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Patagonia Puma, Chiloe Pudu, Chile Feb.2019

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mapumbo

TOWERS IN TORRES DEL PAINE PARK WITH A MID SUMMER DUSTING OF SNOW.

 

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Patagonia had always been alluring to us.  Being Africa addicts we always put it on the back burner.  While reading trip reports in the Worldwide section I came across the stunning photos of @jeremie.  This was shortly before going to Tanzania last August, so on the way home I was already thinking about a trip to Chile.

We wanted to go in February which is the dead of winter for us and summer down there.  We started working on our bookings and tour company search in November.  We knew this would be a tough task as that is high season in Chile and relatively a short time away. 

Finding a trip organizer for Chile proved to be a bit of a task for me.  I evidently was not typing the correct words in  the search bar because I was not coming up with a lot of options.  It seemed that when we arrived in Chile there was virtually a tour company on every corner.  Anyway, I finally came up with Swoop Patagonia's name.  This proved to be a fortunate discovery.  Swoop produced flawlessly for us in every way.  From planning, to information, organization, appropriate itinerary to suit our desires and also our flights.  They will not be the cheapest organizer, but for us they were ideal.  I know they had quite a challenge to get all our accommodation bookings on such short notice.

Anyway, we were booked and off to Chile on the 6th of February.

We landed in Santiago and never left the airport.  We flew LATAM air to Puerto Mont and were driven to a nice B&B in a sweet little town called Puerto Varas.  We were picked up the next morning by our guide Rafa Di Biase, the co-owner of Bird Chile.  It didn't take us long to realize we had the "best of the best" guides for birding as well as one heck of a fun guy to spend the next week together on Chiloe Island.

 

VIEW OF CHILOE ISLAND FROM THE FERRY ON THE WAY OVER FROM THE MAINLAND

 

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FIRST VILLAGE OF CHILOE ISLAND CALLED CHACAO

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ONE OF THE OLD WOODEN CHURCHES THAT THE ISLAND IS FAMOUS FOR, MANY OF THEM ARE UNESCO HERITAGE SITES

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Atravelynn
Posted (edited)

Swoop!  Looking forward to Chile. Gorgeous scenery!

Edited by Atravelynn

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Tom Kellie

~ @mapumbo

 

Thank you for preparing this trip report.

 

The introductory images above are lovely.

 

Tom K.

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SafariChick

@mapumbo I'm excited for this report as Patagonia and pumas are on my wish list! 

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mapumbo

Thank you @Atravelynn @Tom Kellie@SafariChick for your encouragement.  Every little bit helps to keep me motivated.

More coming soon.

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ForWildlife

Looking forward to this report!

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janzin

Looking forward to it as well...we had a trip all planned out for Patagonia and Chiloe Island but in the end put it off due to cost...but still hope to do it at some point! Not familiar with Swoop but I will look them up.

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Alexander33

@mapumbo

 

Looking very much forward to this report. I’m like you were: I keep tossing the idea of Patagonia around, but it just hasn’t made it to the top of the list — yet. I appreciate in advance any information that you can give to help move that along. So far, I’m not disappointed. The scenery looks stunning. 

 

I do do have to confess that I did a double-take when I saw this photo, though:

 

22 hours ago, mapumbo said:

 

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The national flag of Chile looks almost just like the state flag of Texas (which, as you know, we obnoxious Texans fly with abandon):

 

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Who knew?  (Let’s not hold that against Chile, though. :D )

 

Looking forward to more.  

 

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mapumbo

Thank you @ForWildlife

@janzin I know you had talked about Patagonia before.  This trip easily cost as much as a private guided two weeks in Africa.  The cost of living in Chile is comparable to Europe but I don't think the wages compare.  We are glad we went but will not return like we do repeatedly to Africa.  We have friends that have returned to Chile several times so it is all in what you expect and desire.  We used Chloe as our trip organizer at Swoop Patagonia.  I think she is the Patagonia wildlife expert.

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mapumbo

@Alexander33 Well, i"ll be darned.  It sure does.  I don't know who has bragging rights for using the design first but I would assume it would be Texans!!!

Actually, we learned there is a bit of a controversy about the southern part of Chile wishing to declare themselves as their own republic.  I bit like one of our states.  They have their own flag that you see flown down there in places.  I did not realize until we were in Patagonia that you cannot drive from central Chile, Santiago or even further south from Chiloe Island directly to Patagonia through Chile the entire way.  There is no road that goes all the way south into the southern end of Chile via Chile.  You have to cross over into Argentina, go south then cross back into Chile.  The countries do not get along well and the crossings can be very tedious.  Most people chose to fly.  It is actually considerably cheaper to fly from Santiago to Puerto Arenas than drive.

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mapumbo

As I said earlier, we were very fortunate to have been chosen as the clients of Rafa Di Biase. He and his wife are the owners of Bird Chile with 16 employees who do birding tours as well as general tourist, wildlife, and scenery tours.  I asked him how we managed to get him as our guide and he said his wife does all that delegation.  Thank you Mrs. Di Biase!!!!

 

As soon as we drove off the ferry onto Chiloe Island we were in full birding mode.  We stopped and started checking off shore birds from the checklist of the Lake District and Chiloe Island that Rafa and another guide had developed for general use.

 

BLACK-NECKED GOOSE

 

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BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON

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FLIGHTLESS STEAMER DUCK

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RED-LEGGED CORMORANT

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FLIGHTLESS STEAMER DUCKS

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KELP GOOSE

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We were scheduled to take a boat tour off the coast to Humboldt and Magellanic Penguin colonies.  We arrived early so we could have lunch at the restaurant nearby.  The local fishermen have set up this concession where they use their boats to take out tourist to the nearby islands where the penguins nest.  Their families also own the restaurants.  The viewing is controlled by the National Wildlife Department so there are only a limited number of boats around the birds at one time and only so many trips out per day.  It looks like a situation that is a win for everyone.  By the way, the meals there are quite good.

