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WINGS Birding Tours – Narrative

Cruise: Around Cape Horn

Buenos Aires, Argentina to Santiago, Chile (or reverse)

2023 Narrative

This was our eighth cruise around the Horn, and once again it was a wonderful trip. On what other trip can you see both giants, Wandering Albatross and Andean Condor? Or spend one day with thousands of seabirds, and the next day go into dense bamboo looking for tapaculos? Let’s start by naming some of the ‘best sightings’ of our tour to give a sense of the diversity encountered: the fantastic colony of colorful King Penguins with their young chicks, the hundreds of Black-browed Albatross seen on every sailing day, the impressive numbers of De Filippi’s Petrel seen on our very last day, the few Snowy Sheathbills foraging between impressive South American Sea Lions, the Black-throated Huet-huet, elusive, even if one gave us a great and close show, the very long tailed DesMur’s Wiretail, and the vocal Chucao Tapaculo. Besides plenty of wonderful birds we also had several groups of dolphins, and no less than six species of whales and three species of dolphins. Definitely a very enjoyable trip — visiting  four countries and navigating on two oceans, sailing to legendary places such Cape Horn and the Magellanic Straight, all without having to change rooms!

The eBird trip report for this trip can be seen here:

EXTENSION TO CEIBAS AND IGUAZU FALLS: We left the hotel early and drove two hours to the small town of Ceibas, in the province of Entre Rios, located east of the famous Parana River, a long river in east-central South America that flows south, east and southwest through Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. It has a length of 2,546 kilometers (4,001 km from the source of the Rio Grande), making it the second longest river in South America after the Amazon. Today we had a warm morning with a little wind and clear skies. Our first stop was very productive, including a family of Little Thornbird, a stunning male Blue-and-yellow Tanager, Tufted Tit-Spinetail, and two Chotoy’s Spinetails were easily seen on top of some bushes. After walking a few minutes, more targets appeared: a pair of White-naped Xenopsaris (a rare austral migrant) remained exposed for several minutes, and a male of White-tipped Plantcutter appeared briefly. With a little work, we also spotted two large ovenbirds, first the Brown Cacholote and later a stunning Scimitar-billed Woodcreeper! In the sky we saw several species including flocks of American Golden Plovers, Brown-breasted and Gray-breasted Swallows, many Crested Caracaras, some White-faced Ibises in their classic V formation, Plumbeous Ibis (a rarity here), as well as many Southern Screamers flying at different heights and easily mistaken for birds of prey. Later, we came across a Pantanal Snipe walking beside the car, a Giant Wood Rail, and the delicate White Monjita. In some open woods we found a Freckle-breasted Thornbird and the unique Lark-like Brushrunner, one of the prettiest ovenbirds. At our last stop, dozens of Southern Screamers were found by a pond, a solitary Collared Plover and two beautiful Roseate Spoonbills. After this successful morning, we had lunch on the way back to our hotel in Buenos Aires.

Our next few days will take place in the far northeast of Argentina, near the city of Puerto Iguazu, one of the most visited areas in the country for the famous Iguazu Falls. Here we will be surrounded by National Parks and large area of Atlantic Forest. We landed mid-morning and settled into our very comfortable hotel. In the afternoon, we headed to a famous hummingbird garden in the city where we spent over an hour admiring the effervescent activity of dozens of Versicolored Emeralds, Black-throated Mangoes, Gilded Hummingbirds, Violet-capped Woodnymphs, Glittering-bellied Emeralds and even a splendid pair of Swallow-tailed Hummingbird. At the end of the day, we visited the Iguazu River coast, where we were able to see some birds of the open and scrubby habitats, such as a cooperative female Barred Antshrike, various species of Tyrant Flycatchers such as Variegated Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Elaenia, Tropical Kingbirds, the small colorful Common Tody-Flycatcher and others, concluding this lovely day..

After an early breakfast, we drove 25 minutes to Highway 101, a dirty road through Iguazu National Park, where the characteristic red soil is rich in nutrients for this ecosystem. The birding began with two small birds, the Yellow Tyrannulet seen a few meters from the car, and the Rufous-crowned Greenlet, followed by a pair of Toco Toucans flying over us and stopped atop a tree… what a beak! Depp in the forest, a male Surucua Trogon was seen well but stayed quiet, while an Eared Pygmy-Tyrant was singing but never offered good views. Other birds here included Creamy-bellied Gnatcatcher, Wing-barred Piprites, Ochre-breasted Foliage-gleaner and the Atlantic subspecies of Olivaceous Woodcreeper. In the late morning, White-spotted Woodpecker, Green-winged Saltator and Sibilant Syriste were seen in the canopy, and few family groups of Guira Tanager, Chestnut-winged Conebill and Blue Dacnis were the last species on this productive route.

