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FarSouthExp at iGoTerra
FarSouthExp @ Fat Birder / WAND


Rodrigo Tapia Rodrigo Tapia, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and Guides

Rodrigo started his long-time love relationship with birds when he became an avid birder by the age of 10, and has been observing, studying and learning about them for more than 30 years now, first by birding in many different environments from the seaside to the Andes mountains around his home patch, acquiring in the process a good deal of field experience with virtually all the birds of central Chile including most chilean endemics, and later expanding his voyages to the rest of the country. This early passion naturally evolved into his career and led him into studying Biology at Universidad Católica de Valparaíso and further studying with Cornell Lab of Ornithology

He has explored Chile's whole length from the northern Altiplano to Cape Horn while conducting ornithological research and guiding groups of birders since 1989. He studied the birds in the wetlands of the Aconcagua river and Mantagua for three years, gathering experience with shorebirds, plovers, waders and coastal seabirds. Rodrigo travelled to Antarctica for the first time in 1991 as part of a research team conducting studies on antarctic penguins, and later worked for eight seasons in the White Continent as an expedition leader, lecturer and zodiac driver on board a couple of vessels. These years of sailing across the Drake Passage, together with the experience gathered in pelagic birding off his hometown of Valparaíso in the Pacific coast of central Chile gave him hundreds of hours with albatrosses, petrels and other seabirds, a group of birds which has always captivated him.

Member of the Chilean Ornithologists Union, he has worked as a birding guide, as an independent researcher, and as a birding consultant and guide instructor for several nature-oriented hotels and lodges. He´s also interested in bird photography. Rodrigo has been involved in several environmental education projects with children, imparted workshops and lectured about birds and birding, and has worked to try and get the public attention on birds, their knowledge and conservation, and birdwatching as a sustainable economic activity. In this context he was the mind behind Festival de Aves de Chile, in 2008, the first ever bird festival in Chile, an event that is still celebrated every year in the city of Viña del Mar and has spurred the apparition of similar bird-centered community events throughout the country. He started guiding birding tours and pelagics in central Chile for Far South Expeditions in 2006 and currently works for us as a full-time birding, wildlife and wildlife photo trip leader and writer since 2012 when he moved to Punta Arenas. 

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Alvaro Barrientos © Far South ExpeditionsAlvaro Barrientos 

Having an special interest in beauty, Alvaro found his passion when he was 12 years old in a old NC1000 Mamiya film camera that belonged to his father. From that moment on he began an important life trip which quickly led him to deep encounters with nature, and consequently to science. A well rounded guide whose main interests are history, geology, trekking, horseriding, birds and flowers, interests that push him to be outside all the time having an outdoor life and being connected daily with his natural surroundings. He was born in Punta Arenas but from his teenage years he started to travel all over Chile to see and photograph the nature of his country. He was leading photographic tours in the Atacama desert and nomadic expeditions through the north-west of Argentina and the southern Bolivia in Uyuni salt flat. He lives in Punta Arenas working just for Far South Expeditions. Now he leads our Puma Tours and is also very interested in flower photography and keeping records of what he finds. He has been working mainly in Patagonia and Atacama for the last 11 years. A really active guide with a charisma which will make you fall in love with  the places he will show you. 

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Sebastian Saiter, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and Guides

Sebastian Saiter

Sebastian is a Punta Arenas-born naturalist and birder. Since childhood years he showed a passion for discovering Nature and exploring the imposing landscapes of Chilean Patagonia. Consequently he studied Adventure Tourism, becoming involved in the topic and studying about the flora & fauna of one of the last pristine places in the world. Sebastián has a particular interest on the natural history of the birds in Patagonia, patagonian endemics and wildlife photography, having become a specialist in the Avian life of Patagonia and collaborating with bird pictures in a number of conservation and birwatching publications. He is an active member of NGO Agrupacion Ecologica Patagonica in Punta Arenas, involved in projects to protect wetlands, urban parks and other interesting sites and reserves in the city. It is through this entity that he works on environmental education projects with children, in both private and public schools in the area. 

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Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and GuidesClaudio F. Vidal 

Claudio has been exploring and birding since the age of 12 and currently leads birding / nature tours and photo safaris throughout Patagonia, Chile and South America. He is one of the two founders and original driving forces behind the far South Expeditions concept and company. 

Claudio has a particular interest in the seabirds and marine mammals occurring in the Humboldt Current, Patagonia and Antarctica. Botany is also one of his greatest passions, leading him to devote to the photographic documentation of wildflowers of desert and Mediterranean regions of the world, of which he possesses a vast archive. 

