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Inala Chile South America Tour - 15th - 30th November 2019
Inala’s expedition to Chile, in the Southern cone of South America …come and join the quest to find Gondwanan connections and evidence of the Theory of Continental Drift.
Introduction: South America is one of the last parts of the supercontinent Gondwanaland to break away from the Antarctic plate around 65 million years ago; Australia was the last (separating from the Antarctic plate around 45 million years ago). Consequently, the Australian fauna and flora is quite closely related to that of South America. This 14-day itinerary focuses on the central part of Chile and showcases these Gondwanan connections with particular reference to Tasmania and the southern cone of South America.
CENTRAL CHILE: This part of Chile has been classified as a having a Mediterranean Climate, with rainy, cold winters and very hot and dry late spring/summers. The Mediterranean region of Chile has high rates of biodiversity and endemism and as a result has been classified as one of the 25 Hot Spots in the world with priority for its conservation.
Day 0. Friday 15 November 2019. Arrival at Santiago.
We will arrive at Santiago, the capital of Chile, where we will be transferred to our hotel. During the afternoon, our local South American guide will meet us to discuss and answer questions regarding the itinerary before beginning this fantastic trip. This will be followed by a brief introduction about the biogeographical context of Chile’s wilderness over a ‘Pisco sour’ (traditional Chilean cocktail).
Accommodation: Santiago. Meals included: D.
Day 1. Saturday 16 November 2019. La Campana National Park.
This park is located in the Coastal Range in the Valparaiso Region about 1.5 hours’ drive from Santiago. Because of its high rates of biodiversity and endemism it was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO (WNBR The World Network of Biosphere Reserves). Because of its protection, La Campana has a very representative sample of the flora and fauna native to central Chile. One of the most attractive floral highlights in the park is the presence of the endemic and long-lived Chilean Palm (Jubaea chilensis). This extraordinary plant, with amazing adaptations is also famous because it can reach more than 1000 years old. In the park, it will also be possible to observe the three main native vegetation types that occur in the central zone of the country; Matorral (a mix of short and spiny scrubs, bushes and cacti), Sclerophyllous forest (formed by different species of hard-leafed trees) and Savanah (large extensions of plains covered by Acacia). The British naturalist Charles Darwin in 1834, explored this valley, one of the important expeditions while traveling in Chile. Gondwanan flora we should see here include Drymis winteri (a sacred tree for Indigenous people), Alstroemeria ligtu, A. pulchra (which should be flowering at the time of our visit) and Crinodendron patagua. Endemic bird specialties here include Moustached Turca, White-throated Tapaculo, Chilean Tinamou, Dusky- tailed Canastero and Dusky Tapaculo. Other interesting central Chilean birds we should see here include Chilean Pigeon, Striped Woodpecker, Chilean Flicker, Austral Pygmy-owl, Giant Hummingbird, Plain-mantled Tit-spinetail, Tufted Tit-tyrant, White-crested Elaenia, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter and Common Diuca-finch. In this beautiful area, it also possible to observe some mammals including two native species of fox and diurnal endemic rodents (Family Octodontidae). The variety of reptile species is also amazing, one of the most impressive being the endemic Chilean Iguana or Liguana (Callopistes maculatus).
Accommodation: Santiago. Meals included: BLD.
Day 2. Sunday 17 November 2019. Highlands above Santiago.
We will start early this morning to travel to Farellones, east of Santiago and in the heart of the Andes Range. This mountain town is an important sky centre close to the capital. During spring and summer it is an excellent location to see native high-altitude flora and fauna. While driving along the road to Farellones we will look for high altitude specialists like Greater Yellow finch, Rufous-Banded, Creamy-Rumped Miners and White-Sided Hillstar among other special Andean birds. Massive Andean Condors should be above and sometimes below us. We are also hoping to see Variable Hawk, Black-Chested Buzzard Eagle and Mountain Caracara. We will also be birding in lower altitudes, looking for 5 endemics: Chilean Tinamou, Moustached Turca, White-Throated and Dusky Tapaculos, Crag Chilia and Dusky-Tailed Canastero. We are also likely to spot some native rodents during this trip. This will be a great birding day with fantastic views of the scenery and spectacular landscapes. In the afternoon we will return to hotel.
