Coke Smith Photography & Travelogue

Patagonia: The Best of Southern Chile & Argentina

 A Rock Shag and Southern Sea Lion Colony situated in Argentina's Beagle Channel.


In 1996 and 1997, I had the pleasure of visiting Chilean and Argentinean Patagonia and other regions to develope the below itineraries for La Selva Expeditions.

While these were primarily working trips, I was fortunate to see first hand some of South America's most spectacular sights and wildlife species!


Click the links below to see more images from the Galapagos and South & Central America

Animals of South & Central America

Birds of South & Central America

South & Central American People & Places



Amazing Torres del Paine National Park in Chile's Patagonia.



DAY 1: SANTIAGO: After reception at the airport, the group is transferred to the hotel. Dinner and overnight.

DAY 2: SANTIAGO - PUERTO MONTT - PETROHUE: After breakfast, we are transferred to the airport to take flight to Puerto Montt. Upon arrival, there will be a short city tour, seafood lunch in Angelmó and subsequent transfer to Petrohue where we visit Puerto Varas and the spectacular Petrohue Falls. (BLD)

DAY 3: PETROHUE - PUERTO MONTT - CASTRO: After breakfast we depart for Pargua where we take the ferry to Chiloe Island. During the crossing we can usually see sea lions and dolphins playing with the boat. There are also dozens of species of sea birds to observe. Upon arrival to Chiloe Island, we begin our exploration of this phenomenal place. Chiloe Island is a spectacular place with an incredible wealth of biodiversity and beautiful landscapes. After arrival in Castro, the "palafitos" city (houses on beams), the group transfers to the hotel. Lunch included. (BLD)

DAY 4: CASTRO - PUERTO MONTT: After breakfast we visit the fish market and Curaco de Velez. We then begin our scenic drive back to Puerto Montt and transfer to the hotel. Lunch included. (BLD)

DAY 5: PUERTO MONTT - PUNTA ARENAS - PUERTO NATALES: After breakfast the group transfers to the airport for our flight to Punta Arenas, where the group is received and transferred to Puerto Natales. The remainder of the day is free for exploration. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel. (BLD)

DAY 6: PUERTO NATALES - TORRES DEL PAINE: After breakfast our expedition continues to the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park. On the way we visit the Milodon cave, where remains of prehistoric animals have been found. We enter the park and view the guanacos grazing the lush green hillsides. The group's next excursion is to the Salto Chico and Salto Grande Falls. Transfer to the hotel. (BLD)

DAY 7: TORRES DEL PAIN (LAKE GREY): After breakfast the group experiences a full day excursion to the Rio Serrano and Grey Lake sectors of the national park. The trip participants may possibly observe the huge ice blocks calving from the glacier, which is truly a breathtaking experience. The group then visits the administrative center of the park and then an excursion in the Rio Paine sector. We visit Azul Lake from where we have a sweeping view of the incredible Paine towers. We then we go to Amarga Lake, Salto Paine of the Paine towers, and to Amarga Lagoon, Salto Paine waterfalls as well as other beautiful areas. Lunch included. Back to the hotel. (BLD)

DAY 8: TORRES DEL PAINE - PUNTA ARENAS: After breakfast we drive back to Punta Arenas visiting the Otway Penguin Reserve where the group investigates a large rookery of Megellanic penguins. Lunch included upon arrival at the hotel in Punta Arenas. (BLD)

DAY 9: PUNTA ARENAS- SANTIAGO: After breakfast the group is transferred to the airport for our flight to Santiago. Upon arrival we are transferred to the hotel. (BLD)

A resting Guanaco in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.


