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Found 8 results

  1. I am not very good at all to write reports, I have very littlef time to go on writing, but the truth is that I am not really motivated at the idea to select and then edit my RAW files... We went to Punta Arenas in Southern Patagonia, Chile, to go on a cruise in mid january within the channels and sounds of the Southern tip of the Americas. Luis Bertea from probablyoffers the best trip ever in Continental Patagonia. The Forrest M/N which was a former cargo boat in the Falklands, has been rehabilitated for ecotourism cruises. It can receives about 18 passengers, has 3 sea kayaks and 2 zodiacs to discover the channels, glaciers and whales that live in the fjords of the South of Chile. I will try to write a short trip report, and use a video recently published by Luis Bertea on vimeo to give a better idea of the place. The cruise brings tourists and more especially photographs in 4 major protected areas of Chile: Agostini National Park, Cabo de Hornos Biosphere Reserve, Alacalufes National Reserve, and Francisco Coloane Marina Park. The 4 areas are full of ice fields with huge glaciers flowing directly in the sea. The Darwin range from Tierra de Fuego island is certainly the most powerful mountain range of the region. A small recovering elephant seal colony is growing year by year in Jackson Bay, at the end of the Almirantazgo sound, just South to the large Karukinka Park, privately managed by the WCS ( Very close to the colony, can be seen a most Northern black-browed albatross colony from Patagonia, critically endangered by one species devastating the Patagonia unique wildlife, the mink. In fact the two last years no chick survived, the WCS is currently working to try to eliminate this threat of the small island. The Almirantazgo sound has rich nutrients waters formed by melting glaciers from the Parry and Marinelly sounds. On the first one can sometimes be seen leopard seals. Tucket Islands, on the Eastern side of Dawson Island, is a great place to observe Magellanic penguins, rock and imperial cormorants. Two species of sea lions can be found in this area. On the Western side of the Darwin Range can be found one true jewel, the Agostini Sound, with no more than 8 glaciers flowing inside the sound. On Hyatt Sound is another small population of leopard seals. Monte Sarmiento do Gamboa, the most beautiful summit South to Punta Arenas, is not very far from the sound. But the real star of this trip is without any doubt the humpback whale, that use to stay in summer in the waters of the Magellanic channels, avoiding traveling 2000 km South to Antartica. This population, according to scientists, is part of the Stock G population, that breeds in the tropical waters of Panama and Colombia. About 180 whales have been recorded in the waters around Carlos III island, inside the Francisco Coloane National Park, which is rich in krill formed by the convergence of strong currents and melting glaciers of Santa Ines Island. On the coast, wonderful sub-antartic forests (southern bleech forests) and peatlands, everywhere. Huge water falls, amazing sunrise and sunsets, strong winds and perhaps storms, this is the true Patagonia. I live in Chile for 6 years, and I can tell you this is the most impressive place I have ever visited in Patagonia. This trip can easily be combined with puma safaris with Roberto Donoso from Patagonia Journeys ( He works for many important international agencies. Natphoto, another chilean photography agency, also guides tours over there. Rodrigo Moraga has been guiding different BBC teams in the last decades in the region. ( I was in Torres del Paine last week and have seen two pumas over there. Another guide at the same time had 20 different observations in just 5 days! I have never finished my trip report over there (and will probably never finish it, it takes me a lot of time to edit pictures…), but get sure this is a remarkable experience, THE best place to see pumas in the world. Another amazing experience would be to travel to South Georgia, Antartica or the Falklands where I have been traveling in last november (no trip reports unfortunately ) with Natphoto. I am actually the guy really close to the king penguins chick on the picture: Cheers Jeremie