Accommodation: Santiago. Meals included: BLD.
Day 3. Monday 18 November 2019. Santiago to Vilches and Colbún Lake.
We will depart from Santiago in the morning and drive towards to the south to Talca, and then continue our trip to Colbún Lake. We are still in the Mediterranean Region and our main targets will be the large, spectacularly colourful and very noisy Burrowing Parakeet and beautiful Spectacled Duck. Hopefully we will also find a good number of other interesting ducks and grebe species and an opportunity to see Spectacled Tyrant and Andean Gull. We will then make a short trip to the north to spend the afternoon in a quiet and comfortable forest lodge in Vilches. At dusk, we will look for the hard to see Rufous-Legged Owl.
Accommodation: Vilches. Meals included: BLD.
Day 4. Tuesday 19 November 2019. Day trip to Altos de Lircay National Park.
Located in the southern border of the Mediterranean Region, this park is in the ecotone (transition area between two biomes) between the Temperate Rain Forest and the Mediterranean Region of Chile. Usually an ecotone appears on the ground as a gradual blending of the two communities or ecosystems, so in this area we can see a transition of species of Nothofagus forest. While walking along trails participants will be amazed with the spectacular mature Nothofagus trees as well as ferns, mosses and forest bird species that are unique to the southern cone of South America. On this northern border of the Temperate Rainforest plant species with Gondwanan connections gradually appear such as Lomatia hirsuta and Embothrium coccineum (both family Proteaceae), Austrocedrus chilensis (a southern Cypress) and Laurelia sempervirens (which is related to our Sassafras). We should also find a range of birds including Chile's least known Tapaculos and Chestnut-Throated Huet-Huet. Nothofagus forest specialties such as Austral Parakeet (the world's most southerly parrot species), Chucao Tapaculo with its explosive voice, Magellanic Tapaculo and the colourful Patagonian Sierra-Finch. This will also be our first opportunity to see the truly spectacular Magellanic Woodpecker, and there also is a chance to spot rare and difficult to find Chilean and White-Throated Hawks. After a long day return to Vilches.
Accommodation: Vilches. Meals included: BLD.
This part of Chile has a Temperate Rain Forest biome. Temperate rainforests occur in Temperate Climates, all of them with vast amounts of rainfall, but feature a cooler average temperature compared to tropical rainforests. Southern Chile has a Temperate Oceanic Climate, which essentially, does not experience extremely cold or extremely hot temperatures and have two different marked seasons; winter, which is quite long and very rainy, and the summer, which is short, dry and foggy.
Day 5. Wednesday 20 November 2019. Vilches to Laja River Waterfalls to Angol.
After breakfast, we will leave Vilches to heading south to Angol. We will stop en route at scenically beautiful Laja Waterfalls where we will have lunch. These beautiful and huge waterfalls are formed by the Laja river and the spray generated by the water are often tinged by a huge rainbow that crosses above it from side to side. The waterfalls are actually comprised of four spectacular falls of between 40 and 55 meters (130 and 180 ft.) in height. We will then continue to the city of Angol. Accommodation: Angol. Meals included: BLD.
Day 6. Thursday 21 November 2019. Day trip to Nahuelbuta National Park.
Nahuelbuta National Park is one of the few parks located in La Araucanía Region of Chile's Coastal Mountain Range. It sits atop the highest part of the Cordillera de Nahuelbuta. Created in 1939, it consists of 6,832 hectares of land situated just 162 km northeast of Temuco. Nahuelbuta (indigenous word for "big tiger") is a sanctuary for Araucaria trees (Araucaria araucana), with specimens dating back 2,000 years. Many Temperate Rain Forest species are possible to observe here including two Gondwanan relics Saxegothaea conspicua and Gunnera tinctoria. The park also provides habitat for Puma (Mountain lion), the beautiful small Chilean deer Pudú and Darwin's fox. Bird species found here include Magellanic Woodpecker, the Magellanic and Chucao Tapaculos among many others. The Amphibian fauna is of great interest in this park since there is at least one highly endemic species restricted only to the area of the park.
Accommodation: Angol. Meals included: BLD.
