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FarSouthExp at iGoTerra
FarSouthExp @ Fat Birder / WAND

We are Birders - We are Leica

We are Birders - We are Leica

Far South Expeditions

2013.05.03 06:00:00

Nearly 2,000 nautical miles of Pacific Ocean separate Rapa Nui from the American continent, thus Easter Island is geographically the most isolated of Chile’s National Parks.

The island, located at 27°09’S and 109°27’W, was discovered on Easter Sunday 1722 by a Dutch fleet led by Jacob Roggeveen, and received its European name because of the very important religious day. Islanders did not seem to have a name for it, but began to call it Rapa Nui in the early 1860’s.


Ahu Akivi, Easter Island (Rapa Nui), Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions


Unlike other protected areas, which are created primarily to protect the endemic flora and fauna, the Rapa Nui National Park was established mainly to protect its archaeological sites.

In order to stop the pilfering of the island by foreign visitors in the early 20th century, a special status of the island was needed. The first step consisted in its declaration as a National Historical Monument and later as a National Park in 1935. At that time the islanders had been confined to the southwestern part of the island in what is now part of its “capital” Hangaroa. Most of the island’s land was used as grazing ground for a foreign sheep-ranch, and scientific expeditions had helped themselves to objects of great archaeological value.


Moai at Ahu Tahai, Easter Island (Rapa Nui) © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions


A first inventory of important sites and artifacts was prepared by Juan Tepano, local informant to many expeditions to Easter Island; this was checked and improved by Father Sebastian Englert (the numbering of the statues can still be seen today), and eventually refined by the University of Chile, which in 1981 published an archaeological atlas containing almost 7,000 archaeological sites, located on approximately 50% of the island’s surface.

When tourism started in 1967, the extension of the park was reduced, and two areas of the island were declared parks: one on Maunga Terevaka and the other on Rano  Kau,  with a combined area of 11,750 acres – just a forth of the island’ s surface. Surprisingly, these parks contained hardly any archaeological features, and were incorporated with other parts of the island into the actual Rapa Nui National Park at a later stage. The park has undergone a number of changes in its size, and is likely to decrease again in the near future based on the need of agricultural, industrial, and habitable land for islanders. While the original idea for a park was to protect the archaeological features a nd the island’s culture, today a number of areas are included or of special interest because of native flora, seabirds, and marine creatures. CONAF (The National Forestry Agency) has run the park since 1972.


Our local leader Ramon Edmunds and our guests admiring the standing moai at ahu Tongariki © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions

In 1995 the Rapa Nui National Park has been declared a “World Cultural Heritage Site”, and today not only Chilean authorities but also the islanders are very committed on the upkeep of the conditions within the park. Beginning in 1955 with legendary Norwegian Thor Heyerdahl, several foreign and local scientists have worked to restore part of the island’s archaeological treasures. As a result some 40 Moai (statues) have been re-erected on their original ahu (platforms), village sites have been restored, and the islanders have revived part of their traditional and ancestral Polynesian life.

Introduction from the book 'Rapa Nui' • Wildlife & Landscapes' by Enrique Couve & Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions • ISBN 978-956-8007-23-2


2013.04.19 00:49:58


Mountain Vizcacha (Lagidium viscacia), a high-altitude and very charismatic rodent of the High Andes of northern Chile. This individual was photographed near Las Cuevas at the very scenic Lauca National Park, also one of Chile's World Biosphere Reserves © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions


2013.04.17 20:04:14

Guide Ramon Edmunds guiding one of our groups at Rapa Nui, Easter Island © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions


Our tours have a key educational focus and quality interpretation is of paramount importance to us. Our guide Ramon Edmunds Pakomio was captured here providing an 'in situ' speech on the 'Bird Man' cult to our guests at the ceremonial site of Orongo, Easter Island (Rapa Nui).

Photo © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions.


2013.04.13 20:16:13

A South American Gray Fox (Pseudalopex griseus), locally known as 'Chilla', keeps alert while scavenging on a Rhea carcass. This is the most widespread and adaptable of all three fox species occurring in Chile and Patagonia.

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


Photo: March 2013, near Rio Vizcachas, Ultima Esperanza, southern Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions


2013.04.11 00:20:32

The Marine Otter (Lontra felina) is one of the two otter species occurring in Chile. Its range also includes coastal areas of southern Peru as well as the southernmost regions of Argentina, in Tierra del Fuego. The ‘Chungungo’ as it is locally known, is one of the most charismatic marine mammals of the country and quite easily to see during our trips to Chiloe Island.

Marine Otter, Chiloe Island, southern Chile © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions


Photo: Puñihuil islets, Chiloe Island, southern Chile - March 2013 © Claudio F. Vidal, Far South Expeditions


2012.06.12 04:33:03

'Outcast Kings' - the magnificent footage on King Penguins by Chilean nature film-maker Ignacio Walker.



This short documentary was produced by FS Expeditions for the conservation of the first recorded breeding colony of King Penguins on Tierra del Fuego, Chile.


