Both Sides of the Southern End of the World—Argentina & Chile

Famous for its varied and dramatic landscapes, Patagonian Argentina and Chile span across an ever-changing scenery: snow-capped Andean peaks towering over windswept grasslands, mountain glaciers, temperate forests of Southern Beech, and rich cold waters teeming with life.

Due to this variety of habitats and relative isolation from tropical South America, the region is rich with birds found nowhere else in the world. This is an opportunity to experience a different South America: a land full of exotic waterfowl such as Black-necked Swan, Chiloe Wigeon, Red Shoveler, Spectacled Duck, Great Grebe, and White-tufted Grebe; a land of giant Magellanic Woodpeckers and crossbill-like Slender-billed Parakeet; a land where Andean Condors soar high overhead and ostrich-like Lesser Rhea roam the grasslands. The relatively undeveloped nature of the region also means there are plenty of large mammals, including perhaps the best sites in the world to see Puma in the wild.

In addition to our exploration of the natural history of the region, we will also have opportunities to sample its pastoral cuisine and learn about explorers such as Ferdinand Magellan who passed through the region. Join us on this tour to Patagonia and enjoy this splendid palette of wildlife set among landscapes that grip the imagination with an awesome sense of geologic time and place.

  • “Bucket list fulfilled! The scenery alone would make it worthwhile, but seeing all those "Magellanic" and "Austral" birds was really exciting.”— Laura Bakken, 2023 Traveler
  • “An experience-packed trip that with each new destination, kept getting better and better. Really three or four trips rolled into one. Wildlife viewing at its best with close-up encounters with pumas, whales, penguins and more. Breath-taking scenery in Torres Del Paine National Park. Fabulous guides and traveling companions. This trip will be tough to beat!“ — Jeffrey Schreiner, 2023 Traveler
  • “Trip of a lifetime - not to missed. Awesome scenery and culture.” — John Jordan, 2023 Traveler
  • “So much to see - beautiful scenery, incredible birds and mammals. Definitely one to add to the list. Number one highlight: Pumas. The skill of the trackers, the thrill of seeing the pumas…I did not expect it to be so incredible.” — Nancy Ross, 2023 Traveler

Tour Highlights

  • Take a boat ride off the Valdes Peninsula to see Southern Right Whales, a conservation success story
  • Visit a Magellanic Penguin colony off the coast of Chile, containing thousands upon thousands of individuals
  • Marvel at the beautiful and normally elusive Puma (Mountain Lion) near Torres del Paine National Park, perhaps even hunting a Guanaco!
  • Observe Andean Condor soaring overhead at the Farm of Olga Teresa in southern Chile
  • Admire the grand landscapes and dramatic panoramas of Torres del Paine National Park, arguably one of the finest in the world
  • Seek the gigantic Magellanic Woodpecker, the largest woodpecker species in the Americas

Trip Itinerary

Itineraries are guidelines; variations in itinerary may occur to account for weather, road conditions, closures, etc. and to maximize your experience.

Sun., Oct. 20 : Buenos Aires | Costanera Sur


Welcome to Buenos Aires! Upon arrival, you will meet our local agent and be transferred to the hotel. Please note, rooms are not typically available until mid-day, so if you want a room immediately for an early morning arrival, you will need to request a night ahead (additional charge at the going room rate) to get in ahead of mid-day check-in.

This afternoon, we explore Costanera Sur Nature Reserve where we find many species of the Rio de la Plata estuary of Argentina, a region not visited on other parts of our tour. Over 300 species have been recorded at this reserve near the heart of bustling Buenos Aires! Although we do not hope to see anywhere near that many on a brief visit, we do hope to see some of the following iconic species: Black-necked Swan, Coscoroba Swan, Southern Screamer, Great Grebe, Giant Wood-Rail, Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, Spectacled Tyrant, Scarlet-headed Blackbird and Red-crested Cardinal, just to name a few.

Enjoy a welcome dinner with a chance to get to know your guides and travel companions.
Accommodations at the Buenos Aires Hotel Awa (L,D)

Mon., Oct. 21: Trelew | Northern Patagonia at Puerto Pirámides


Argentina is a very large country by land area (eighth in the world), but it is also a very long country from north to south, requiring several domestic flights to explore properly. Domestic flights are included in your tour price, and we reposition to Trelew this morning – the gateway to northern Patagonia. We are now officially in Patagonia!

From the airport, we drive out to Puerto Pirámides, a tiny town of approximately 500 people on the Peninsula Valdes. Only a thin strip of land connects the peninsula to the mainland. The climate here is quite dry and windswept, with a predominance of succulent or leathery leaved vegetation. In fact, the peninsula shares many plant genera with the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of the USA. We make several birding stops en route in this arid landscape, searching for specialties such as Carbonated Sierra-Finch, Patagonian Mockingbird, White-throated Cacholote, and Rusty-backed Monjita. We might also get to see Guanaco, the largest of South America’s wild camelids.

Once in town, we walk a short distance to a viewpoint to see our first Southern Right Whales before dinner. Colorful murals line the walls of the Avenue of Whales. A whale tail sculpture marks the city center. This population is actually on the rise, a significant conservation achievement. They are often quite active, and we may see them breaching.
Accommodations at the Del Nomande Eco Hotel, Puerto Piramides (B,L,D)

Tues., Oct. 22 : Valdes Peninsula | Punta Norte


The sandy playas and blue bays of the peninsula are home to a fantastic concentration of mammals. Here, Southern Sea Lions breed by the thousands. We spend some time near town, exploring a short road leading towards a viewpoint with a Southern Sea Lion colony. These massive marine mammals display a range of behaviors around the antics of the dominant males. Vocal, and at times aggressive, we train our scopes on them for a better view. We also have chances for finding some specialty birds such as Gray-bellied Shrike-Tyrant and Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch.

