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Patagonia Photo Expedition - Photo Safari to the End of the World

Landscape and wildlife photography tour to Patagonia led by resident nature photographers. Discover the best of Patagonia on this exclusively-designed, photo-oriented journey; stay at great nature lodges and historic guest houses, learn on nature photography during our photo workshops, enjoy and document the best wildlife encounters, learn from thorough natural history interpretation, and experience the comfort of travelling in a small group, with a maximum group size of 8 participants

7-day trip from Punta Arenas, Chile. 

2017: Nov 18, Dec 16 2018: Feb 10, Apr 14, Oct 13, Dec 15. 

 

The Paine Massif and Pehoe Lake, Torres del Paine NP, Chile © Bastian Gygli, Far South Exp

The Paine Massif and Pehoe Lake, Torres del Paine NP, Chile © Bastian Gygli, Far South Exp

 

Book this trip, reserve space now!Our Patagonia Photography Adventure is a nature and wildlife photo-oriented tour, led by local nature photographers. Our program has been designed for photo enthusiasts with different skill levels, willing to travel in a small group with a maximum of 8 participants, and wishing to exploit the possibilities of landscape and wildlife photography alike. 

This itinerary features 4 days in Patagonia's premier wildlife destination, Torres del Paine National Park, boat trips to Grey Glacier, an impressive ice tongue that flows over a lake in the fringes of the Southern Patagonia Ice Field, Tierra del Fuego Island for the King Penguin rookery, as well as Magdalena Island to see a Magellanic Penguin colony and Mylodon Cave Natural Monument, a fascinating Patagonian paleontological site.

 

OVERVIEW

Overview

 

Guanaco silhouette, Torres del Paine NP, Chile © Bastian Gygli, Far South Exp

Guanaco silhouette, Torres del Paine NP, Chile © Bastian Gygli, Far South Exp

 

Itinerary in Brief (7 days, 6 nights)

Day 1 • Punta ArenasMagdalena Island for Magellanic penguinsDrive to Torres del Paine National Park  Torres del Paine (3 nights)

Day 2 • Torres del Paine NP (western sector)Boat trip to Grey Glacier

Day 3 • Torres del Paine NP (eastern sector)Laguna Amarga and Laguna Azul

Day 4 • Torres del Paine NP (eastern sector)Lago SarmientoMylodon Cave Natural Monument  Puerto Natales (1 night)

Day 5 • Pali Aike roadFerry to Tierra del FuegoUseless Bay for King penguins  Porvenir (1 night)

Day 6 • Straits of MagellanFerry to Punta Arenas  Punta Arenas (1 night)

Day 7 • End of the tour

 

Trip Highlights

• Comprehensive 4-day photographic exploration of southern Chile's Torres del Paine National Park.

• Visits to Tierra del Fuego and Otway Sound penguin colonies.

• Encounters with charismatic wildlife including Andean Condor, Guanaco, Chilean Flamingo, King and Magellanic penguins, Sea Lions and dolphins.

• A study of the rich cultural history and the history of exploration.

• Boat trips to Grey Glacier and Magdalena Island and ferry crossings to Tierra del Fuego.

• Remarkable forest-dwelling birds such as Magellanic Woodpecker and Austral Parakeet, as well as mammals such as Huemul Deer and Guanaco.

• A great array of native flowers as well as the impressive sub-Antartic Nothofagus or Southern Beech forest, the southernmost in the world.

 

Sunrise at Paine Massif, Torres del Paine NP, Chile © Bastian Gygli, Far South Exp

Sunrise at Paine Massif, Torres del Paine NP, Chile © Bastian Gygli, Far South Exp

 

ITINERARY

Detailed Itinerary and Activities

 

Note: We recommend you to arrive to Punta Arenas the day before the trip starts, in order to have an early start towards Magdalena Island and Torres del Paine National Park on Day 1.

