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Chile Birding Questions (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
I'm looking at options for a trip this year, and Chile has come up as one option I like the sound of a couple of reasons, but I had a few questions if anyone might be able to help.

I think realistically this will end up being done on the cheap in the vicinity of Santiago - I don't think I really have the budget to be doing a full on tour if it happens, much as I would like to.

So I think being a bit of a birding peasant, I'd probably structure my targets around what are more showy species rather than strictly endemics, but try to find any endemics in that happen to line up with that and go for them. But while keeping within roughly maybe guided day trips or one night unguided excursions in any direction, how plausible would a core list of roughly:

- Rhea
- Any penguins
- Andean Condor
- Black Skimmer
- A selection of Hummingbirds

There's a big bunch of stuff I'd love to see beyond those, but I feel like those are the headliners I'd be most disappointed not to see. A pelagic would be awesome too, but probably out of my price range given any other travel.

But also, what time of year would be best? Specifically I believe the Skimmer and Penguins are some degree of migratory?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Jos Stratford

Beast from the East
If you rent a car, many superb areas in the general Santiago area that can be done independently and at reasonable budget.

First section of my trip report HERE details a circuit starting and finishing in Santiago which might give you a few ideas, including the condor, skimmer, hummingbirds and penguins that you were asking about.

Feel free to ask questions if anything in the report interests you.


Well-known member
Thanks for the response - looks like you had an amazing trip there!

Unfortunately, most of my questions are about boring logistical things rather than the wildlife itself.

Really the deciding factor for this is money as to whether it happens - I don't quite know my final budget yet as it depends on a few things, but basically I ended up looking at in the first place as though it is certainly expensive to get to (I was seeing low £500s at minimum) the trade off against other destinations seemed to be far cheaper in terms of vaccinations and visas etc than a lot of the other options I was considering.

But I guess essentially, you state that the hotels and food were expensive, but what are you getting for that money? Could you reasonable stay cheaper than that, or is that pretty much entry level? If car hire is so expensive anyway, might it just be worth going with guides for the added benefit of them knowing exactly where to go and how to get there?

As it very precariously stands, I was thinking of looking at doing a day trip like one of these: http://www.albatross-birding.com/birding-in-santiago (for instance, not exclusively bound to that company by any means) for the more mountainous stuff and then maybe make my way to Cachagua for the penguins/more general coastal bird options for at least a night, and then build the rest of a trip around those as the centre-pieces?


Well-known member
Hi Alex

What did you end up doing in the end? I'm transiting through Santiago early in March 2020 on the way to join a private tour of Colombia organised with another BF member, and was thinking of breaking my journey for a couple of days to pick up some Chilean endemics and other interesting stuff I haven't seen previously in Argentina and won't see in Colombia!

I did the same as you and sought day trip quotes, but the rates seemed very high compared to my (admittedly limited) experiences in other S.Am countries and for the 'basic' hotel I requested they offered somewhere at USD$110 a night! (that's fine, I'm pretty proficient at finding decent hostels to sleep in for a fraction of that :) )

So now it looks like my remaining option is hire a car and have a crack myself



missing the neotropics
Indeed Chile is one of the easiest countries in the Americas to self-drive and bird by yourself. I wouldn't be afraid of planning on a rental car, cheap hotels, google maps, and some locations picked from trip reports and eBird. There is certainly no need to pay anywhere near $110 / night for lodging. It's a lovely, beautiful country and the birding is largely not too difficult.


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