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We are Birders - We are Leica

We are Birders - We are Leica

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Humpback Whales of the Magellan Straits, Encounters with the Gentle Giants of Patagonia


Small-group, whale-watching and photo expedition to southern Chile's Straits of Magellan. Enjoy of close encounters with these gentle giants amid the magnificent scenery of the pristine archipelagic regions of western Tierra del Fuego, in the most remote corners of Patagonia. During this expedition you will have the opportunity to see a large and interesting array of marine mammals and seabirds and stay two nights at a scientific field station at Carlos III Island

3-day trip from Punta Arenas, Chile | See updated dates from November 2017 through May 2018.


Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp


Book this trip, reserve space now!

Humpback Whales of the Magellan Straits is a fascinating journey designed to discover some of the best-kept secrets of this imposing region of southern South America. This is a comprehensive natural history and nature photography journey to Carlos III Island, located at the heart of the recently established Francisco Coloane Marine Park in the mythic Straits of Magellan, to find some of its most charismatic inhabitants, Humpback Whales.

These huge cetaceans come to the Straits of Magellan in the southern summer to feast on the abundant food resources found in these cold and productive waters, and can be seen actively feeding on small crustaceans and fish near the surface, mostly by lunging up from the deep into their swarms and engulfing huge amounts of water which is then sifted through their baleen plates, leaving their food inside the mouth cavity.

We will see these grand creatures and other marine mammals of the sub-Antarctic region at close quarters, as well as a good diversity of seabirds. Also, we will visit remote penguin colonies as well as other seabirds’ rookeries. We will be based two nights at the domes of the research facilities at Carlos III Island, the perfect location to see the Humpbacks and marvel at their social behaviour and feeding techniques.





Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp


Itinerary in Brief (3 days / 2 nights)


Trip Highlights  

• Dedicated whale-watching expedition to find, study and photograph Humpback Whales in the Straits of Magellan, southern Patagonia. 

• Discover a rich array of seabirds and marine mammals including penguins, albatrosses, petrels as well as dolphins, sea lions and fur seals. 

• Great chances to find Orca (Killer Whale).

• The dramatic, unknown and pristine habitats of western Patagonia, seldom visited by tourists, which holds a remarkable wildlife, scenery and historic highlights. 

• Great hiking opportunities to see and study the world's southernmost forests and its diversity of birds and plants.

• Interact with mammal scientists and learn about their long-term studies of this whale population.

• Good local food and nature lodges in the remote outskirts of the recently established 'Francisco Coloane' Marine Park.


Optional Extensions

Patagonia Photography Adventure (8 days, 7 nights), landscape and wildlife photo trip to mythic Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego, led by resident naturalist guides and photographers.

Patagonia Explorer (9 days, 8 nights), discover the 'best of Patagonia' and explore 'Los Glaciares' National Park and the world-famous 'Perito Moreno' Glacier plus Torres del Paine National and Tierra del Fuego, in Chile.

Pumas of Torres del Paine (6 days, 5 nights), dedicated private and small-group mammal expedition to find the elusive and lonely hunter of the Andes, Puma.


Detailed Itinerary and Activities 


Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp


Day 1 • Meeting at Punta Arenas – Drive to Punta Carrera – Embark M/V Tanu – Boat ride towards Francisco Coloane Marine Park

Let’s start our memorable whale-watching adventure! Your guide will pick you up at your hotel between 8-8.45am and will transfer you south towards Punta Carrera, our embarkation point located 30 miles south of Punta Arenas. Here we will board our 50-ft vessel, 'TANU', to start sailing along the scenic southern portion of the Brunswick Peninsula. The journey from Punta Carrera to Francisco Coloane Marine Park will take between 8 to 10 hours at an average speed of 8-9 knots. 

We will enjoy the dramatic scenery of the Magellan Straits and pass along several historic sites including Port Famine, Fort Fulnes, Mt Tarn, Cape Froward and Cordes Bay. This whole region was comprehensively explored during the 1820s and 30s by the British scientific expedition of the M/V Beagle and the Adventure. Captain Fitz Roy and his dedicated crew undertook comprehensive surveys throughout the Patagonian Fjords and Tierra del Fuego. A young naturalist named Charles Darwin conducted countless field trips here and described several species of flora and fauna. 

We will enjoy watching of a great array of seabirds including Black-browed Albatross, Southern Giant Petrel, Magellanic Diving-Petrel, King Cormorant, Chilean Skua, Dolphin Gull and South American Tern. We will also enjoy the constant company of pods of the playful Peale’s Dolphin. 

Carlos III Island and its surrounding waters is the core whale-watching area located in the western branch of the Magellan Straits, and once we reach this area by 6pm, we will have great chances of spotting our first Humpbacks. Other potential species include Sei Whales, more frequent in latter years as well as pods of the mighty Orca. 

After a full day of exploration, we will land at the island to spend two nights at the biological station and eco-camp, using the comfortable twin-bedded domes (with shared restroom facilities). 

Just before supper we will meet reseracher Juan Capella (and his team) and know more about their long-term studies on population dynamics and the extensive photo identification catalog they have been compiling during more than 15 years of research. 