 

Magellanic Penguin, Spheniscus magellanicus, Magdalena Island, Magellan Straits, Chile

 Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

 

Day 1 • Punta Arenas • Magdalena Island • Drive to Torres del Paine National Park

After meeting your guide at Punta Arenas, we will sail out bound for Magdalena Island, in the waters of the mythical Straits of Magellan, in Patagonia. This protected area holds a huge Magellanic Penguin colony of more than 150,000 individuals. Besides the penguins, several other species of seabirds such as Imperial & Rock Cormorants, Dolphin and Kelp Gulls, Chilean Skua and South American Tern nest here. At approximately 8.30am, we will be reaching Magdalena Island and its imposing cliffs, teeming with wildlife. We will have one hour to explore the trail towards the center of the island, which ends at the conspicuous lighthouse which is now the ranger station. We will be overwhelmed by the large numbers of penguins inhabiting every available spot of the island's surface and by their raucous braying calls. Some of the penguins will be busy while landing, coming ashore from their feeding trips, taking a bath or preening and resting peacefully at the shoreline while others will be walking with its characteristic gait towards their burrows to incubate the eggs or attend their chicks. Several other seabird species breed in the island including Imperial and Rock Cormorants, Dolphin and Kelp Gulls, Chilean Skua and South American Tern. South American Sea Lions occasionally patrol the coast looking opportunities to catch a distracted penguin.

Around noontime, will be transferred to Torres del Paine National Park. During the journey to the park, you will observe how the strong westerly winds have sculpted the vegetation of the grassy steppes in Patagonia. We will often stop along the way for photography and wildlife observation; en route we might spot Andean Condor, Guanaco, southern Grey Fox and Patagonian Skunk while enjoying our first contact with the sub-Antarctic Southern Beech (Nothofagus) Forest, world's southernmost woodlands.

At the picturesque coastal town of Puerto Natales, we’ll enjoy gorgeous vistas of the Chilean fjords with groups of stunning Black-necked Swans feeding along the shoreline. We will have splendid views of the range, and if it’s clear, of the Paine Massif at the distance. While visiting the valleys we will be given a geological interpretation of the origins of the dramatic backdrop of Torres del Paine, one of the finest natural spectacles in Patagonia. This evening we can carry out a sunset photo session, either before or after dinner.

Overnight at Hotel Rio Serrano or similar, Torres del Paine. (Lunch, Dinner) (Guide).

 

The awe-inspiring Paine Massif, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions

The Paine Massif, Torres del Paine NP © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

 

Day 2 • Torres del Paine (western sector) – Boat trip to Grey Glacier

Each day, we will have an early start in order to be in location to photograph the Paine Massif at dawn. We will concentrate on photographing the 'Horns' and Paine Grande peaks, located in the southern face of the Massif.

Today we will explore the southern and western regions of this huge national park, extending for 600,000 acres (242,000 hectares). The omnipresent Paine Massif, a magnificent set of rugged peaks, formed out of granite and sedimentary rock, dominates the landscape. The long-gone Indians of Patagonia named it Paine, meaning, “blue”, presumably referring to the hazy coloration when observed at a distance. We’ll have the opportunity to explore the Nothofagus or Southern Beech forest and its diversity of plants and animals; we will try for Magellanic Woodpecker, Austral Parakeet and if we are lucky the shy and scarce Huemul Deer. The contrasting mosaic of towering mountains, glaciers, wetlands, steppes and forests will delight you.Lake Grey is certainly one of the highlights of the day. Colossal icebergs are stranded on the southern shore of the lake after a long and slow journey from the glacier front. From this shore we will board our boat (the M/V Grey II) for a 3-hour excursion through the icy waters of the lake towards the impressive and actively calving front of the Glacier. Grey is one of the nearly 50 glaciers that originate from the massive Southern Patagonian Ice Field, world's third largest after Antarctica and Greenland, and is one of the most beautiful and colourful in all of Patagonia. The front is full of crevasses and the solid glacial ice colours vary from whitish to deep indigo. The glacier is flanked towards the east by impressive granite walls which are part of the Paine Massif, and towards the west by the eroded and low summits of the older Andes. The photography is great at this particular spot; we will be treated with a glass of Pisco Sour containing hundreds- possibly thousand-year old glacial ice! This evening we will have again an optional photo outing for sunset and the dramatic cloud formations.

