Birding Southwestern Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego

9 Days – 8 Nights

Starts in Calafate – Ends in Río Grande.

What our clients say!

Tour participants of Ornitholidays’ Patagonia 2005 tour.

… “We wanted to say how much we enjoyed our trip to Argentina which you organized for Ornitholidays….

…Attached are the photos of the Austral Rail. Unfortunately they are not as good as we would have hoped, but they are a clear record of the bird being there!” …

Best wishes

Phil & Peggy Hersee

Phil and Peggy Hersee

Patagonia is certainly a land of extremes. This southernmost tip of the American continent is a geographical region that covers the south of Argentina and Chile, and has such diverse habitats as arid steppes, Southern Beech forests and of course the seashores of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Tour runs on request – Prices based on group size.

Patagonia is certainly a land of extremes. This southernmost tip of the American continent is a geographical region that covers the south of Argentina and Chile, and has such diverse habitats as arid steppes, Southern Beech forests and of course the seashores of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Divided into a wet southern and western slope and a dry eastern slope by the Andean range, Patagonia is one part of South America that offers an outstanding diversity of birds, with some 60 species almost restricted, or endemic to this unique region.

Southwestern Patagonia is where the dry steppe reaches its highest altitude above sea level, laying over an endless high plateau only interrupted by the Andean range. It is on the Andes of this part of South America, where the most spectacular mountains, lakes, and glaciers give the perfect frame for one of the most beautiful temperate forests of them all: the Sub Antarctic Beech Forest. This forest extends through the southernmost part of the Andes of Argentina and Chile all the way into Tierra del Fuego, where it reaches the sea shore of the legendary Beagle Channel.

This combination of mountains, dry steppes, forests, lakes and seashores is very diverse and hosts a remarkable collection of birds, including Magellanic Woodpecker, Magellanic Plover, Ruddy-headed Goose, Gentoo Penguin, Black-browed Albatross, Common and Magellanic Diving Petrels, Tawny-throated Dottrel, White-bellied Seedsnipe, Chocolate-vented Tyrant, Ochre-napped Ground-Tyrant, Yellow-bridled Finch, Oustalet’s Cinclodes, Dolphin Gull, Austral Pygmy-Owl, Rufous-legged Owl, and many more. The dry Patagonian high plateau is home to one of the most beautiful and scarce birds in South America: the Hooded Grebe. Several marshlands in southern Patagonia are the stronghold of the Austral Rail, a recently re-discovered bird, thought to be extinct for more than 50 years.

Besides being special for its birds, Patagonia is also a land of spectacular landscapes, vast solitudes and endless wilderness. Human population density is very low here, with an average of 1.5 inhabitants per sq. kilometer dotted by very few small and friendly cities.

Our Itinerary in a Nutshell

On day 1, you will be received by your tour leader at the airport. On arrival, we will drive northward to reach the small village of El Chaltén, where we will spend the following two nights. We will spend day 2 searching for birds of the Patagonian high plateau, but our main goal will be to see the scarse and ellusive Hooded Grebe. Today we will also have the opportunity to find Austral Rail in the exact place where it was re-discovered some years ago, and as we drive through these Patagonian solitudes, chances are there for such birds as Short-billed Miner, Cinnamon-bellied Ground-Tyrant and Patagonian Tinamou. On day 3, we will bird our way down to El Calafate, where we will spend two nights as well. On arrival to town, we will pay a visit to Laguna Nimez, where we will have the chance to see Magellanic Plover, and an array of aquatic birds which nest there. We will spend day 4 exploring los Glaciares National Park. Driving towards the park is where our best chances to spot Andean Condors are, and we will devote some time to look for the “Lord of the Andes.” We will also search for Spectacled Duck, Magellanic Tapaculo, and may be out first sightings of Magellanic Woodpecker inside the national park. This is where the world famous Moreno Glacier is located, and we will also pay a visit to it. On day 5, we will take a flight to Ushuaia, the southernmost city on Earth, where we’ll spend the following two nights. Today we will go visiting Tierra del Fuego National Park, where we will have our best chances to see Magellanic Woodpecker, and also Austral Pygmy-Owl. We will stay there until dusk to try and find Rufous-legged Owl. Day 6 is when we will take a boat tour along the Beagle Channel. This is going to be a special day for those who enjoy seabirds, since chances are there for Gentoo Penguin, two species of Diving-Petrels, Southern Fulmar, Black-browed Albatross and many others. On day 7 we will drive from Ushuaia to Río Grande, where we will spend the last two nights of the tour. Before leaving Ushuaia, we will go visiting Le Martial Glacier, where we will focus on birding above the timberline for such birds as Yellow-bridled Finch, Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant and Gray-flancked Cinclodes. As we drive north to Río Grande, we will cross the Andes from south to north. After doing this, the habitat changes dramatically, as we get back to the Patagonian steppe. We will make frequent stops for birding along the way. On day 8 we will focus on birding the north of Tierra del Fuego, searching for birds like Rudy-headed Goose and perhaps Magellanic Plover again. On day 9 we will drive to Río Grande airport, where the tour ends.

Some birds we’ll look for

Patagonian Tinamou, Gentoo Penguin, Magellanic Woodpecker, Southern Fulmar, Andean Condor, Black-browed Albatross, Spectacled Duck, Magellanic Tapaculo, White-throated Treerunner, Chocolate-vented Tyrant, Lesser Horned Owl, Austral Pygmy-Owl, Magellanic Plover… and roughly 110 more!

Best time to go

This tour is possible from mid October through late March. The presence of certain birds vary throughout the year, so please let us know what are your favorite species so as to give you advise on what would be the best suitable dates for you.

What is included?

Private transportation for all transfers and excursions. Accommodations on a twin/double basis. Single supplements on request. Full time Trogon Tours’ local guide. All breakfasts, lunches or box-lunches and dinners. No drinks included. Admission fees to all national parks and nature reserves.

What is not included?

International and domestic airfares and airport taxes. Tips to guides, drivers, hotel & restaurants personnel, etc. Drinks with your meals. Personal travel and medical insurance. Anything not specified in “What is included?”