Claudio is now finishing the writing of a Field Guide to the Birds of Chile together with a team of accomplished field ornithologists, and is co-author of more than 20 books, including the acclaimed 'Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Antarctic Peninsula'. 

He is actively involved in several ecotourism projects in Chile and is founding partner of Far South Expeditions since 1997. He lives in Punta Arenas. 

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Enrique Couve, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and GuidesEnrique Couve 

Enrique is an Industrial Engineer by profession, although a field naturalist by true passion. One of the two founders and original driving forces behind the Far South Expeditions concept and company, he has been birding and studying the natural history of Chile for more than 45 years. 

He is co-author of more than 20 publications on the natural heritage of Chile and Patagonia, and among his published works is the praised 'Birds of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and Antarctic Peninsula'. Enrique is a very gifted field spotter, and he uses this skill on his nature photography work, as he has one of the most complete and extensive files on the flora and fauna of the country. 

Enrique has extensively travelled throughout Chile and South America, its oceanic islands and Antarctica. He is the main author of an upcoming and long-awaited Field Guide to the Birds of Chile, now in its final completing stages. He is a skilled puma tracker and a pioneer of puma trips in Patagonia. 

He is founding partner and manager of Far South Expeditions and lives in Punta Arenas with his wife Cecilia. 

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Ana Maria Venegas, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders & GuidesAna Maria Venegas

Ana María is a forestry engineer (University of Chile) and obtained her M.S. in Wildlife Ecology (University of Wisconsin-Madison). She has been working with birds since 2001. She has been involved in several conservation projects, including a study of the population dynamics of the critically endangered Chilean Woodstar in Northern Chile.  Ana María helped to establish the banding system in Chile and she has been a certified NABC bander since 2011, when she spent several months training at Long Point Bird Observatory (Ontario, Canada). For her graduate research, she studied the effects of extreme weather events on bird productivity in the northeastern United States. Currently, she lives in Santiago where she works as an independent consultant and researcher. Ana María is a member of the Directorate of the Chilean Ornithologists Union. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities such as gardening, biking, camping and hiking. She also likes knitting, cooking and spending time with her family and friends.


Diego Araya, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and GuidesDiego Araya 

Diego has always been passionate about nature and wildlife. While studying Marine Biology he began to explore photography in search of intimacy and complicity with animals. Once he got his college degree, and after some travelling around Europe and North America, he found a job with the national Park Service in Chile running projects related to ecotourism and conservation. In 2004 he left his professional achievements and urban conveniences behind to live in Patagonia in pursuit of his long-life dream and to be one with nature. Over the years he has managed to create one of the finest and most complete professional photography archives of Patagonian wildlife together with becoming one of the most qualified residents in tracking, approximation and photography of the fauna in the region. He also found Wildpatagonia Nature Photography, a small company that organize photographic expeditions, publish nature books and field guides and produce outdoor clothing. He guides many photo safaris tours for his company and others, including Far South Expeditions. In 2009 he published Patagonia 237, his first book. A 300 pages, big format coffee table book financed by Nikon Chile. In 2010 he started working as expedition staff and zodiac driver on board the Antarctic Dream, accumulating over 100 days in Antarctica experience. At the moment he is an independent wildlife photographer, Photo Safari guide, and is working on several editorial and tourism projects under his company, Wildpatagonia. 


Marcelo Flores, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and GuidesMarcelo Flores 

Marcelo is celebrated Chilean photographer and naturalist, marine biologist, and seabird and marine mammal enthusiast. Marcelo has a vast field experience leading and conducting research projects throughout Chile and Antarctica.

He is currently finishing his Ph.D. thesis on Medicine for Wildlife Conservation, especifically on assessing the impact of introduced species on the native birdlife of distant Easter Island or Rapa Nui, and looking for measurements to mitigate this serious threat on the already depauperate biodiversity of this isolated territory.

When he is not busy, either carrying out field research or doing classes at the University, he enjoys leading birding and nature photography tours throughout Chile, a land he knows as the palm of his hand.


Marcelo de Cruz, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and GuidesMarcelo de Cruz 

Marcelo began his career as a naturalist and birdwatcher at the age of 22. After finishing his studies in tourism in Buenos Aires, he moved to Tierra del Fuego in 1991. Since then, he has explored every corner of the island and built up a wealth of knowledge about its unique wildlife. He has developed a special ability to find any species of bird, even the rarest ones. He can also list the names of nearly every living creature that inhabits the Magellanic forests, steppes, high mountains or sea shores of Tierra del Fuego, and cooperates with the National Park Administration for the development of a sustainable tourism strategy. He lives in Ushuaia with his wife, Paula, and his daughter. 


