Southern Argentina: Patagonia & Tierra del Fuego: Nov 09—23, 2014

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Departs: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Tour Limit: 12
Operations Manager: Margaret Anderson
Download Itinerary: PDF (156.7 KB)

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Tour Leaders


H├ęctor Slongo

Héctor Slongo was born in northern Italy and as a child moved to Córdoba provi...

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Magellanic Penguins, Punto Tombo, Southern Argentina.

Magellanic Penguins, Punto Tombo, Southern Argentina.— Photo: Steve Hilty

A grand journey through the Pampas and larger-than-life Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego. Dramatic Andean scenery, sweeping panoramas, unusual mammals, and rich history. Easy birding; numerous range-restricted species, but overall diversity limited. Penguins, seabirds, condors, waterfowl, and a storied array of furnariids.

Our Southern Argentina tour focuses on the Pampas, on two broad areas in Patagonia, and on the fabled region of Tierra del Fuego. We’ll begin with a three-day visit to the Pampas grasslands south of Buenos Aires where we are sure to see large numbers of waterfowl and waders and, on a visit to a large hacienda, we should find some interesting marsh-dwelling species as well. Then we will continue southward to Patagonia, first visiting a scrub-desert that is, in appearance, not unlike the Chihuahuan desert of the American southwest, but the wildlife couldn’t be more different. Here we will be walking among a colony of half-a-million penguins, searching for Burrowing Parrots and strange camel-like animals called guanacos and, odder still, maras, or Patagonian cavies, which seem to recall giant rabbits in mini-skirts. There are many interesting desert birds here, ranging from canasteros to cacholotes, and a few secretive marsh-dwellers as well. In lagoons we could see flamingoes and large concentrations of waterfowl, all of which seem to defy first impressions of this flat and rather monochromatic region of low bushes.

The second area of Patagonia we’ll visit is far to the southwest—a vast, rolling grassland pushed against snowy mountains and some of the most spectacular and scenic terrain to be found anywhere on the continent. Here, amidst high plains grasslands and in nearby southern beech (Nothofagus) forests, the air is cool and the birds are less numerous, but almost everything is different—most of the birds here are found nowhere else but in these southern forests and plains—and there are others such as the Andean Condor, lovely Upland Geese, and the hardy little Rufous-backed Negrito that seem to epitomize this beautiful but stark region.

The last area we visit is Tierra del Fuego. This stark, cold region of beech forest and snowy peaks has only a few birds, but they are almost all endemic to this region. Our trip concludes with an exciting boat trip on the Beagle Channel that promises albatrosses, petrels, and, very likely, two species of penguins.

Easy trip with excellent accommodations and superb food and wine throughout; a few long bus rides but roads good and transportation comfortable; birding on roads or easy trails; no difficult hiking; pace relaxed; no unusually early morning starts; a few moderately late evening meals (it’s Argentina!); four air flights and one boat excursion; temperatures variable but expect some chilly conditions in far south; Patagonian winds variable.