Then, we will drive towards our next stop, Punta Norte. Along the road we will have chances for finding Chilla (fox), Guanaco, Lesser Rhea, Patagonian Mara, and two species of armadillos: Large Hairy Armadillo and Pichi.
Accommodations at the Del Nomande Eco Hotel, Puerto Piramides (B,L,D)

Wed., Oct. 23: Valdes Peninsula | Punta Delgada


A great day that will combine a variety of wildlife. Guanacos and Maras (or Patagonian Cavy) are possible along the road, providing great opportunities to photograph them. By mid-morning at Punta Delgada Lighthouse, we visit the only mainland Southern Elephant Seal colony, by far the largest pinniped in the world. To give you an idea of their great size, they are more than twice as heavy as a male Walrus and 6-7 times heavier than a Polar Bear!

Birdlife in the area includes Southern Giant-Petrel, Magellanic Cormorant, Chimango Caracara, Blackish Oystercatcher, and Magellanic Penguin.

In the afternoon and weather permitting, we hope to take a boat excursion to get close views of Southern Right Whale. Getting close to these massive giants, enough to see their blows, study their flukes, and observe their behaviors, is memorable!
Accommodations at the Del Nomande Eco Hotel, Puerto Piramides (B,L,D)

Thurs., Oct. 24 : Punto Tombo Penguin Colony | Chubut Valley


Our main destination today will be Punta Tombo, a narrow peninsula about two hours south of the city of Trelew. Punta Tombo is the breeding site of a colony of nearly one and a half million Magellanic Penguins. You will be able to walk through the colony area, watch them waddle between bushes where they seek shade and shelter, and be able to watch them swim and enter and exit the sea – truly wonderful views. Other species frequently seen include: Elegant Crested-Tinamou, White-headed Steamer-Duck, Great Grebe, Dolphin Gull, Long-tailed Meadowlark, and Common Diuca-Finch.

In the afternoon, we devote our time to explore the Chubut River Valley or perhaps the Laguna del Ornitólogo in order to see Burrowing Parrot, Chilean Flamingo, Red Shoveler, Chiloe Wigeon, White-tufted Grebe, and other classic species of southern Argentina.
Accommodations at the Hotel Libertador, Trelew (B,L,D)

Fri., Oct. 25: Trelew | Argentina to Ushuaia


After breakfast, we have the option of revisiting Laguna del Ornitólogo for some additional birding. However, we leave mid-morning from Trelew on a flight to Ushuaia at the southern tip of South America, the gateway to Tierra del Fuego National Park. This is a modern city now, with a scenic waterfront lined by shops and a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.

After settling in this afternoon at our new lodge, we can explore the surrounding area which tends to be very birdy! A small river estuary within sight of the dining area of the lodge usually has a collection of waterfowl and gulls loafing about, including Ashy-headed Goose, Flying Steamer-Duck, Crested Duck, Yellow-billed Pintail, and Dolphin Gull. A falling tide usually attracts Baird’s Sandpiper and Austral Negrito, while the Nothofagus forest behind the lodge is home to all the landbirds possible to see in Tierra del Fuego from Thorn-tailed Rayadito to Magellanic Woodpecker.

If the weather is mild, we also have the option to explore Glaciar Martial in order to see White-bellied Seedsnipe, Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, and (with luck) Yellow-bridled Finch.

There are many good restaurants to choose from here, and we will select one to enjoy our dinner tonight.
Accommodations at Hotel Tolkeyen, Ushuaia (B,L,D)

Sat., Oct. 26 : Ushuaia: Tierra del Fuego NP | Beagle Channel by Catamaran


Tierra del Fuego National Park showcases southern temperate rainforest, much like our Olympic National Park (which shows off northern temperate rainforest) in feel. We will explore some of the trails it offers and visit the dense Nothofagus forest. These relatively quiet forests have relatively few bird species, but those that are here are very special. Magellanic Woodpecker, a close relative to the now extinct Ivory-billed Woodpecker, is the largest woodpecker species in the Americas. Austral Parakeet, Austral Blackbird, Thorn-tailed Rayadito, and White-throated Treerunner also make their home here.

After lunch, we will get onboard a catamaran and have unparalleled views of the Beagle Channel and the southern end of Tierra del Fuego. Tall, windswept mountains tower on either side of this deep channel, creating an incredible panorama. Bundled up with the wind in our hair, we will be looking for Black-browed Albatrosses, Blackish Cinclodes, Snowy Sheathbill, Southern Fulmar, Chilean Skua, and more.
Accommodations at Hotel Tolkeyen, Ushuaia (B,L,D)

Sun., Oct. 27: Flight to Calafate | Drive to Cerro Castillo | Puma Country


The next leg of our journey is a flight south to El Calafate. After arriving, we will spend some time near town visiting the Laguna Nimez area. This lush wetland is an oasis in arid Patagonia, and we hope to find a variety of South American waterfowl, Plumbeous Rail, South American Tern, Cinereous Harrier, Wren-like Rushbird, Yellow-winged Blackbird, Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch, and more. We also have a chance to see highly unique Magellanic Plover, a delight for birders and nature photographers alike.

