ARGENTINA: Birding Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego

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BIRDS & WILDLIFE

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SCHEDULED TOURS

2024 :: October 17 - October 27
2025 :: October 9 - October 19

TOUR COST

From: $7,400 (See details)
Cost is per person, double occupancy from Buenos Aires, Argentina. (EZE)

GROUP SIZE

6-10 Participants

AVAILABILITY

10 spaces available

PRIVATE TOUR OPTION

This tour is available as a private trip for any size group. The tour cost will vary with the number of people and any custom requests.

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Highlights of ARGENTINA: Birding Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego

  • Many regional endemic birds & other specialties!
  • World’s largest (500,000+) Magellanic Penguin Colony!
  • Southern Right Whales at the Valdes Peninsula!
  • Wildlife boat trip in the Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego!
  • Visits the majestic Perito Moreno Glacier!
  • Esteban Daniels & Alex Lamoreaux coleading!
  • Optional 6-day extension tour to see the Pumas of Torres del Paine!

Description of ARGENTINA: Birding Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego

The mighty Andes Mountains form a tall, jagged spine down the edge of South America, with the mountains plunging west into the Pacific Ocean while vast steppe-grassland form a broad, tapered slope eastward to the Atlantic Ocean. As the Andes march south they steadily sink into the Southern Ocean, creating an archipelago of islands wrapping into the sea. Together, these dynamic landscapes create the famous Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego regions of southern South America which encompasses 1 million square kilometers and a population density of less than 2 inhabitants per square kilometer, leaving plenty of room for wild landscapes and spectacular wildlife! The scenery throughout this trip is a highlight alone!

This 11-day tour tour was specially designed to observe some of the region’s finest endemic birds such as Lesser Rhea, Kelp Goose, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Flightless Steamer-Duck, Least Seedsnipe, Short-billed Miner, Austral Canastero, and the scarce Magellanic Plover! Glacier-carved valleys above the tree line are home to the spectacular Yellow-bridled Finch and the massive Andean Condor. The southern beech forests are home to many unique birds, including the otherworldly Magellanic Woodpecker and the tiny Thorn-tailed Rayadito. An endemic camel relative, the Guanaco, forms huge herds across the steppe grasslands, and their stately appearance on distance ridgelines is iconic. The dry Atlantic Coast at the Valdez Peninsula is rich in wildlife,  including Southern Right Whale and Southern Elephant Seal. On cool, rocky beaches in Tierra del Fuego, we will make a special boat trip to visit penguin colonies where Magellanic Penguin, Gentoo Penguin, and even the odd King Penguin gather to raise their young during the austral summer!

In addition to the dozens of regional specialties, this area is also a major wintering area for birds we may be familiar with from the Northern Hemisphere. South America’s southern tip is broken up into thousands of islands, creating an archipelagos known as Tierra del Fuego which provides the wintering grounds for many palearctic migratory birds. The vast coastal estuaries and the Strait of Magellan on the border of Argentina and Chile are particularly important for wintering shorebirds. These remarkable marathon fliers have traveled nearly 10,000 miles from their high-arctic breeding grounds in the Northern Hemisphere to winter here (near the Antarctic!) in the Southern Hemisphere! The shorebirds can take full advantage of the huge buffets exposed by the changing tides in this wild area at the bottom of the World! Multiple sites in the region are globally important for the wintering populations of Hudsonian Godwits, Baird’s and White-rumped Sandpipers, Sanderling, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstones, Red Knots, and many other shorebirds that gather by the thousands each year!

Combine this 11-day Birding Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego tour with our CHILE: Puma of Torres del Paine Extension, for a total of 16 exciting days of exploring in South America!

Length of Tour

11-Days/10-Nights

Brief Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival to Buenos Aires. Transfer to Hotel. Night in Buenos Aires.
Day 2. Flight to Trelew & transfer to Puerto Piramides. Night in Puerto Piramides.
Day 3. Valdes Peninsula full day & boat trip for whales! Night in Puerto Piramides.
Day 4. Penguin Colony at Punta Tombo & transfer to Trelew. Night in Trelew.
Day 5. Flight to Ushuaia. Martial Glacier walk. Night in Ushuaia.
Day 6. Boat trip on the Beagle Channel full day. Night in Ushuaia.
Day 7. Tierra del Fuego National Park & tranfer to Rio Grande. Night in Rio Grande.
Day 8. Northern Tierra del Fuego & flight to El Calafate. Night in El Calafate.
Day 9. Los Glaciares National Park full day. Night in El Calafate.
Day 10. Patagonian steppe full day. Night in El Calafate.
Day 11. Flights to Buenos Aires or continuation onto CHILE: Puma of Torres del Paine.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival to Buenos Aires. Transfer to Hotel.