There are more Magellanic penguins.  The Humboldt penguins are very endangered so this colony is very important to them.

 

 

MAGELLANIC  PARENT AND FLEDGLING

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ON THE LEFT A HUMBOLDT PENGUIN

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The boats are loaded from the beach.  You are loaded onto a elevated trailer and hand pushed out to the waiting boats.  Your feet do not get wet.  Very civilized indeed.

 

 

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Here I am on the Titanic III.  Someone has a sense of humor......I hope.

 

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Tom Kellie

~ @mapumbo

 

The bird images you've posted above are really something.

 

Such beautiful blue sky.  Red wildflowers, too.

 

I've never heard of the Flightless Steamer Duck, but I like the looks of it.

 

A Black-crowned Night Heron! They live here, too.

 

Very nice photography.

 

Tom K.

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mapumbo

We left the penguin colony and started driving back roads that Rafa evidently was very familiar with.  We stopped for any new bird sighting, or cultural site.  We walked along the beach for a while, and just generally soaked in the culture of this island.  Chiloe is still only accessible by ferry from the mainland.  It is about a 30 minute ride.  There is a bridge proposed that will drastically change the culture of the island.  Now it has a rural, friendly small town feel.  There are still mostly small family owned subsistence farms dotted through the countryside.

As most of you know that have ever followed my trip reports, we are Kansas ranchers so seem to always work something "bovine like" into our travels.  No exception here.  It was pretty funny.  Rafa knew a little about cows but when we were done with him he thought he would be able to converse about breeds of cattle with the best of them.   We would give him pop quizzes along the way.

 

Here is a Black Angus cow that would stand out in our herd at home as far as supreme quality.  She is standing next to giant wild rhubarb.

 

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This is the common breed we saw most on the island.  They are a dual purpose breed used for both meat and milking.  We learned this from Rafa.  They are called Clavel Rojo.

 

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LONG-TAILED MEADOWLARK

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This is the intrusive plant Gorse.  It is slowly taking over the island.  It is totally impenetrable.

 

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Here they are drying seaweed on the edge of the road to use in soups and many other products.  Seems to be a pretty vibrant cottage industry on the island.

 

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OUR HOTEL FOR THE FIRST NIGHT ON THE ISLAND

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VIEW FROM OUR HOTEL

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mapumbo
13 minutes ago, Tom Kellie said:

~ @mapumbo

 

The bird images you've posted above are really something.

 

Such beautiful blue sky.  Red wildflowers, too.

 

I've never heard of the Flightless Steamer Duck, but I like the looks of it.

 

A Black-crowned Night Heron! They live here, too.

 

Very nice photography.

 

Tom K.

 

Thank you, Tom.  

I had failed to mention that the photos were all taken by Mama Ndege, of course.  She certainly deserves the kudos.

We had read the book "This Thing of Darkness" by Harry Thompson, before we went to Chile.  It is really well written and is about FitzRoy the Captain of the Beagle where Darwin traveled around with him exploring both the Atlantic and Pacific side of South America.  Anyway they mentioned the huge flocks of Flightless Steamer Ducks and how they had tried to eat them..  Mama Ndege was quite excited when she saw the first ones since she had been reading about them.  We saw plenty of them along the way as well.

I think Black Crowned Night Heron are found nearly worldwide, something like cattle egrets.

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Atravelynn

Of course there would be cows right after the penguins in this report.  You survived the Titanic.

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mapumbo

 

I need to make a correction on the ID of this bird.  It is a BLACK-NECKED SWAN.    

Not a goose as I earlier indicated.

 

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mapumbo
31 minutes ago, Atravelynn said:

Of course there would be cows right after the penguins in this report.  You survived the Titanic.

 

Yes, @Atravelynn you know us well:D.

  Have you traveled with Swoop?

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Atravelynn

The black necked swan was the first "cool bird" I saw recently in Argentina before departing for Antarctica.  It does look more goosey here and less elegant than the view I had of it swimming regally.

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Atravelynn
Just now, mapumbo said:

 

Yes, @Atravelynn you know us well:D.

  Have you traveled with Swoop?

No, but I like the name and will keep it in mind.  Patagonia is a place I'd like to get to before too long.

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mapumbo
1 minute ago, Atravelynn said:

The black necked swan was the first "cool bird" I saw recently in Argentina before departing for Antarctica.  It does look more goosey here and less elegant than the view I had of it swimming regally.

I'm pretty sure Mama Ndege has quite a few more of the Black-necked Swan that are more complimentary.  They are a note worthy bird.

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kilopascal

Nice to have you back and enjoying your trip report very much.

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mapumbo

@kilopascal Thank you.  Not looking forward to our Kansas weather the next few days.

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kilopascal

It is getting tiresome isn’t it. 

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michael-ibk

I´m super-delighted to see this report since I´m thinking more and more about doing Patagonia in 2020, so great Timing! Beautiful Pictures so far, and I´m Looking Forward to reading more.

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mapumbo
4 hours ago, michael-ibk said:

I´m super-delighted to see this report since I´m thinking more and more about doing Patagonia in 2020, so great Timing! Beautiful Pictures so far, and I´m Looking Forward to reading more.

I know there are several here on Safaritalk who have mentioned their interest in Patagonia.  Everything that was organized for us by Swoop I would recommend.  There was no part of our trip that we weren't totally satisfied with.  I'm sure that one could organize everything on their own as well but we are not comfortable doing it that way.  You could certainly self drive everywhere we went and stay at hotels that were not all inclusive.

Thank you for following along. 

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