After a good lunch at the hotel, we drove to Iguazu National Park where we spent a full afternoon. The national park is an impressive place to visit. We had amazing views of the falls, both from the bottom as well as from above. What a wonderful scenery; wild rivers surrounded by tropical forest with falls plunging 250 feet (75 meters) down with an indescribable roar. We also had some birds during the visit of the falls. On the way to the ‘Devils Throat’ we found a pair of Yellow-chinned Spinetail, Plush-crested Jay and Toco Toucan, some Social Flycatchers visiting Cecropia trees and other common birds including White-winged Swallows, Anhingas and Neotropic Cormorants. When we arrived back at the central station, with pouring rain, our last species on this incredible day was a group of noisy Chopi Blackbirds.

For our third morning we drove to the Urugua-í Reserve, about 1h30 from the hotel. The forest here is fantastic and quiet in comparison with the hustle and bustle of people visiting the waterfalls. As soon as we arrived, we spotted a Black-fronted Piping-Guan, a species highly threatened by hunting and habitat destruction. In just three hours we found lot of new species such as Blond-crested Woodpecker, a pair of stunning Black-throated Trogon, a nice male Chestnut-headed Tanager, Southern Bristle-Tyrant, White-winged Becard and plenty of White-browed Warblers. Later we walked through a large stand of spiny bamboo where we saw Rufous-capped and Gray-bellied Spinetails at close range, a quiet male of Rufous Gnateater, and after some effort a Southern Antpipit was fund walking on the ground between ferns. On the way back to the entrance area, a White-throated Spadebill came straight to us, and we also found a beautiful and rare Red-ruffed Fruitcrow! We had a nice picnic near the stream between lots of colorful species of butterflies and then we decided to drive back to our hotel for some rest. After a good nap we visited a patch of Araucaria, a tree considered as a living fossil since there are records of it from the Mesozoic period about 250 million years ago. There we found the endemic Araucaria Tit-Spinetail and some other birds like Yellow-headed Caracara, Bran-colored Flycatcher, a group of Cobalt-rumped Parakeets, Purple-throated Euphonia, and just to end the day, Ed fund a nice pair of Lineated Woodpeckers.

On our last morning, we looked for Rufous-capped Motmot near the hotel and rapidly found one at close range for a few minutes! It was now time to fly back to Buenos-Aires, to embark the Sapphire Princess for two weeks cruising!

- Julian Quillen Vidoz

MAIN CRUISE AND LANDINGS: After our first night onboard the Sapphire Princess, we visited the Costanera Sur reserve with the help of our local guide, Quillén Vidoz. Unfortunately, the reserve is closed on Mondays, but we could bird the wetland bordering it, finding an amazing variety of waterbirds including two Cocoi Herons, dozens of Silver Teals and Rosy-billed Pochards, a pair of Yellow-billed Teals, no less than five Southern Screamers, a dozen White-tufted Grebes, a beautiful adult Rufescent Tiger-heron capturing a small snake, and several families of Wattled Jacanas. We could study the local coots very well, finding Red-gartered, White-winged and Red-fronted Coots together and very close to the shore. We even found a lovely Spot-flanked Gallinule swimming between the floating vegetation, close to two pairs of the secretive Black-headed Duck (the only parasitic duck in the world!)

In the trees bordering the main avenue we had great views of a pair of Narrow-billed Woodcreepers, the small Checkered Woodpecker and the handsome Green-barred Woodpecker, flocks of Monk and Nanday Parakeets, and the fancy Red-crested and Yellow-billed Cardinals, competing with the lovely Black-and-chestnut Warbling-Finch for the ‘cutest’ bird of the day! We also had great looks at a Wren-like Rushbird foraging on water hyacinth, a reactive pair of Yellow-chinned Spinetails coming to the tape, and a pair of Masked Gnatcatchers.  and Ed even spotted a Sooty Tyrannulet (rarely seen on this tour).

After a successful birding morning, we boarded our ship for lunch, an afternoon rest, and a chance to familiarize ourselves with the huge vessel that would be our home for the next two weeks.

