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Chile: Fuegian Snipe & Juan Fernandez

First sailing to the remote island designated as Carlos III, we will have several days to explore the windswept grassland in search of the mythical Fuegian Snipe. Based in a comfortable ecocamp, once we succeed with our main target there will be plenty of time to enjoy this truly wild island. Next, we fly to Robinson Crusoe in the Juan Fernandez Islands. Another rarely-visited place, where the dazzling Juan Fernandez Firecrown and fantastic Juan Fernandez Tit-tyrant are quite common. On our pelagics, we have excellent chances to see the three special tubenoses here: Masatierra Petrel, Stejneger’s Petrel, and the breeding endemic Juan Fernandez Petrel.

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Single Room Supplement: $

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Horned Coot & Atacama Extension

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Leaders:

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This tour uses a charter flight to take us to Juan Fernandez, which we believe is much more efficient and comfortable than going the whole way there on a boat. If you are interested in joining just one part of this tour (ie: only Carlos III, or only Juan Fernandez), please send us an email to discuss options. 

Accommodation:

Unique but comfortable safari-style tents on Carlos III, very comfortable hotels for the remainder. 

Walking difficulty:

All easy.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights, overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: Arrivals into Punta Arenas International Airport (PUQ). We’ll spend the afternoon looking for Flying and Flightless Steamer Ducks, Magellanic Oystercatcher, Imperial Cormorant, Upland Goose, Chilean Skua, and the splendid Dolphin Gull. The tiny Austral Negrito is sure to be found as well, and hopefully Magellanic Woodpecker. If time permits, we’ll drive to the Estancia San Juan, where the endangered Ruddy-headed Goose breeds. Along the coast, we’ll also be looking for Kelp Goose, to complete the collection of all five Chilean geese! Night in Punta Arenas.


Day 2: Early morning departure to drive to Punta Carrera, from where we will board the ferry to the island of Carlos III. The journey from our point of embarkation to our accommodation at the beautiful WhaleSound ecocamp will take approximately eight hours. We will arrive during the afternoon, being the first international birding group privellaged to land here. There will be time for some initial exploration into the habitat of our main target - the elusive Fuegian Snipe. One of the rarest and least-known birds in the world, it has been seen by very very few people, mostly researchers spending long periods of time in this far-flung region. Our local guide is one of these researchers, and as such knows exactly where we need to go. 


Day 3-4-5: We will dedicate three full days (if necessary!) to finding Fuegian Snipe. Leaving at first light each morning, we will hike towards the wetlands and spend the entire morning searching for this mythical species. We will have lunch back at the camp and then head out for another excursion in the afternoon as required. However if the weather is fair, we shouldn't need too much time to succeed, given the bird is quite common on Carlos III.


Once the main objective of the trip is achieved, we will explore the surroundings of Francisco Coloane Marine Park and Kawesqar National Park. Colonies of Magellanic Penguin, Imperial Cormorant, and Rock Cormorant are all impressive, with Common Sea Lions and Southern Fur Seals in abundance. We’ll also look for other emblematic species such as the Striated Caracara, Magellanic Diving Petrel, South American Tern, Black-browed Albatross, Antarctic Giant Petrel, and Chilean Skua, amongst others. Nights at WhaleSound Ecocamp.


Day 6: After breakfast and some final birding on the island, we will take the ferry back to Punta Arenas, arriving in the late afternoon. Night in Punta Arenas.


Day 7: Catching the morning flight up to Santiago, we will be able to take a half-day excursion to the Yeso Valley, which is well-known as one of the best places to see the beautiful and sought-after Diademed Sandpiper-plover. Our Chilean guides are proud to have been involved in a research project on this species for many years and have a great track record of finding it! On our way, we will also be on the lookout for the endemic Crag Chilia and Moustached Turca, the rare and localised Creamy-rumped Miner, Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, and many other Andean specialties like White-sided Hillstar, Andean Goose, Torrent Duck, Scale-throated Earthcreeper, Black-fronted and White-browed Ground Tyrants, Greater Yellow Finch, Yellow-rumped Siskin, Andean Condor, and Mountain Caracara. Night in Santiago.


