Spot the best wildlife in Patagonia on holiday

by on 9th September, 2016

Spot the best wildlife in Patagonia on holiday

Patagonia is full of terrific wildlife – check our Facebook photo album.

Tom looks at the where and when of the wildlife you may encounter on a wildlife holiday in Patagonia – be it in Chile or Argentina.


He writes:

Patagonia: steppes, fjords, mountains, forests, lakes, glaciers and sea.

It’s no wonder this enormous and varied expanse contains such wildlife variety; the soaring condor and a scampering fox, a breaching back of a whale and the barking of sea lions.


Peninsula Valdes, Argentina

There’s something year-round in Peninsula Valdes, home to sea lion colonies, penguins and some of the best whale watching anywhere.

From September to April, Magellanic penguins make the nearby Punta Tombo their home.

March and April is a good time to view the Orcas, and lucky guests may see these killer whales rushing onto the shelved and gravel beaches trying to snatch a young sea lion pup.

June to December is when Southern Right whales come to mate and birth. Boats head out to spot whales and calves, and you can often see whales leaping from the water.



El Pedral, orcas at beach, Peninsula Valdes, Argentina


Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Treekers and wildlife enthusiasts head here to trek the Paine W or the Paine Circuit, and most do so in the prime summer months of November to April.

Visitors will be able to see rhea, guanaco and maybe even huemul deer in this time, plus plenty of birdlife.

Those that venture to Patagonia in winter, however, give themselves a much better chance of seeing the elusive puma. These great cats come further down into the park from the mountains to hunt guanaco, their main food source as weather changes and the number of visitors drops. A great time for puma spotting.


Huemul in Torres del paine Patagonia Chile

Huemul in Torres del Paine, Chile


Punta Arenas and cruises, Chile

Punta Arenas is close to two penguin colonies, both of which can be visited on day tours, Magdalena Island and Seno Otway.

There are a myriad of fjords close to Punta Arenas, and from here there are cruises that take you to wildlife havens.

Here you may find leopard seals, southern elephant seals and from December-May, some humpback whales cruise the fjords, too.


El Chalten and Fitzroy National Park

One of Argentina’s best trekking areas is also home to fantastic wildlife, including red and grey foxes, huemul deer, armadillos, rhea and guanaco.

It’s also famed for its very varied birdlife. Everyone will be able to spot the soaring condor, but those with time and patience and an interest in birds can see a wide range of species.

Snipes, pipits, black-faced ibis, caracara, austral parakeets, black-chested buzzard-eagles, a variety of southern geese and Magellanic woodpeckers may be seen.


Ushuaia – Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

A boat trip on the Beagle Channel is Ushuaia’s most popular day tour, with the promise of penguins – Magellanic penguins year-round – fur seals and sea lion colonies. Many trips also have a chance to see petrels and brown browed albatross, flightless steamer ducks, masses of royal cormorants and several types of Patagonian geese

The red fox also lives in the area, as do condors, austral parakeets and Magellanic woodpeckers.

Ushuaia is also the start and finish point for many Antarctic cruises, one of the top wildlife experiences in the world.


Punta Tombo, Chubut, Argentina

Some 170km (2-3 hours) from Puerto Madryn and Peninsula Valdes, Punta Tombo is the place to see hundreds of thousands of Magellanic penguins in one place.

There are walkways that take you through the thousands of burrows that the penguins have made and have come to breed in. The animals will not take much notice of you as they go about their daily lives. Some are waddling around and others surf the waves.

Others cradle eggs (Oct) or new born chicks (Nov onwards), and around February the youngesters will make their first forays into the sea, at the same time starting to lose their youthful plumage.

Mating season is September-October.

You may also see Rheas, guanacos, the Patagonian hare and other wildlife en route.


Australis Magdalena Island Patagonia Chile

Magdalena Island, Patagonia, Chile


Other animals to sniff out in Patagonia:



The smell of burned coffee next to a road or path means the Chingüe – known in English as the Humboldt’s hog-nosed skunk – has been about, spraying to defend itself.



A small armadillo that lives in arid areas and the grasslands of Patagonia. Mainly nocturnal, but can  is be seen in the day.


Geoffroy’s cat

About the size of the domestic cat, you may Geoffroy’s cat in a tree or stood on its hind legs, looking around in meerkat fashion.


Patagonia Mara

Sort of giant hare, or kangaroo – it’s actually a rodent and it thrives in heavy shrub areas.


Contact us for more information about Patagonia.


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