2012.05.26 01:15:44

It's winter down here in Patagonia and the majority of those 'hardy' North American shorebird migrants are gone, but we are looking forward to receive them again during our spring (from September onwards). We have been always amazed by those extraordinary migratory birds traveling the whole length of the Americas, from their breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra to overwinter here, along the shores of the Magellan Straits and the brackish lagoons of Tierra del Fuego.

This shot was taken in November 2011 and shows an adult White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) frantically feeding on the abundance of small invertebrates along the shores of the many alkaline pools located in the wind-swept steppes of Tierra del Fuego. This is the 'default' sandpiper of the area and is accompanied by the also numerous Baird's Sandpiper and Wilson's Phalarope.


White-rumped Sandpiper, Tierra del Fuego, Chile © Claudo F. Vidal - www.fsexpeditions.com


Learn more about the birding possibilities in Patagonia in the following link: http://bit.ly/HIVePY

© Photo by Claudio F. Vidal - cvidalphoto.smugmug.com


2012.05.08 19:57:11

The Snowy Sheathbill (Chionis alba) is an odd-looking Antarctic seabird; it belongs to the small family Chionidae, which comprises only two sheathbill species, both occurring in the Southern Ocean.
This scavenging bird primarily feeds around penguin and other seabird breeding colonies as well as seal rookeries. During the winter migrates from the Antarctic Peninsula northwards to the coasts of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.
This tame individual was shot near the ferry crossing of Punta Delgada in the Straits of Magellan in late April.
Small numbers of non-breeding birds remain year-round in the coasts of Patagonia and the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands.


Snowy Sheathbill (Chionis alba), Magellan Straits, Chile © Claudio F. Vidal - www.fsexpeditions.com

La Paloma Antártica (Chionis alba) es una extraña ave marina de origen Antártico; pertenece a la pequeña familia Chionidae que comprende sólo dos especies, ambas habitantes exclusivas del Océano Austral.
Esta ave carroñera se alimenta principalmente alrededor de colonias de pingüinos y de otras aves marinas, así como en colonias de lobos y elefantes marinos. Durante el invierno migra desde la Península Antártica hasta las costas de Patagonia y Tierra del Fuego.
Este manso individuo fue fotografiado en las cercanías del cruce de Punta Delgada en el Estrecho de Magallanes, a fines de Abril.
Pequeños números de individuos no-reproductivos permanecen en las costas Patagónicas e Islas Malvinas durante todo el año.

© Claudio F. Vidal 2012


2012.04.09 22:01:49

A single individual of Little (Subantarctic) Shearwater - Puffinus [assimilis] elegans - was photographed off the western coast of Chiloé Island (one nautical mile nw of Metalqui islet - 42°11'47.61"S • 74°10'27.21"W) on 21 February 2012 (11.10am). 

Observers: Claudio F. Vidal, Mike Thompson & Susie Pearson.

Photos: © Claudio F. Vidal, FS Expeditions. Fore more photos please check the following link


Records of Little (Subantarctic) Shearwater off Chiloe Island, southern Chile © Photos by Claudio F. Vidal, FS Expeditions - www.fsexpeditions.com


Records of Little (Subantarctic) Shearwater off Chiloe Island, southern Chile © Photos by Claudio F. Vidal, FS Expeditions - www.fsexpeditions.com


Records of Little (Subantarctic) Shearwater off Chiloe Island, southern Chile © Photos by Claudio F. Vidal, FS Expeditions - www.fsexpeditions.com


2012.04.02 16:32:08


There is something very special and rewarding when you are fortunate enough to see a big cat in the wild, and Pumas are a perfect example of this feeling, a real priviledge for the nature enthusiast. 

The last fire of December 2011 / January 2012, which was produced by a negligent and irresponsible visitor to this magnificent national park of southern Chile, caused significant damage and devastation to its native vegetation and variety of habitats. You can readily see the fire effects on the plant communities but you soon start to wonder 'what are the real effects to the life cycles of the animals, particularly the park's apex predator', the magnificent Puma (Puma concolor patagonica). 

Pumas are lonely hunters on these vast domains, preying primarily on the ubiquituous camel-like Guanaco and the introduced European Hare. The pastures of these two herbivores were affected by the fire and consequently the feeding grounds and territories of many individual Pumas were disturbed. 




Pumas, both males and females, are highly territorial and they do move considerably within the boundaries of their feeding grounds, looking for prey and actively marking with scent the extent of their domains.

Recently, several pumas have been seen 'wandering' from fire-affected areas into hunting territories of other well-established cats, and consequently this re-arranging of overlapping territories, will mean eventually some disputes and can even affect the reproduction success of several females.




During the last week of March 2012, we had the great priviledge of seeing Puma during two of of our mammal-oriented tours, operated for renowned nature companies (1, 2). A young female, in particular, with its three-month old cub at the shores of the huge Sarmiento Lake, caught our fascination. This lovely female looked at excelent condition as its sole litter. They were both seen during consecutive days feeding on a fresh kills, consisting on a large-sized guanacos. Other pumas, mostly males, were spotted at different corners of the park, as far south a Paine River near Lago Toro.




Our main concern is the lack of current long-term research on the population dynamics of these charismatic cats and the immediate effects caused by the fire on their diet and reproduction success. We urge park authorities and conservation organizations in setting up research and conservation initiatives in the near future; as a company we would be delighted and very committed to support scuh studies.




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