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We are Birders - We are Leica

We are Birders - We are Leica

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Lake District & Chiloé Island, Lakes, Volcanoes and Island Traditions

Comprehensive natural history and nature photography tour to Chile's Lake District and Chiloé Island. This tour features in-depth visits to lush temperate woodlands on the scenic Vicente Perez Rosales and Tepuhueico parks, boat trips for penguins, other seabirds and marine mammals, plus great interpretation of the local culture of Chiloé, one of Chile's most remarkable islands. 

6-day trip from Santiago or Puerto Montt, Chile.


The impressive Petrohue Falls against the backdrop of Osorno Volcano © Claudio F. Vidal - www.fsexpeditions.com

Petrohue Falls and the impressive Osorno Volcano, Chile's Lake District © Far South Expeditions 


Book this trip, reserve space now!

Chile's Lake District is well-known for its incredible mountain landscapes, impressive and ancient rainforests and by being the starting point of a huge archipielagic labyrinth extending southwards to the wild regions of western Patagonia. This is a land connecting two worlds, the mountains and the sea.

This is a comprehensive nature journey to magnificent volcanoes, forests and lakes interspersed along the Andean foothills; here we will have splendid opportunities for landscape photography and to discover the flora and fauna of the lush Valdivian temperate Forest, a unique ecosystem and a world's biodiversity hotspot. We will dedicate three full days to explore the fascinating and enigmatic Chiloé Island. This island and associated archipelagoes will reveal their unique natural and cultural riches, from penguins to otters, from elusive tapaculos to raucous parakeets, from dolphins to sealions. We'll also have the chance to appreciate the lifestyle and customs of the islanders - the Chilotes, by visiting their towns, wooden churches, fishing boats and stilts houses. 







Itinerary in Brief (6 days, 5 nights)

Day 1 • Arrival to Puerto Montt - Ferry crossing to Chiloé Island - Puñihuil Penguin Colony - Old Churches of Chiloé; Castro, Dalcahue & Tenaún

Day 2 • Chiloe Island: Chepu River boat trip – Drive to Tepuhueico

Day 3 • Chiloe Island: Full Day Tepuhueico Park

Day 4 • Chiloe Island: Cucao – Caulín Bay – Drive to Puerto Varas

Day 5 • Full day exploring Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

Day 6 • Puerto Montt – Transfer to the airport


Trip Highlights

• Comprehensive day visits to Vicente Perez Rosales, Cucao and Tepuhueico Parks.

• Ferry rides to Chiloe Island and boat trips for Magellanic & Humboldt penguins and Marine and Southern River otters.

• An interesting array of woodland birds, from endemic Slender-billed Parakeet to inquisitive Chucao Tapaculos.

• Lush temperate rainforests including a variety of Nothofagus beech, myrtle trees and the ancient and endangered Fitzroya, one of the world's longest living conifers.

• Cultural highlights of the main island of Chiloé, its villages and towns, its old colonial wooden churches, cemeteries, fishing boats and stilt-houses.


This program is operated as a custom trip on a date of your choice, available upon request for individuals or small private groups.


The Difference of Traveling with Far South Expeditions

• Fully flexible, hotel-based trip with private transportation and naturalist guide.

• Great accommodation, dinners and memorable picnic lunches.

• Spacious private vehicle that ensure a window seat to each trip participant.

• Every vehicle and driver we use has been authorized by the Chilean Transportation Authority.

• The service and expertise of a professional local naturalist leader, who will look after every logistical aspect of your holiday.

• A useful pre-departure information package.


Chile's Lake District & Chiloe Island can be combined with one of the following optional extensions:

Atacama Desert Explorer (6 days, 5 nights), unique private photo safari to discover the wildlife and landscapes of the world's most arid desert,

Patagonia Photo Safari (7 days, 6 nights), landscape and wildlife photo trip to mythic Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego, led by resident naturalist guides and photographers,

Expedition cruise to Tierra del Fuego & Cape Horn (4-5 days), follow Darwin's footsteps across the most remote corners of Patagonia on the wake of the Beagle.