  2. Dear members. I will be on friday morning in Torres del Paine National Park, to track pumas with a specialized guide. I just can´t wait to be there, this is the best fauna trip ever in Patagonia, THE trip I want to organize since the settlement in Chile 4 years ago... We hope to see huemules too... The park si located just south from the Hielo Sur, the biggest Ice field outside the poles. It is one of the best preserved patagonian steppe landscape in Southern Patagonia. Land of sub-antartic woods, glacial lakes, huge guanacos herds, endangered huemules or patagonian deers, the jewel of the park is definitely the Paine Range. Some few pictures available on this nature forum: We will stay at Pehoe Hotel at less than half an hour from the best place to spot puma. The guide is Roberto Donoso from Safaris are also offered by another famous company I really like in Chile: I'll prepare a short trip report few weeks later. Cheers, Jeremie
  3. Following on from @@pomkiwi excellent report of their trip here is the story of our first visit to South America. Being avid African fans we knew the trip would probably not include a lot of wildlife but we were quite impressed with the animals and birds we saw but even more so by the astounding scenery. After a lot of research we decided to use Argentina as the destination country rather than Chile and made all our transfers in and out of Buenos Aires. We got an excellent Business Class fare that was almost the same price as Premium Economy! We flew from London to Buenos Aires via Amsterdam with KLM and arrived at 8am on 19 February 2017. We used the Mine Hotel in Palermo Soho as our base in Buenos Aires for the trip returning there before our visit to the Iguazu Falls and again at the end for a three day stay which allowed us to explore Buenos Aires at a more leisurely pace. A great little hotel. We were able to leave luggage there as the flight to El Calafate and onward to Bariloche had a reduced luggage allowance compared to our international flights. We had booked our trip ourselves, as we usually do, and planned a week in southern Patagonia, 12 nights in the Argentinian/Chilean Lake District especially to see the active volcanoes and 3 nights in Brazil at the Iguazu Falls. Booking the accommodation, hiring the cars and communications were very easy despite our lack of Spanish. Everyone spoke excellent English and we felt very welcome everywhere. The following morning we flew to El Calafate and picked up our hire car. We planned a trip into Chile where we would stay in Torres del Paine NP. First of all we put a day aside to visit the Perito Moreno Glacier which is only 100kms or so from El Calafate. We used Posada Karut Josh as our base in El Calafate, at only US$ 60 per night B&B it is a beautiful little family run place, and the host Frederico cooks amazing food. After a good nights rest we set off for the glacier. A fuel shortage in town caused some anxiety as we knew if we made the 200km round trip we might not have enough fuel to get to Chile the next day. Fingers crossed it would all work out we set off. It was wonderful to be self driving on a new continent and the roads were well maintained and easy. We soon started seeing snow covered mountains in the distance. The sun was shining, the sky blue and there was hardly any other vehicles on the road. A stop on the way delivered our first Caracara, a very relaxed and photogenic bird.
  4. I have recently returned from a 12 day trip to Chile and went to both the Atacama and Patagonia. This was a family holiday with my wife and our adult daughters with a focus on being outdoors rather than specifically on wildlife. However although the main photographic interest was the stunning scenery a few animals were sighted and recorded! We took the new direct flight with British Airways from London to Santiago and then flew up to Calama which is a mining town on the southern side of the desert. I took my Nikon D7200 but compromised on using a 18-300mm lens both for portability and to avoid too much family irritation with changing lenses etc! We began our trip in the Atacama, staying in San Pedro which is at an altitude of 2400m. We did a number of hikes at increasing altitudes before spending a day in the altiplano at 4000m which is where we saw most of the wildlife for this section of the trip. There was a white tailed hawk in one of the canyons lower down. On the altiplano we saw a large Andean Fox (or Culpeo) which was hunting in the salt flat for mice - on this occasion successfully (and a kill is a kill!) We saw a few flamingo but my lens and technique struggled to get a good picture. We saw a family group of vicugna. These are members of the same group as llama and live between 3200m and 4800m. They are apparently highly tolerant to salt. Finally we found a smaller fox huddilng down from the cold breeze. I will add some images from Patagonia in my next post.