We arrived early in Montevideo (Uruguay) but our ship was slightly delayed by one hour so we used this extra sailing time to do some seabirding from the bow. Arriving into the harbor, we had great views of Kelp Gulls, as well as a few Cayenne and Sandwich Terns. Once at the pier, we disembarked, met our driver and immediately drove towards Colonia Wilson. In the agricultural fields and shrubs, we found Picui Ground-Dove, the lovely White Monjita, a pair of Black-capped Warbling-Finches, large flocks of Saffron Yellow-Finches and Hooded Siskins, and a few Masked Gnatcatchers. At the Kurtz wetlands, actually completely dry after two years drought, we found a pair of Freckle-breasted Thornbirds, a beautiful male Chestnut Seedeater, a female Glittering-bellied Emerald with two Gilded Hummingbirds, a very cooperative Spix’s Spinetail and had a distant view of a Campo Flicker.

We had a succulent picnic lunch close to the shore of the Rio de la Plata Estuary, enjoying views of a pair of Hepatic Tanagers, Red-crested Cardinal and several Rufous Horneros. After lunch we had another great stop just by a small pond, where we found a Giant Wood-Rail, a superb Whistling Heron, and a Greater Yellowlegs together with a White-backed Stilt. A stunning male Long-winged Harrier flew close over the group, carrying  freshly caught prey, when an Aplomado Falcon suddenly appeared from nowhere and mobbed the harrier perhaps trying to get his food! What a sight!

After one more stop to admire a cute Burrowing Owl perched on a telephone post, we headed towards the Playa Penino area. There, we first stopped at a small lake filled with waterbirds, including 150+ Lake Ducks, a dozen or so White-tufted Grebes, nine Roseate Spoonbills, 20+ Hudsonian Godwits, a few Black Skimmers and even a (rare here) White-cheeked Pintail. In the nearby shrubland we had great looks at a pair of Rufous-capped Antshrikes, a nice group of Long-tailed Reed-Finches, a female Ultramarine Grosbeak and a few Blue-and-yellow Tanagers. On the beach itself we found hundreds of Snowy-crowned and Cayenne Terns, together with less numerous Royal and Common Terns, Brown-hooded Gulls and even two Gray-hooded Gulls. At one point a dark morph Parasitic Jaeger flew by and chased a Cayenne Tern. A few shorebirds were also present here, including 20+ Lesser Yellowlegs, 50+ American Golden Plovers and three White-rumped Sandpipers.

Before driving back to the ship, we made a last stop at a small pond where 40 Black-necked Swans were found together with a few Red-fronted Coots and Common Gallinules. Scanning the shore, we had amazing views of two Rufous-sided Crakes walking along the edge of the vegetation edge, often coming out in the open, as well a beautiful male Spectacled Tyrant. A pair of Plumbeous Rails also came to the tape, running towards us! A fantastic way to end a wonderful day in Uruguay!

We had a brilliant first sailing day, traveling from Montevideo to Puerto Madryn (Argentina), spending the day seawatching from the exterior decks! All day long, we continuously saw Yellow-nosed and Black-browed Albatrosses, Great and Manx Shearwaters, as well as good numbers of White-chinned Petrels, our first Magellanic Penguins and a few Long-tailed Jaegers. At one moment, we even had a massive group of 4,000+ Greater Shearwaters and 1,000+ Manx Shearwaters, frenetically feeding together with a few dozen albatrosses. In addition to these great seabirds, we also had a large group of 200+ Short-beaked Common Dolphins, and at the end of the day another pod of 300+ Dusky Dolphins. What a wonderful introduction to our forthcoming seabirding days!

After arrival at Puerto Madryn, and meeting up with our driver and our local guide Mabel, we headed towards the Valdez Peninsula, stopping at a lagoon surrounded by Patagonian steppe. There, we found many Red Shovelers and had excellent views of Chilean Flamingoes, while two Hudsonian Godwits and a Greater Yellowlegs were resting on the shore. A group of 12 Least Seedsnipes suddenly appeared in flight and landed close. In the shrublands, we had fantastic views of two Tufted Tit-Tyrants, a Plain-mantled (Patagonian) Tit-Spinetail, numerous Mourning Sierra-Finches, no less numerous Patagonian Mockingbirds and even found a responsive pair of White-throated Cacholotes. Apart from the birds, we had brief sighting of two Lesser Grison, and also caught a young Mousehole Snake.