Day 7. Friday 22 November 2019. Angol to Conguillio National Park.
After an early breakfast, we will travel to Conguillío National Park. Along the route dazzling countryside scenery that allows stopping on the way for special sightings. We finally reach higher altitudes where Nothofagus and Araucaria forests grow in the mountain landscape. Conguillío National Park is located in the Andes Mountain Range, in the provinces of Cautín and Malleco in the Araucanía Region of Chile. Its name derives from the indigenous Mapudungún word for "water with Araucaria seeds". Among the attractions of the park are the Llaima and Sierra Nevada volcanoes, both responsible for modelling the landscape. There are vast areas of lava flows characterized by islands of vegetation. Stunning lagoons and extensive forests formed mainly by Araucarias and a high biodiversity of Nothofagus species increase the scenic beauty of the park. Apart from being like paradise on earth, Conguillío is one of the places where it is possible to find Gondawanan relics such as Podocarpus salignus, Prumnopitys andina and Gunnera tinctoria. Some of the special birds to be found here are the Torrent Duck the new split Patagonian Forest Earthcreeper, along with Magellanic Tapaculo, Austral Parakeet, Striped Woodpecker, Chilean Flicker, Magellanic Woodpecker, White-Throated Treerunner and other forest species. Some mammals like Southern red and grey fox are possible to spot.
Accommodation: Conguillío. Meals included: BLD.
Day 8. Saturday 23 November 2019. Conguillio National Park to Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve.
We will spend the morning Conguillío before travelling to the Biological Reserve Huilo-Huilo in the early afternoon. Accommodation: Huilo Huilo. Meals included: BLD.
Day 9. Sunday 24 November 2019. Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve.
Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve is located in the middle of the Chilean Patagonian Rainforest, under the majestic Andes Mountain range. This unique project is committed to the conservation of nature and local culture. Looking for sustainability, the Huilo Huilo Foundation mission is to develop flora and fauna conservation projects and to involve the local community and local entrepreneurs in this work. One of the Foundation flagship projects is the conservation of the Huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus), the southernmost deer in the world. This animal is a national symbol, but in danger of extinction. This project has succeeded in preserving and breeding the Huemul in a controlled environment. In this beautiful and fairytale-like forest it is possible to find Lomatia hirsuta, Austrocedrus chilensis, Embothrium coccineum, Laurelia sempervirens which all have affinities with Australian flora. We will take a night walk tonight, to look for nocturnal mammals.
Accommodation: Huilo Huilo. Meals included: BLD.
Day 10. Monday 25 November 2019. Huilo-Huilo to La Unión.
This morning we continue exploring in the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve before traveling to the city of La Unión this afternoon.
Accommodation: La Unión. Meals included: BLD.
Day 11. Tuesday 26 November 2019. Alerce Costero to Puyehue.
We will have an early morning transfer to the breath-taking Alerce Costero National Park this morning. With a total area of 24,000 ha, this National Park is located in Cordillera Pelada Coastal Range in the region of “Los Ríos”. The name of the park Alerce Costero translates to ‘Coastal Fitzroya’. The national park is the result of a public-private collaboration that united the state-owned Alerce Costero National Monument, Valdivia National Reserve and Quitaluto estate with land donated by The Nature Conservancy, which also owns the adjacent Valdivian Coastal Reserve. The geography of the park makes it suitable for many species of endemic birds and mammals with very specific habitat requirements. One of the goals of the park is to protect the Valdivian temperate rain forest and help maintain Chaihuín river basin, an important watercourse in the region, while also protecting the Chaihuín community that depend on the river. The unique ecosystem of the southern Chilean Coast Range and Valdivian temperate rain forest makes this a priority site for biodiversity conservation. The mountainous area served as a refuge from the devastating effects of the last glaciation which occurred during the Quaternary Period, and more recently from the effects of volcanic activity. It has not, however, been kept safe human activity and is today classified as a threatened area. The 1,800 “Alerce Milenario” (Ancient Fitzroya) route leads to a 3,000-year-old, 4.5-metre-wide Fitzroya tree or ‘Cipres de las guaitecas’ (Pilgerodendron uviferum) a southern Cypress (Cupressaceae). We will then travel to Puyehue National Park in the Rivers and Lake Districts.
