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Chile 2023: Puma, Mountains and much more….


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Brief Overview of trip



Yes we did see Puma!


Andean Condor


King Penguin


Spectacular scenery

6th November BA flight from Heathrow, arrive Santiago 7th November

Santiago 3 nights – guided birding in the Andes

Valparaiso 1 night – for Pelagic Birding Trip

Santiago Airport Hotel for Early flight to Punta Arenas

3 nights Punta Arenas – include day trip to Tierra del Fuego (King Penguin)

4 nights Torres del Paine  - 3 full days of Puma Tracking

Back to Punta Arenas, then Santiago, then home.


Why Chile?. We had been inspired by two trip reports on Safaritalk


https://www.safaritalk.net/topic/18815-chiles-best/     from @jeremie


https://www.safaritalk.net/topic/19501-patagonia-puma-chiloe-pudu-chile-feb2019/  From @mapumbo


As far as I can see these are the only reports here (apologies if I missed any). We really wanted to track Puma, and needed to do it before we became to old to manage it! We also were attracted to the landscapes and to the variety of birds we would hopefully see.


So how was it? Absolutely wonderful – fare better than we could have hoped. Pumas,birding, scenery were all outstanding.


As there are not many Chile reports I will give a bit more detail than I normally would in a report. I will put some birds in the report to give a flavour of the experience, but for those with more interest I will post all of them in “My Big Year 2023”


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Well the photo's certainly whet the appetite @TonyQ-I have often wondered about trying to see Puma's. Please forgive me but when I saw the details of the trip I was overwhelmend with a wish to find the lyrics of the only song I know that mentions Valparaiso-ish- from the kipper family that were a comedy Norfolk folk group!

here is the verse

Now the first to throw his harpoon out
Was Valparaiso Luke.
He hit her in the tail, me boys,
But they said that was a fluke. And here is a link to the rest of the lyrics-you have been warned ( and to be sung in a terrible Norfolk accent)


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Great start Tony, really looking forward to this. This (and a bit more) is essentially what we had booked for 2020 until ... you know. I´m sure your report will convince us to book again, not that we need much nudging anyway. :)


Bring it on!

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Looking forward to more @TonyQ, this type of trip is right at the top of my bucket list. Great start so far! 

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Definitely looking forward to this report.  I would love to see King Penguins.

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Gorgeous puma shot to start us off! I've been to Torres del Paine (not for puma tracking though). It is stunningly beautiful (and very windy).

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Brings back so many great memories. Lovely photo's.

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I am going to Chile next year and would love to get a puma photo half as good.

Edited by jeffb
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Fantastic @TonyQI am glad that you made the long way trip to Chile to track pumas. Have you been travelling with FarSouthExpeditions? All the birding around Quintero/Valparaiso and Santiago is something they sell a lot to birders.


By the way, who was your guide/tracker at Torres del Paine?


I will look into the trip report...

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Can't wait to read this one...:)

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@Towlersonsafarithank you - I can imagine you singing that!

Thank you @michael-ibkI am sure you would enjoy it

@offshorebirderthank you -yes we have been making up for a few years of missed trips!

@Zubbie15@Atravelynn@Atdahl@Wildshipthank you

@Zim Girlthank you - they are amazing birds

@jeffbthank you and good luck

@Miss Biscuitthank you - yes Windy indeed!

@jeremiethank you. We used Albatross for the birding around Santiago. We used Far South for the Puma tracking section. I will discuss guides and trackers in the report

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Chile is a long way from the UK! British Airways fly direct 4 days per week – a 14 ½ hour flight (I believe it is the longest flight they do). There is a three-hour time difference from London (I expected it to be more).


Santiago airport was efficient and well staffed, but a couple of things to watch out for.


Part of the entry process gives you a PDI form (Policía De Investigaciones De Chile). It is a small bit of paper a bit like a shop receipt, but it is important. You need it when you check in to hotels, and when you leave the country. Keep it in your passport and take a photo of it.


Secondly, Chile is very strict about the importation of foodstuffs. If you want to take any in, declare it to customs (there is a form “SAG Affidavit” ) and they will decide if you can take it in. Trying to take food in without declaring can result in a visit to a police station and a large fine!