After this productive first stop, we headed towards Puerto Piramides, making a few stops on the way to enjoy close looks at Lesser Rheas and herds of Guanacos. Our main birding spot was a South American Sea Lion colony, where we had good looks at 20+ Dolphin Gulls, Imperial and Rock Cormorants, a few Cayenne (Sandwich) Tern and our first Blackish Cinclodes and Southern Giant Petrel. At that time of the year, the Sea Lion pups are doing their first swim and we enjoyed seeing the young seals swimming together with their mothers. Amongst the seals we also spotted six Snowy Sheathbills, a very unique species that we all got to see well!

We then headed to ‘Isla de los Pajaros’ or ‘Birds Island’ where we enjoyed fantastic views of 250+ Magellanic Penguins, a pair of Flying Steamer-Ducks, Crested Ducks and Great Grebes, a flock of White-rumped Sandpipers mixed with Baird’s Sandpipers and Two-banded Plovers, and even an elusive Sharp-billed Canastero. We could also study the three species of Oystercatcher (American, Magellanic and Blackish) almost side-by-side.

It was now time to drive back to the ship, with a last stop on our way back to admire the well named Elegant Crested Tinamou. On the pier, we also had very close views of a group of resting South American Terns. After a beautiful day at the Valdez Peninsula, we departed towards the Falklands Islands.

We started our sailing day towards the Falklands Islands with a few Black-browed Albatross and Great Shearwaters, and with numerous small groups of Peale’s Dolphins jumping out of the water. The most numerous bird species of the day was the Soft-plumaged Petrel, with increasing numbers during the day and reaching a total of several hundreds. We also spotted a few Gray-backed Storm-Petrels, Brown Skuas and Long-tailed Jaeger. At the very end of the day, a White-capped Albatross and an Atlantic Petrel flew by, rewarding those who stayed outside most of the day! It was also an excellent day for mammal watching, with 20+ Southern Right Whales, a great view of Sei Whales, and 100+ Peale’s Dolphins.

We had a beautiful day in the Falklands Islands! We arrived in Stanley with nice weather and after the short tender ride, we met the two jeep drivers who took us to Volunteer Point, where no less than three species of penguins are breeding.  It is a two-and-a-half hour ride, half of it off-road, to reach Volunteer Point, but our drivers were charming characters and their stories about their life on the islands, sheep farming, or the war made the trip much shorter.

At Volunteer Point we enjoyed very close views of the three species of penguins (King, Gentoo, and Magellanic) breeding there. The breeding season of the Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins was already finished, and the adults were all molting. But most of the King Penguins were now raising large chicks, while other ones were still incubating eggs. Between the hundreds of penguins, we also saw numerous Upland and Ruddy-headed Geese, 50+ Double-banded Plovers, 100+ White-rumped Sandpipers, and even four of the uncommon White-bridled (Falklands) Finch!

During our drive between Stanley and Volunteer Point, we  made a few stops to watch Rufous-chested Dotterel and Correndera Pipits, and even found a young Peregrine Falcon during one of our restroom breaks. At one of our stakeouts, we had incredible close view of a pair of Falklands (White-tufted) Grebe and a pair of Falklands Steamer-Ducks also came very close to the shore, offering fantastic photo opportunities! After a lovely day in British territory, we arrived back in Stanley early enough to have a short city tour or a beer at one of the local pubs, and to catch one of the last tenders to get back on the Sapphire Princess. Leaving these wonderful islands and charming people, we were followed by thousands of Sooty Shearwaters, a few Sei Whales, and some jumping Peale’s Dolphins.

We had another nice day at sea, sailing between Falklands and Cape Horn (Chile). We began our day with close looks at numerous Black-browed and Southern Royal Albatross, a Gray-headed Albatross flying close to the bow, two Slender-billed Prions, the minuscule Gray-backed Storm-Petrel, a Cape Petrel and our last Greater Shearwaters. Amongst the numerous albatrosses, we also spotted a Northern Royal Albatross and a few Snowy (Wandering) Albatross! Beside these giants we looked for tiny seabirds, and happily found plenty of Fuegian (Wilson’s) Storm-Petrels as well as a few Magellanic Diving-Petrels.

We ended our day sailing by the legendary and scenic Cape Horn Island, and then headed towards Ushuaia (Argentina; the southernmost city in the world) through the ‘Mar del Sur’ channel and spent the night sailing into the Beagle channel, another legendary place.