We then drive into the mountains, crossing into Chile. We have chances to observe wild Guanaco, Andean Condor, and Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle. Once we reach the border, we get the stamp for Chile then immediately arrive to Cerro Castillo and our hotel in this little town.
Accommodations in Hotel Estancia el Ovejero, Patagonico (B,L,D)

Mon., Oct. 28 : Full Day Searching for Pumas in the Wild


We will have an early start this morning. At 4:15 a.m. we will drive from the hotel to the Sarmiento area where we will visit Laguna Amarga farm, which is the best place to see Puma. Upon arrival, our trackers will be waiting there for us, and from here we will look for these amazing cats. Pumas normally start early in the morning for hunting time. Guanaco is their main prey, so hopefully we will witness this moment. We will spend at least 3 hours out on the farm, and then afterwards return to the hotel, rest, and eat lunch.

In the afternoon, we will search again for Pumas. At this time of day, they like to relax and lay down for long periods of time, great opportunities for photographs! This experience with Pumas is a wild cat fan’s dream! Following this, we will return to hotel for dinner.
Accommodations in Hotel Estancia el Ovejero, Patagonico (B,L,D)

Tues., Oct. 29 & Wed., Oct. 30: Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park


Today, we will visit Torres del Paine National Park – a highlight of our route in southern South America. Arguably one of the finest national parks in the world, it offers rugged mountains, massive glaciers, extensive Patagonian forests, and a bevy of lovely water features (waterfalls, gurgling streams, quiet ponds) – all within sight of the spectacular Torres del Paine (literally, the “Blue Towers”). Paine means “blue” in the native Tehuelche language, the original inhabitants of the region. We spend two nights in this land of grand landscapes and dramatic panoramas, which are also rich in wildlife.

Guanaco, Lesser Rhea, and Chilean Flamingo are common residents. The splendid Paine Massif will be visible at most times, and we traverse the park on spectacular internal roads with stunning views and great places to stop en route.

Lagoons and coastal areas here are home to a variety of South American waterfowl, including the elegant Black-necked Swan, unusual Spectacled Duck, and bulky Flying Steamer-Duck. White-tufted, Great, and Silvery Grebe also nest in these lagoons, amassing island mounds of floating vegetation as their nest. In the windswept grasslands, Black-faced Ibis, Cinereous Harrier, and White-throated Caracara join Lesser Rhea. The cool temperate forests are home to the impressive Magellanic Woodpecker, Austral Parakeet, Magellanic Tapaculo, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, Fire-eyed Diucon, and more. Among the mammals, we can expect Culpeo (fox), herds of Guanaco, Large Hairy Armadillo, and maybe Huemul Deer (Endangered).
Accommodations for two nights at Hotel del Paine, Rio Serrano (B,L,D)

Thurs., Oct. 31: Baguales | Torres del Paine | Puerto Natales


We have the full morning for wildlife viewing in the Sierra Baguales, trying to obtain better views of birds and other wildlife or having some new sightings of things we may have missed – perhaps Least or Gray-breasted Seedsnipe, Andean Condor, and Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant. We then start our way to over to the coast. Just a short drive away is a scenic town, Puerto Natales, where we stay the night.

Founded in 1911 as a port for the sheep industry, we have a chance to enjoy this charming town this afternoon, where we have time to walk the picturesque waterfront area with elegant Black-necked Swans and other waterbirds adding to the atmosphere of the place. In the evening, we will enjoy a delicious local meal. Mountains frame the waterfront view, and a dock jutting out into the sea lets us get close to many species.
Accommodations at Casa de Patagonia, Puerto Natales (B,L,D)

Fri., Nov. 1 : Olga Teresa Farm | Andean Condors & More | Punta Arenas


Today, we will leave from Puerto Natales to make our way to Punta Arenas, but we will definitely make a stop at one of the most impressive places to see Andean Condors in the world. Here, there is a huge ridge where Condors roost. When wind currents are good enough, they come and soar around. We will bring a box lunch and enjoy a picnic here among the condors. After lunch, we will continue our driving time to Punta Arenas and will check in at Hotel Diego de Almagro, and enjoy dinner paired with some local beer.
Accommodations at Hotel Diego de Almagro (B,L,D)

Sat., Nov. 2: Isla Magdelena


We have an early departure this morning for a boat ride to Isla Magdalena, one of the biggest and most impressive Magellanic Penguin colonies in the world, with numbers in the hundreds of thousands. We should also see Kelp Gull, Dolphin Gull, South American Tern, Blackish Oystercatcher, and Chilean Skua among other species. We may also see Chilean Dolphin and South American Fur Seal.

After a return from our boat ride, we can take a break, or if we like, visit the local Nao Victoria Museum. This museum exhibits a full-size replica of the first ship to ever circumnavigate the world: Ferdinand Magellan’s Nao Victoria.