Detailed Itinerary and Activities 


Day 1 • Chiloé Island: Chacao Channel crossing – Puñihuil Islets penguin colony – Wooden Churches – Castro

Chiloé Island is a land of myths, legends and history, with countless and outstanding natural and cultural riches. From Puerto Montt we will drive south in order to take the ferry across the Chacao Channel. This short 30-minute journey offers great wildlife viewing opportunities and we are likely to see pods of Peale's Dolphin, groups of South American Sea Lion and a great array of seabirds including Southern Giant Petrel, Sooty and Pink-footed shearwaters, Imperial and Red-legged cormorants, Peruvian Pelican and South American Tern. Before reaching the main island we will see groups of Black-necked Swan, actively feeding on algae along the shore. 

After we set foot we will notice the interesting architecture comprising wooden houses and churches, with characteristic walls and roofs covered with shingles. Later we will aim towards the wild west coast of the island to take a short boat trip to the interesting location of Puñihuil. Here we will circumnavigate one of the islets to see one of the few mixed breeding colonies of Humboldt and Magellanic penguins. Marine Otter, Magellanic Cormorant, Kelp Goose and Flightless Steamer Duck are all usually found here, too. 

After lunch we´ll drive east across the Island to reach the picturesque towns in the protected eastern coast. Here we will concentrate in studying the cultural features including the famous stilt houses set right on the rocky shore and the wooden churches of the surroundings. During the afternoon we will visit three churches representative of the XVIII colonial wooden construction whose architecture was inspired by shipbuilding, a skill most old-time islanders mastered. They are the churches of Dalcahue, Tenaún and Castro, Chiloé Island's largest town. 

Overnight at Hotel Parque Quilquico, Castro (Lunch, Dinner) (Guide). 




Day 2 • Chiloé Island: Chepu River boat trip – Drive to Tepuhueico

Early in the morning we will head northwards to take our boat trip to explore part of Chepu River. This scenic watercourse is bordered by lush and dense forest and its clear waters protect a critically endangered species, the Southern River Otter or Huillin. We will attempt to see it and hopefully be rewarded by our patience and efforts to attract its interest. We will also have chances with the rare Rufous-tailed Hawk and the endemic Slender-billed Parakeet. 

After our boat trip we´ll drive south across the Island to the magnificent Tepuhueico, a private reserve where we´ll spend the whole following day in the lush Valdivian humid forest, looking for stunning wildlife, mammals like Pudu Deer, many forest-dwelling bird species and several frogs and lizards that live among moss and fern-covered tree trunks of these dense, damp woods. 

Overnight at Tepuhueico Lodge (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) (Guide). 




Day 3 • Full Day Tepuhueico Reserve 

Early in the morning we will start exploring the imposing Tepuhueico, a private reserve where we´ll spend the whole following day in the lush Valdivian humid forest, looking for stunning wildlife, including Pudu Deer, smallest deer in the world, Darwin´s Fox, the endemic Slender-billed Parakeet, Black-throated Hued-hued, Ochre-flanked Tapaculo and Des Murs´s Wiretail, and several frogs and lizards that live among moss and fern-covered tree trunks of these dense, lush woods, providing excellent chances for both wildlife and macro photography, as the miniature lichens, fungi and mosses forests are home to a whole world of insects, amphibians and other tiny creatures living on the damp soil and old, fallen trees.

Overnight at Tepuhueico Lodge (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) (Guide).




Day 4 • Cucao in Chiloé National Park – Caulin Bay – Drive to Puerto Varas

This morning we´ll visit the unique maritime temperate rainforest that grows right up to the shore in Cucao within Chiloé National Park, an area which opens to the vast Pacific in the western coast of the island,  and was visited by Charles Darwin who landed here in 1835.

On our way back to the continent and Puerto Varas we will stop at the mudflats of Caulin Bay, which holds an important part of the world population of Hudsonian Godwit, which winters here and in other extensive bays of Patagonia togeteher with Red Knot and a variety of other shorebirds.