After disembarking in Ushuaia, we met our local guide Marcelo, and immediately drove toward Tierra del Fuego National Park where we spent the whole morning. We had amazing weather — no wind and beautiful blue sky — to walk in the National Park and its impressive forests! At our very first stop we had an excellent view of Spectacled Duck and a charismatic Great Grebe. Excited by our imitation of the Austral Pygmy-Owl, we were often surrounded by dozens of Thorn-tailed Rayaditos, Patagonian Sierra-Finches, Austral Thrushes and a few Tufted Tit-Tyrants. At one point we even attracted a Pygmy-Owl, and had prolonged and stunning view of this little predator. This morning we also saw the smart Fire-eyed Diucon and a flock of Austral Parakeets, and even spotted two Andean Condors soaring high in the sky. We had our picnic lunch in the spectacular National Park, and then headed back towards Ushuaia with a stop at the shoreline of the Beagle channel where we found 25+ Rufous-chested Dotterels, a few Flying Steamer-Ducks together with a Flightless Steamer-Duck, our first Black-faced Ibises, a group of Kelp Geese, several Crested Ducks and Chiloé Wigeon, and spectacular Dolphin Gull close-ups. It was now time to end our day with a visit to a well-known local birding spot: the scenic Ushuaia garbage dump! That’s where we observed 25+ White-throated Caracaras, and their commoner relatives the Chimango and Southern Caracaras, as well as at least a dozen of Black-chested Buzzard-eagles!

Back on board, we departed during mid-afternoon and sailed in the scenic Beagle channel. This was one of the most scenic navigations of the cruise, with impressive landscapes on both sides of the channel, hanging glaciers here and there, Black-browed Albatrosses following the ship at close distance, and Humpback Whales all along!

Because of strong wind and too much swell, we couldn’t land in Punta Arenas. The ship stayed anchored in front of the Chilean city all morning, with the hope that the weather conditions would improve, but at one point the Captain made the decision to cancel the landing.

After lunch, we started to navigate in the Strait of Magellan, where the magnificent landscapes follow one after the other, and for the rest of the day we would be encircled by mountains whose slopes are forested with impenetrable forests, and the sharp peaks covered with snow. Hundreds of Black-browed Albatross would accompany us, along with Chilean Skuas, Imperial Cormorants and Humpback Whales.

We started our day in open sea, surrounded by a few Black-browed Albatrosses and Sooty Shearwaters, and soon the ship entered the majestic scenery of the Chilean channels. What an experience to travel through these most inaccessible islands, covered by stunted forests, and creating an incredible labyrinth. Sailing into these protected waters can also be good for birding, and we saw a handful of Magellanic Diving-petrels and Chilean Skuas.  In the afternoon the ship stopped in front of the impressive Amalia Glacier for a spectacular view of the glacier and the surrounding area.

Our second day at sea toward Puerto-Montt (Chile) was a great seabirding day and the best ‘albatross day’ of the cruise with no less than six distinct species. The Black-browed obviously outnumbered the other ones, but we also had five Northern and ten Southern Royal, 50+ Salvin’s, 30 Antipodean (Wandering) and five Snowy (Wandering) Albatrosses. Expected here, we also found our first Stejneger’s Petrel and great numbers of White-chinned Petrels. Arriving at the end of the day near the Guaitecas archipelago and Guafo Island, where one of the world’s largest Sooty Shearwater colonies is located, we found thousands and thousands of these. At the very end of the day, we also saw a few huge Blue Whales, almost together with the minute Fuegian Storm-Petrels.

For our last landing we had a day near Puerto Montt, spending all morning in the splendid Nothofagus forest of the Alerce Andino National Park. Lots of trees such as Ulmo (Eucryphia cordifolia) and Arrayan (Luma apiculata) were blooming white, while the numerous Green-backed Firecrowns were mostly attracted by the red and purple flowers of the Fuchsia magellanica. In the forest, the explosive voice of Chucao Tapaculo accompanied us all morning, and we had some nice views of that beautiful bird. We also enjoyed an unforgettable encounter with a Black-throated Huet-huet, coming very close to us and offering a great photo opportunity. While whistling the song of Austral Pygmy-owl, we attracted a few Chilean (White-crested) Elaenia, Thorn-tailed Rayadito and Patagonian Sierra-finch. Another bird seen very well was the unique Des Mur’s Wiretail: a tiny little brown bird, followed by an excessively long tail. Usually staying deep in the dense vegetation, two of them decided to entertain us by coming out in the open at the edge of some chusquea bamboo.