Tonight is our farewell dinner. We get to recount our many fine adventures and tally our final species list.
Accommodations at Hotel Diego de Almagro (B,L,D)

Sun., Nov. 3: Flight to Santiago


Our incredible Ultimate Patagonia trip comes to an end, it is time to start the trip home. We will match the in-country flight segment today for international departures from Santiago. (B)

  • Torres del Paine, Patagonia, Patagonia Birding and Nature Tour, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Torres del Paine, Patagonia

  • Magellanic Penguins, Patagonia, Patagonia Birding and Nature Tour, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Magellanic Penguins, Patagonia

  • Valdes Peninsula, Patagonia, Patagonia Birding and Nature Tour, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Valdes Peninsula, Patagonia

  • Chilean Flamingos, Patagonia, Patagonia Birding and Nature Tour, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Chilean Flamingos, Patagonia

  • Patagonian Fox, Patagonia, Patagonia Birding and Nature Tour, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Patagonian Fox

  • Black-faced Ibis, Patagonia, Patagonia Birding and Nature Tour, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Black-faced Ibis

  • Dolphin Gull, Patagonia, Patagonia Birding and Nature Tour, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Dolphin Gull

  • Ashy-headed Geese, Carol Knabe, Patagonia, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Ashy-headed Geese by Carol Knabe

  • Pumas Resting, Carol Knabe, Patagonia, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Pumas resting by Carol Knabe

  • Puma by Jerry Knabe, Patagonia, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Puma by Jerry Knabe

  • Porcelain Orchid by Carol Knabe, Patagonia, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Porcelain Orchid by Carol Knabe

  • Magellanic Woodpeckers by Carol Knabe, Patagonia, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Magellanic Woodpeckers by Carol Knabe

  • Andean Condor by Carol Knabe, Patagonia, Patagonia Nature Tour, Naturalist Journeys, Argentina, Chile

    Andean Condor by Carol Knabe

Cost of the Journey

Cost of the journey is $9790 DBL / $10,590 SGL based on double occupancy, from Buenos Aires, Argentina. This cost includes: accommodations for 14 nights, meals as specified in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), land transportation during the journeys, and four internal flights: Buenos Aires to Trelew, Trelew to Ushuaia, Ushuaia to Calafate, Punta Arenas to Santiago. Tour price does not include: Airfare to Buenos Aires and from Santiago not included, or items of a personal nature such as laundry, porterage, telephone charges, or alcoholic beverages. Gratuities for maids or porters, and other hotel staff, as well as your guides are not included but are appreciated.

Travel Details

Please plan to make air travel plans only after the minimum group size has been met. We will send you a confirmation email as soon as the trip has been confirmed.

Arrival Airport: Buenos Aires International Airport (EZE)


Arrival Details: Plan to arrive October 20, at your leisure, If you would like to explore the Costanera Sur Nature Reserve, plan to arrive before 12:00 PM.


Departure Airport: Arturo Benitez International Airport (SCL) in Santiago


Departure Details: Plan flight departures on November 3, after 4:00 PM. We have a morning flight from Punta Arenas on our last day. See below for recommendations if you would prefer to overnight in Santiago and fly out the next day.


Travel Tips: If you arrive early to rest up from your travels, you can book an early night at our first night tour hotel, the Hotel Awwa Suites and Spa. Please send us your confirmation number with the goal being you hopefully won’t have to switch rooms. The hotel is located on the other end of the city near the domestic airport, Aeroparque Airport. There is a bus between the airports that runs regularly, or you can ask our travel agency, Willamette Travel, about setting up private transfers.


There are many things to do a short distance from the hotel if you want to get out and explore a bit. The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires showcases Latin American art from the 20th century to present. There are also many parks in this area in case you want to get a headstart on your bird checklist.


If you want to extend your stay in Santiago at the end of the tour, our agent recommends the Diego de Almagro Hotels, which have a location by the airport as well as downtown. There’s a lot to do in Santiago if you want to spend a few days exploring. Some great museums include the Bellas Artes Museum, which has a wide array of artwork with over 3,000 pieces. The National Museum of History is one of the oldest in South America and has exhibits on natural history, archaeology, and anthropology. You can also visit the presidential palace, La Moneda, which was built in the late 1800s and has impressive neoclassical architecture.  The Metropolitan Park of Santiago is a great place to spend a nice day if you’re looking for an outdoor activity. There are many walking paths, a cable car, gardens, and a zoo. Transportation options in Santiago include a great subway system, taxi, and Uber.  


Visa requirements: US citizens do not need a visit for tourist visits of this length.

Browse below for trip reports and species lists from past versions of this and other tours from this destination.

Argentina

  • Xavier Muñoz

    Xavier Muñoz's background is in tourism business administration and he also is also a professional bird-naturalist guide. Co-founder of Neblina Forest in 1994, Xavier collaborates with his peers in Ecuador and the USA, including Fundacion Jocotoco and Rainforest Trust; for Xavier, ecotourism and conservation walk together. Xavier has worked with Naturalist Journeys for more than six years, leading tours in Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, and Trinidad & Tobago. He lives in Ecuador with his family and horses.

    Photo credit: Demis Bucci Fotografia

    Other trips with Xavier Muñoz

Map for Ultimate Patagonia

Essential Information +

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have Read more

This information is important for being prepared for your journey; we want you to have the best experience possible. If you only read one section, this one is key!

Ahead of Your Tour

  • Make sure your passport will be valid at least six months AFTER the date of your scheduled return to the U.S. No Visas are required for U.S. citizens for stays of this tour's duration into Argentina and Chile. If you are from another country, please contact the Embassies of Argentina and of Chile or their websites for guidelines.
  • Please check current CDC recommendations for travel to Argentina and Chile and consult with your doctor about general travel vaccinations you should have as precaution for travel. See the “General Health and Inoculations” section below.
  • Travel insurance in case of serious medical emergency is strongly recommended. Full health coverage and repatriation is available through Allianz Travel Insurance, agent ID F028775.
  • Plan your flight reservations arriving into Buenos Aires International Airport (EZE), and departing from Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL). Send a copy of your itinerary to the Naturalist Journeys office please.
  • Soft sided luggage/duffel bags are easiest for packing the vans. Pack essential medications in your carry-on luggage, as well as one day of clothing and optics in case of luggage delay.