Day 8: Today, we take a two-hour charter flight over the Pacific Ocean to the Juan Fernandez Islands. Unlike the somewhat irregular commercial flights, it is very rare for charter flights to be delayed or cancelled. Landing on Robinson Crusoe, a 45-minute boat transports us to the town of Juan Bautista, located on the other side of the island. We’ll pass a Juan Fernandez Fur Seal colony and be able to watch schools of fish in the crystal-clear water. We can expect an excellent seafood lunch before beginning our explorations!


Day 9: Early this morning, we will board our first pelagic. Particular effort will be focused on the two rare specialties here: Masatierra Petrel and Stejneger’s Petrel. More common is the breeding endemic Juan Fernandez Petrel, plus Kermadec Petrel and Pink-footed Shearwater. We may also see White-faced Storm Petrel and Black-bellied Storm Petrel. After returning to shore, we’ll spend the afternoon walking the foothills of El Yunque in Juan Fernandez National Park, where the dazzling Juan Fernandez Firecrown and fantastic Juan Fernandez Tit-tyrant are quite common. We should have plenty of time to enjoy observing and photographing these two special endemics.


Day 10: We intend to spend the majority of the day on another pelagic in search of the same species as yesterday. The evening will be for relaxing and enjoying a nice dinner to celebrate our off-the-beaten-track adventure.


Day 11: Morning birding on our way back to Robinson Crusoe Airstrip before catching a midday flight back to Santiago, where the tour ends this afternoon. Those continuing on the extension will stay overnight near the airport. Instead of the extension, some may wish to join the main Chile 2026 tour which also begins the next day. 



HORNED COOT & ATACAMA EXTENSION


Day 1: Overnight in Santiago.


Day 2: We will take an early flight from Santiago to Calama, the largest city in the Atacama desert. From here, we’ll drive the short distance to San Pedro de Atacama, our base for this Andean birding adventure. Visiting an area with Tamarugo forest (one of the few tree species that grows in this arid landscape), we will search for the specialised Tamarugo Conebill. Other species of interest include Cinereous Conebill, Grey-bellied Shrike-tyrant, Chiguanco Thrush, and Scale-throated Earthcreeper. Continuing south, we will reach the richly coloured twin lagoons Miscanti and Miñiques. These Andean lagoons are the most important nesting sites in Chile for the Horned Coot, a highly localised Altiplano species. This area is also good for Puna Tinamou, "Puna" Lesser Rhea, Andean Goose, Golden-spotted Ground Dove, Andean Gull, Puna Miner, Cordilleran Canastero, Black-hooded, Plumbeous, and Ash-breasted Sierra Finches, Bright-rumped Yellow Finch, and Black Siskin. After a nice picnic lunch, we’ll visit Chaxa Lagoon, located within the massive salt pan of Salar de Atacama. Here, we will look for special birds like Chilean, Andean, and Puna Flamingos, Andean Avocet, and Puna Plover. Night in San Pedro de Atacama.


Day 3: Early this morning, we will head north of San Pedro to the spectacular Tatio Geysers, the third-largest geyser field in the world. We’ll arrive at this geological spectacle as the sun rises over the horizon and enjoy a cup of hot coffee or tea and some breakfast. From here, we’ll visit several high-elevation wetlands in search of the range-restricted Red-backed Sierra Finch in particular. Other potential species include Puna Teal, Giant Coot, Puna Ibis, Puna Snipe, Grey-breasted Seedsnipe, Mountain Caracara, Straight-billed Earthcreeper, Andean Negrito, Spot-billed Ground Tyrant, Black-billed Shrike-tyrant, Black-hooded Sierra Finch, Mourning Sierra Finch, and Greenish Yellow Finch. Night in San Pedro de Atacama.


Day 4: After breakfast, we will start making our way back towards Calama through an area of spectacularly sheer and desolate desert. In areas seemingly devoid of all life, we’ll look for an enigmatic specialist: the Greyish Miner, a species that seems completely at home in the driest of places. After lunch in Calama, we will head to the airport for our flight back to Santiago, where our extension ends this afternoon in time for evening flights.

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