After a productive morning it was time for lunch, and Arturo and Jonathan, our local drivers/guides, prepared a superb picnic. Among the various food and drink was even included some Chilean wine. During our travel between Puerto Montt and Alerce Andino, we made a few stops on the way, finding Peruvian Pelican, numerous groups of Black-faced Ibis, an Austral (Ringed) Kingfisher and an impressive flock of 1000+ Hudsonian Godwits! Leaving Puerto-Montt in the evening, we saw a few coastal birds such as Imperial Cormorant, Franklin’s Gull, as well as 30+ Parasitic Jaegers, finishing the day with a distant view of Pincoya Storm-Petrel.

We finished our cruise between Buenos-Aires and San Antonio (Chile) with another amazing seabirding day. We had no less than 500+ Salvin’s, 500+ Black-browed and 100+ Northern Royal Albatrosses. Sailing close to Mocha Island, where most of the world population of Pink-footed Shearwater breeds, we saw hundreds of these long migrant seabirds. At one point, Ed even spotted a rare Chatham Albatross that we saw very well passing the bow not far from the ship. We also had hundreds of White-chinned Petrels and thousands of Fuegian Storm. Now, the best memories of that day are probably the increasing numbers of Masatierra/De Filippi’s Petrel seen during the day. Seeing the first ones around mid-day, we counted 200+ before 5 PM and the numbers exploded at the end of the day, finding at one point 120+ in just one scan of the horizon, and finding several flocks of 20-30 birds seated on the water. We estimated 850-1,200 birds seen during the last hour of the day, and perhaps up to 2,000 birds for the day! Considering the actual estimated population is around 20,000 birds, we not only saw a huge portion of the world population but can also question the accuracy of the estimation of the world population. Besides these wonderful bird sightings, we also found three Sperm Whales and around 20 Fin Whales! It was now time to end our fabulous cruise around Cape Horn with a great farewell dinner, just before arriving at San Antonio.

- Fabrice Schmitt


SANTIAGO EXTENSION: After disembarking at the San Antonio’s harbor, the whole group did the three-day Santiago extension. We started along the coast, with our first stop at the Río Maipo Wetland Nature Sanctuary, one of the most important in Central Chile where many resident and migratory birds are found. Among the dense thickets we encountered our first Chilean endemic, a cooperative Dusky Tapaculo seen well by all! We also found some large concentrations of migratory birds such as Franklin’s Gulls, several species of shorebirds, and Black Skimmers. In the reeds we searched successfully for Many-colored Rush-Tyrant, definitely the most colorful bird of the day. We had lunch on the terrace of a coastal restaurant right by the sea, from which we found our second Chilean endemic of the day: Seaside Cinclodes. After lunch we visited a small Humboldt Penguin colony, finding 15 of them, along with hundreds of Peruvian Booby, Peruvian Pelican, and Guanay Cormorant among other seabirds. Some of us even got a brief glimpse of a Marine Otter.

On our second day in Central Chile, we left the hotel very early so we could be in the upper part of the Yeso River Valley at dawn. During the ascent we made a few stops to scan the river and found a striking male Torrent Duck standing on a rock in the middle of the river. In a shrubby area, we found several male White-sided Hillstars feeding on mistletoe flowers. On our way up, some high elevation specialists such as Greater Yellow-Finch and Gray-breasted Seedsnipe became more and more common. At the upper part of the Yeso Valley, the mountainous landscape became very impressive with imposing colorful mountains and hanging glaciers. After a few kilometers on a narrow road we finally reached the Termas del Plomo area, where we found three Diademed Sandpiper-Plovers, two adults and one juvenile. Here we had our picnic lunch surrounded by impressive landscape, and then started our return towards Santiago.

On our last day we visited the Farellones route, a mountainous and scenic road that reaches the High Andes and along which are found many endemic and high-altitude species. Before starting the ascent to high elevation, we first visited a secondary valley looking for White-throated Tapaculo, finding one atop a large rock, as well as a larger relative but no less endemic, the Moustached Turca. Continuing along, we found a Dusky-tailed Canastero in some bushes, and at the Farellones ski resort we discovered a Lesser Horned Owl on his day roost. We had lunch in a small mountain hotel, enjoying our meal and a beautiful landscape. We continued ascending this route until we reached 9,800 feet. Upon our arrival we had an incredible spectacle of 20 condors flying just over our heads. And before starting our way back, we experienced a 5.6 Richter Scale earthquake of about 3 seconds duration! After this full and memorable Chile experience, it was now time to make our way back down towards the airport for international departure.

- Fernando Diaz



Created: 21 April 2023