Arrival into Buenos Aires (EZE)

Please note. If you are delayed in travel, please FIRST call the number of our local operator. As a backup, contact our office (both numbers are on your emergency contact list).

Welcome to Buenos Aires! Please plan to arrive to Buenos Aires International Airport (EZE) at your leisure on the first day of the tour. Upon arrival you will meet our local agent and be transferred to the hotel. Please note, rooms are not typically available until mid-day, so if you want a room immediately for an early morning arrival, you will need to request a night ahead (additional charge at the going room rate) to get in ahead of mid-day check-in.

We will coordinate your pick-ups close to your departure with operators and guides once we have all travelers completed travel information. Please make sure we have both your ARRIVAL and DEPARTURE information, so they can plan this. It is imperative that we have your correct travel information; we appreciate if you email us a copy of your flight reservation. They will check internet for your updated flight information.

Please make yourself at home at your first night hotel– the front desk staff will assist you.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Departures from Santiago (SCL)

Please plan to depart in the late afternoon/evening from Santiago de Chile Airport (SCL) on the last day of the tour. Allow time to connect by air from Punta Arenas that day. You have to be at the airport about three hours ahead of your scheduled flight on this return.

We will provide transfers or arrange for taxis to the airport for all departures as needed for the departure day. The departure fee is now typically built into your airline fare.

Please check the Travel Details section of this tour for additional information and updates.

Passports, Visas & Documents

You must have a passport that is in good condition and is valid for six months AFTER your scheduled return to the U.S. You should have at least one blank page per stamp. The blank pages need to say “Visas” at the top. Pages marked “Amendments and Endorsements” will not be accepted. If you are from another country, please contact Argentina's and Chile's embassy websites for guidelines. Information for U.S. citizens can be found at:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Argentina.html

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Chile.html

It is always wise to check for possible changes to the country's visa policies 60-90 days before tour departs but at the time of writing, a tourist visa is not required for stays the length of this tour. You will need proof of a return ticket. The necessary documents will be distributed by your airline while in flight or provided for you upon arrival. We advise that you bring your eContact list of hotels for use at immigration as well.

As a precaution in the event of lost or stolen travel documents you are carrying, we highly recommend you keep electronic backup copies on your phone (either color photo or PDF scan) and/or paper copies packed in a separate location from the originals, as well as a copy left with your emergency contact at home. The recommended important documents to copy include, but are not limited to; your passport ID page, travel visa, the front and back of your credit card(s), vaccination records, travel and health insurance cards, and even the airline barcode on your luggage. Having these copies kept in a separate location will greatly expedite getting new ones if necessary, including evacuation if needed. We hope everyone will keep their primary travel documents close at all times (such as in an under-clothing document pouch) to reduce this risk.

General Health & Inoculations Information – Be Prepared!

We will share your health information with your guide. This information will be kept confidential but is very important as we want to be best prepared in case of medical emergency. 

Vaccinations: Although at the time of writing there were no other required vaccinations to enter Argentina or Chile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date with routine vaccinations and basic travel vaccines (such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid) before traveling to any destination. Please check with your doctor for recommendations at least 4-6 weeks before departing on your trip. Again, the CDC's website for Argentina and Chile is helpful, or contact them by phone 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

Prescriptions and Allergies: It is a good idea to pack any meds you take regularly in your carry-on luggage.  Bring an extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses. Bring an adequate supply of any prescription medications you use, a copy of the prescription and a list of generic names of your medicines as “back-up” in case it is necessary to purchase drugs while abroad.  You’ll want to keep medications in their original, labeled containers.  It is also recommended to carry with you an up-to-date record of known allergies, chronic medical problems and Medic Alerts so that, if necessary, emergency treatment can be carried out without endangering your health.

Common Ailments: We recommend that you bring a travel-sized first aid kit and a supply of standard over-the-counter medications for common ailments (such as upset stomach, headache, motion sickness, diahhrea, minor scrapes, bug bites, etc.).  Altitude sickness can affect some and, if there is a concern, be prepared.

Weather & Climate

In general, the weather during your stay will range from cold to comfortable, with temperatures from the low 30’s and to the low 70’s degrees F, and rain and wind are always possible. Check your favorite weather website closer to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure.

Food & Drinks

Meals at your hotels and in the restaurants are delightfully prepared in a sanitary environment. As with any case when traveling we urge you to consider what your body is used to before you eat something. Trust your common sense when consuming food and beverages. This is the best way to avoid any unwanted problems. Ask for recommendations from your hotel or refer to a guidebook such as Frommers. Menus in both countries feature a wide variety of amazing regional cuisine.

Tap water quality and access to clean drinking water varies from region to region. Bottled water will be available for field trips and drinking water is provided for you to refill a bottle. One of the many ways we strive to do our part for the environment is by trying to reduce our consumption of plastics; we appreciate if you can bring reusable water bottles. Your guide will let you know when bottled water is preferable.

Packing, Clothing & Laundry

Dress is very informal and laundry services are available for a fee at our lodges. While some people will change for dinner, it is usually just to a drier or cleaner version of what they wore during the day.