Transfer from the International Airport to our hotel where we will gather in the evening for a welcome dinner with your guides! Night in Buenos Aires.

Day 2 – Flight to Trelew & transfer to Puerto Piramides. Night in Puerto Piramides.

Early flight to Trelew, the gateway to Valdez Peninsula. From there we drive to Puerto Piramides, stopping for birds on the way! Burrowing Parrot, Grey-hooded Sierra-Finch, Shiny Cowbird, and Patagonian Mockingbird are possible in addition to the endemic Carbonated Sierra-Finch. Before checking-in we will have good chances to spot our first Elegant Crested Tinamou and the native Guanaco; a South American relative of camels! We’ll spend a few hours on a boat cruise in search of Southern Wright Whales and some seabirds! Night in Puerto Piramides.

Day 3 – Valdes Peninsula full day & boat trip for whales! Night in Puerto Piramides.

This is sure to be a great day combining a variety of wildlife! Endemic Guanacos and Maras are possible along the road, often providing great opportunities to photograph them! Bird life here includes South American Tern, Sandwich Tern, Royal Tern, Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, both wintering American and resident Blackish Oystercatchers, and Brown Skuas! During the afternoon we will be searching for Burrowing Owls, Grey-bellied Shrike-Tyrant, Tawny-throated Dotterels, White-throated Cachalote, Patagonian Canastero, and Eared Dove as we continue towards Caleta Valdez. A short walk will lead as another seabird and sea-mammal colony with great photographic opportunities for Southern Giant Petrels, our first Magellanic Penguins, and maybe even an Orca/Killer Whale! Night in Puerto Piramides.

Day 4 – Penguin Colony at Punta Tombo & transfer to Trelew. Night in Trelew.

We will devote our day enjoying one of the highlights in the region – the biggest Magellanic Penguin colony in the World, with over 500,000 individuals! To get there it is a straight drive across wide open pampas scrublands, with stops for Elegant Crested Tinamous and views of Rusty-backed Monjita. At Punta Tombo, Southern Martins will welcome us. It is a huge place well organized with boardwalks; there are Magellanic Penguins everywhere, under the bushes and in burrows! Patagonian Mockingbirds are around the scrubs, and as we get to the point, we will have chance at finding Chubut Steamer-Duck and Brown Skuas! On our way back to Trelew, we will have our last stop today in a nice lagoon to enjoy Argentine Ruddy-Duck, Chilean Swallows, White-winged Coots, White-tailed Kite, Spectacled Tyrant, Picui Ground-Dove, Wren-like Rushbird, Spectacled Tyrant , and if we are lucky even the Many-colored Rush-Tyrant! Night in Trelew.

Day 5 – Flight to Ushuaia. Martial Glacier walk. Night in Ushuaia.

After our flight to Ushuaia, we will drive to a small sky resort nearby where we will be introduced to the endemic beech forests and even climb above the timerline! Many specialties of the Andes are possible here such as Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant, Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant, White-throated Caracara, and beautiful Yellow-bridled Finches! We’ll also search for the really scarce White-bellied Seed-Snipe. Once at the hotel, we will take a short walk along the Beagle Channel coast before dinner. Here there are good spots to find Kelp Goose, Ashy-headed Goose, booth Flightless and Flying Steamer-Ducks, White-rumped and Baird´s Sandpipers, and Dolphin Gulls. We will enjoy excellent views of the impressive scenery from right in downtown! Just near the hotel there is a nice piece of forest where we might find Austral Parakeet or a Rufous-collared Sparrow. Many times Black-faced Ibis, Southern Lapwing, and Upland Goose wander near the parking area. Night in Ushuaia.

Day 6 – Boat trip on the Beagle Channel full day. Night in Ushuaia.

