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Birdwatching in Chile

Along the 4000 km extending from the Tropic of Capricorn to the austral Cape Horn, you will find in Chile some of the most fascinating habitats, landscapes and animals in the World. And with 450 species of birds, you will find an excellent introduction to South American ornithology. A birder visiting Chile will be interested by a 3 weeks trip, in order to see most of the Chilean species and specialities. Such a trip will give you about 280 species, including 10 Chilean endemics and some sought-after species like the Diademed Sandpiper-plover, Magellanic Woodpecker, Chilean Woodstar, Des Mur's Wiretail and the endangered Austral Rail.

"Magellanic Woodpecker" Fabrice Schmitt

If a bird list is not your first priority, then you will find in Chile some of the most exciting Natural History or Photographic experiences. On Mocha Island you will be surrounded by thousands of Pink-footed Shearwaters breeding in the dense and pristine forest. Around Punta Choros you will visit seabird and sea lion colonies and sail with dolphins or whales. From September to December you will be attracted by carpets of wildflowers, and if you are patient you may even be able to take pictures of the emblematic Puma!

"Andean Condor" Fabrice Schmitt

For sure, if you have an interest in birds and wildlife, you will have a great time in Chile!
We propose here a 6 days trip in Central Chile, but longer trip can be organized all over Chile. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a more specific trip.

Electronic map of Chile

Tour I
Central Chile - 6 full days of birding around Santiago.

During this trip, you will visit all the main habitats of central Chile and have a good chance to see most of the birds living here, including 8 Chilean endemics. We will travel from the highlands above Santiago to Nothofagus forests farther south, bird interior and coastal wetlands and even do a pelagic trip on the Humboldt Current. To complete this trip, you can add a day trip to El Yeso, in order to seek the superb Diademed Sandpiper-Plover.


Day 1.
Early pick-up at your hotel and birding in the Santiago surroundings where we will look for some Chilean endemics like Chilean Mockingbird, White-throated Tapaculo, Dusky-tailed Canastero and other specialities like Plain-mantled Tit-spinetail (aegithaloides subspecies), Austral Pygmy-owl, Chilean Flicker and Tufted Tit-Tyrant.
After this introduction to Chilean birding, we will visit the highlands above Santiago where one of our first targets will be the endemic Crag Chilia. At even higher elevation, we will look for Greater Yellow-finch, White-browed and Black-fronted Ground-tyrant, Rufous-banded and Creamy-rumped Miner, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, and others. We will have a picnic lunch, probably with Andean Condor or Mountain Caracara circling around.
After driving down to Santiago, we will spend the rest of the day visiting some nearby wetlands. Here we should find great numbers of ducks (including the rare Black-headed Duck), herons and shorebirds, and will also look for some splendid passerines like Many-colored Rush-tyrant, Spectacled Tyrant and the rare Ticking Doradito (recent split of the Warbling Doradito). Night in Santiago.
Breakfast and lunch. Overnight at Santiago

"Moustached Turca" Fabrice Schmitt

Day 2.
We will spend the morning driving to Talca and have a lunch on the shore of Colbún lake. There we will look for Spectacled Duck and Burrowing Parakeet. With some luck we could even find the endemic and difficult to see Chilean Tinamou. The rest of the afternoon will be spent prospecting the Nothofagus forest, in search of Thorn-tailed Rayadito, White-throated Treerunner, Chucao Tapaculo and Patagonian Sierra-finch.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight near Talca.
Day 3.
Our main targets this morning will be the Magellanic Woodpecker and the almost endemic Chestnut-throated Huet-huet. Spending all the morning looking for these birds, we will have good chance to find them, as well as other species like Patagonian Tyrant, Austral Blackbird, Austral Parakeet, Chilean Pigeon or the rare Chilean Hawk.
Drive back to Santiago in the afternoon. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight at Santiago.

"White-throated Treerunner" Fabrice Schmitt

Day 4.
Our first stop this morning will be the Maipo estuary near San Antonio, where sometimes thousands of gulls, terns, pelicans and shorebirds are present. Here we will also look for the endemic Dusky Tapaculo, the rare Warbling Doradito, and others like Rufous-tailed Plantcutter or Giant Hummingbird. We will have a lunch in a seafood restaurant close to the place where we will look for another endemic: the Chilean Seaside Cinclodes.
During the afternoon, we will visit freshwater wetlands where we will look for all the species we still need. We’ll also have a look at a Humboldt Penguin and Peruvian Pelican colony, to begin to add marine species to our list.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight at Valparaiso.

"Ticking Doradito" Fabrice Schmitt

Day 5 - Pelagic trip on the Humboldt current.
The cold and extremely rich water of the Humboldt Current attracts a wonderful diversity of seabirds, and a pelagic trip off Valparaiso is a must for every serious birder!
During this trip, we have an excellent chance to see Black-browed, Salvin's and Northern Royal Albatross, Sooty and Pink-footed Shearwater, White-chinned and Westland Petrel, Peruvian Diving-petrel, Peruvian Tern and Chilean Skua. With a bit of luck, we could even see the rare Masatierra Petrel, the critically endangered Chatham Albatross or the huge Wandering Albatross. We will be back to Valparaiso for a lunch in a nice restaurant in the harbour, and then drive to Olmué where we will spend the night. On the way, we will make some selected stops looking for the rare Great Shrike-tyrant.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Overnight at Olmué.