Please, pack light. We are serious about this – we move around a lot. Please do not bring anything more than you must. 

TRAVEL TIP: Imagine NOT getting your suitcase. Wear your most important shoes for the field and have one day’s clothing change (including a change of underwear!). And please do not pack any essential medications, or your vital optics, in your checked luggage!

Spending Money

The official currency in Argentina is the Argentinean peso; in Chile, it is the Chilean peso. We advise you carry a mix of different types of payments, such as cash, an ATM card, and a credit card.

For the current exchange rate, please refer to an online converter tool like www.xe.com or your bank. U.S. dollars in good, crisp condition (no rips or tears) are taken as a form of payment but shopping for smaller handicrafts may necessitate using local currency. If you plan to exchange cash in country (which often brings a better exchange rate than exchanging before you depart), bring large U.S. bills ($50 or $100) in good, crisp condition. You may also wire money to yourself (Western Union) and get an even better rate when you pick up your cash, though the line may be long.  If you are open to using a cueva (cambio), you can research "blue dollar" exchange rates at https://bluedollar.net/ ahead of time. Ask your local tour guide or hotel for recommendations for where to find the best exchange rates.

When using a local ATM to withdrawal cash, keep in mind that it will dispense local currency, but know that it might only accept cards from local banks or not allow cash advances on credit cards. Many U.S. banks charge a fee of $1 - $5 each time you use a foreign ATM. Others may charge you a percentage of the amount you withdraw. Check with your bank before departure. You must become familiar with how to use your ATM card and PIN number ahead of the journey. 

We suggest you have more than one card available, if possible. You may want to bring more than one brand of card (VISA and Mastercard are commonly accepted; American Express is less common). You can use credit cards at lodges to pay your bar and gift tabs. Not every shop will accept every card. Some smaller shops and restaurants, or taxis require cash, so it is always a good idea to ask before making a purchase. Also, we recommend that you advise your bank or credit card company that you will be traveling abroad to avoid questions, card freezes, or charges. If you have a choice of cards, bring one with no foreign exchange fees.

Traveler’s checks are not widely accepted. They can be difficult to exchange. We do not advise you use them.

Gratuities

Expect the normal tipping protocol to apply for your hotel maids and bar service. If at the end of the tour, you would like to show your appreciation to your guides, tipping is entirely appropriate but at your discretion. We hope that you will be pleased with all professional services. Gratuities for group meals are included. For your birding tour guide, we suggest $10-$15 per day per guest. Note that if there is more than one guide, this can be split among them.

Cell Phones & Internet Service

If you plan on using your cell phone on this trip, please check with your wireless provider to see if your phone and service will work in your destination country. Ask for “international roaming” to be activated on your phone. Or you can buy a local SIM card at the airport and insert this in your mobile phone (just make certain your phone can accept one).

If your phone can connect to Wi-Fi, you may be able to make voice and video calls free of charge. Please contact your cell phone provider for further details. Another option if you have access to Wi-Fi, is to use smartphone apps like Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber to send text messages, and make voice calls, or video calls. Many smartphones, tablets, or laptops come with one of these apps pre-installed or you can download for free. If bringing a laptop or tablet, get a good dustcover to protect it at all times.

Make sure if you do NOT want to use your cell phone that you turn off your cellular data. You could incur huge charges if you are not on Wi-Fi. Putting your phone in airplane mode if you mainly use it for photos will save the battery as well.

Your hotels and most local restaurants provide Wi-Fi at least in their common areas. Although it is generally a reliable service, it can be affected by adverse weather conditions due to the remote location.

Please refrain from taking or making cell phone calls in the vehicles when traveling with other passengers, unless it appears to be an emergency. This disrupts other guests, plan on cell phone call use on your own time.

Electricity

The standard voltage in Argentina and Chile is 220 Volts, alternating at 50 HZ. If you travel to Argentina with a device that does not accept 240 Volts at 50 Hertz, you will need a voltage converter. Most modern appliances now convert for you but check that your cord has a box on it to do so or is labeled to do so. Power plugs and sockets in Argentina are types C and I; in Chile, types C and L (which also works with plug C). You will need a power plug adapter. More information can be found at www.power-plugs-sockets.com.

Time

Argentina is on Argentina Time (one hour ahead of New York) and does not observe daylight savings time; while Chile is on Chile Standard Time (the same time zone as New York), with daylight savings time starting in September. Check www.timeanddate.com before leaving home for your conversion.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys or telephone at our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey!

 

Pace & Protocols +

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of Read more

Pace of the Tour & What to Expect

You will receive a Schedule-at-a-Glance and list of hotels (our eContact List) a few weeks before your departure. This will serve as an outline for each day and alert you to any recent changes made in the schedule or to our hotels, if needed.

Our journeys are set up to follow the rhythm of nature. Our focus is on birding and nature; we offer full, well-planned field days and often get up early for that magical time around dawn. We generally follow the published itinerary, but we stay flexible to the weather, wildlife opportunities and the interests of the group. Your guide will keep you apprised of the next day’s schedule at each evening meal, noting what to bring and what to prepare for. Questions and/or concerns are welcome.