By catamaran we will explore the Beagle Channel! Many seabirds can be observed along our route through the fjords including Black-browed Albatross, Southern Fulmar, Magellanic Diving-Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel, and South American Tern! When passing rocky islands, we will concentrate attention on spotting Rock Cormorant, Blue-eyed Cormorant, Flightless Steamer-Duck, Snowy Sheathbill, and Dolphin Gulls! The extremely range-restricted Blackish Cinclodes can sometimes be found in cormorant colonies too, so a focus on this bird will be done. On Martillo Island we’ll get excellent views of the Magellanic Penguin. This is a small colony, but often produces good views of them in addition to Gentoo Penguins and even sometimes a molting King Penguin or two!

During the afternoon we will drive through the Andes Range to Lake Fagnano. Chimango Caracara are very common (and often very confiding!) and we may also track down both Southern Caracara and White-throated Caracara! Night in Ushuaia.

Day 7 – Tierra del Fuego National Park & tranfer to Rio Grande. Night in Rio Grande.

Tierra del Fuego National Park provides a perfect contrast; for here we visit the dense Southern Beech forest – home of the White-throated Treerunner and the mighty Magellanic Woodpecker! On rivers and lakes there are good chances for various ducks, Great Grebe, Ringed Kingfisher, and Flying Steamer-Ducks, among others. We will search for Black-chested Buzzard-Eagles soaring overhead! Fire-eyed Diucon, Chilean Swallow, Austral Thrush, Black-chinned Siskin, Patagonian Sierra-Finch, Tufted Tit-Tyrant, and the delightful Thorn-tailed Rayadito are also possible to find here! Sometimes it is possible to spot diving-petrels using a scope from the coast. This protected area offers great trails to explore and, time permitting, we will search for the cryptic Magellanic Tapaculo. In the afternoon we will begin the multi-hour drive north to Rio Grande. Night in Rio Grande.

Day 8 – Northern Tierra del Fuego & flight to El Calafate. Night in El Calafate.

Today we will start searching the northern grasslands and lagoons of Tierra del Fuego – a good area to find Magellanic Plover, Rufous-chested Dotterel, Ruddy-headed Goose, Austral Canastero, Patagonian Yellow-Finch, Chocolate-vented Tyrant, both Least and Gray-breasted Seedsnipe, Chilean Flamingo, and Magellanic Oystercatcher. According to tides we will spend some time along the Atlantic coast, near the city where we can find some roosting areas chosen as key wintering sites by several boreal shorebirds, including the endangered Red Knot, Hudsonian Godwit, Whimbrel, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone. This is their southernmost stop during their annual migration from as far north as arctic Alaska and Canada!

In the afternoon, we’ll fly to El Calafate. Later that day we will visit Laguna Nimes Natural Reserve by Lake Argentino. This great wetland will provide good views of Cinereous Harrier, Chilean Flamingo, Upland Goose, Southern Lapwing, Two-banded Plover, both Black-necked and Coscoroba Swans. Along the shore of Lake Argentino there are good chances to see Magellanic Plover. Also possible are Least Seedsnipe, Ashy-headed Goose, and the tiny but beautiful Austral Negrito which is a summer migrant to the area. Males arrive first, followed by the females. Night in El Calafate.

Day 9 – Los Glaciares National Park full day. Night in El Calafate.

This will be a great day for sure! Spectacular scenery and superb birds are guaranteed! We’ll scan the sky for the majestic king of the Andes; the Andean Condor! The Condor is one of the biggest flying birds in the World with an impressive 3-meter wingspan, making it wider than the biggest tour bus! In the forests nearby we’ll seek Black-chinned Siskin, White-crested Elaenia, Tufted Tit-tyrant, Austral Thrush, and Austral Blackbird. In the open spaces, we may see Rufous-tailed Plantcutter and Chilean Swallow. With luck, we may find Spectacled Duck on a lagoon! In addition to Austral Parakeets and Patagonian Sierra Finches we will make an effort to find two special endemics: Austral Pygmy-Owl and Chilean Flicker! Perito Moreno Glacier will provide great photo opportunities, with the most dramatic and impressive scenery in Patagonia! Night in El Calafate.

Day 10 – Patagonian steppe full day. Night in El Calafate.

A day trip through steppe landscape should produce Lesser Rhea, Patagonian Canastero, Mourning Sierra Finch, Long-tailed Meadowlark, Common Diuca-Finch, Cordilleran and Austral Canastero, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, and with luck – the endemic Patagonian Tinamou! We’ll enjoy our last views of iconic Guanacos along the way! Night in El Calafate.