Overnight at Eco-Camp "Carlos III" Island, Straits of Magellan (Lunch, Dinner)(Guide). 


Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Whale Sound

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Whale Sound


Day 2 • Straits of Magellan: Carlos III Island & Seno Ballena (Whale Sound)

This morning we will have a full-day of whale-watching activities aboard the Tanu and the zodiac boats. We will have the privilege of sharing with the resident scientists to learn, in the field, about these gentle whales ecology by watching them at close range and likely with no other visitors in the surroundings. 

This magnificent and productive area supports a vast and unique biological diversity, due to exceptional conditions such as the mixing of the two oceans (the Pacific and the Atlantic), the presence of productive upwellings, the strong westerly winds as well as the presence of glaciers and the dismembered coastline. This is why this marine park can hold a summer population of humpback whales which use these waters as feeding grounds. If we are lucky, we may see the endemic and scarce Chilean Dolphin while sailing these waters. 

Today’s great nature spectacle with this amazing wildlife will be enriched by visiting Santa Ines Island and we will be stunned by the beautiful mountains, glaciers and pristine forests that surround this protected area. 

Back to the ‘Camp’ to share with the scientis, the other guest and our dedicated staff for a memorable farewell dinner. 

Overnight at Eco-Camp "Carlos III" Island, Straits of Magellan (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)(Guide). 


Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Whale Sound

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaegliae), Magellan Straits, Chile © Whale Sound


Day 3 • Straits of Magellan – Boat trip back to Punta Arenas

After breakfast, we will make our journey back to Punta Carrera and then to Punta Arenas.

On the way back we will investigate Rupper Island, we will also visit large breeding colonies of South American sea lions, Southern fur seals, Magellanic Penguin (c. 19,000 individuals) and Chilean Skua.

Along the route we will have other opportunities to spot whales and other wildlife. We expect to arrive to Punta Carrera at around 5pm and then by van to Punta Arenas in order to be at our hotels around 7-8pm. 



South America Sea Lion - mother and pup (Ottaria flavescens)), Magellan Straits, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

South America Sea Lion - mother and pup (Ottaria flavescens)), Magellan Straits, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp



Trip Map


Humpback Whales of the Magellan Straits Tour Map © Far South Expeditions


Dates & Rates


Trip available from November 2017 until May 2018.

Meet / Depart: Punta Arenas, Chile.


Humpback Whales of the Magellan Straits
Trip Code TDF03
Trip Length 3 days, 2 nights
2017/2018 Departures
November 2017 - -   - 15 18 21 24 27 30
December 03 06 09 12 15 18 21 24 27 30
January 2018 02 05 08 11 14 17 20 23 26 29
February 01 04 07 10 13 16 19 22 25 28
March 03 06 09 12 15 18 21 24 27 30
April 02 05 08 11 14 17 20 23 26 29
May 02 05 08 11 14 - - - - -
Price per person (US$) $1,500
Maximum group size 10 participants


What the trip price includes / excludes

The above prices are per person in US$, based on double occupancy in comfortable dome-tents.

Single supplement will be added if single accommodations are requested.

The trip price includes: All accommodations, meals and local guide services as stated in the itinerary, private transfers to Carrera Bay, boat trips to Carlos III Island, zodiac trips around Carlos III Island in search of whales and other wildlife, plus park entrance fees.

The trip price excludes: Tipping, travel insurance, 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 online 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.


Important: 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 past 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.



The Eco-Camp


• Eco-Camp, Carlos III Island, Straits of Magellan

See gallery of the lodge here:




The Vessel


• Motor Yacht 'Tanu'


M/Y Tanu © Whale Sound



Photo Gallery


Check out our photo gallery gallery with images from our recent whale-watching trips to the Straits of Magellan & Francisco Coloane Marine Park


whale sound-22



Field Checklist


Birds and Mammals possible to be seen during our 'Humpback Whales of the Magellan Straits' Expedition