The pace of our Naturalist Journeys tours is moderate; to fully participate you should be able to get in and out of vehicles several times a day, and walk 1-3 miles over uneven terrain. It is important to participate with a flexible attitude as adjustments may be made in our schedule to make the most of our time in the field or for other purposes at your guide's discretion. We are not a “listing” bird company that drills down on target species, but at times we do wait for those special species unique to the places we visit. During the day, we take time to stop for photos and for educational opportunities to learn about conservation projects, landscapes, and geology. We appreciate other taxa as well as birds, with mammals often the biggest draw but plants and butterflies are also very popular. Our clients often lend their own expertise to the mix.

We like to make meals a fun and memorable part of the experience, too. Breakfasts are often at hotels, and we carry snacks, fruit, and water in the vans each day. Lunches are a mix of picnics in the field (weather dependent) and a chance to dine with locals at small cafes and restaurants. For dinner, we pride ourselves in our homework to keep up with the best choices for dining, choosing restaurants with atmosphere that specialize in local foods. On occasion we keep dinner simple to go back out in the field for sunset wildlife viewing or night walks. In some remote locations, our choices are limited. If you are tired, room service for dinner may be an option you can choose.

Naturalist Journeys International Trips: Guide Role

Naturalist Journeys supports ecotourism and the development of excellent local guides. Once we know our international partners and guides well, we can send out small groups working directly with these trusted partners, adding a Naturalist Journeys guide to assist the local expert when we have a group of 6-7 or more. This helps us keep your costs down while retaining tour quality. The local guide is your main guide. You can expect your Naturalist Journeys guide to be well-researched and often they are experienced in the destination, but their role is not to be primary, it is to help to organize logistics, help you find birds, mammals, and interesting other species in the field, keep reports, help facilitate group interactions, and to keep the trip within Naturalist Journeys' style. Local guides live in the countries we travel to, know the destinations intimately, and are often the strongest force for conservation in their countries. They open many doors for us to have a rich experience.

Smoking

Smoking is not permitted in any vehicle or in any situation where the group is participating in an activity together, such as a vehicle excursion or a guided walk. Please respect all designated smoking areas at hotels and restaurants.

Transportation

As a courtesy to each other, we ask that all travelers please rotate seating. On international trips we may all be in one small bus, on some trips we are in vans, particularly the roomy Sprinter Vans when available. Some areas require us to be in smaller 4-wheel drive or safari vehicles. Rotation allows you to sit with different drivers and alternate front and back seating.

Photo Release & Sharing

We take many group photos and will share photos with the group. And after your tour, we will organize a chance to share photos via Dropbox or Google Photos. Please note that this is our policy and if you prefer to be excluded, we need to know ahead of your tour.

By registering for this tour, you agree to grant to Naturalist Journeys and its authorized representatives’ permission to record on photography film and/or video, pictures of my participation in the tour. You further agree that any or all of the material photographed may be used, in any form, as part of any future publications, brochure, or other printed materials used to promote Naturalist Journeys, and further that such use shall be without payment of fees, royalties, special credit or other compensation.

Travel Insurance

You are traveling in remote areas. Naturalist Journeys strongly recommends you have full medical and evacuation insurance from a company such as Allianz, for all international travel. If you do not have medical coverage or evacuation coverage on your existing travel insurance policy or for some reason elected not to take that out, we advise getting an evacuation plan with Global RescueWorld Nomads, Medjet, Allianz (they can do evacuation only) or a similar company. These plans are typically $300-$400 for a year for multiple destinations. This coverage may be a part of a larger Travel Insurance policy but can also be purchased on its own.

Questions?

Please contact Naturalist Journeys by email at clientservices@naturalistjourneys.com or telephone our office: (520) 558-1146 or toll free: (866) 900-1146 if you have any questions. Many thanks for traveling with us and we hope you enjoy your journey.

 

Packing List +

Please Pack Light! Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid Read more

Please Pack Light!

Soft luggage is much easier for us to pack than a more rigid hard sided piece, so if you have the choice, please use your soft luggage.  Be sure to have your name and address on the inside of the bag, as well as on the luggage tag on the handle.  It is our hope that you can pack in one checked suitcase that does not exceed 45 pounds.  Be sure to carry your personal identification, medication, airline tickets, passport, binoculars, camera, and other essential items on your person, NOT in your checked bag. You will want a day pack for field trips, so this is an ideal carry-on. Please reconfirm your airline’s baggage weight and size restrictions about a week or so before departure.

In general, the weather during your stay will range from cold to comfortable, with temperatures from the low 30’s and to the low 70’s °F. Rain and wind are always possible in any of these temps, so keep in mind that the combination of cold, wind and rain will require some good planning to be as comfortable as possible if these extreme conditions occur. Fabrics like fleece, as well as rain gear, will protect you from rain and wind and keep you warm. Check your favorite weather website closer to your departure to better predict what the weather will be on your adventure.

Dress is comfortable and informal throughout the trip. We want you to be comfortable throughout varying weather and the key to that is layering. Also, choose clothing you don’t mind getting dirty and things that are comfortable and easy to wear and launder. Supportive hiking boots are essential for our walks.