DAY 10: SANTIAGO - CALAMA - SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA: After our early morning flight, the group is met at Calama airport, followed by a drive to the village of San Pedro de Atacama, in northern Chile's famous Atacama desert, one of the world's driest places. Once the group arrives in San Pedro, we visit the museum and proceed on an excursion to the Moon Valley for an unforgettable sunset. (BLD)

DAY 11: SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA: After breakfast, the group treks the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Valley). Our excursion to the Salar de Atacama takes to where we can see at least one species pink flamingo. The group then visits Toconao village and the spectacular Jeri fertile canyon. The next excursion is to Lake Miniques for another unforgettable sunset. Next the group returns to San Pedro and transfers to the hotel. (BLD)

DAY 12: SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA - TATIO GEYSERS - CALAMA: The group rises early today in order to make it to the Tatio Geysers where we have breakfast in this phenomenal setting. Photographing the geysers is followed by a dip in natural swimming hole. Then the group travels down to Calama city, visiting the Caspana, Chiu-Chiu and Lasana villages on the way. After arriving in Calama, we transfer to the hotel. (BLD)

DAY 13: CALAMA - CHUQUICAMATA - ANTOFAGASTA: After breakfast the group visits the Chuquicamata copper mine (if possible) which is the largest of its kind in the world. We then drive to Antofagasta visiting old sodium nitrate mines to learn more of the rich geological heritage of this region. After our geology tour, we venture to the harbor city of Antofagasta, capital of the second region. (BLD).

DAY 14: ANTOFAGASTA - ARICA - PUTRE: After breakfast the group experiences a short tour of the city and the natural monument of La Portada, a sandstone arch sculpted by the sea before flying to Arica where we are transferred ultimately to Putre. After leaving Arica, the group visits the Lluta valley and the archaeological sites of Copaquilla and Zapahuira. (BLD)

DAY 15: PUTRE - SALAR DE SURIRE - PUTRE: After breakfast we begin our excursion to the Salar de Surire. Surire means ostrich in the local Aymara language. In this area it is possible to see many ñandues (Andes ostrich or lesser rhea) and other kinds of animals like llamas, vicuñas, pink flamingos, and even condors. We have a soothing bath in the Surire hot springs situated in the fantastic Adean landscape. Back to Putre and transfer to the hotel. (BLD)

DAY 16: PUTRE - CHUNGARA LAKE -ARICA: After breakfast we start our full day excursion to Chungara Lake, the highest in the world (4500m), located at the base of Parinacota volcano (6342m), one of the most beautiful mountains in Chile. We then cross Lauca National Park and visit Parinacota village and Cotacotani lake, and then drive back to Arica on the Pacific coast where we arrive at our hotel. (BLD)

DAY 17: ARICA - SANTIAGO: After breakfast we have a short visit to Arica and drive to the valley of Azapa, where we can observe dozens of ancient geoglyphs. The group then transfers to the airport for our flight back to Santiago. Upon arrival we transfer to the hotel. (BLD)

DAY 18: SANTIAGO-END OF TOUR: Breakfast. Transfer to the airport.



Argentina's Patagonia region north of Ushuaia.



DAY 1: BUENOS AIRES: After arrival in Buenos Aires the group is transferred to the hotel.

DAY 2: PUERTO DESEADO: The group is transferred to the domestic airport for our flight to Comodoro Rivadavia. Once we arrive we are transferred to Puerto Deseado. After a short rest, we embark aboard our boat Chaffers Island to see the Magellanic penguin colony as well as many other sea birds and animals in the region. Deseado is truly an undiscovered area which contains a wealth of wildlife. Transfer to hotel. BLD

DAY 3: PUERTO DESEADO: We begin our boat trip on the Deseado River for wildlife observation exploring the homes of such animals as sea lions, cormorants, dolphins, Magellanic penguins, and many other species. We then transfer to our hotel. BLD

DAY 4: USHUAIA: The group wakes early for our AM flight to Ushuaia, one of the southernmost cities in the world. Ushuaia is situated in the spectacular Patagonian Andes on the Beagle Channel. We then transfer to the hotel for relaxation. There will be a PM excursion to Tierra del Fuego National Park, with walks along the Lapataia Bay where it may be possible to see many bird species as well as several mammals including Fuegian fox, beaver, wild hare and guanaco. BLD

DAY 5: BEAGLE CHANNEL: Today we have a full day boat excursion on the Beagle Channel, where we visit Cormorants Island and Harberton Estancia as well as seal and sea lion populations. BLD

DAY 6: CALAFATE: We wake early for our flight to Rio Gallegos, where we meet our ground transport that will drive us across the desert to Calafate where we will experience a totally new environment. Lodge at Hotel. BLD