Overnight at Hotel Rio Serrano or similar, Torres del Paine. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) (Guide).

 

Grey Glacier, Torres del Paine NP, Chile © Bastian Gygli, Far South Exp

Grey Glacier, Torres del Paine NP, Chile © Bastian Gygli, Far South Exp

 

Day 3 • Torres del Paine National Park (eastern side) – Laguna Amarga and Laguna Azul

Again this morning we will have an early start in order to photograph the Horns with the first light of day. In the right light, the mountain base turns to orange colours and the scene becomes very dramatic with peculiar lenticular clouds moving fast above the peaks.

We’ll explore the alkaline ponds and reed-fringed lagoons located in the eastern part of the park. There are approximately 120 species of birds and nearly 500 species of plants in the park and we we’ll see a considerable number of them, all very interesting subjects for observation and photography. During the southern spring and early summer (mid-October through late January), the myriad of flowers that bloom in these magnificent landscapes are an unforgettable sight. After our return to the hotel and enjoying our delicious dinner, we will have another chance to photograph the mountains and clouds, this time at sunset.

Overnight at Hotel Rio Serrano or similar, Torres del Paine. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) (Guide).

 

Dawn at the Los Cuernos (the 'Horns'), Paine Massif, Torres del Paine NP, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions

Dawn at Paine Massif, Torres del Paine NP © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

 

Day 4 • Torres del Paine National Park (eastern sector)  Lago Sarmiento  Mylodon Cave Natural Monument

The lookout from the Eastern corner of Sarmiento Lake commands the most incredible views of the towering peaks of Las Torres, the Towers, the granite spires that name the park. As we move around, you may observe confiding herds of Guanaco, the southernmost camel relative, the curious-looking Lesser Rhea and the imposing Andean Condor gliding along the road. During the morning we will visit the eastern side of the park and enjoy the views of one of Paine River’s impressive waterfalls and if it’s clear, the fabulous Paine Massif from Laguna Amarga.

During the afternoon we will visit Mylodon Cave Nature Reserve. This outstanding natural formation – consisting of a massive cave carved by the waves of an ancient lake in the rock conglomerate – was used as shelter for a large array of long-gone Pleistocene mammal species, including the Giant Ground Sloth or Mylodon, Mylodon darwinii, when most of the surroundings were covered by glaciers. The palaeontology of the area results fascinating and we’ll learn some interesting accounts from our guide, in the field as well as by visiting the interpretation centre of the reserve.

We will have the rare opportunity to explore other minor caves at Benitez Hill; these smaller shelters, fairly easy to explore, were primarily used by pre-Columbian inhabitants, who reached these latitudes several thousand years ago.The trail goes through Southern beech woods, with great chances of seeing new forest birds as well as raptors and soaring Condors. We will also study the flora of the area; one of the most remarkable and dominant plants is the Chilean Firebush (Embothrium coccineum), a relative to African proteas, whose flowers paint the hillsides in incredible scarlets.

Overnight at Weskar Lodge or similar, Puerto Natales. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) (Guide).

 

South American Gray Fox or Chilla © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions

Chilla or Southern Gray Fox, Lycalopex griseus © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

 

Day 5 • Pali Aike road  Ferry to Tierra del Fuego (c. 30 minutes)  Useless Bay for King Penguins

We will leave Puerto Natales, hopefully with many rewarding memories of our explorations and wildlife encounters on this beautiful corner of Patagonia. We will drive east across the vast wind-swept steppes and along the border with Argentina, which here is literally a straight, seemingly endless line.

