South American Natural Adventures
nature travel, wildlife tours, adventure travel and general travel to Chile, Peru, Argentina and Antarctica
While Chile as a whole is not very well known to many of us, four parts of it are at least familiar in name: Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, Tierra del Fuego and Easter Island. In fact, many are surprised to learn that any of these are part of Chile — many would identify Patagonia as Argentina, and if asked, most would be unable to correctly identify the sovereignty of Tierra del Fuego or Easter Island as Chile.
Despite this unfamiliarity, Chile is a fascinating destination, one of great scenic beauty, interesting and often prolific fauna, and great variety. A long, thin country, it is sometimes described as having only north and south, but no east or west. This is actually close to the truth, as Chile is about 2,700 miles from north to south, but averages only 100 miles east to west, and is often far less. One side borders the sea for its entire length, the other the great Andean mountain chain, ending at the most southern part of South America, Cape Horn. To the north is Peru, to the south Antarctica, just 500 miles away, as the albatross flies.
In the north the driest desert on Earth, the Atacama, combines ancient hieroglyphs, flamingos and volcanoes. In the south, Tierra del Fuego is a land of glaciers & fjords, soaking wet forests, and penguins. In between are southern rainforests, soaring mountains, rich farmland and fisheries, and some of the world’s best wineries. The rugged wilderness of Chile's Patagonia is unsurpassed, but even in this most spectacular of landscapes standing above all is the beauty and majesty of Torres del Paine National Park. Chile's cities, towns and countryside all present an old and vibrant culture, with fishing villages on Chiloe still living in years past, and cemeteries and shrines decorated in recognition of the mysteries and vagaries of life.
For those interested in natural history and wildlife, Chile remains a little visited yet easily accessible country. It is bird-rich, with three species of flamingos alone. Penguins of several species occur, and albatrosses and other pelagics are abundant. Black-necked swans are perhaps the most beautiful of the family, and there’s even a flightless sea duck. Llama-like guanacos grace the Patagonian steppes, while their relative the vicuna eke a living in the Atacama. Along the southern shore giant southern elephant seals drag their massive bulk onto specks of land, while the black-and-white Peale’s Dolphin often visits boats both small and large.
Down here, all roads, and flights, lead to the capital of Chile, Santiago. (Well, except one — the road from Punta Arenas in the south does not connect anywhere within Chile; to drive from there to anywhere much else in Chile you have to make a long detour via Argentina. This has proved problematic in the past during the many altercations between these two countries.) Santiago is a vibrant and cultured city, with an old central square and market, many fine buildings, and restful parks. Like the country, the city is long and narrow, compressed between the ocean and the mountains. Surrounding and even within the city are many of Chile’s oldest and finest vineyards, as the city itself falls within the justly famous Maipo region. Apart from wine, the area is best known for its production of literary figures — the poet Pablo Neruda lived here, among others — and the blue joy called lapis lazuli. Chile is one of only two places in the world with useable supplies of this semi-precious gemstone.
Whether your interests are nature, photography, adventure or just an inquisitiveness about the world around us, we invite you to explore Chile, from the moonscape of the High Altiplano to the wind-lashed cliffs of The Uttermost Ends of the Earth — Tierra del Fuego. Please call or email for more information. Examples of our programs can be seen via these two links:
Any of the areas you see in our set programs can be included in custom tours designed around your interests.