Clothing & Gear

  • Long pants, 2-3 pair
  • Long-sleeved shirts/turtlenecks, 3-4 – think layering
  • T-shirts or equivalent, 1-2 (optional) for layering
  • Long underwear, 1 pair lightweight
  • Raingear – these double as wind break
  • Sweater or fleece shirt
  • Warm jacket (windproof)
  • Comfortable clothes for evening (a cleaner version of your field clothes)
  • Hat with broad brim for sun on dry days
  • Scarf or neck gaiter, warm and water-repellent gloves or mittens, warm hat for cold weather
  • Personal underclothing and pajamas
  • Socks – several warm pairs, and several pairs of a lightweight, easy to wash and dry material
  • Comfortable walking shoes (such as tennis shoes)
  • Supportive hiking boots that can keep your feet dry
  • Comfortable shoes for evenings, travel days
  • Bandana (optional)

Equipment & Miscellaneous

  • Airline E-ticket verification
  • Passport, visa (if required), health and travel insurance info, current vaccinations, money & credit cards.
  • A secure pouch to carry the items above on your person (such as a secure, under-clothing document pouch)
  • As a backup: copies of all the above (phone and/or paper) packed in a separate location than on your person, plus a set given to your emergency contact at home as a backup. For passport, copy of the  ID and entry stamp pages.
  • Small daypack or fanny pack for carrying your field gear
  • Umbrella – compact and not brightly colored
  • Walking stick – we find that many travelers appreciate a walking stick on trails, sporting goods stores carry collapsible models that pack easily in your suitcase (optional)
  • Small flashlight with fresh batteries
  • Alarm clock, or use your cell phone
  • Sunscreen/lip balm
  • Sunglasses with neck strap
  • Toiletry articles
  • Binoculars
  • Spotting scope and tripod (optional)
  • Camera and extra batteries, memory cards, lens cleaning supplies and your instruction manual (optional)
  • Water bottle (or plan to refill one bought on location) Notebook or journal and pen (optional) Field guides (optional)
  • Laundry soap if you plan to do hand washing
  • Earplugs – in urban and even rural areas barking dogs and traffic noise can be annoying
  • Rechargeable power bank (optional)

 

WE DO NOT RECOMMEND TRAVELING WITH PRECIOUS OR VALUABLE JEWELRY – don’t tempt anyone and don’t bring things you’d regret losing - your mind will be at ease!

Medical & First Aid Items

  • Personal medications (and copy of vital prescriptions)
  • Motion sickness preventatives if likely to be needed on bus, van drives, etc.
  • Personal first aid kit and medications for general ailments
  • Copy of eyeglass prescription, vaccination records, medical alerts
  • Health Insurance information
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses or contacts
  • Band-aids, moleskin to protect against blisters
  • Antibiotic gel or creme

 

Suggested Reading List +

There are many titles of interest for Patagonia; the following are a few that we Read more

There are many titles of interest for Patagonia; the following are a few that we have enjoyed that can get you started.

Top Picks

Merlin App – Chile Pack. A phone-based birding app from Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology. Before departing the U.S., download the app for free, then from within the app, download the “pack” for Chile.

General Reading

Moon Patagonia

Patagonia Footprint Handbook

Field Guides

Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Antarctic Peninsula

A Guide to the Birds and Mammals of Coastal Patagonia

Birds of Argentina and the South-West Atlantic

Field Guide to the Birds of Chile

Birds of Chile - A Photo Guide

Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego Travel Reference Map

Natural History

A Wildlife Guide to Chile.

History & Culture

The Book of Patagonia: Its History from Magellan to Our Days

Forgotten Continent: A History of the New Latin America

Patagonia. A Cultural History

Uttermost Part of the Earth

Latin American Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary

Memoir/Non-Fiction

In Patagonia

The Whispering Land

Patagonia: The Camino Home

Your guide will also have a selection of reference books and materials for participants to share. As an Amazon Associate, Naturalist Journeys earns from qualifying purchases, and may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page at no added cost to you.

 

Useful Links +

Learn more about your destination at these external websites, carefully researched for you. Read more

General

Argentina

Buenos Aires – Capital of Argentina

Patagonia

Puerto Pirámides

Trelew

Ushuaia

El Calafate

Cerro Castillo, Chile

Puerto Natales

Punto Arenas

Nature, Wildlife & Biology

Birding Argentina

Birding Patagonia

Birding Chile

Isla Magdelena Penguin Colony

Pumas of Estancia Laguna Amarga

Wildlife in Valdes

Elephant Seals at Punta Delgada

Punta Tombo Magellan Penguins

Large Mammals of Patagonia

Conservation, Parks & Reserves

Challenges of Preserving Chilean Patagonia

Costanera Sur Ecological Reserve

Torres del Paine National Park

Puerto Piramides

Tierra del Fuego National Park

Geology & Geography

Geology of Argentina and Chile

Geography of Argentina and Chile

History & Culture

History and facts about Argentina

History and Facts about Chile

Argentine Culture

Argentine Cuisine

Helpful Travel Websites

Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) (Arrival)

Santiago Airport (SCL) (Departure)

National Passport Information Center

U.S. Department of State International Travel Information

Homeland Security Real ID Act

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Canada Travel Advice and Advisories

Travel Health Pro (UK)

Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Foreign Exchange Rates

ATM Locator

Electricity and Plugs

Date, Time, and Holidays


Photo credits: BANNERS: Chilean flamingos, Puma (Xavier Munoz),Paine 2 (Courtesy of Neblina Forest), Huemul Deer, Andean Condor with chick (Courtesy of Neblina Forest) GALLERY: Torres del Paine National Park, Magellanic Penguins, Valdes Peninsula, Chilean flamingos, Patagonian Fox (Courtesy of Neblina Forest), Black-faced Ibis (Greg Smith), Dolphin Gull PRIM: Puma, Patagonian Mockingbird, Spectacled Duck, Patagonia Scenic SEC: Andean Condor, Punta Delgada Lighthouse

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