Pali Aike National Park and its many extinct cinder cones is a place that breaks the uniformity of this vast, big-sky country. Long-gone Indians extensively occupied the area, and it has a very rich archaeology and paleontology. The birdlife of the area is very interesting too, as we may find intriguing species such as Least Seedsnipe, Tawny-throated Dotterel, Chocolate-vented Tyrant and the colourful White-bridled Finch. We will take a short ferry ride across the narrowest portion of the Magellan Straits, where we expect to see the delightful and local Commerson’s Dolphin. We will drive along the shores of the huge embayment of Bahía Inútil, Useless Bay, to see the recently established King Penguin breeding colony. This is a private nature reserve, which aims to preserve the small numbers of Kings that remain year-round and breed here, attracted by the bounty of the surrounding sea. We will have ample opportunities to observe and photograph the penguins from a reasonable distance (maximum approach distance will be given by your guide and must be respected at all times during your visit).

Overnight at Yendegaia House or similar, Porvenir. (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) (Guide).

 

Porcelain orchid (Chloraea magellanica), Torres del Paine National Park © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions

Porcelain Orchid, Chloraea magellanica © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

 

Day 6 • Porvenir, Tierra del Fuego – Straits of Magellan – Ferry to Punta Arenas

Tierra del Fuego, the 'Land of Fire' is another landmark coined by the skilled navigator, Ferdinand Magellan. In 1520, while crossing the seaway that now honors his name, he and his crew spotted a line of bonfires along the coast of a huge landmass. Tierra del Fuego is now a land of endless wind-swept steppes, rolling hills and lush temperate forests; sheep-farming stations, locally known as estancias, are interspersed amidst these picturesque and colorful landscapes dominated by dramatic skies.

We will enjoy a leisure morning while exploring around the town of Porvenir to photograph and learn about the particular wildlife and history of this remote corner of Patagonia. We will visit its alkaline pools where there are large aggregations of migratory birds such as sandpiper and plovers, and our main goal here will be Chilean Flamingo. Later we will explore the coast to see some of the many shipwrecks that have made these seas infamous over the years. After lunch we will be heading back to Punta Arenas by ferry.

Overnight at Hotel Diego de Almagro or similar, Punta Arenas. (Breakfast, Lunch) (Guide).

 

King Penguins (Aptenodytes patagonica), Useless Bay, Tierra del Fuego, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions

King Penguins, Aptenodytes patagonicus, Tierra del Fuego, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Exp

 

Day 7 • Transfer to the airport – End of services

Complimentary transfer to the airport. End of the trip. (Breakfast)

 

MAP

Trip Map

 

Patagonia Photo Safari Tour Map

 

DATES & RATES

Dates and Rates

 

Scheduled Departures

 

Patagonia Photo Expedition
Trip Code  PAT01 
Trip Length  7 days, 6 nights 
Dates 2017

Nov 18-24, Dec 16-22

2018

Feb 10-16, Apr 14-20, Oct 13-19, Dec 15-21

Price per person  $3,698 
Single Supplement  $512 

Trips are guaranteed to depart with a minimum of 4 participants. 

Maximum group size 8 participants. 

 

Custom Private Departures: (Ask for rates - you choose the date)

Available from September through April. Departures from Punta Arenas, Chile. Optional transfer to/from El Calafate, Argentina. 

 

What the trip includes/excludes

The above price is per person in US$, based on double occupancy. 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 to Grey Lake and Magdalena Island, ferry fares to Tierra del Fuego, and park entrance fees. Tipping for restaurant service is included.

The trip price excludes: Domestic flights (Santiago -– Punta Arenas -– Santiago or other routes), tipping for drivers and local guides, 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.


GALLERY

Photo Gallery

 

Check our our photo gallery with images from recent photo safaris to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.

 

Check our our photo gallery with images from recent safaris to Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.

 

GEAR

Sunrise at Paine Massif, Torres del Paine Chile © Bastian Gygli, Far South ExpSuggested Photo Gear

 

Is essential when you make a photo safari specially in such a place as Patagonia to be helped by the right gear. Patagonia keeps inhospitable climate conditions which lead the way we will prepared ourselves for the full of half day activity. Here we will suggest you a few tips to have on mind. This wild piece of earth shows different kinds of light which often are changing quickly because of the wind. We would like to recommend you to have a nice body camera and of course and manly good quality lenses. In Patagonia you can have literally the four seasons in a few minutes. Also this brings often clouds that decorates beautifully the scenery and at the same time situations in poor ad dramatic light.