Overnight at Hotel Bellavista or similar, Puerto Varas. (Lunch, Dinner) (Guide).


images/stories/Blog_2/sylviorthorrhynchus desmursii.jpg


Day 5  Full day exploring Vicente Perez Rosales National Park

Today we will explore the first national park established in Chile, Vicente Perez Rosales (1926), which honours a leading figure from the colonization times of these territories, back in the late XIX century. The park holds nearly 231,000 hectares (app. 570,000 acres) of pristine temperate forests, lakes and dramatic peaks, including the omnipresent Osorno Volcano (2,652 m/8,700 ft.). On our vehicle, we will ascend the foothills of this volcano and will see the dramatic vegetation changes as we gain altitude. From the ski resort area of Las Burbujas, we will have a splendid view of Llanquihue Lake, Petrohue River and the distant Calbuco Volcano and even of Reloncavi Sound. We will study the trees, shrubs and herbs of these woodland trails and along the volcanic slopes. 

Later we will travel along the fast-flowing waters of Petrohue River to see its dramatic rapids and maybe the specialist of this turbulent environment, Torrent Duck. By the end of the day we will reach the shores of the stunning Lake Todos Los Santos and we will see the distant and imposing peak of Tronador Volcano, which demarks the border with Argentina. Your guide will provide interpretation about the geology and the many volcanic events that have modelled the surroundings. 

Overnight at Hotel Bellavista or similar, Puerto Varas. (Lunch, Dinner) (Guide). 




Day 6 • Puerto Montt 

This trip ends after breakfast with a transfer to the airport. (Breakfast).



Trip Map 



Rates & Conditions

Custom Private Departures: you choose the date

Available from August through April.

Departures from Santiago or Puerto Montt, Chile.


Lake District & Chiloe Island
Trip Code CHL06
Trip Length 6 days, 5 nights
No. of guests 2 3 4+ Single Suppl.
Price per person (US$) TBA TBA TBA TBA
Trips are guaranteed to depart with a minimum of 2 participants.


Do you want us to arrange your flights from Santiago to Puerto Montt?

Domestic flights Santiago (SCL) – Puerto Montt (PMC) – Santiago (from US$ 200 per person).

Duration of the flight: 1.5 hours.


What the trip includes/excludes

The above prices are per person in US$, based in double accommodation. All payments are in US Dollars.

 Single supplement will be added if single accommodations are requested.

 The trip price includes: All accommodations, meals and guide services as stated in the itinerary, private ground transportation during the tour, boat trips at Puñihuil and Chepu, ferry fares to Chiloe Island and park entrance fees.

 The trip price excludes: Domestic flights (Santiago –Puerto Montt  – Santiago or other route), tipping, travel insurance, entrance tax to Chile, excess baggage charges, private excursions, à la carte dishes, snacks, drinks, laundry, telephone calls and anything else of a purely personal nature.


Tour Registration

To book this tour, please complete our registration form. We will process your booking form and will send you (within 24 hours) a note with space confirmation and a deposit invoice with payment instructions. The deposit amount is US$ 500 per person. Full payment of the tour fee is due 90 days prior to tour departure.

NOTE: Inquires received on Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays will be replied during the following working day.


Cancellation Policy

Notice of cancellation can only be accepted IN WRITING from the person who signed the booking form and takes effect on the day such noticed is received by us.


Refunds are made according to the following schedule:

If cancellation is made 120 days or more before departure date, the deposit less US$ 200 is refundable.

If cancellation is made between 120 and 60 days before departure, the deposit is not refundable, but any payments covering the balance of the fee will be refunded.

If cancellation is made fewer than 60 days before departure date, no refund is available.

This policy and fee schedule also applies to pre-trip and post trip extensions, as well as any transfers from one tour to another. We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance to protect yourself.