Day 11 – Flights to Buenos Aires or continuation onto CHILE: Puma of Torres del Paine!

Morning flights to the Buenos Aires International Airport for departures, or continuation from El Calafate onto our CHILE: Puma of Torres del Paine 6-day extension!

Cost

Cost is $7,400 per person, based upon double occupancy, from Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Airport code EZE).
This trip ends in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Airport code EZE).

Optional Extension – CHILE: Puma of Torres del Paine

Additional $2600 per person (minimum 4), double occupancy.

Single room fee for extension: $200

 

  • This tour does NOT include the cost of dinner, snacks, or alcoholic drinks. Breakfasts and lunch/box lunch IS included from the morning of Day 2 to lunch on Day 5.
  • This tour does NOT include the cost of international flights to/from El Calafate.
  • This tour does NOT include any visa or tourist fees in Chile or Argentina.
  • The tour does NOT include gratuities for guides, Puma trackers, laundry, alcohol, or other items of a personal nature.
  • Trip insurance is HIGHLY recommended for this trip.

Single Supplement

If a single room is preferred, or we are unable to find a suitable roommate for you, a single supplement fee of $600 will be assessed.

Deposit Requirements

A $1,000 deposit per person is required to hold each space on this tour. Deposit may be made online by clicking the "Book Your Trip Now" button and using any credit card. If you prefer, you may call us at 888-875-9453 to pay by phone. You may also mail us a check, however, remember that all space is held on a first come-first served basis as deposits are received.

Minimum Number

If fewer than the minimum number of required participants are registered, we may still be able to run the trip by adding a small-group supplement fee, per person, determined by the number of participants registered.

How to Book

In order to hold your space, click the "Book Your Trip Now" button above and complete the deposit process, including payment of the deposit through our Paypal portal using ANY CREDIT CARD. Upon completion of deposit, please visit our secure, online CLIENT INFORMATION FORM to complete your registration.

Final Payment

For all land-based tours: full payment by check is due 120 days prior to the departure date.

For all boat-based adventure cruises of 7-days or longer: full payment by check is required 180 days prior to departure.

NOTE: If you prefer to use credit card for final payment, a 3% fee may be added to cover the credit card merchant fees we incur.

This trip includes standard hotels.

Activity Level Rating: (Note: 1 is easy and 5 is difficult)

Most walks will be on easy terrain, but with some rocky trails and some altitude change throughout the tour. However, the hike to Martial Glacier is a bit more strenuous… but worth every step! The wind can be quite strong at times and participants should plan on cool to cold days. There is a 1/2-day boat trip out of Ushuaia on a smaller boat with just our group. Conditions on the water can be cool, windy, and choppy.

There are a couple of days of some moderate driving and a ferry crossing to get from one place to another. But we often have birding opportunities during the drives. This is a remote stretch of the World, and while phone service may be available based on your plan, we will be out of contact much of the time. Most hotels do have WiFi.

Trip insurance is highly recommended.

Purchasing Flights

Do not purchase your flights until the trip has been confirmed to go.

Detailed Trip Information

Upon notification that final payment is due (120 days prior to departure for land based tours / 180 days for boat based tours), you will receive a trip package of detailed information for your tour.

Any additional information about the trip, including lodgings, contacts, participants, meeting locations, etc., will sent about 2 weeks prior to the trip departure, or after final payment is received for late registrants.

Travel Insurance

As with all tours, we recommend purchasing Travel Insurance to help cover your investment, for covered reasons. Please see our section on Travel Insurance.

Passport & Visa

US Citizens may require a visa to enter certain foreign countries. See above for any required visa information.

Participants arriving to the USA from a foreign country may need to get a travel visa to enter the United States. Be sure to check the requirements for your country of origin.

Itinerary Changes

The trip itinerary is developed many months ahead of time. Occasionally, despite our best planning, changes may occur during the trip, or we may be forced to alter our plans. Changes may occur because of weather, road conditions, safety concerns or other circumstances. In these situations, it is the leader(s) responsibility to carefully consider and implement appropriate alternatives. Any additional costs incurred because of changes will be the responsibility of each individual participant. Refunds will not be issued as a result of itinerary changes.

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