Sarah Garthe, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and GuidesSarah Garthe

Sarah Garthe is originally from a small town in rural Illinois, but since 2011 she has been living and guiding in a place she considers one of the most beautiful and special in the world, Patagonia. She specializes not only in puma, penguin, condor, and hiking tours, but loves the history and ethnobiology of the region. Sarah believes that knowing an area's history, traditions, and learning about the native cultures and their worldviews is important in order to understand the essence and spirit of a place. Before arriving in Punta Arenas, Sarah lived and guided in the north of Chile, and has travelled extensively throughout the country. She has participated in courses with CEQUA and has contributed to three publications in the scientific journal, 'Polar Biology'. In addition to English and Spanish, she can also guide tours in German and Portuguese. In her free time, Sarah enjoys photography, playing music, and long-distance running.


Jürgen Schulmeister, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and GuidesJürgen Schulmeister 

Jürgen is a seasoned Patagonian guide, with 10 years of experience under his belt, guiding groups from different countries since he was 18 years old. He was born in Punta Arenas and since his childhood he lives by the countryside, growing up deeply interested in wildlife of his beloved home region. As a young kid he went trekking with his parents, former guides, to different trails in Patagonia, especially to Torres del Paine National Park, where he first learned to recognize flora & fauna and became passionate for bird watching. With only 7 years old he hiked to the base of Las Torres. Later, he travelled around Chile and South America, deeply interested in the relationship between geography and biodiversity, where he became aware of the different endemic families of flora & fauna, present along the large biological corridor of the Andes Mountains. Currently he is finishing his architecture degree at Universidad de Chile, focusing on the design of green roofing and public spaces using endemic flora as a way of improving Chilean urban landscapes. 


Bastian GygliBastian Gygli

A childhood close to the Andean forest of Chillán assured a close relationship with the wild for Bastian, and as he was growing so was his interest in understanding the deep complexity of the natural world. These led him to study biology and there he learned the ways to complement his field knowledge. As a scientific he focus in ecology, a field of study where the wild and humans can come together many times. This relationship made him realize the need for mankind to understand and learn the ways of the natural system. So he wandered how to share his knowledge? The answer came in the form on guiding tours in the wild.Bastian has all the tools to help in the task of enjoying nature with a lot of scientific background, as well as field experience in different environments, from his native Andean forest to the vast open spaces of the Patagonia. Also he is passionate for photography, having working as a phototour guide. But at the end, for him in always back to the basics things that made him fell in love with nature in the first place, and that´s enjoying the wind in your face, the rain in the forest, the majestic presence of the mountain, the gift that is seeing a rare animal in its environment, the question that appear after these moments…The wild experience.


Emiliano Mendez, Far South Expeditions Tour Leaders and GuidesEmiliano Mendez 

Emiliano is a biologist, not only by profession, but also because of his deep admiration and love for the diversity of life forms. This inner feeling of admiration for nature grew up with him, since he was eight years old and used to say he wanted to be an “animal investigator”. Today, more than twenty years later, Emiliano is devoted to the study of perhaps the most inclusive property of life: evolution. From insects and spiders to jaguars and whales, from lichens and ferns to pine-trees and cacti, from jungles, forests and deserts, to high steppes, coastlines and the sea, in every living being, in every habitat, he finds an infinite world of wonder that deserves observation, study and protection. He believes contemplation is only the first step in the long road that leads to understanding.

Carrying Mexican and Argentinian blood, he was born in Mexico where he received undergraduate and master degrees in biology, with ecology, behavior and genetics being among his areas of focus. He wants to pursue further graduate studies in the near future.

He had visited Patagonia for several times until he established in Punta Arenas by 2013. Over this time, he has fallen always deeper in fascination to the pristine wilderness of this region of the World. He has been working at the Zoology Laboratory of the Instituto de la Patagonia, being research his main activity, specifically, analyzing humpback whale song.

He strongly believes in the importance and need for mutually sharing knowledge between academia and society. Consequently, he has endeavored enthusiastically in activities such as tour guiding, museum consultancy and elementary school science talking. Besides research in the wild, he deeply enjoys trekking, mountain biking, wildlife photography or simply been in contact with nature.