We took a taxi to our hotel – Hilton Vitacura (very good). They let us check in early, and upgraded our room which was very nice of them. (We booked the hotels, except Torred del Paine on the internet). After a quick lunch we wanted to get out and stretch our legs and so we got a taxi to Parque Bicentenario. We would walk through the park, enjoy some fresh air and practice using our cameras again on any suitable birds we would see.

A few examples


Chimango Caracara


Austral Thrush with a good hairdo


Chilean Mockingbird


Pied-billed Grebe


Monk Parakeet (not native but now established


This was a very pleasant way to ease into the country.


After this (and a long flight) we were pretty tired so we visited the Hotel bar


Brewed in Patagonia, and very good!

and then had a good meal in the hotel restaurant. An early night as we would be getting up early (05.30) to meet our bird guide for the next few days.

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This is our fourth visit to South America (Ecuador, Peru a long time ago; Brazil 9 years) but this is the first time we would describe ourselves as birders. The Pantanal started to push us that way but this time for parts of the trip we did focus on birds.


We booked four days of private guiding through




Day 1 we would explore the Highlands and Alpine areas above Santiago. Our guide (Cristian Pinto Fernandez) picked us up at 06.30. I will say more about Cristian later, but in summary he was superb!


Santiago is beautifully situated with the Andes towering above the city. We headed out through Valle Nevado and in the general direction of Farellones, stopping at many places that Cristian knew well. He knew the sites really well and what birds were likely to be there. He was also very good at helping us see them!


Beginning of the hills


Harris's Hawk


Mourning Sierra-Finch


Austral Pygmy Owl


Another scene on the way up


Giant Hummingbird - I think this is the first Hummingbird I have seen

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And a few more


White-throated Tapaculpo


A Lizard


Lots of California Poppies - look nice but they are an invasive introduced species


Lesser Horned Owl roosting inside depth of tree


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Farellones is a ski resort (though not at this time of year). There are blocks of apartments , and the Andean Condors take advantage of. Cristian wanted to be here at a particular time of day so that the light would be good and the Condors would be coming in to land on the blocks.


A Mountain Caracara also flew overhead


Viw from the resort - apartment block on the left


Immature Condor flying in


Immature (lack of White Collar)





We could also see them very close on the roof of the apartments




We were amazed by the colours of the Adult Male




The views of the Condors was far better than we expected we would ever have – they were absolutely stunning.

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Wow, those pictures of the condors are incredible! And I didn't know our California poppies had moved to Chile. I always look forward  to seeing them here in California since they bloom all over my neighborhood.

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Nice you went to Farellones for birding, it is indeed one of the good places to spot andean caracara and condors. But my feelings are that unfortunately Farellones is not wild enough for me.

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5 hours ago, TonyQ said:

And a few more


White-throated Tapaculpo


A Lizard


Lots of California Poppies - look nice but they are an invasive introduced species


Lesser Horned Owl roosting inside depth of tree



I like to Tucuquere owl pics. And you have been really lucky to spot the tapaculo. There are there, but very hard to spot in Central Chile.

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6 hours ago, TonyQ said:

Giant Hummingbird - I think this is the first Hummingbird I have seen


Started with a whopper!

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Congrats in the Giant Hummingbird.  That peeking Lesser Horned Owl shot while it was roosting is captivating.

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what wonderful views of the condor- and already showing the benefits of having a local guide @TonyQ( and luckily for you my singing is likely to remain a figment of your imagination) 

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@mtanenbaumthank you - we will have another Californian coming up soon...

@Towlersonsafarithank you - our guide was really good

@jeremiethank you - I can see why you would prefer a wilder place. It took a while to find the Tapaculo


@Atravelynnthank you - I really enjoyed the Horned Owl sighting


Day two with Christian. Again we were picked up at 6.30. This time we would be heading to a different area of the Andes (Yeso), higher than the previous day. We stopped at a few places on the way up


California Quail


Moustached Turca


Grey-hooded Sierra Finch


Buff-winged Cinclodes


Yellow-rumped Siskin


American Kestrel on a wire


Edited by TonyQ
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As we got higher the scenery became more spectacular. Glacial valleys reminded me of my school Geography lessons, but bought to life.






A distant Glacier




We passed a beautiful lake which is a tourist attraction,





but after this we saw almost no-one.


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