  5. Ever since venturing to South America and the Brazilian Pantanal a few years ago (there's a 2010 trip report on here somewhere) I've had a hankering to go back. The goal then was jaguars and tapirs, but really any of the amazing wildlife of South America was on my list. I had visited the Peruvian Amazon years before, and then the Galapagos Islands in 1991, but my trip to Brazil left the lingering impression that if I wanted that "big game" feel that I get in Africa and India, then I needed to get back to the Pantanal! I had used Carlos Grandes and Pantanal Ecoexplorers in 2010 to organize the trip, and me and some buddies took the less traveled path to the Paraguay River and the Taiama Jaguar Reserve. It was adventurous for sure and we had a great time camping along the shore of the river across from a huge wood stork and roseate spoonbill rookery (noisy!) and our goal of seeing jaguars was realized with a fleeting glimpse of a female poking her head out of the reeds and disappearing moments later (but not before we snapped a quick picture!)...needless to say, I wanted more! (As a pretty important side note, I reached out to Carlos again to organize my trip to the Pantanal but the entire trip for me was dependent upon receiving a work bonus---when I finally got confirmation about a month prior to when I wanted to depart (I was in a race against time for jaguar "season" was wrapping up in late October) he had disappeared off Facebook and his website was down...I was forced to frantically begin contacting other potential organizers and learned when I was in the Pantanal that he had skipped the country and left a number of folks high and dry! Lodge owners, guides and tourist deposits! I was pretty shocked because my trip in 2010 went perfectly well, but I dodged a bullet apparently!! So, as I said, I was waiting for the green light on my bonus which gave me about 30 days to book flights and my trip. I googled cheap flights and bought them one at a time---a TAM flight from Orlando to Sao Paulo direct---a round trip Sao Paulo to Cuiaba on Gol---a Qatar flight direct to Buenos Aires---then a round trip to Trelew on Aerolineas Argentinas. The thought occurred to me that I might buy all of these single leg flights and get stuck in South America on the last one to the US! But I found a reasonable flight on Avianca back to Florida. I was able to join a small group staying at the Pantanal Jaguar Camp, two independent couple from the UK for a three night stay. So upon arrival in Cuiaba I had to stay one night at the Amazon Plaza (curious name for a hotel in the gateway city to the Pantanal but I digress) and then Pantanal Nature took it from there! They picked me up from my hotel, then two more stops at the hotels where the other travelers were staying and we were off... The Transpantaneira Highway was a safari unto itself....we had barely pulled out of Pocone under the famous sign and onto the dirt road before we were stopped by a yellow anaconda stretching across our "lane"...rather that twist and slither like I assumed all snakes did, this one was content to ripple his belly muscles and move in a long straight line across the road in no particular hurry...we piled out of the car and watched it make its way into the brush on the other side of the road. We were at times way-layed by groups of capybara and the occasional agouti. Even some caracaras picking apart a brilliant green snake. The sloughs along the side of the road were teeming with birds of all kinds and caimans by the score. Kingfishers were perched on the telephone wires and nosiy parakeets occupied these great shaggy nests in the palms. We crossed dozens of rickety bridges (there seems to be some effort to replacing the wooden ones with concrete ones) some so bad off we drove around them! We stopped off somewhere along the way for a pit stop but the overall trip to Pantanal Jaguar Camp took about five hours I'd guess... Pantanal Jaguar Camp and Pantanal Nature is owned by Ailton Lara. He has made a real comfortable place on the edge of the wilderness. Accommodations were basic, but clean and with AC. The food was excellent. I would definitely stay there again and highly recommend it. Ailton was doing an exploratory guided trip to a very wild area further to the south with a visitor that had been multiple times to visit the Pantanal. I wish I could remember the name of the national park but it had mountains and was beautiful. He arrived our second day and was a great host, serenading us with pantaneiro (cowboy) songs after dinner one night. Porto Jofre is not cheap because simply put, it's the best place in the world to see and observe jaguars...that's what you're paying for...a pair of hyacinth macaws visited us twice during our stay---such a charismatic bird! As an aside, the Pantanal is on par with Africa when it comes to bird fact, it may surpass it with it's toucans and macaws, rheas and jabiru storks and roseate spoonbills!
  6. Dear friends, I don't think this is the right place to post this here, but I really have no idea in which section I should post the following petition. We discovered few days ago with some chilean photographers friends of mine, that the Chilean authorities (SAG is in charge of wildlife outside protected areas), decided to allow hunting of 500 male guanacos just outside Torres del Paine National Park. I am absolutely not against culling ungulates to regulate populations, but in this very particular case, I think this is definitely not the right decision. It seems that the process was not transparent at all, there was a total lack of communication about it. Only one enterprise is allowed to hunt these guanacos and process their meat, which is the same that is at the origin of this proposal. It seems there is a conflict of interest. It is clear this enterprise will make some money and we might imagine that it pushed the SAG to permit hunting in this area. Inside Torres del Paine National Park, it appears that the native guanaco population is stable and thus controlled by pumas (the guanaco main predator), according to the anual surveys led by the park in the last 30 years. On the other hand, the population just outside the park is still increasing, which means it has not reached the carrying capacity of the ecosystem. One would think that the SAG decided to go on for culling because guanacos reached the carrying capacity of the ecosystem. However, according to a study from 2011, there is an estimated 12.000 guanacos just outside the park, sharing the habitat with about 130.000 sheeps. There are also thousands of horses and cows. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the posible competition between sheep and guanacos, its conclusion is that the competition is very limited. ( I am thus very sceptic about the reasons that pushed the SAG to allow hunting around the park. We then decided to launch a petition to the government, we are asking to see the evidences that led to this decision and we wold like to reverse the decision. Please sign and share the petition if you are against culling these animals. Further data: I have some few problems with data, while CONAF (The chilean authorities in charge of managing Torres del Paine National Park) states there are around 4000 guanacos inside the park and the same number just outside the park, this study concluded there were 7000 guanacos inside the park and 12.000 outside the park (upper limit of the estimations). If the real number is 4000 guanacos, this would mean one eighth of the guanacos would be killed, which is much higher that the natality rate for this population. Raedeke once estimated that before the europeans colonization of Patagonia, there was around 30 to 50 millions animals roaming in the steppes of South America. The IUCN best estimations in 2014 were considering a total of < 600.000 guanacos in South America, but two recent studies ( and ( concluded that the previous numbers were underestimates for Santa Cruz province, Argentina. In fact, it was considering 2 animals per km2, whereas the two last studies, determined that the density for this province is actually 4 animals per km2. Given these new studies, the IUCN updated its estimations in 2015 and are now considering that there are 2 millions animals in the wild. In Chile, the animal is scarce but present in the North of the countries, which is mainly found in the first steps of the Andes and on the coast of the Atacama desert. The animal was almost extirpated in the centre of the country and numbers are slowly increasing. In the South of the country, there is an estimated 5000 guanacos for Aysen Region, mainly residing inside the future Patagonia National Park. The stronghold for Chile is located inside the Magallanes Region, where 60.000 animals are estimated to reside. Magallanes main guanaco population is found in Tierra de Fuego. I have problems with estimations. I have read that there is an estimated 200.000 animals between Chilean and Argentinean Tierra de Fuego, but other guesses states there are 40.000 animals on the larger chilean side... In Continental Magallanes, the animals are mainly located around Torres del Paine, and around San Gregorio, close to the Pali Aike National Park. Whatever the number, the densities for Continental Magallanes are significantly lower than Tierra de Fuego's densities. I then think there is still sufficient space for these animals in Patagonia and thus culling is not an option right now.
  7. Another announcements are coming on this second and last day of the 2015 Our Ocean Conference. Chile announced the WCS and Waitt foundations will support the Chilean government in the planification and creation of a 100.000 km2 protected areas network in Southern Patagonia. Obama announced that the USA will protect the tidal waters of the Maryland state and the sweet waters of Lake Michigan.
  8. Today I would like to share with you the projects led by by Tompkins Conservation, that have great plans for Chile and Argentina. Douglas Tompkins is the founder of North Face and co-founder of the Esprit firm. As a climber, he found in love with Patagonia and realized the need to conserve one of the last pristine area of the world. He them sold all is actions and started to dedicate his life in environment. He and his wife are woking through different local organizations in a set of projects, restoring and conserving huge patch of lands, and then donate them to Chilean and Argentinean governments provided that they manage them as national parks. Here are some of the projects led by this unique philanthropist man. CHILE 1- Pumalin National Park, Chilean Patagonia. In the 90's the Chilean government decided to sell huge patch of land of pristine wilderness in Northern Patagonia. Tompkins bought slowly but surely lands in there, making a hug he private reserve called Pumalin Park. It protects nearly 3.000 km2 of pristine valdivian forests, glacial lakes and granite peaks. The park is just South to the Hornopiren National Park and directly linked to Corcovado National Park to the South. Pumalin protects one of the most pristine valdivian (cold humid forest) of the world, habitat of the discrete native pudu and the lion of the Andes also called puma. The Pumalin Foundation made a red of trails through the park, established different entrance gates with rangers control points. Local Tourism developed a lot as well as craftwork, the foundation restored old farms and transformed them in really nice hotels. Sadly the Chilean government still refuse to accept the donation for political silly reasons. Some people say the park cuts the state of Chile in two different parts. The Chilean government is currently working in a road crossing the private park. I hope Pumalin will soon be eventually donated to the state, it is one of the most precious protected area of Chile. 