"Northern Royal Albatross" Fabrice Schmitt

Day 6.
Visiting the Campana National Park in the morning, and the Batuco wetlands in the afternoon, we will have the opportunity to pick up most of the species still missing from our list.
La Campana is a wonderful place for the endemic White-throated Tapaculo and other central Chile specialities.
In Batuco, we will look for the last wetlands species including the most rare and difficult ones, like Black Rail and South American Painted Snipe.
Back in Santiago in the evening.
Breakfast and lunch. End of tour.

6 Days tour price is: 2 pax US$2495 per person double room. 4 pax US$1735 per person double room.
US$400 single supplement.
Due to currency fluctuations and fuel cost we reserve the right to adjust any pricing prior to departure.

Convert your tour cost into your currency of choice.

Hotels and lodges as indicated, Meals as indicated, Transportation, Entrance fees and Guiding.
Extra transfers or assistance not include in the main tour (prices by request), Alcoholic drinks, Dinners in Santiago, Bank and visa fees and Insurance of any kind.

All the date of itineraries include arrival and departure dates.
All trips are available year round, but prices may be adjusted around special holidays.
Minimum lead time six (6)weeks.
To check availability for tours on short notice, fill out “Request for Quote” form with desirable dates.
A very easy trip. Easy hicking.
Binoculars, scope, field guide, notebook and camera.

Should you only need a guide for a day please send a message to Fabrice.   

Birding guide Fabrice Schmitt, your local Birdingpal guide
Fabrice Schmitt was born in the east of France, where he began to bird at the age of 12. After birding intensively Europe, North Africa and Middle East, he fell in love with the neotropical birds during his first trip in Peru in 1995. He then spent most of his free time in South and Central America, mostly looking for birds, but also wildlife in general. In 2002/2003, Fabrice (a teacher for 8 years), took a sabbatical year, to visit main birding destinations and look for and study the most localised species of south Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and south of Brazil. Fabrice participated in field expeditions in the Peruvian Andes, gaining knowledge about endangered, rare and even undescribed bird species. Since 2005 Fabrice has been living in Santiago de Chile where he is involved with the ROC non-governmental ornithologist organisation. He is editor of the electronic birding magazine La Chiricoca. He has been leading birding trips in Peru, Colombia, Argentina and Chile since 2005. Fabrice is fluent in English, Spanish and French.


Fabrice is a very knowledgeable and personable birding guide and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with him. He has a comprehensive knowledge of Chile’s birds and where and how to find them. He also is very familiar with the country’s other fauna and flora, and has many insights into its culture. It’s going to take quite a while to go through all the photos; Fabrice has a good understanding of the needs of a photographer. We wouldn’t hesitate to go birding with him again in Chile, or elsewhere in South America.
Mike Danzenbaker and Lee Hung, Chile (Oct-Nov. 2010)
Fabrice is not merely one of Chile's top birders and bird-conservation activists, nor merely a tireless and congenial finder of every species on a visiting birder's target list. He's also the kind of bird guide who can really make things happen-- conjure up wonderful surprises in seemingly unpromising circumstances. I highly recommend him. Jonathan Franzen, Chile (Jan. 2011)
Fabrice was an exceptional guide, one of the best that we've encountered in many years of travel. We appreciated and were impressed by his depth of knowledge and enthusiasm, not just about birds but also about other creatures, plants and the whole ecosystem. He made sure that we were well taken care of everywhere that we stayed. And he was just great fun to travel with. We'll look forward to being with him again some day. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It felt like a great adventure and I was able to come up with some great photo images. Richard Goldman, Peru (2008).

Some facts about Chile.

Important fact about the tour.
A very comfortable trip. We only used three stars hotels or equivalent accommodations if there is no hotels, good restaurants and excellent vehicles.

More facts about Chile.

Guide books and CD’s recommended:

The best Field Guides is definitely “Birds of Chile” from Alvaro Jaramillo, Illustrated by Peter Burke and David Beadle. This is one of the best South American field guide, illustrating all species breeding or visiting Chile with excellent quality plates. The concise text gives all the necessary information about habitat, identification and voice.
The recently published “Antarctic Wildlife” from James Lowen is a wonderful compact photographic guide. Indispensable for any Antarctic visitor, but also very helpful for seabirds and seamammals identification. Highly recommended.
About Mammals, I highly recommend “Field Guide to the mammals of Chile” from Agustin Iriarte. This bilingual (Spanish-English) guide is the most comprehensive field guide, and present 66 of the country’s 182 mammal species.

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Last update 20/02/2014