt and a connecting flight to Santiago. In the evening you will board a flight from Santiago, Chile, to your hometown.

Notes:
Airfare is not included in the tour price.

Included: transportation to and from Puerto Montt, all local transportation, guides, horses and most equipment and gear, (see our packing list for specifics), meals and lodging.

Not included: Binoculars and field guides.

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