Marine otter Lontra felina


Culpeo Fox Pseudalopex culpaeus

Eared Seals

South American Sea Lion Otaria flavescens

South American Fur Seal Arctocephalus australis

True Seals

Southern Elephant Seal Mirounga leonina


Commerson's Dolphin Cephalorhynchus commersonii

Chilean Dolphin Cephalorhynchus eutropia

Peale's Dolphin Lagenorhynchus australis

Dusky Dolphin Lagenorhynchus obscurus

Orca or Killer Whale Orcinus orca


Humpback Whale Megaptera novaeangliae


Penguins | Spheniscidae

Magellanic Penguin Spheniscus magellanicus

Grebes | Podicipedidae

White-tufted Grebe Rollandia rolland

Great Grebe Podiceps major

Albatrosses | Diomedeidae

Black-browed Albatross Thalassarche melanophris

Grey-headed Albatross Thalassarche chrysostoma

Shearwaters & Petrels | Procellariidae

Antarctic Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus

Southern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialoides

Cape Petrel Daption capense

White-chinned Petrel Procellaria aequinoctialis

Great Shearwater Puffinus gravis

Sooty Shearwater Puffinus griseus

Storm-Petrels | Hydrobatidae

Wilson's Storm-Petrel Oceanites oceanicus

Diving-Petrels | Pelecanoididae

Magellanic Diving-Petrel Pelecanoides magellani

Cormorants | Phalacrocoracidae

Neotropic Cormorant Phalacrocorax brasilianus

Rock Shag Phalacrocorax magellanicus

Imperial Shag Phalacrocorax atriceps

Herons, Egrets & Bitterns | Ardeidae

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis

Black-crowned Night-Heron Nycticorax nycticorax

Ibises & Spoonbills | Threskiornithidae

Black-faced Ibis Theristicus melanopis

Flamingos | Phoenicopteridae

Chilean Flamingo Phoenicopterus chilensis

Ducks, Geese & Swans | Anatidae

Black-necked Swan Cygnus melanocorypha

Upland Goose Chloephaga picta

Kelp Goose Chloephaga hybrida

Ashy-headed Goose Chloephaga poliocephala

Flightless Steamerduck Tachyeres pteneres

Flying Steamerduck Tachyeres patachonicus

Chiloe Wigeon Anas sibilatrix

Speckled Teal Anas flavirostris

Spectacled Duck Anas specularis

Crested Duck Anas specularioides

Yellow-billed Pintail Anas georgica

Red Shoveler Anas platalea

New World Vultures | Cathartidae

Andean Condor Vultur gryphus

Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura

Hawks, Eagles & Kites | Accipitridae

Cinereous Harrier Circus cinereus

Chilean Hawk Accipiter chilensis

Black-chested Buzzard-Eagle Geranoaetus melanoleucus

Rufous-tailed Hawk Buteo ventralis

Falcons & Caracaras | Falconidae

Southern Crested Caracara Caracara plancus

Chimango Caracara Milvago chimango

Striated Caracara Phalcoboenus australis

American Kestrel Falco sparverius

Aplomado Falcon Falco femoralis

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

Rails, Gallinules & Coots | Rallidae

Plumbeous Rail Pardirallus sanguinolentus

Red-gartered Coot Fulica armillata

Oystercatchers | Haematopodidae

Magellanic Oystercatcher Haematopus leucopodus

Blackish Oystercatcher Haematopus ater

Plovers & Lapwings | Charadriidae

Southern Lapwing Vanellus chilensis

Two-banded Plover Charadrius falklandicus

Rufous-chested Dotterel Charadrius modestus

Sandpipers & Allies | Scolopacidae

South American Snipe Gallinago paraguaiae

Baird's Sandpiper Calidris bairdii

Seedsnipes | Thinocoridae

White-bellied Seedsnipe Attagis malouinus

Least Seedsnipe Thinocorus rumicivorus

Sheathbills | Chionidae

Snowy Sheathbill Chionis alba

Skuas & Jaegers | Stercoraridae

Chilean Skua Stercorarius chilensis

Gulls | Laridae

Dolphin Gull Larus scoresbii

Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus

Brown-hooded Gull Larus maculipennis

South American Tern Sterna hirundinacea

Doves & Pigeons | Columbidae

Rock Dove Columba livia

Eared Dove Zenaida auriculata

Parrots, Macaws & Allies | Psittacidae

Austral Parakeet Enicognathus ferrugineus

Typical Owls | Strigidae

Magellanic Horned Owl Bubo magellanicus

Austral Pygmy-Owl Glaucidium nanum

Hummingbirds | Trochilidae

Green-backed Firecrown Sephanoides sephaniodes

Kingfishers | Alcedinidae

Ringed Kingfisher Ceryle torquata

Woodpeckers & Allies | Picidae

Magellanic Woodpecker Campephilus magellanicus

Ovenbirds | Furnariidae

Dark-bellied Cinclodes Cinclodes patagonicus

Gray-flanked Cinclodes Cinclodes oustaleti

Bar-winged Cinclodes Cinclodes fuscus

Blackish Cinclodes Cinclodes antarcticus

Thorn-tailed Rayadito Aphrastura spinicauda

White-throated Treerunner Pygarrhichas albogularis

Tapaculos | Rhinocryptidae

Magellanic Tapaculo Scytalopus magellanicus

Tyrant Flycatchers | Tyrannidae

White-crested Elaenia Elaenia albiceps

Tufted Tit-Tyrant Anairetes parulus

Patagonian Tyrant Colorhamphus parvirostris

Fire-eyed Diucon Xolmis pyrope

Dark-faced Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola macloviana

Austral Negrito Lessonia rufa

Swallows | Hirundinidae

Chilean Swallow Tachycineta meyeni

Wagtails & Pipits | Motacillidae

Correndera Pipit Anthus correndera

Wrens | Troglodytidae

House Wren Troglodytes aedon

Sedge Wren Cistothorus platensis

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

Rufous-collared Sparrow Zonotrichia capensis

Troupials & Allies | Icteridae

Long-tailed Meadowlark Sturnella loyca

Austral Blackbird Curaeus curaeus