2- Corcovado National Park This national park was created in 2015 through donations of roughly 800 km2 from Conservation Land Trust, one of the local NGO foundation created by Tompkins. It protects pristine valdivian forests and important wetlands areas on the shores of the Corcovado gulf on the Pacific Coast. There are no easy access to the park, the government does not promote this touristic destination on that date. A really nice book was published last year about the park, it can be found in the USA. 3- Yendegaia National Park Tompkins pushed the creation of this amazing national park that share its eastern border with Tierra de Fuego Argentine Park, donating lands of a former sheep estancia. This park was created less than a year ago, it will be able to visit as the army is currently building a road to establish a control on the Southern shores of Tierra del Fuego. The park protects peatlands and other important wetlands, as well as huge glaciers form the Darwin Range. It is located just East of the enormous Agostini National Park. The park northern can be discovered by boat. Expedición Fitzroy offers amazing cruises out there. It is also posible to organize a trip sallying from Ushuaia or Puerto Williams on the Isla Navarino Island. I let you some few website, but there many other french-owned agencies based on Ushuaia 4- Melimoyu Peninsula and Isla Magdalena Another project of Tompkins located in the valdivian forests of Northern Patagonia. A marine park was established a year ago in the Bahia Tic Toc, one the patagonia sounds marine hotspots. Blue whales come in the bay to feed before going North close to the ecuador. This unique ecosystem only exists in Southern New Zealand and Northern Patagonia. There a few small companies organizing cruises in the area to discover these fabulous landscapes: Photographic expedition: 5- Cabo Leon estancia It aims to protect good sub-antartict forest close to the Alacalufe National Reserve on Riesco Island, Southern Patagonia. A short descripción form CLT website: This extremely rugged and wild landscape is now fully protected for its wilderness values, but could eventually be repatriated to public ownership. Some conservationists in the region have suggested that Cabo Leon should be donated to the state of Chile for addition to the adjacent Alacalufe Reserve, which would then be upgraded to national park status. If such an outcome came to pass, the resulting national park would be one of the largest protected areas in South America—a phenomenal new wilderness area exceeding six million acres—and a major addition to Chile’s national park system. 7- Patagonia National Park project Tompkins wife works on the creation of a huge national park in Aysen region. She bought the former sheep estancia Chacabuco and then restored the land and created a red of trails and refuges for tourists. The place is now opened for tourism but the oficial opening will be programed when the foundation Conservation Patagonica will finish the restoration processes. This private reserve protects one the major population of Southern Andean deer or huemul of the world. It protects pampa as well as valdivian forests. Guanacos, Darwin rhea as well as pumas can be founds in this reserve just North of the Baker river, that was lastly saved from a devastating dam project. The aim is to develop tourism and transform Aysen as the main touristic destination of Patagonia, through Parque National Patagonia creation. The idea is to donate the 1000 km2 extension to the state and manage the Jeinimeni and Tamango reserves as a single unit under National Park status to enhance protection. ARGENTINA 1- Monte Leon National Park This patagonian coastal park of 600 km2 was built from a donation of Conservation Patagonica in 2002. It protects representative magellan penguins and sea lion colonies. It is the only piece of patagonia coastal landscape under protection in Argentina. Guanacos roam the pampa while pumas hide in the rocky canyons of the park. A photographic book has recently been published about the park and can be found in the USA. 2- El Rincon Estancia (Perito Moreno National Park) A small piece of land was donated last year to the argentinean government and added to the Perito Moreno National Park The land protects restores pampa grasslands on the flank of the mighty San Lorenzo summit. 3- Ibera National Park This is the master piece of conservation of CLT in Argentina. They have huge plans for the Ibera wetlands based on restoration and conservation. The Ibera wetlands are the second largest wetlands of the world just after Pantanal. Well the rank is not really significant, I even think the Moxos wetlands in the Beni region of Bolivia are much bigger than Ibera. What is important is that it is one of the last wild and pristine place in North-East Argentina. There is currently a nature reserve formed of public and private lands. CLT bought some private former ranches and restored them. They have amazing reintroduction plans. Two giant ant-eaters have been established in the Ibera. Pampa deers habitat have been secured in the Aguapey region, while another population has been established on San Alonso island. They are currently working on a reproduction center in San Alonso for jaguars. The final aim of this project will be the reintroduction of the big cat in the Ibera. They have also plan to reintroduce collared peccaries as well as giant otters and tapirs in the Ibera. The process will take time and eventually the 1500 km2 protected by CLT will be donated to the state to make a huge 7000 km2 national park competing with the brazilian Pantanal. It will be on the circuit of the Northern Argentine protected areas with the Impenetrable and Iguazu national parks. 4- Parque Nacional el Impenetrable Declared in late 2014 expropriating the herders of a huge estancia in the Chaco region, CLT made an important donation to finance the creation of the lands to the state. An important step has be done to protect the jaguar in Argentina. I think they will have to reintroduce jaguars in there in the future through the jaguar reproduction center located in the Ibera. Please find another post there: GENERAL Here are the links of Tompkins Conservation and CLT Other links about the restoration and species recovery programs led by this couple of philanthropists. Only wish they were much more people like them on earth...

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