 

Camera body

 

For it we suggest you the next camera bodies to have on mind

 

• Nikon 810/ Canon 6D

• Nikon D5/ Canon 5D Mark II or MarK III

• Nikon 810a/ Canon 7D Mark II

 

Patagonia is remarkable for it sunrises and sunsets and the drama you can find within it. For it is essential to have nice sharp lenses to catch the beauty of the moment.

 

• Canon 100-400mm 5.6G Zoom

• Canon 17-40mm 4.0G Wide angle

• Canon 100mm 2.8G Macro

• Canon 24-105mm 2.8G Wide and zoom

• Nikon 50mm 1.2G Macro

• Nikon 200-500mm 5.6G Zoom

• Nikon  70-200mm 2.8G Zoom

• Nikon 24-70mm 2.8G Wide angle

• Nikon 28-300mm 3.5G Wide and zoom

 

Tripods and Monopods. Why?

 

Simple. Is stabilization and comfort. Specially for sunrises and sunsets when light take long times to rise or set. Tripods are made for this. Monopods why so? Well we will be doing some small walks or hikes to get to our beautiful light spots, what's better to stabilize your frame with a light weight monopod to achieve an artistic composition shot. In this case, you can find different options in different brands with excellent quality. The essential thing here to focus in on the retractable single leg of it to be soft and steady. This will give you perfect balance in the middle of any trail at any moment. As you know such a pristine and wild place as Patagonia you never know what is coming next, an amazing lenticular red cloud on the sunset or a Puma crossing on front of you. Also helps a lot when you are carrying the long zoom lenses.

 

Accessories

 

Some others essential complement accessories to take on consideration. Patagonia is generous in her variety of beauty, light and landscaping. For he same we would like to suggest memory cards and other important details.

 

• Lexar SD HC 300MB/s 32g /64g / 128g

• Sandisk SD HC 260MG/s 32g / 64g / 128g

• Kingston SD HC 300MB/s 32g / 64g / 128g

• Extension tubes (For macro shots)

• Teleconverter (For more zoom)

• Neutral density filter (For water movement shots, long exposures)

• Extra batteries (at least two or three more)

• Raing camera bag (waterproof)

• Flash

• Remote trigger

 

Another essential detail is a nice and comfortable camera bag. For carrying the lenses during the walks and to protect them from the changeable climate conditions. There are a few nice options to suggest. All of them are waterproof.

 

• Lowepro Pro trekker 450 AW

• Lowepro Pro trekker 400 AW

• Lowepro Photo classic BP 300 AW

 

Clothing and Outdoors Gear

 

Patagonia means changeable climate conditions. For a comfortable staying is essential to bring the necessary outdoor clothing so you don't worry about the climate just about the frame and the light.

 

• Breathable waterproof jacket

• Waterproof hat

• Hiking Gore-Tex shoes

• Short and long sleeve shirts

• Sunglasses

• Warm and breathable socks

• Fleece

• Feather jacket (Nano puff Patagonia)

• Light waterproof gloves (easy camera managing)

• Shorts or convertible pants

• Water bottle

• Headlamp

• Sunscreen (at least 50 fps)

• Ziploc bags

• Books for long rides

• Personal toiletries

 

We recommend to try to pack as light as possible for a comfortable trip. Photo gear is already quite heavy and delicate.

 

EXTENSIONS

Optional Extensions

 

Patagonia Photo Expedition can be combined with the following optional extensions:

• The Falkland Islands (8 days, 7 nights), encounters with penguins and other fascinating wildlife in the 'Galapagos' of the South Atlantic.

• Perito Moreno Glacier & El Chalten (5 days, 4 nights),explore one of the most majestic glaciers and the 'sacred' peak of Patagonia: Chalten or Mount Fitzroy, on a private photo journey.

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

 

BOOK NOW

How to Book

 

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.

 

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.