Accommodation: Puyehue. Meals included: BLD.
Day 12. Wednesday 27 November 2019. Full day in Puyehue National Park.
We will spend the day in the Puyehue National park which is located in the Andes Mountain Range, in the Los Ríos and Los Lagos regions of Chile formerly referred to as the 10th region. The park boasts 220,000 acres of evergreen forests, surrounded by volcanoes and mountainous landscape. There are natural thermal springs. Puyehue National park forms part of the Reserve of Temperate Rainy Forest Biospheres of the Southern Andes. Forty animal species coexist in this place in which green colour rules. One of the most amazing and emblematic species that relate the South American continent with Oceania is the ‘Monito del Monte’ (Dromiciops gliroides). This small opossum represents an ancient group related to Australian dasyurid marsupials. It is the only surviving species of the order Microbiotheria (family Microbiotheriidae) and differs from other living American opossums by having unique structures only related with Australian marsupials. It is very unlikely to see it because it’s nocturnal. However, night excursions and walks will be organised in suitable spots the in mature southern South American Temperate Rain Forest where they occur.
Accommodation: Puyehue. Meals included: BLD.
Day 13. Thursday 28 November 2019. Puerto Montt-Alerce Andino National Park.
We will have an early morning breakfast in Puyehue before travelling to Alerce Andino National Park. This spectacular park has one of the last remaining populations of the gorgeous long-lived conifer Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides). This native tree belongs the Cupressaceae family. We have a full day in the park looking for Temperate Rainforest flora and fauna. One of the floral target species is Weinmannia trichosperma which belongs to the family Cunoniaceae and is a relative of Tasmanian Leatherwood. This afternoon we will travel to Pargua where we will embark the ferry that will take us through the Chacao Chanel to Chiloé island. We will then transfer to our Caulín Lodge on the island for a traditional seafood dinner.
Accommodation: Caulin. Meals included: BLD.
Day 14. Friday 29 November 2019. Chiloé Island – Puñihuil -Chepu.
After an early morning breakfast in our Lodge we will take a bird walk before visiting Puñihuil reserve where a boat ride will take us to a Penguin Colony formed by Humboldt and Magellanic penguins nesting side by side. We will then visit Chepu, a breathtaking location overlooking the confluence of three rivers and 140 sq km of sunken forest (a phenomenon created by the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, which sunk the ground some 2m, allowing salt water to enter the area and kill the trees). Chepu, in the northern sector of Chiloé National Park is 38 km southwest from Ancud and remains Chiloé's sanctuary of pristine beauty. We will explore stunning coastline, many temperate rain forest specialties and a probability of sighting the endangered river otter Huillín (Lontra provocax), while sailing in comfortable boats along the gorgeous Chepu river.
Accommodation: Caulin. Meals included: BLD.
Day 15 Saturday 30 November 2019. Flight back to Santiago.
This morning we fly back to Santiago where our tour finishes. Transfer to Santiago airport for our onward flights. Meals included: BL.
Based on a group size of 6 participants + Inala leader Dr Tonia Cochran + local South American guide.
Tour Price: AUD$11,650 per person twin share. Single supplement AU$1,415.
Additional accommodation can be booked for you in Santiago (pre-tour) if required. Please enquire about additional costs.
Inclusions: Accommodation for each night of the tour, specialist guiding and transport for day and night tours as outlined in the itinerary, all meals (B, L, D) and activities outlined in the itinerary and National Park entry fees and flight from Puerto Montt to Santiago on day 15.
Exclusions: any international and domestic airfares, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel insurance, internet, laundry, tips etc).
The above rates are based upon a group size of 6 people or higher. If the tour does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged. We would always discuss this with you beforehand.
Meals and drinks:
Breakfast generally consists of a continental style breakfast with cereal, fruit and yoghurt and tea/coffee. Full cooked breakfast is not generally offered at most locations. Lunch will generally consist of a packed lunch style meal eaten in the field, with sandwich/filled roll, fruit, and a drink. Dinner usually consists of several options for main with the choice of either an appetiser or dessert. Drinks (soft and alcoholic) are generally not included but at lunches and breakfasts juice may be made available.
Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline. Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to. The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.