DAY 7: PERITO MORENO GLACIER: Today we have a full day excursion to Perito Moreno Glacier where we actually trek on the glacier to gain a better perspective of the true immensity of the formation. BLD

DAY 8: LAGO ARGENTINO/ UPSALA & ONELLI GLACIERS: Today we have another full day excursion aboard boat to the Lago Argentino region and eventually to the spectacular Upsala & Onelli Glaciers. BLD

DAY 9: TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK, CHILE: Today we cross the Chilean border and head up to Torres del Paine Nat. Park, which is arguably one of the most striking places on earth with its massive batholithic formations. Lodge at Hotel. BLD

DAY 10: TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK: Today we have another full day excursion in the park visiting Salto Grande, Grey Lake and unbelievable Horns. The wildlife is surprisingly prolific in the park, and birdwatchers will have much to keep them busy! BLD

DAY 11: TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK: Today we have an AM excursion in the park followed by a PM drive through spectacular countryside to Puerto Natales. Lodge at Hotel. BLD

DAY 12: PUERTO MONTT: In the early morning, we embark on our AM Drive to Punta Arenas for our flight to Puerto Montt. The afternoon is free. Lodge at Hotel. BD

DAY 13: LAKE DISTRICT: We wake early for our AM crossing of the lakes to Peulla. This is a spectacular cruise through some of Chile & Argentina's most scenic countryside. We overnight at a hotel situated between the lakes. BD

DAY 14: BARILOCHE: Today we continue crossing the beautiful Lake District to the Argentinean town of Bariloche. Lodge at Hotel. BD

DAY 15: BARILOCHE: Today we have a half-day excursion to the beautiful Nahuel Huapi Lake. Afterward we catch our PM flight to Buenos Aires Lodge at Hotel. BD

DAY 16: IBERA MARSHLANDS: Today we have an early morning flight to Posadas, in northern Argentina. From there we drive to an estancia (ranch) on the Ibera marshlands, which is noted for its incredible diversity of birdlife and other forms of wildlife. This area has often been compared to Brazil's great Pantanal. Overnight. BLD

DAY 17/18: IBERA MARSHLANDS: We have two full days exploring the swamps by canoes and horseback. BLD

DAY 19: IQUAZU FALLS: Today we drive to Iguazu where we transfer to our hotel. After a brief rest, we will begin our excursion to view the falls from the Argentinean side. BLD

DAY 20: IQUAZU FALLS: Today we have an AM excursion to the Brazilian side. In the afternoon we transfer to the airport for flight back to Buenos Aires for our connections with international flight back to USA. B


Here are some images of my expediton to Patagonia!



Some nesting Rock Shags living on some rock islands in the middle of the Beagle Channel in Argentina.





Playful Magellanic Penguins in the Beagle Channel.



A couple curious Magellanic Penguins coming to take closer look at us.  We actually saw some Gentoo Penguins nesting with this species.  Somewhat of an anomaly so I am told.



A nice rookery of Magellanic Penguins in Chile.



A South American Sea Lion lounging on the rocks in the Beagle Channel of Argentina.





A large Southern Fur Seal bull guarding his herom along some rocks in the Beagle Channel.  He doesn't seem to mind the Rock Shags in his zone.




South American Sea Lions in the Beagle Channel.



I finally made it to Cape Horn, the southern most point of the Americas!  Now I have seen it at least five times...




The Andes of Patagonia.  These are most likely on the Chilean side of the range.



The surreal scene of high desert with the high Andes in the background.  This region is along the route toward the infamous Atacama Desert in northern Chile.



It was somewhere around here that the soccer team's plane crashed and they had to resort to cannabilism.  In fact, the flight I was on from Buenos Aires to Santiago was the same flight that crashed back in the 70's!



A winter sky trip in to the Chilean Andes near Bariloche.



Dolphin and Kelp Gulls hanging out on some rocks in the Beagle Channel.



Snowy Sheath Bills are a common visitor in the Beagle Channel.  Their nests are found all the way south in Antarctica!



Ushuaia as seen from its harbor.

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