Photo Gallery 

Check out our photo gallery with images from recent trips to Chile's Lake District & Chiloe Island


Chucao Tapaculo, Scelorchilus rubecula, Alerce Andino National Park, Los Lagos, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions



Field Checklist 

Checklist for the Birds and Mammals of Chile's Lake District & Chiloe Island (possible species to be seen during this trip)


Birds Mammals


Tinamous | Tinamidae

Chilean Tinamou Nothoprocta perdicaria


Penguins | Spheniscidae

Humboldt Penguin Spheniscus humboldti

Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus


Grebes | Podicipedidae

Pied-billed Grebe Podilymbus podiceps

White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland

Great Grebe Podiceps major

Silvery Grebe Podiceps occipitalis

Albatrosses | Diomedeidae

Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris

Shearwaters & Petrels | Procellariidae

Antarctic Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus

Southern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialoides

White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis

Pink-footed Shearwater Puffinus creatopus

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus


Storm-Petrels | Hydrobatidae

Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus


Diving-Petrels | Pelecanoididae

Magellanic Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides magellani

Pelicans | Pelecanidae

Peruvian Pelican Pelecanus thagus


Gannets & Boobies | Sulidae

Peruvian Booby Sula variegata


Cormorants | Phalacrocoracidae

Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus

Rock Shag Phalacrocorax magellanicus

Guanay Cormorant Phalacrocorax bougainvillii

Imperial Shag Phalacrocorax atriceps

Red-legged Cormorant Phalacrocorax gaimardi


Herons, Egrets & Bitterns | Ardeidae

Cocoi Heron Ardea cocoi

Great Egret Ardea alba

Snowy Egret Egretta thula

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Stripe-backed Bittern Ixobrychus involucris


Ibises & Spoonbills | Threskiornithidae

Black-faced Ibis Theristicus melanopis


Flamingos | Phoenicopteridae

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis


Ducks, Geese & Swans | Anatidae

Black-necked Swan Cygnus melanocorypha

Kelp Goose Chloephaga hybrida

Ashy-headed Goose Chloephaga poliocephala

Flightless Steamerduck Tachyeres pteneres

Flying Steamerduck Tachyeres patachonicus

Torrent Duck Merganetta armata

Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilatrix

Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris

Spectacled Duck Anas specularis

Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica

Silver Teal Anas versicolor

Cinnamon Teal Anas cyanoptera

Rosy-billed Pochard Netta peposaca


New World Vultures | Cathartidae

Black Vulture Coragyps atratus

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Andean Condor Vultur gryphus


Hawks, Eagles & Kites | Accipitridae

White-tailed Kite Elanus leucurus

Cinereous Harrier Circus cinereus

Chilean Hawk Accipiter chilensis

Harris' Hawk Parabuteo unicinctus

Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus

Variable Hawk Buteo polyosoma

White-throated Hawk Buteo albigula

Rufous-tailed Hawk Buteo ventralis


Falcons & Caracaras | Falconidae

Southern Crested Caracara Caracara plancus

Chimango Caracara Milvago chimango

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Rails, Gallinules & Coots | Rallidae

Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus

Spot-flanked Gallinule Gallinula melanops

White-winged Coot Fulica leucoptera

Red-gartered Coot Fulica armillata

Red-fronted Coot Fulica rufifrons


Oystercatchers | Haematopodidae

Magellanic Oystercatcher Haematopus leucopodus

Blackish Oystercatcher Haematopus ater

American Oystercatcher Haematopus palliatus

Plovers & Lapwings | Charadriidae

Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis

Snowy Plover Charadrius alexandrinus

Collared Plover Charadrius collaris

Two-banded Plover Charadrius falklandicus

Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius modestus

Sandpipers & Allies | Scolopacidae

South American Snipe Gallinago paraguaiae

Hudsonian Godwit Limosa haemastica

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus

Greater Yellowlegs Tringa melanoleuca

Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres

Surfbird Aphriza virgata

Red Knot Calidris canutus

Sanderling Calidris alba

White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis

Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii

Wilson's Phalarope Phalaropus tricolor


Skuas & Jaegers | Stercoraridae

Chilean Skua Stercorarius chilensis


Gulls | Laridae

Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus

Brown-hooded Gull Larus maculipennis

Franklin's Gull Larus pipixcan

Elegant Tern Sterna elegans

South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea

Common Tern Sterna hirundo

Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea

Snowy-crowned Tern Sterna trudeaui


Skimmers | Rhynchopidae

Black Skimmer Rynchops niger

Doves & Pigeons | Columbidae

Rock Dove Columba livia

Chilean Pigeon Columba araucana

Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata


Parrots, Macaws & Allies | Psittacidae

Austral Parakeet Enicognathus ferrugineus

Slender-billed Parakeet (E) Enicognathus leptorhynchus


Barn Owls | Tytonidae

Barn Owl Tyto alba


Typical Owls | Strigidae

Magellanic Horned Owl Bubo magellanicus

Rufous-legged Owl Strix rufipes

Austral Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium nanum

Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus


Nightjars & Allies | Caprimulgidae

Band-winged Nightjar Caprimulgus longirostris


Hummingbirds | Trochilidae

Green-backed Firecrown Sephanoides sephaniodes


Kingfishers | Alcedinidae

Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata


Woodpeckers & Allies | Picidae

Striped Woodpecker Picoides lignarius

Chilean Flicker Colaptes pitius

Magellanic Woodpecker Campephilus magellanicus


Ovenbirds | Furnariidae

Dark-bellied Cinclodes Cinclodes patagonicus

Gray-flanked Cinclodes Cinclodes oustaleti

Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus

Des Murs' Wiretail Sylviorthorhynchus desmursii

Thorn-tailed Rayadito Aphrastura spinicauda

Plain-mantled Tit-Spinetail Leptasthenura aegithaloides

Wren-like Rushbird Phleocryptes melanops

White-throated Treerunner Pygarrhichas albogularis


Tapaculos | Rhinocryptidae

Black-throated Huet-huet Pteroptochos tarnii

Chucao Tapaculo Scelorchilus rubecula

Ochre-flanked Tapaculo Eugralla paradoxa

Magellanic Tapaculo Scytalopus magellanicus


Plantcutters | Phytotomidae

Rufous-tailed Plantcutter Phytotoma rara


Tyrant Flycatchers | Tyrannidae

White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps

Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus

Many-colored Rush-Tyrant Tachuris rubrigastra

Patagonian Tyrant Colorhamphus parvirostris

Fire-eyed Diucon Xolmis pyrope

Black-billed Shrike-Tyrant Agriornis montana

Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola macloviana

White-browed Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola albilora

Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola flavinucha

Austral Negrito Lessonia rufa

Spectacled Tyrant Hymenops perspicillatus


Swallows | Hirundinidae

Chilean Swallow Tachycineta meyeni

Blue-and-white Swallow Pygochelidon cyanoleuca

Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica


Wagtails & Pipits | Motacillidae

Correndera Pipit Anthus correndera


Wrens | Troglodytidae

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis


Mockingbirds & Thrashers | Mimidae

Chilean Mockingbird (E) Mimus thenca


Thrushes & Allies | Turdidae

Austral Thrush Turdus falcklandii


Old World Sparrows | Passeridae

House Sparrow ( I ) Passer domesticus


Siskins, Crossbills & Allies | Fringillidae

Black-chinned Siskin Carduelis barbata


Buntings, Sparrows & Allies | Emberizidae

Gray-hooded Sierra-Finch Phrygilus gayi

Patagonian Sierra-Finch Phrygilus patagonicus

Plumbeous Sierra-Finch Phrygilus unicolor

Yellow-bridled Finch Melanodera xanthogramma

Common Diuca-Finch Diuca diuca

Grassland Yellow-Finch Sicalis luteola

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis


Troupials & Allies | Icteridae

Yellow-winged Blackbird Agelaius thilius

Long-tailed Meadowlark Sturnella loyca

Shiny Cowbird Molothrus bonariensis

Austral Blackbird Curaeus curaeus


Old World Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus

Nutria Myocastor coypus

Peale's Dolphin Lagenorhynchus australis

Chilean Dolphin Cephalorhynchus eutropia

Darwin's Fox Pseudalopex culpaeus

Marine Otter Lontra felina

Southern River Otter Lontra provocax

Southern Sea Lion Otaria byronia

Pudu Pudu puda